Yes2Chess Grand Finals in London 2015

by ChessBase
7/17/2015 – It was the second edition of an initiative to get children all over the world to play chess. 4,200 competitive games took place in a special Yes2Chess room on Playchess, and in person, and 40 finalists from the UK, Spain, Portugal, the US, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Norway played the final matches of the international tournament in Hyde Park on 24th June to determine the overall winning school.

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Yes2Chess Grand Final

In June 2015, the Yes2Chess Grand Finals were once again staged at the Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time music festival in Hyde Park. The second edition of the tournament followed the first’s successful formula, as primary school teams from Denmark, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the USA were flown to London for a three day programme of events. The schools from Norway and Denmark took part in over the board qualifying tournaments, whilst the schools from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA qualified via the private Yes2Chess room on Playchess.

A total of 40,000 children played in the qualification tournaments on Playchess and in person at a series of regional heats, from November 2014 until June 2015. In Germany alone it was 6,000 students, and it was the team of the Käthe Kollwitz Gymnasium from Saxony-Anhalt (formerly East Germany) that won the coveted place for the finals in London.

This is what the board looks like when you are playing the qualifier on the Playchess server:

A move is made in one of two ways:
(1) Clicking on a piece, and dragging it to its new square.
(2) Clicking on a piece, and clicking on its destination square.

The opponent sees this. The arrow indicates the move White just played. Now Black can play.

William Patten School in Hackney were the UK winners, so only had to take a bus to the luxurious Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, where the delegations stayed throughout the programme. After a buffet reception, where the teams and parents were welcomed by Payal Jain from Barclaycard and Malcolm Pein, the Chief Executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, the children played their first games of chess as all 40 of them, plus two additional children from the delegation, took on British Chess Champion David Howell in a simultaneous display.

GM Howell posing with school staff at the Yes2Chess final [photo Ray Morris-Hill]

David nearly swept the boards but a couple of wins slipped away. He lost to Kevin Pan (Mission Elementary, USA) and conceded a draw to Afras Mansoor (Sorasbygda Skole, Norway):

[Event "Yes2Chess simul"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Howell, David"] [Black "Mansoor, Afras"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2698"] [PlyCount "82"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. Bf4 d5 4. f3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bf5 6. e4 dxe4 7. Qe2 exf3 8. Nxf3 c6 9. O-O-O e6 10. Ne5 Bd6 11. g4 Bg6 12. h4 h5 13. Nxg6 fxg6 14. Qxe6+ Be7 15. Bd3 Qd7 16. Bxg6+ Kd8 17. Qxd7+ Kxd7 18. g5 Nd5 19. Bf5+ Ke8 20. Nxd5 cxd5 {[#]Howell's opening gambit has paid off; after some inaccurate play by Mansoor, White is a clear pawn up, his pieces are tremendously active, and Black has forfeited his castling rights.} 21. Rde1 {Logical, but had this not been a simultaneous, Howell would surely have played:} (21. Bc8 $1) 21... Nc6 22. c3 Kd8 {setting a trap.} 23. Re6 {and Howell, distracted by the pressure of playing so many strong players, falls straight into it!} Rf8 {and now Bg6+ is no longer possible.} 24. Bd6 Rxf5 25. Bxe7+ Kd7 {In fact} (25... Nxe7 {is possible -- the position is unclear after} 26. Rhe1 Nc8 27. Re8+ Kd7 28. Rg8 Rf7 29. Ree8) 26. Rhe1 Re8 27. Rd6+ Kc7 28. Rg6 Rxe7 $2 ({After} 28... Kd7 { White has nothing better than} 29. Rd6+ {and forcing a repetition.}) 29. Rxc6+ $1 {winning back material -- but Mansoor expertly activates his f5 rook to hold the ending.} Kxc6 30. Rxe7 Rf4 31. Rxg7 Rxh4 32. Rh7 Rh1+ 33. Kc2 h4 34. a4 h3 35. b4 h2 36. Rh6+ Kd7 37. Rh7+ Ke6 38. Kb2 Kf5 39. Rh5 Kg6 40. Rh8 Kxg5 41. a5 a6 1/2-1/2

On 23rd June the eight delegations were welcomed at the House of Lords, the upper house of the UK Parliament, by Baroness Frances D’Souza, Lord Lyndon Harrison, Yasmin Qureshi MP and Dave Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Europe. All four spoke of the benefits of learning chess in school. Baroness Angela Smith, Lord Willy Bach, Jesse Norman MP and David Mowat MP were also in attendance. After the speeches, there was a friendly game between Lord Harrison and Dave Chan, who were partnered with twins from the Spanish team, Yaiza and Paula Ruperez. Here are the moves of what turned out to be a very correctly played game!

[Event "Yes2Chess London"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.07.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Lord Harrison, Yaiza Ruperez "] [Black "Dave Chan, Paula Ruperez"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C10"] [PlyCount "32"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Bd3 {[#]} O-O (7... Nxe4 $5 8. Bxe7 Nxf2 9. Bxd8 Nxd1 10. Bxc7 Nxb2 11. Be2) 8. Nxf6+ Nxf6 9. O-O b6 10. c3 Bb7 11. Qe2 c5 12. Rad1 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 cxd4 14. cxd4 h6 15. Bh4 Nd5 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 1/2-1/2

It should be pointed out that Lord Harrison recently drew with Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous display at the House of Lords, and held Paul Keres in another simultaneous back in 1962!

Lord Lyndon Harrison, flanked by Dave Chan, Yasmin Qureshi MP and the Ruperez twins

After the House of Lords the delegations crossed the road to the House of Commons for a guided tour, which was followed by lunch and a visit to the Tower of London. At the end of a tiring day it was time to relax at the hotel and prepare for the battles ahead.

And so to finals day! The Cumberland is a short walk away from Hyde Park and we made an early start to allow time for some photographs. The parents were treated to some fine hospitality in the festival grandstand, courtesy of Barclaycard, as the players did battle. Schools in the CSC programme were also invited to Hyde Park to participate in a human chess game, played with 32 actors in full costume. It was a wonderful spectacle as the players paraded around the park before taking their places on the giant board.

The human chess players greet their spectators

A view of the human chess game from the Better View platform

The final proper saw the teams split into two groups of four, playing each of the other teams once. The winners of each group would then face each other for the Yes2Chess International Challenge trophy. After a keenly contested day’s play, Mission Elementary of the USA emerged triumphant.

Kevin Pan maintained his form with a tremendous performance at the finals, winning all four of his games. In the championship match between Mission Elementary and Escola Filipa de Lencastre, from Portugal, he uncorked a clever piece sacrifice:

[Event "Yes2Chess Final"] [Site "Hyde Park"] [Date "2015.06.24"] [Round "4.3"] [White "Prazeres, Tiago Pires Aze"] [Black "Pan, Kevin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "1390"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:14:52"] [BlackClock "0:10:08"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. O-O d6 6. Nxd4 Ne5 7. Bb3 Be7 8. Nc3 Bg4 9. f3 Bh5 10. Be3 O-O 11. Qe1 a6 12. Qg3 Bg6 13. Nf5 Bxf5 14. exf5 Qd7 15. f4 Neg4 {Black has just met 15.f4 with 15...Neg4, seeking to trade minor pieces.} 16. h3 {Perhaps White wanted to support g4, but} (16. Bd4 {seems more natural; if Black wants to trade bishop for knight, he must play} c5 {, weakening the d5 square.}) 16... Nxe3 17. Qxe3 Qxf5 $1 (17... c6 18. g4 d5) 18. Qxe7 (18. g4 Qc5 (18... Qd7 19. g5 Nh5 20. f5 {gives White good compensation for the pawn.})) 18... Qc5+ 19. Kh1 Rae8 20. Na4 (20. Ne4 {is best, after} Rxe7 ({Not} 20... Nxe4 {, which fails to} 21. Bxf7+ $1) 21. Nxc5 dxc5 22. Rfe1 Rfe8 23. Rxe7 Rxe7 {Black will have to work hard to convert the endgame.} 24. Rd1) 20... Qc6 21. Bd5 Qxd5 ({In fact} 21... Nxd5 {, allowing the queen to escape, is even stronger, as the knight on a4 is hanging and ...Ne3 is a threat. For instance} 22. Qg5 h6 23. Qh5 Ne3 24. Rf2 Qxa4) 22. Qxc7 Rc8 23. Qb6 Rxc2 24. Rg1 Qb5 25. Qxb5 axb5 26. Nc3 Rxb2 27. Rad1 b4 28. Nb5 Ne4 29. Rde1 f5 30. g4 Nf2+ 31. Kg2 Nd3+ 32. Kf1 Rf2# 0-1

The final standings

  1. Mission San Jose Elementary School (USA)
  2. Escola Filipa de Lencastre (Portugal)
  3. Sorasbygda Skole (Norway)
  4. Koge Private Realskole (Denmark)
  5. Hokasens Skola (Sweden)
  6. Kaethe Kollwitz Gymnasium (Germany)
  7. CEIP Diego Lainez (Spain)
  8. William Patten Primary School (UK)

After prize giving there was time to play chess on the Better View platform:

Then the delegations set off to see the West End musical The Lion King before jetting back home the following day.

What is Yes2Chess?

Yes2Chess is a project developed by Chess in Schools and Communities and Barclaycard which combines mentoring in schools, where Barclaycard employees volunteer to assist in chess in schools projects, and a competition held mostly online in eight countries.

The Yes2Chess International Challenge

Each of the eight teams that came to London had won their national competition played on the Yes2Chess server or, in the case of the Danish and Norwegian teams, a face to face competition. Teams are made up of five players from the same school, with each team containing at least one female player. The eligible countries are: Denmark, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, the UK and USA.

Thanks and Facts

A huge thank you to tournament director Alex Holowczak, who was often up into the early hours of the morning supervising the games between the American teams online! Thanks also to Andrew Blantz, the project manager from Barclaycard, and CSC’s Tereza Pribanova, who ensured everything, went smoothly. The event was also supported by volunteers from Barclays and Barclaycard. In all, 372 Barclaycard employees volunteered to support Yes2Chess, either through school mentoring or at tournaments in the eight countries. There was great emphasis this year on increasing the number of girls, and that rose to 31%. Yes2Chess impacted over 40,000 children, nearly double the number in 2014. To find out more about Yes2Chess, and to enter next year, please visit the official Yes2Chess web site.

Photos Casey Gutteridge (all others)

Visit the Barclaycard Yes2Chess web site

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