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Scottish Schools Team Championships

Report on the final by Hugh Brechin

The Final of this competition took place on Monday the 21st June, at the Apex Hotel, Dundee. I was captaining the George Heriot’s team against the team from Robert Gordon’s. Our team consisted of me, David Oswald, Colin Horne (in his last act as part of the school) and Euan Sime. We were accompanied by our long-suffering teacher, Mr Gregor Dickson.

Our last meeting with the opposition had occurred the previous year in the group stages of the competition – it was a hard-fought 2-2 draw (something of a sign, perhaps). We had eventually topped that group by virtue of dropping half a point less in the other matches, but it was clear that this match would be very close.

We had been getting closer and closer to the final in recent years – in 2002, we had lost the semi-final against Greenwood, and last year Greenwood (again) hammered us in the final. Could this be our year?

This year we had reached the final by virtue of topping our group above Kirkland Academy and then coming through the quarter final against Mackie, and the semi-final against Jordanhill by margins of 3½ - ½ and 4 – 0 respectively. Robert Gordon’s had been faced with the tougher draw, having to play the strong Dollar team in the quarter-final, and then last year’s champions, Greenwood, in the semi-final

The opposition team was captained by Charles Curry, with Sandy Enoch, Denesh Sri, and (stepping in at short notice for the ill Adam Bremner) Chris Phang. They were escorted by Mrs Yvonne Enoch.

On paper, the opposing players on each board were closely matched, and so it proved. The top boards were the first to finish. On board 2, Sandy Enoch made the mistake of grabbing risky pawns against David Oswald, and David ripped into Sandy’s kingside with a decisive attack. On board 1, I tried a sacrifice 8 moves into the game on the black side of a Scandinavian. Sadly, Charles had seen the sacrifice as well and found a resource which I had overlooked, leaving him a piece for two pawns up in an ending. He converted his advantage swiftly. That left the score at 1-1. Colin had a slight advantage on board 3 against Denesh Sri, but Euan was always up against it on board 4 against his more experienced opponent. Out in the first floor lobby, David and I did some swift calculations, and worked out that if Colin won and Euan lost, board count would still result in a tie, but we would be given victory on the second tiebreak rule (knock off the board 4 result). Half of this prophecy came true almost immediately.
Unfortunately, it was the worse half – Euan had performed well, but had been beaten in the chess equivalent of straight sets. His opponent had simply attained a positional advantage, then gradually won material. The score was now 2-1 to Robert Gordon’s.

The good news on Colin’s board was that he had managed to accumulate a material lead of a piece and a pawn with a superior position. The bad news was that he had left himself 10 minutes for 15 moves. In the lobby, we checked our reckoning, joined by Euan, and were confirmed in our belief that if Colin won, we would win, but any other result would see the trophy travelling north to Aberdeen (metaphorically at least, the trophy still being in Greenwood’s possession). We were struck by a sudden worry - what if Colin claimed a draw in time shortage? We weren’t entirely sure if he was allowed to do this before the control, but it was a risk. In contravention of our new policy of ‘Don’t Disturb Colin’s Concentration’, I hurried into the room to find Colin standing up, gazing with a total lack of concern at his clock, which now showed 5 minutes for 10 moves. I hastily told him that only a win would suffice, and he told me not to worry. His clock began ticking during this brief exchange, and his unconcerned attitude towards his time-trouble made it very hard for me not to worry. I retired to bite my nails, in the company of David and Euan doing likewise.

The lobby was a lovely and comfortable place, but we found it hard to appreciate. Eventually, the pressure became too much, and we entered the playing room to see Colin safely past the time control and finishing off a fine win. We had won the final!

Robert Gordon’s left swiftly, before returning to retrieve their bag, containing chess sets, clocks and the runners-up shield. We headed off for a well-deserved (we thought) celebratory meal at the local McDonalds (generously paid for by Mr Dickson). While there, we realised that we had all played an important role in the final. David and Colin had obviously won their games; I had filled board 1, so that those below could face their opponents; and Euan had contributed that vital loss on board 4 which meant that we won on tie-break (slightly strange logic, but then we were high on our victory, and he had won all his other games in this tournament, and deserved some sort of accolade).

The team greatly enjoyed the whole competition, and the final was quite an event. I’d like to thank all the adults who helped run school teams, and of course Mr Stephen Taylor of Greenwood, who organised the competition yet again.

Some of the games will be included here as soon as possible

Here's how Robert Gordon's (Aberdeen) and George Heriots (Edinburgh) reached the final

(results from organiser Stephen taylor)

Four preliminary groups produced 8 quarter-finalists, so the first two schools from each preliminary group qualified

Group 1: Robert Gordon's A 19 out of 20, Mackie 14, Robert Gordon's B 13 1/2, Inverness 1 1/2, Kilchumen A 4, Kilchumen B 0

Group 2: George Heriot's 23 1/2 out of 24, Kirkland 19, Daniel Stewarts 17, Ross A 7, Ross B 5, Ross C 4, Ross D 2 1/2

Group 3: Dollar 16 out of 20, Perth Academy 12 1/5, Perth High 12, Baldragon 11 1/2, Bell Baxter 5 1/2, Perth Academy B 2 1/2

Group 4: Greenwood 15 out of 20, Jordanhill 14 1/2, St Margaret's 6 1/2, Castlehead 5, Our Lady & St P 3, Glasgow H

Quarter finals:

Jordanhill beat Kirkland, Perth Academy A lost to Greenwood, Mackie lost to George Heriots, Robert Gordon's beat Dollar


George Heriots beat Jordanhill, Robert Gordon's beat Greenwood




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