Checkmate to Philiphaugh

Primary schools chess competition. Focus Centre, Galashiels.
Primary schools chess competition. Focus Centre, Galashiels.

talks are taking place which could see Scottish Borders Council take over the running of the region’s primary school chess championship, writes Kenny Paterson.

The competition was won in its 30th year by Philiphaugh, but with long-standing organiser Tom Lawson wishing to step down, it is hoped the local authority will play a role in the 2014 staging of the tournament.

It was an intense day of action at the Focus Centre in Galashiels last Friday, as 72 competing primary pupils played a total of 360 games.

Philiphaugh’s team of Aidas Makuntenas, Josh Thirel, Callum Anderson and Michael Bell finished top of the Premier tier to win the David Matthews Associates Quaich just ahead of Gordon. It was the second year in a row the Selkirk school has claimed the title.

Philiphaugh also had the leading individual in the competition, Michael Bell taking the prize after winning all 10 of the matches he played.

The leading girl was Sarah Frizzell of Glendinning, who was also involved in the best game with Josh Thirel, as judged by Scottish International Master Craig Pritchett. In the other tiers of competition Heriot won the Major League and in the Minor League Stow were the top team.

Lilliesleaf won the chess quiz competition and Gordon won the prize for the best solutions for the chess problems. The tournament was sponsored by David Matthews Associates for the 10th year and thanks to the firm’s generosity all the competing schools were able to leave with a chess set.

Pupils also paid tribute to Mr Lawson, in his 29th year of organising the tournament, with support from his band of helpers.

Mr Lawson, who remains president of Galashiels Chess Club, said: “The beauty in the game of chess is the development of the kids and seeing them learn new skills. You have got to be able to count and in that way it improves your mental arithmetic.

“There are also bits of history and language thrown in, as well as improving concentration and problem solving aspects. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to education.”

He added: “We have been in negotiations with the council and my hope is that someone will be able to takeover the running of the competition.”

Final tables, Premier League: 1, Philiphaugh; 2, Gordon; 3, Glendinning; 4, Tweedbank; 5, St Peter’s Knights; 6, St Margaret’s Knights; Major League: 1, Heriot; 2, St Mary’s; 3, St Boswells; 4, St Margaret’s Bishops; 5, Clovenfords; 6, Lilliesleaf; Minor League: 1, Stow; 2, Earlston; 3, St Peter’s Bishops; 4, Broomlands; 5, Balmoral; 6, St Joseph’s.