The King’s School chess team will be moving to checkmate the opposition in the national finals of the Schools’ Team Chess Challenge.
The Macclesfield school lived up to its name by winning the hugely competitive northern section and will now be one of 16 elite school teams sweating it out at the Imperial College London in early April.
It is the best performance King’s has produced at national level and is down to a superb four-person team effectively run by mathematics teacher, Tracy Aston, and coached by parent mentor, Andrew Ireland.Pictured with Tracy Aston and Andrew Ireland are from left to right James Wolstenholme, William Cann and Simon Trier.
Playing Board-1 is top 13-year-old talent, Sam Parry, from Cheddleton, who is on the England Elite programme. Board-2 is 14-year-old Simon Trier from Macclesfield. Board-3 is Congleton based 17-year-old James Wolstenholme, while at Board-4 is key new addition, 17-year-old William Cann, another emerging Macclesfield talent.
Sam said: “Although chess is not a physical game, it often feels like a physical battle. You have to concentrate so hard over what can be a three or four-hour marathon to make sure you don’t slip up that it is both physically and mentally exhausting, but I love the competition and tactical skill.”
William said: “I love maths and physics and enjoy applying the same sort of logical processes.”
Simon added: “You need to remain calm and logical but it can also be very intense with extreme rivalries especially among the players you know.” Senior man James was the most succinct “I just love winning.”
Coach Andrew Ireland, who doubles as manager of Sainsbury’s in Wilmslow, said: “Chess is a very complex game and these lads are thinking at least 10 moves ahead. I teach theory about openings and sequences of play. When we are practising we are not really playing competitively, rather discussing the whys and wherefores of each move.”
Tracy, who has led reinvented chess at King’s since moving to the school four years ago, added: “Sometimes we can get over 10 young chess players turning up for our lunchtime clubs which is very encouraging, though more usually we have a hardcore of seven or eight enthusiasts. The secret I believe is not to rush, to be calm, to think your plan through, use foresight and be able to strategise.”
She added:” As a math’s teacher I am bound to say that people who are good at math’s tend to be good at chess, but the game is accessible to all and we love to see both beginners and experienced players at our lunchtime club.”