King's moves to checkmate opposition in national chess finals

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The King's School Chess team will be moving to checkmate the opposition in the finals of the National Schools' Team Chess Challenge.

The King's team lived up to its name by winning the hugely competitive Northern competition and will now be one of 16 elite school teams sweating it out at the Imperial College London in early April. It is the best performance King's has produced at national level and is down to a superb four-man team effectively run by Maths teacher Tracy Aston and coached by parent mentor Andrew Ireland.

Playing Board One is top 13-year-old talent Sam Parry, who is on the England Elite Chess programme; Board Two is 14-year-old Simon Trier; Board Three is 17-year-old James Wolstenholme; while at Board Number Four is 17-year-old William Cann. Coach Andrew Ireland, whose day job is the Manager of Sainsbury's in Wilmslow, said: "Chess is a very complex game and these lads are thinking at least 10 moves ahead. I teach theory about openings and sequences of play. When we are practicing we are not really playing competitively, rather discussing the whys and wherefores of each move."

Sam said: "Although Chess is not a physical game, it often feels like a physical battle. You have to concentrate so hard over what can be a three or four-hour marathon to make sure you don't slip up that it is both physically and mentally exhausting, but I love the competition and tactical skill." William added: "I love Maths and Physics and enjoy applying the same sort of logical processes." Simon commented: "You need to remain calm and logical but it can also be very intense with extreme rivalries especially among the players you know." Senior man James was the most succinct "I just love winning."

Tracy Aston, who has reinvented chess at King's since moving to the school four years ago, added: "We get good numbers of pupils turning up for our lunchtime Chess Club, which is very encouraging, and have a hardcore of seven or eight enthusiasts. The game is accessible to all and we love to see both beginners and experienced players at our club. The secret I believe is not to rush, to be calm, to think your plan through, use foresight and be able to strategize."

Pictured with Tracy Aston and Andrew Ireland are (from left) James Wolstenholme, William Cann and Simon Trier.

Pictured separately is Sam Parry.

Kings School