Bryce Ackerly, Lochlan McBain, Ivy O’Halloran and Zara Brown travelled to St Paul’s College, Walla Walla on Monday 26th March to compete in the NSW junior chess competition – Riverina division.
This was the first time any of these students have competed in this state competition and all of them represented Xavier to a very high standard. Ivy was the first to secure a result, annihilating their 3rd ranked player with a 4 move checkmate. Zara dominated the 4th ranked board, quietly and confidently taking many of her opponent’s pieces before an unlucky stalemate drew the game. Lochlan had some trouble early, with their 2nd ranked player taking his queen, before fighting back to be in a winning position, with a queen and bishop against his opponent’s pawn and king. The St Paul’s player remained calm, using his king to defend against Lochlan’s two pieces, and successfully forced Lochlan into a queen sacrifice. Both players ended up with only a king, meaning this game was also drawn.
The rules of this competition meant that Xavier needed a draw or a win on the 1st ranked board to take out this round. The game was tense and technical with both players often taking several minutes to make their move. Bryce ignored an early pawn capture by his opponent and concentrated on improving his position, castling his king to provide a strong fortress, and then making a very strong attack using his queen and both rooks. He was playing very steadily, concentrating on taking pieces that his opponent could not protect. However, when his opponent took some risks, moving first his queen, and then a rook, up the board toward Bryce’s king, he ended up forcing a checkmate that Bryce couldn’t see coming. This meant St Paul’s were victorious in the competition and will move on to round 2 of the Riverina division of the NSW junior chess competition. Xavier remains in the second place draw, meaning we will continue to play until we get knocked out, and could still achieve 2nd place in the Riverina. There are 24 schools, from as far afield as West Wyalong, Lake Cargellico, and Tumut, in this competition, in which Xavier was placed 3rd last year.
Thanks to the players for their excellent sportsmanship and exemplary behaviour on this excursion. Chess club meets on Mondays at lunchtime in lab 202, and all interested students are invited to attend – there are at least two more opportunities to represent the school in chess this year, and we are always looking for new members.