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The UK Chess Challenge: 2003 Gigafinal

July 12 and 13
Keele University, Staffordshire

Report by Christine MacGregor

The British Land UK Chess Challenge claims to be the largest chess competition in the World. This year 2,179 schools from across the UK took part with over 67,000 players participating. About 7,500 players progressed to one of 32 regional Megafinals, where they played in age groups against other pupils from their own area. (In Scotland there were two Megafinals: Scotland North and Scotland South.) The top players from each Megafinal were invited to the third stage of the competition: the National Gigafinal, held on 12th and 13th July at Keele University.


The tournament is becoming larger each year as more and more schools take part. It is particularly heartening to see more Scottish players participating, despite the long distances they have to travel. This year 71 Scottish players attended the Gigafinal and played some really hard games against the best players from south of the border.

The tournament took place at the Leisure Centre at Keele University, near Stoke-on-Trent: a venue chosen for its central (?) location and ample playing space. The weather was extremely hot and sunny. This was just as well for parents, family and other hangers on, as there was plenty of space to sit out, round the vast Keele playing fields. (Had it rained there really would not have been anywhere for the 1,800 players plus their families to go between rounds!)

The Gigafinal was organised as a 6 round allegro tournament. There were 44 separate sections with all players playing in their own age group; boys and girls separate.

There were some very good results from Scottish players:

Position Player Section
1st Rhian Hughes Under 9 Girls
2nd Jonathan Edwards Under 10 Boys
Amy Officer Under 11 Girls
Ian MacGregor Under 11 Boys
Natalie Donohue Under 12 Girls
Lynsey Shovlin Under 14 Girls

All of these players have qualified to take part in the final stage of the UK Chess Challenge, to be held in Sheffield at the end of August. The winners from each Gigafinal age group will play each other in the Terafinal to determine the top UK boy and girl. Those coming second or third will play in a Challengers' Tournament. Both the Terafinal and the Challengers' events will be six round events played (at normal speed) over two days.

The other top scores from Scottish players were: 4 points: Callum Asher (U11B), Calum Binnie (U11B), Fiona Bruce (U10G), Robbie Coleman (U14B), Gordon Harris (U12B), Owen Hughes (U10B), Martin MacDonald (U12B), Andrew Morrow (U11B), John Tawdrous (U12B), Jonathan Wright (U9B); 3.5 points: Michael Emery (U12B), Catriona Leyland (U11G), Michael Miller (U11B), Robert Montgomery (U11B), Callum Vipond (U11B), Sam Wilson (U13B); 3 points: Anish Deshpande (U13B), Robert Dunbar (U10B), Rebecca Edge (U13G), Sandy Enoch (U17B), Benjamin Filmer (U10B), Josh Ivinson (U11B), Fraser McKay (U11B), William McIntosh (U14B), Jonathan McLatchie (U14B), James Montgomery (U13B), Lewis Montgomery (U10B), Michael Miller (U11B), Harry Perston (U14B), Derek Rooney (U16B), Angus Taylor (U10B), and Jacob Young (U9B).

Photo 2003 GigaFinal courtesy

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Chess Scotland 2002