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Frome junior chess players’ success

Every year, around 2,000 schools nationally (around 60,000 children) take part in the Delancey UK Chess Challenge, with the first round played over the spring term within the school or club. 

The children who come top of this seven-game tournament qualify for the regional round, the Megafinal, held every May at Millfield school. This year, five pupils from St John’s school and seven Frome Junior Chess Club players took part in the Megafinal on Sunday 10th May.

From St John’s First School, Abi Arnall Culliford, Eero Macleay, Tom Grogan, Artie Scholefield and Eben Tomkins competed.

Tom and Artie won four of their six games, and so qualify for the next round, the Gigafinal, which is for the whole of southern England and held in July in Reading. Their score also placed them in joint first place, with three other players, in the Under 8 section.

From Frome Junior Chess Club, taking part were Onni Macleay, Jacob Roberts, Jamie Keil, Evan Davies and Robin Veitch (all in the Under 10 section), Poppy Pinkster (Under 11) and William Veitch (Under 12). Jamie Keil, of St Louis school, came joint second in the Under 10s, with one other boy, winning five out of his six games in a section of 34 players that included county and UK junior players.

Poppy Pinkster, of Selwood school, won the suprema trophy for best girl in the Under 11s, winning four of her six games. She and Jamie qualify for the Gigafinal, as do Robin, William Onni, who all won four games.

Most of these players have been selected to play in their age group for Somerset, and so have been playing at a very high level this year.

The Delancey Chess Challenge aims to encourage schools to offer chess both as an extra curricular activity and as a school subject, as it recognises the huge benefits to children of learning and playing chess, socially and academically.

St John’s First School is at the moment the only Frome school to run an optional afterschool club and to offer chess on the curriculum: all Year 3 pupils have one hour a week of chess lessons throughout the year. Many Bath schools have started to do the same, and it would be good to see more Frome schools follow suit.