Largest ever delegation at World Youth Championships 2005

Chess Scotland sent its largest ever delegation to the World Youth Championships in France in July 2005. Here is a report by one of the players, Amy Officer.

The World Youth Chess Championships were held from 18 – 29 July 2005 in Belfort, France. The Scottish party was bigger than usual, having 14 players and 22 accompanying adults. The coaches were Graeme Kafka and Esben Lund and the chaperone was Donna Officer.

The flights from Prestwick to Basel were pretty uneventful and our little party of 17 were met by the bus and transported to Belfort where we eventually met up with the rest of the Scottish group. On arrival at the registration hall we waited and waited …….and waited for Donna to register the players and accompanying people. The crowds were huge and the disorganisation was an experience. After about three hours we were given the all clear and told to get our evening meal and then we could get a bus to our hotel. In the meantime Jeremy and family who were travelling by car failed to find the venue and after some frantic searching and phoning they eventually gave up and went straight to the hotel. The meals were served buffet style which meant long queues and a lot of waiting. The food was pretty awful and there was not much choice. Don’t ever mention ‘potato wedges’ to anyone who attended!!!!!

At last we arrived at our hotel to discover it was miles away from the playing venue. The hotel was pretty basic and the rooms were damp, smelly and not too clean. Some of the rooms were not good enough but there were no alternatives to offer. My room had a massive damp patch on the ceiling above my bed and it reminded me of ‘The Grudge’. It was a very tired and unhappy party which fell asleep on night one!!!

Next day – the sun was shining when we woke up for breakfast. We hurried down to eat but were disappointed by the standard of food. Breakfast was a croissant roll, bread, juice, tea or coffee. Then, onto the bus for our journey to the playing venue.
We had to wait for the opening ceremony to start but that was delayed so we just had to hang around for a couple of hours. The opening ceremony was going to consist of all of the countries coming into the hall in French alphabetical order, lined up behind their national flag. The players had to go in through the back entrance which was basically, a set of double doors. There was a disorganised rabble at the back entrance so we literally had to shove our way through crowds of people to get into the hall. During the two hour wait outside we saw something which made everything that we had experienced so far look good!!! The player’s toilets!! These consisted of…..wait for it…..EIGHT PORTALOOS!!!! No water, no soap – no chance!!! These “toilets” were to be used by 1200 mixed sex players. The girls promptly decided that there was no way that they were going to use toilets that boys had…dripped on!! The new tactic was if you don’t drink anything, you won’t need to go to the toilet, not the greatest thing to do in about 35 degrees heat (no air-con in the hall!). Anyway, back to the opening ceremony. We eventually got in, paraded around the hall, sat down and waited…and waited…and waited! Some players got a little bit bored (believe it or not!!) and started playing friendlies against each other, only to be told over the loudspeaker – “YOU WILL NOT PLAY CHESS!” Just remind me, where were we again????

The tournament began! Very quickly we settled into our daily routine – wake up, go to breakfast, preparation, bus, lunch, game, analysis, dinner, bus, bed. There was no chance to see Belfort other than when the bus drove through it. Despite all this we were having a brilliant time! How can this be? It turned out that the worse things got, the better we pulled together as a team! We made our own entertainment – and it rocked! We became “brilliant” tennis players, even better singers and most important of all – great friends! Esben and Graeme were seeing to the chess side of things and proved to be really encouraging and helpful. They worked long hours making sure that we were fully prepared for our games and they helped to calm our frazzled nerves, before and after our games. Graeme was even coached by our own new “talent” – Claire Officer! She taught him how to lose a rook in an opening to a non-chess playing girl, and then how to win a rook endgame, a rook down!! He was genuinely worried at one stage! Notable performances on the chess playing front were by Ali Roy who was on 3/3 at one stage, Steven Tweedie who was taking on the really strong players and showing them who was the boss!! Okay, so he accepted some help, before each of his games, Donna rubbed his arm and said “Come on son, you’ll be fine!”

Because there was no real evening entertainment, (the last bus was at 7pm and our village consisted of a hotel, a shop and a few houses) we spent most evenings socialising in the restaurant. There was a table football and a pinball machine and, of course, the inevitable blitz games! The adults partook of some refreshments ;-P. However, the hotel manager decided each night that we had to go to bed and he switched the lights out at midnight. A couple of the players thought it might be an idea to put on a talent contest! Anyone could put their name on the programme and before long we had a full bill. Of course, some people took it more seriously than others, there were varying degrees of rehearsals. Ali, Ellys, Claire, Lynsey and I (aka Baby Spice, Sporty Spice, Scary Spice, Posh Spice and Ginger Spice) decided to become the Spice Girls for a night – performing “Wannabe”. Brilliant performances from Ivan Stokes with “Love Me Do” (singing to our judge – Lloyd!), Chris with his rendition of Dire Straits “Romeo and Juliet”, Calum Wright and myself doing Sir Mixalot’s “I Like Big Butts”, Steven and Graeme singing “Tribute” – classic and Esben, deodorant microphone and all, singing a Danish love-song! The winner however, was a brilliant performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” by Graeme complete with his “girl” Steven, and his dancers Claire, Blair and Jonathan! We laughed so much we attracted the attention of some Chinese tourist residents who came down to see what all the noise was, by the end of the show they looked quite scared!! Many thanks to our brilliant compere, Paul McDonald, and judge Lloyd Hughes (who DOES accept bribes by the way!! ;-))

All too soon it was the end of the tournament, after a refreshing swim, with LOVELY matching speedos, which certain boys (not mentioning names of course!) went out and bought, it was time for the closing ceremony. Which didn’t disappoint us – it was JUST as disorganised as the rest of the tournament! Cue Connor “I don’t feel too good, can we go!” THANK-YOU!!!!!!

The flight back was exhilarating, we got to have fights with airport personnel over excess baggage – needless to say – Donna won!! We got the opportunity to do the movie style “airport dash” by running through the departure lounge at Stansted Airport, catching our flight with minutes to spare! All in all, a great trip, never to be forgotten! We were very sad to say goodbye to Steven Tweedie, as it was his last appearance playing for Scotland at the World Youth Chess Championships!
Team 2005

Calum Fraser McDonald 2.5 points
Ali Roy 6 points

Jonathan Wright 4 points
Rhian Hughes 6.5 points

Connor Woods 4.5 points
Amy Officer 5 points
Ian MacGregor 4 points
Blair Hawthorne 4 points

Christopher Macdonald 5 points
Lynsey Shovlin 4.5 points
Ivan Stokes 5 points
Andrew Green 5 points
Lloyd Hughes 3.5 points

Steven Tweedie 6 points


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