Wealden chess champions help sweep the board

Sussex chess champions
Sussex chess champions

Junior chess players from Sussex completed a remarkable haul of titles at the weekend.

An unprecedented double victory in both the U12 and U16 age group titles in Telford on Saturday means that Sussex are 2013 national chess champions at all age groups from U11 to U16, a total of five different age group crowns.

They already held the U11, U13 and U14 crowns and now have a unique group of five consecutive age group titles. Toby Harris from Uckfield and Amarclip Ahluwalia from Crowborough are talented players in the teams.

Sussex faced determined opposition on Saturday. The U12 squad, despite being holders of the trophy, found themselves behind after the first round of three but fought back to overhaul local rivals Kent (who finished second) and South Wales (third).

Sussex had never won the U16 title before but on Saturday led from the start to finish above Berkshire (second) and South Wales (third).

Junior chess training manager Jonathan Tuck said: “On Saturday the team spirit in the two squads was excellent. In Sussex we are fortunate to have a group of talented individuals who always seem to find that extra 10 per cent when playing chess as a team.

“They were in fine form from the off and against stiff competition both were thoroughly deserving winners. They were magnificent.”

The boys and girls who make up the two age group squads are drawn from state and private schools from all parts of the county and are selected by a team of coaches based on their performances at regional and national level.

Most will have been playing chess competitively since the age of six or seven and had their skills honed at Sussex’s regular training days.

A combined squad of 20 made the long journey up to Telford for Saturday’s competition.

Six of the U12 squad represented England in tournaments abroad, and two more played for England girls in June.

The U16 squad includes the current U16 British champion and all are England internationals.

In the past year Sussex juniors have travelled to all corners of the country to win national titles in Nottingham (U11), Elstree (U13) and Northampton (U14).

Sussex Junior Chess is a not for profit organisation run by volunteers which exists to promote and popularise chess amongst school age children in the county.

It provides training days at venues around the county, and organises tournaments for individuals and schools. See www.sussexjuniorchess.org.