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Yes2Chess Finals Begin in London Print E-mail
By Coach Jay Stallings   
July 8, 2014
Thirty-nine scholastic chess teams from across the United States competed for a chance at an all-expense paid trip to London in the inaugural Yes2Chess competition. After nearly three months, Columbia Grammar Preparatory (NY) won the honor by the very slimmest of margins. Actually, there wasn't any margin, but we'll get back to that.

For the thirty-nine teams from places like Homestead, Florida and Valencia, California, Yes2Chess match day couldn't come soon enough. This online double-elimination competition did more than give the kids a chance to compete against young players aged 7-11 from across the United States.

yestochesskids3.jpg "The competition brought together the students and the school, supporting and encouraging the players from week to week as we awaited the next match," said Susan Berger, the coordinator for the Imagine International Academy of North Texas (coached by GM Babakuli Annakov). "The competition really energized the students to practice, study and get together to review games and prepare for the next match." The Imagine team finished 3rd after starting the event by winning their first 6 matches.

There could not have been a closer finish in the U.S. Finals. The two teams were both from the New York City area, Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School and Yung Wing Elementary. In the initial round of the event, the two had been paired and Columbia Grammar barely won, 3-2. Yung Wing would not be outscored again, but it was Columbia Grammar who took the title.

Facing elimination against Columbia Grammar (coached by Sophia Rohde, John Macarthur, Danny Rohde, Danny Vulis, Andrew Harding, and GMs Michael Rohde and Joel Benjamin), Yung Wing handed the eventual winners their only loss, 3-2. Now, each team had a loss, so it was on to the final match. It ended in a draw! Yes2Chess officials turned to their tie-break system and the score of the bottom board was tossed out, handing the match to a very excited Columbia Grammar. Said a justifiably proud Sophia Rohde: "I didn't even tell the kids about London until just before the final match."

Event TD Alex Holowczak emailed a short write-up to the top teams after the final match.

As an example of how close it has been, it could have been so different. On board 4, black had worked his way into a great position after white's 59th move:


I expected Black to play 59... Kb2, which I would think is a trivial win. 60. gxf5 gxf5 61. h5 c3+ 62. Ke3 c2 63. h6 c1=Q etc. and black wins easily.

Unfortunately, c3+ as played in the game loses! Running it through the computer now, 59.. fxg5 apparently also drew, but I hadn't looked at that.

IM Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of London-based Chess in Schools and Communities, which arranged for the Yes2Chess competition said:

The success of the event has been unprecedented, with participation across 8 countries in face to face and online tournaments. With the support of our sponsor Barclaycard and the cooperation of ChessBase we have run a tournament with over 10,000 children from primary schools and our ambition is to make it double in size next year thanks to technical improvements and the addition of new territories.

Besides the United States, the Yes2Chess competition was held in Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden. The winning teams from each of those countries are enjoying the royal treatment (simul by GM David Howell, Houses of Parliament Reception, a theatre trip to see the Lion King, and much more) in London and battle in the final on July 8th.

Good luck to the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory team of Harris Lencz, Theo Kogan, Sam Korff, Moses Weintraub, Merlin Gogolin, Julian Daniels, Marcus Burchill, Dylan Singer.

The event was sponsored by Barclaycard.

Special recognition in the U.S. should also go to Regine Li, coach of Yung Wing, and to Gail Winds of Las Vegas Country Day who placed 10 teams in the competition! California Youth Chess League (www.cycl.org) had 16 teams competing.

Go over the round-by-round matches (check out the final 2 rounds!)

Find photos and updates from London on the Yes2Chess Website: http://yes2chess.org/usa/