Last week I ran my fourth primary schools tournament here in the (Olympic) London Borough of Newham. This was just two days after the launch of a Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) initiative in the borough - click here for more on what CSC is doing in Newham - including an interview with Gawain Jones, grandmaster and British champion.
By my fourth tournament I have now honed the format to one that works well, including running to schedule. So much junior chess relies on the goodwill of teachers and parents and punctuality helps retain this.
We had 30 players from five schools (and one after-school club) and I therefore ran the tournament as an individual five-round Swiss. Each round took half-an-hour, with me stepping in to adjudicate obvious results after 20 minutes - there were no clocks. With 15 minutes for registration at the start and 15 minutes at the end for prize-giving, pack-up, etc, it fitted nicely into three hours.
I awarded prizes for age groups - deliberately not by school years, since children born later in the academic year would have been disadvantaged (as they often are). There were therefore medals and certificates for the overall champion and second and third place, highest-scoring girl or boy (depending on who won the overall) and under 11, 10, 9 and 8.
There was also a team trophy, determined by the combined scores of team members. This method can also work if teams are different sizes: simply combine the scores for the top n players in each team where n is the size of the smallest team. You can therefore have a meaningful tournament between teams of widly varying sizes - eg, a school could host a tournament with a 12-strong team and invite two opposing teams of six for a three-way match.
Going into the final round it was close at the top with The Hartley Centre on 14/20 - just one point behind Ravenscroft Primary School - an experienced CSC school - see video at the top of this.
All the Hartley (HRT) and Ravenscroft (RVN) players were on the top eight boards in the final round, the pairings being as follows:
Karshan HRT (4) vs Abida RVN (4)
Charu HRT (3) vs AN Other (3 1/2)
Aagnesh HRT (3) vs Ahn RVN (3)
AN Other (3) vs Christopher RVN (3)
Mahraz RVN (3) vs AN Other (3)
AN Other (2) vs Yash HRT (2)
AN Other (2) vs Josiah RVN (2)
Aarthy HRT (2) vs AN Other (2)
On the lower boards Hartley's Yash and Aarthy both won - as did Christopher, but his team-mates Mahraz and Josiah lost, as did Hartley's Charu on board two. Ravenscroft won the clash against Hartley on board three, leaving Ravenscroft a point ahead with just board one left - the decider for both the individual and team championship.
Ravenscroft's Abida was winning but failed to stop a passed pawn - which proved decisive. So Karshan won the overall title and Hartley won the team title on tie-break: they had faced slightly stronger opposition across the whole tournament.