Cheshire schoolchildren take on the world at chess

Coach, Eliot Green, with his students, Anish Kotamarthi (11), Conrad Green (17) and Imogen Hemmings

Coach, Eliot Green, with his students, Anish Kotamarthi (11), Conrad Green (17) and Imogen Hemmings (8) - Credit: Archant

Three Cheshire pupils have been representing the county in one of the largest chess tournaments in the world. We meet the kings and queens of chess to find out more.

Conrad Green (17)

Conrad Green (17) - Credit: Archant

Three very bright Cheshire youngsters have made it to the Northern Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge Gigafinals. Conrad Green, 17, Imogen Hemmings, 8, and Anish Kotamarthi, 11, who are all pupils at Newcastle Under Lyme School, attended the finals in Manchester after qualifying with excellent performances in the earlier Megafinals round. The Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge is one of the largest chess tournaments in the world, with roughly 74,000 participants.

All three pupils were coached by Conrad’s father, Eliot Green, from his home in Buerton and at a weekly club at Newcastle Under Lyme School.

Eliot, who is a chess coach in his spare time, is a local solicitor and high court advocate. His son, Conrad, has been playing chess since the age of four and was awarded the Supremo title in the Megafinals, which means he was the top player in his section: ‘I started playing competitively aged seven, progressing from local to regional competitions,’ said Conrad. ‘Taking part in the Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge opens it up to a national level, and I have even taken part in a number of global competitions. I was proud to represent England in Poland, Czech Republic and Gibraltar.’

Conrad, who would like to become a chemical engineer, has consistently qualified as a Supremo since 2002 and a number of times he has been awarded the Ultimo title – which is given if you come top of the group in the Gigafinals. Competing in the 2014 Under 17 Boys Gigafinal, Conrad was awarded second place position, narrowly missing out on another Ultimo title. He will go onto play in the Challengers round at the national Terafinals.

Anish Kotamarthi (11)

Anish Kotamarthi (11) - Credit: Archant

‘I really enjoy playing chess,’ said Conrad. ‘You always meet the same four or five people in each competition which is good. The finals get quite heated, especially in a deciding match but generally we all get along!’

For Anish, who lives in Crewe, chess became a part of his life just over two years ago.

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‘I started playing when I signed up for the club that Eliot runs at my school,’ he said. ‘It began as a hobby but I then began competing when I was nine. I am very happy and impressed with myself when I win!’

The eleven year old, who won four out of his six matches when qualifying for the Gigafinals at the Megafinals, felt more confident this year after not doing as well as he hoped in the 2013 competition: ‘My sister, Ankeeta, used to play chess so she taught me how to play and I also play with my dad – but I always beat him!’

Imogen Hemmings (8)

Imogen Hemmings (8) - Credit: Archant

Anish, an aspiring computer engineer, played in the 2014 Under 11 Boys ‘C’ Gigafinal and was awarded a silver plate, meaning that he has qualified for the separate Silver Plate competition.

Year Three pupil Imogen Hemmings was awarded the Suprema title when competing in the Gigafinal qualifiers, the Megafinals. She was pleased to be top girl the Under 8’s section: ‘It was my first time playing in the Megafinals this year so I was so happy to be awarded the top prize.’ Imogen thought that joining the chess club in school would be fun to take part in and learn. ‘I have really enjoyed playing with different people at school, and I practise at home with my dad. I still haven’t beaten my brother!’ Unfortunately, Imogen didn’t qualify in the 2014 Gigafinal, but she has done extremely well to get as far as Suprema title after playing chess for only a year and a half.

Chess coach Eliot Green was first introduced to the game aged eight, but only played against another competitor when he went to Keele University. ‘I am very proud of all my pupils. They have all done so well to get this far, and that is reliant on how much training they each put in. I recommend one hour daily.’

‘Playing chess is hard work, it is a difficult game. Playing with Conrad has really helped our parent-child relationship as it is something different than just sitting there watching TV or video games – we actually interact with each other.’

Eliot has been hosting the chess club at Newcastle Under Lyme School for five years, and he would like the club to continue. ‘It is a hobby for the pupils, but it is serious. One game is never the same as the one before it.’