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Holyrood Match

February 21, 2006

The four girls short-listed for the Cherie Booth QC Award for the Best Scottish Girl Player of the Year, as expected, drubbed 3 MSPs and one of their political assistants in a match in the Scottish Parliament, on Tuesday 21st February.

All a bit of fun, it aimed more seriously to make a media splash for chess, particularly girls' chess, and to provide a fitting backdrop to the presentation of the Cherie Booth Award by Robin Harper MSP to the 2005 winner, Lynsey Shovlin. Robin Harper rounded up the MSP side and was the Parliamentary sponsor.

On behalf of Chess Scotland, Craig Pritchett invited some 20 guests to a preliminary buffet and acted as match compere.  Donald Wilson (arbiter), George Anderson (equipment) and George Clarke (photographer) ably assisted.

The match got photo-report coverage in The Herald, The Scotsman, The Dundee and Perth Courier and the Aberdeen Press and Journal, The Times and other local papers. There was a 4-5 minute slot on Radio Scotland's Newsdrive, which included soundbites from Robin Harper, Tommy Sheridan, Lynsey Shovlin, Ali Roy and Craig Pritchett.

See the photos below and more detail at links to the Green's Press Release, and to The Herald and Scotland on Sunday chess columns....

Lynsey Shovlin - Robin Harper Chris Ballance - Lynsey Shovlin Amy Officer - Tommy Sheridan
Craig Pritchett - MSPs Ballance, Harper
Ali Roy - Robin Harper
Michael Collie - Rhian Hughes


The Greens press release.

Photocall: 12.30pm, Scottish Parliament garden lobby, February
21, 2006. Match starts 1pm.


Four of Scotland's top young girl players will take on MSPs in
a friendly match in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (February 21).

The aim is to celebrate chess, particularly chess for girls and
the opportunities the game provides for young people, and to
mark the presentation of Chess Scotland's most prestigious
award for Scottish girl chess players, the Cherie Booth QC
Award for Scottish Girl Chess Player of The Year.

Greens' co-convener and Lothians MSP Robin Harper will host the
event and make the presentation, then take nervously to 64
squares in a most worthy cause. He will be joined by Tommy
Sheridan MSP, and two other MSPs, yet to be confirmed.

Mr Harper, Greens' spokesperson on education, said, "Learning
to play chess at an early age can really help children develop
thinking and spatial awareness skills. It is particularly
heartening to see such enthusiasm from girls as chess has for
too long been dominated by boys. I'm very nervous about facing
these skilled players over the board, but no matter who wins -
and I think I know who it will be - I hope the girls enjoy this
high profile match."

The Cherie Booth QC Award is unique in recognising not just
playing strength but also wider contribution to chess,
including promoting events, publicising chess and chess coaching.

This year's winner, Lynsey Shovlin (16), is the current British
under-16 girls' champion, joint Scottish Girls champion and
Scottish Secondary Girls champion, and has also represented
Scotland internationally in team and individual events
including last year's World Youth Championships.

The St Columba's High School (Perth) pupil is also an
outstanding chess impresario, the jewel in whose crown is the
annual Dalguise Activity Weekend Junior Congress, which mixes
off-board sports and social activities with serious chess at a
first-class venue.

Lynsey was very closely challenged by Amy Officer (14), who has
shot up meteorically in the chess rankings recently. Indeed,
she has just been chosen to play in the (senior) Scotland
Women's team to play in the biennial World Chess Olympiad in
Turin (May-June 2006).

Amy, a pupil at Perth High School, and Lynsey have both
deservedly won Perth and Kinross Young Achiever in Sport Awards
for their chess achievements.

Amy and Lynsey will be joined by Rhian Hughes (12), a pupil at
James Gillespie High School (Edinburgh), Scotland's top player
by a distance for her age (boy or girl). Along with Amy, Rhian
will also play in the Turin Olympiad Women's Team.

The even younger Ali Roy (10), a pupil at St Cuthbert's Primary
School (Maybole), has also seen her rating rise very sharply.
She also played for Scotland in the World Youth Chess
Championships last year and is one of the most active and
enthusiastic tournament players in Scotland.


Chess Scotland is the national body for chess. It takes a
particular interest in the promotion of schools and junior
chess - see the schools and education pages at
Further background on the Cherie Booth QC Award and Lynsey
Shovlin's Dalguise Activity Congress is at:


Glasgow Herald, 25 February 2006

Green Party MSPs, Robin Harper and Chris Ballance, Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan and Chris Ballance's political assistant, Michael Collie, lost 0-4, to four girls in the first ever chess match played in the Scottish Parliament last Tuesday.

Robin Harper lost to Ali Roy (11). Tommy Sheridan succumbed to Amy Officer (14). Chris Ballance and Michael Collie put up most resistance, but were both eventually worn down by Lynsey Shovlin (16) and Rhian Hughes (12).

All a bit of fun, the aim was to celebrate chess, particularly girls' chess, and to provide a fitting backdrop for the presentation of the Cherie Booth QC Award for the Best Scottish Girl Player of the Year 2005, won by Lynsey Shovlin.

The Cherie Booth Award uniquely recognises not just playing strength but also wider contribution to chess, such as organisation, promotion and coaching. Lynsey, current British under-16 girls' champion and a youth internationalist, qualified highly on both counts.

Amy, who pushed Lynsey very close in the judges' eyes, and Rhian have both shone so remarkably in the national rankings in the last six months, that they have been chosen to play in the Scottish Women's team in the Turin Olympiad, in May.

Ali, interviewed on Radio Scotland , denied that chess was only for boys. Lynsey shows what the girls can do against commendably spirited defence by Chris Ballance.

White: Lynsey Shovlin Black: Chris Ballance MSP, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh 2006, Bishop's Opening

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.d3 00 5.Bg5 d6 6.h3

White aims to pressurise Black's knight on f6 and double Black's f-pawns. But 6.Nf3 and if 6...c6 7.00, avoiding early exchanges, may have been tougher.

6...Re8 7.Nd5 Nbd7 8.Qf3 c6 9.Nxf6+ Nxf6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Qxf6 gxf6 12.Ne2 d5

Having successfully parried White's first sally, Black nervously blunders a pawn away. Chances remain roughly balanced after either of two solid alternatives, 12 ... Be6 or 12 ... f5.

13.exd5 cxd5 14.Bxd5 Rd8 15.Bb3 Be6 16.Bxe6 fxe6 17.f4 exf4 18.Nxf4 e5 19.Ne6 Rdc8 20.Nxc5 Rxc5 21.000 Rd8 22.c3 Rcd5 23.Kc2

White has an extra pawn but is far from winning. Black's best chance was probably to rush his king to e6, play a rook to the g-file and sit tight.  

23...R5d6 24.Rhe1 Kf7 25.Re2 a5

Advancing the queenside pawns only improves White's chances of a successful pawn break. Black should still centralise his king and seek active play on the kingside, e.g. by 25...Ke6 26.g4 h5 27.gxh5 Rh8.

26.g4 h6 27.Re4 b5 28.a4 Rb8 29.axb5 Rxb5 30.Ra4 Rc6 31.Rda1 Ke6

White's 28th move break has isolated Black's a-pawn which is now lost. If 31...Rcc5 (31...Ra6 32.b4) 32.b3 Ke6 33.c4 threatens 34 Kb2, breaking Black's' fifth rank defence.

32.Rxa5 Rxa5 33.Rxa5 Kd6 34.Ra7 h5 35.gxh5 f5 36.h6 Rc8 37.Rg7 Rh8 38.h7 Ke6 39.b4 f4 40.Kd2 Kf5 41.Ke2 e4 42.dxe4+ Kxe4 43.Re7+ Kf5 44.Kf3 Kg6 45.Kxf4 Rxh7 46.Rxh7 Kxh7 Black resigns

Craig Pritchett


Scotland on Sunday, 26 February 2006

Tommy Sheridan MSP, the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, was tanned by one of Scotland's top girl chessplayers on Tuesday at Holyrood. Tommy lost a pawn on move 7, a bishop on move 9, a rook at move 11, before a checkmate delivered on move 19 by Amy Officer, 14, of Perth. Tommy, who played as a pupil at Lourdes Secondary, said: "Chess is a real great thinking game and a terrific way to relax."

The match contested over four boards was organised by IM Craig Pritchett of Dunbar, the Scottish champion, in cooperation with Robin Harper, the co-convener of the Scottish Green Party. It was a backdrop to the presentation of the Cherie Booth Award which recognises the achievements of the top Scottish girl player of the year. Lynsey Shovlin, 16, of Perth was a worthy winner who in addition to the British under-16 title is also the organising force behind the Dalguise Activity Weekend which mixes chess and outdoor sports.

Lynsey beat Chris Balance MSP, the Green spokesman on nuclear issues. Rhian Hughes, 12, a pupil at James Gillespie High School in Edinburgh, defeated political researcher Michael Collie. Ali Roy, 10, a pupil at St Cuthbert's Primary in Maybole defeated Harper and Amy Officer took only a few minutes to defeat Sheridan. Both Amy and Rhian are members of the Scotland "adult" team to take part in the Turin Olympiad in May.

Scottish Parliament, White: Amy Officer, Black: Tommy Sheridan, Caro-Kann defence. 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 e6 Not a blunder but the black Bc8 is now locked behind its own pawns. The normal move is 3...Bf5. 4 Nf3 Bb4+ Trotskyist sees a check...5 c3 Ba5 6 Bd3 Na6 7 0-0 c5 White can safely grab the c-pawn, 7...Ne7 to Nf5 or g6 keeps material level for the moment. 8 Bxa6 bxa6 9 dxc5 Qc7 Tommy's last move means there is no retreat for the bishop on a5. 10 b4 Rb8 11 Qa4+ Rb5 12 Na3 Even better than grabbing the bishop - White will now be a rook ahead. 12...Bd7 13 Nxb5 Bxb5 14 Qxa5 Qb7 15 Rd1 d4 hastens the end. 16 Rxd4 Threat Qd8 mate. 16...f6 17 exf6 Nxf6 18 Qd8+ Kf7 19 Ne5 mate.

Douglas Bryson

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