On Sat 14th Sept, I was privileged to be included in the school chess team invited to play at the regional Under 18 chess championship at Eton College. There were two teams of 6, namely A and B teams representing our Brentwood School. Some travelled on the minibus and some were accompanied by our families, including myself. We met up in our designated team room. My first impression of Eton was ‘Wow! What an amazing vision’. We entered the gates and at that moment, I was overwhelmed with such an impressive looking college.
The town of Windsor is beautiful anyway and the college campus itself is immense and outstanding. I was flabbergasted by the beautiful hall that the chess tables had been set up in and felt very proud and honoured to have been given this experience. There was a total of 72 teams participating and, if I’m honest, although I have been to several chess tournaments and county championships with my fellow A team friends, I was a little apprehensive since having only joined the school just over a week ago, this was the first time I was representing Brentwood School. However, I was very excited. I didn’t want to let my team mates down and especially Brentwood School. So, I walked to the team room determined to do well.
The tournament was to be played over 5 rounds and a team player is awarded a point for a win; 1/2 a point for a draw and 0 for a loss. It was a requirement to have 15 1/2 points to qualify for the next championship -the nationals. It seems like it is feasible but lots of the players present from other schools were of a high calibre which we discovered as we progressed in the tournament and so every point counted. My nervousness soon settled as I sat down to focus on the first game ahead with my team, aided by the fact that all 6 of us won our first games! We played to the best of our abilities and it all paid off. What a strong and successful round which boosted all of our confidences! There was a short break in between each round where we reconvened in our team room for coaching or discussions. Four more rounds to get through, encouraging each other and keeping the team spirit going.
The next few rounds proved a little harder and some had wins; some had losses but we kept faith and spurred each other on. The second round was against another team who had also achieved 6 points in the first round and were much older. So, obviously the competition got harder and harder as we went further into the rounds. Even though there were some losses for each of us, we persevered and did our best in each round. By round 5, we had achieved 13 points and with one round to go, we had to attain 2.5 points to qualify. In the last round it was all to play for. We were all on the edge of our seats...literally! Unfortunately the first few team members who had finished their games had lost and so never more was the team spirit stronger, hoping that the remaining few would get us through. Then we got our first win in the round taking us to 14 points, then we achieved another...15 points...it was a nail biting moment for us all. It was a possibility that we could still get through. Then we did it ... a draw! So 15.5 points! The cherry on the cake was a final win, finishing us at 16.5 points out of 25.
There was no doubt, we were clearly through! We were so proud of each other and congratulated each other as well as being congratulated by Mr Walton. We were excited to return to school to let Mr Bond know that Brentwood School were through to the next round. This was my first experience and what an amazing one it was, full of various emotions. I am grateful for the opportunity. It is certainly a day I will never forget. Now it’s time to knuckle down to prepare for next tournament. Lots of coaching ahead and fingers crossed for the next stage.