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This was the second interhouse chess tournament since it restarted in its current form last year. Held over two successive Tuesdays, all nine houses entered a team of four players who competed individually, accumulating points for their house. The event opened with a defiant challenge from the Housemaster of Surrey House, winners of last year’s championship: “if you want to win the trophy, are you tough enough to take it from us?”
Mr Johnston-Jones’ bold words provoked a very tightly contested competition. After the close of play, just half a point separated the winners (West House) from the runners up (Churchill House); and, again, just half a point separated third place (Surrey House) from fourth place (Montgomery House). Given that half a point is scored for every draw, a completely different house order could have resulted had the top players made an alternative choice of move in any of the knife-edged positions in the final-round games.
Boys and girls encountered each other, but the top performer among the girls was Rene Spreeth (Upper Fifth, Haslewood House), who won three games out of five. From the youngest year group there was a surprise in the form of rising star Ben Geddes (Fourth Form, West House), matched only by an equally outstanding performance from George Barrass (Upper Fifth, Churchill House): both players won all five games they played. Alas, there was no time for a play-off between the two to decide an overall individual champion.
Below is a taste of some of the chess that was played:
In the heat of the moment, Joe Baxter (Upper Sixth, Surrey House) misses a checkmate in one against Sam Walton (Upper Sixth, Montgomery House) . He was fortunate to win the game eventually despite the oversight, As white, however, what should Joe have played to seal his victory immediately in this final round? Click the picture to expand.
In an earlier game, Sam Walton (Black) was two pieces and one pawn ahead against Dan Folkes (Fourth Form, Churchill House). In this position it is Sam's turn to move and his pieces are poised for the final kill, but he missed a checkmate in two. How should he have finished the game? Click the picture to expand.
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