The York Chess Society entered two teams into the national universities’ championship last weekend, held in West Bromwich, with York finishing in third place overall.
This year a record twenty-five teams from fifteen different universities entered, with the competition split into two sections for the first time: a championship, for the best ten university first teams; and the plate, for all other teams entering.
York had our teams split between the two divisions, with York 1 being seeded fifth in the championship, while York 2 faced some other university first teams in the second division. The championship was structured in a Swiss format; each team would face opponents who were doing similarly well over the course of five rounds, with three on the Saturday and two on Sunday.
York 1 opened up their weekend with a good 2.5-1.5 win over UCL in the first round, followed with a 3-1 win over Durham. Two consecutive wins, however, meant that the competition would only become harder, as was proven with a match-up against the tournament second seeds Edinburgh in the third and final round of Saturday. Still, two wins and a draw from the team, including their third wins in three games from top boards James Adair and Martin Brown, meant that York 1 finished the day in equal first place with Imperial College, with the maximum number of points.
This of course meant that Sunday started off with having to play an extremely strong Imperial side who, despite missing their strongest player, where still the top seeds and strong favourites to win the competition. A 2.5-1.5 reverse showed that Imperial were too much for York, but still left them going into the final round against LSE with a chance of coming second, depending on results in other matches. A win would have secured second place regardless, but a draw or a loss would allow another team to potentially sneak in and take second, depending on the number of individual game points that team had won (each round being composed of a match against another team, composed of four games).
An unfortunate 2-2 draw however, with two boards having drawn games, meant that York slipped up at the final hurdle, with Cambridge’s 4-0 demolition of Bristol in their game allowing them to clinch second place behind Imperial, who didn’t lose a match all weekend. Still, third was a very acceptable result and, as well as this, our boards one and two won individual prizes. James Adair received first prize for the best board one performance, with four wins and one draw, while Martin Brown won second prize for his board two results, also with four wins and a draw, only missing out on first to the very person that he drew with on the basis that they faced higher rated opponents.
York 2, featuring three players new to this level, experienced two wins but three losses over their weekend, meeting with success against the seconds teams of Bristol (2.5-1.5) and Nottingham (3-1), but losing to Durham (1-3) on Saturday. Two more losses on Sunday followed against the first teams of Birmingham (a 0-4 whitewash) and Swansea (another 1-3), an annoyingly strong set of teams to come up against. Because of this, they came thirteenth out of fifteen, but hopefully a strong set of opposition gave our players some good practice and they’ll come back stronger next year. Joel Wagg on board one performed particularly well against some tough opponents, with one draw and two wins, including one against an ex-York first team player (now at Bristol).
First Team: James Adair, Martin Brown, Chris Bak and Alex Freeland
Second Team: Joel Wagg, Jakub Brezonak, David Rowland and Ben Rothwell