While many enjoyed their long weekend, the Secondary Open, Secondary Girls, Primary Open and Primary Girls teams competed at the Queensland Schools Team Championships. For me, it was my final State Championships in a Somerset uniform and I could not be more proud of the results from all teams.
The girls competition was on the Friday and despite having strong teams, we knew that it would not be an easy win. Following the first three rounds the Senior girls were placed fourth in the standings – a spot we were not used to being in. However, after not losing any games in the next three rounds, we knew by the final round that we “had it in the bag”. The Primary girls also won their section with Lyanna, Jennifer and Melody placing second, third and fourth respectively, signifying a promising future for girls' chess at Somerset.
The Open competition commenced on the Saturday and was played over two days, with some games spanning up to three hours. Both secondary teams placed in the top five, above many teams with much higher ratings. In the final round, the second Somerset team managed to secure a draw against the second highest team in the competition, Churchie, which was quite the upset. As a result, the top Somerset Secondary team placed second by the narrowest of margins, above many strong schools, such as Nudgee, Brisbane State High and Churchie.
However, the majority of the excitement surrounded the Primary Open competition. With six of the 33 teams in contention to take out the top prize and very little separating them in skill and experience, all students, coaches and parents were anticipating a close finish. By the final round, there were three teams that were only separated by one point: Hillcrest, Somerset and Macgregor. With only one team able to qualify for Nationals in Perth, the stakes were high and every move was crucial. There were people running back and forth from ‘Somerset HQ’ to the playing venue to give updates on how Somerset was doing against their toughest competitor, Macgregor. With Oliver and Eason both winning their games and Hilcrest only managing to score one and a half points against Robertson, it all came down to Lyanna to win and secure the victory. Despite being sick and having the immense pressure of being the deciding factor, Lyanna fought hard and stayed focused. Consequently, she defeated her opponent, much to the relief of Mr Gardiner and coaches Mr Curtis and Mr Williams, who had been holding their breath leading up to that point. I am in absolute awe of how the Primary team managed to maintain their composure in such a tense situation. Congratulations also need to go to Jason Li who managed to place first for his board allocation.
So, while many of my fellow seniors may wear the Somerset uniform for the last time on Scholars' Day, Anneliese McConnell and I will be given the opportunity to wear it one final time at the National Championships in Perth. It is a rare feat for a school to accomplish what Somerset has: qualifying for Nationals in three of the four possible sections. This could not have been accomplished without the tireless effort from Mr Graeme Gardiner, Mr Shaun Curtis and Mr Doug Williams. Despite the lack of sleep from driving teams up to Brisbane each day at 7.00am and returning late at night, their enthusiasm never wavered as they kept students motivated and energised. Very few people in this world could show the passion and commitment that they do.
All keen Somerset Chess players should endeavour to play in the upcoming Australian Junior Championships. It is being held in Queensland at Anglican Church Grammar School from Saturday 14 to Sunday 22 January. The younger age events are three or five day events, but the older students play every day. Full details are available here. For parents who do not wish to drive up to Brisbane each day, I will be driving a bus up to Churchie every day. You can register for this at this link here.
- Graeme Gardiner, Gardiner Chess
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