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posted Dec 13, 2020, 5:47 PM by Peter Tsai   [ updated Dec 13, 2020, 5:47 PM ]

2020 Australian Schools Teams Championships

by IM Leonid Sandler

Victoria dominates once again!
The 2020 Australian Schools Teams Championships from a Victorian perspective.

A well-documented pandemic in 2020 created huge problems for all walks of life. Creative solutions were required and our organisers rose up to the challenge and seized the opportunity.

Huge thanks goes to Hughston Parle, David Esmonde and Peter Tsai who along with many others around our vast continent-sized country, managed to make the 2020 Australian Schools Teams Championships a very successful and memorable event.

We were all slightly nervous as many things could go wrong, but by the end of the weekend (December 5 and December 6), the Australian chess community created history by staging the first hybrid chess event where players congregated in different parts of the country in playing hubs that were remotely connected and competed under arbiters' supervision.

I was very excited to meet and greet our 2020 Victorian Schools Champions as the last time I had seen them was about ten months ago. A magnificent hall at the Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) was the hub for our teams from Victoria.

The PLC trophy cabinet comprises many chess awards.

My dear reader, I have to tell you that our young Victorians showed that they are still the dominating force in Australian Junior chess! We won three of four titles. Out of 21 matches, Victorian teams won 19 matches and drew two matches, an outstanding result overall.

Group photo of Victorian teams.

Our girls teams from PLC and Glendal Primary School, perhaps inspired by the popular Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit", were playing at their very best. Glendal Primary School won all five matches; they also won the Graeme Gardiner prize for the highest score in any division with an incredible 20/20 Perfect score!

Glendal Primary School girls team.

Glendal Primary School girls team with Chief Arbiter Dr.Peter Tsai.

Victorian Secondary Schools Girls Team, the legendary Presbyterian Ladies' College, won the National title for the fifth year in row!

PLC team in action under watchful eyes of the past PLC Principals.

In true champions' style, the PLC team won all their matches (3-1, 4-0, 4-0, 3-1, 4-0) and were in a league of their own.

Victorian mass media outlets widely reported about PLC's incredible success amongst other chess stories. Please watch and listen here and here. Congratulations girls!!

In the Secondary Schools Open division, the Victorian Scotch College team won with one round to spare (3-1, 4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 3-1, 3.5-0.5). Sensational stuff!

Team Scotch.

The Victorian Primary school team from Glen Waverley started slowly with two ties (2-2, 2-2) and despite winning their remaining three matches (2.5-1.5, 4-0, 4-0) were forced to settle for silver medals. Good effort from Glen Waverley Primary School Team. Congratulations to the winners ACGC from Queensland, they scored 15 points from 20 games. The QLD teams once again showed their class by winning a total of one gold medal, two silver medals and one bronze medal.

It was also very pleasing to see a strong showing from the Western Australian teams who earned two bronze medals.

Full results from all divisions can be seen here. The games can be viewed here.

Presbyterian Ladies College Principal, Cheryl Penberthy during the closing ceremony.

We have received many lovely emails from Victorian parents and I would like to share an excerpt from one of them with you.
Dear Leonid and Peter,

I just want to say a huge thank you to you both and to Chess Victoria, for running such a successful tournament over the weekend. I know a lot of work has gone into it, together with Hughston Parle and David Esmonde. However, kudos too to you both for getting the Victorian teams to the ASTC.

With the lockdowns in Victoria, and the inability to play OTB tournaments, we are very grateful for Chess Victoria's innovation in moving inter school tournaments online and for having a state finals winner in each division.  

I think what other states may not realise is that Victorians have done it really tough this year. We have endured months of lockdown, with a lot of disruptions and not having any OTB tournaments. There was also mental fatigue, emotional stresses, and the lack of motivation during periods of the long lockdown. To be honest, I was very unsure where the level of chess my kids were at coming into this tournament, due to the lack of chess play. For Victoria to have emerged victorious, winning 3 out of 4 of the titles, it is no mean feat. Ordinarily, it is already not an easy thing, but to win it in this particularly challenging year is an amazing achievement. All Victorians should be congratulated for this wonderful effort!

All Victorian team members received a certificate of participation.