The 2022 Delancey UK Chess Challenge concluded with the Terafinal held at Blenheim Palace 16th and 17th October. 60 players took part across 5 “all-play-all” age group sections (U8/10/12/14/18). All players had done remarkably well to make it to this stage – the Terafinal is exceptionally difficult to qualify for! The quality of chess on display was very high indeed.

We are extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to host the event at such a spectacular venue and the team at Blenheim Palace made us felt very welcome and helped ensure we were able to run everything as planned – including using the ‘Long Library’ for the prize giving (literally a red carpet prizegiving)!

There were some amazing games played (330 in total). I’ve analysed a selection which can be accessed via the link below. these include the ‘best game awards’ as nominated by Mark Hogarth and Zoe Varney.

>>> Selected games and analysis

Once again huge a thank you to our sponsors Delancey without whom this event couldn’t take place.

Before we come to the event report we’d just like to express our thanks to our core team and the many helpers and organisers this year. In no particular order:

Dominic Hare, Mike Basman, Pat Armstrong, Rahil Ahmad, Pauline Whitehead, Alex Holowczak, Nevil Chan, Ken Regan, Matthew Carr, Emma-Jane Billington-Phillips, Sean Marsh, John Hunt, Ray Sayers, Ed Jones, John Upham, Maha Chandar, Jamie Mitchell, Jennifer Wilson, Tim Wall, David Eggleston, Mark Hogarth, Zoe Varney, Julian Clissold, Ravi Kumar, Chris Strong, John Hipshon, Chris Lewis, Thomas Evans, Ritika Maladkar, Richard Buxton, Sathya Vaidyanathan, Andrew Smith, Shoreh Bayat, Jo Wildman, Andy Howie, Nilanga Jayawarna, Alecos Ethelontis, Jagdeep Dhemrait, James Corrigan and Adam Robinson. There are many others of course – apologies if I have missed people!!

Under 8s

The U8 section was jam packed with the UK’s strongest U8 players and it is amazing to see so much talent at such a young age. Many of these players would be competitive in much older sections and it is clear that the future of UK chess is looking bright in the hands of these players.

In the end the battle for first was dominated by the two Scottish contestants Rithvik Deepak Ambattu and Supratit Banerjee. Going into the final 11th round Rithvik was ahead by one point having scored an unbelievable 10/10. However, were Supratit to win he would catch Rithvik and even win on tiebreak (direct encounter). In a long and tense game Supratit emerged the winner and Rithvik had to settle on 2nd place despite an amazing score of 10/11.

Scottish junior chess is developing very quickly and Supratit follows in Frederick Gordon’s footsteps – Frederick winning the boy’s U12 title in 2021.

Bodhana Sivanandan won the girls’ prize by a clear 3 points scoring 8/11. Bodhana has won multiple European and World titles already this year was one of the favourites going into the event but couldn’t quite keep up with the Scottish duo losing to Rithvik in round 6.

1st – Supratit Banerjee (10/11)
2nd – Rithvik Deepak Ambattu (10/11)
3rd (and top girl) – Bodhana Sivanandan (8/11)

>>> Full under 8 results

>>> All the U8 games

U8 Champion – Supratit Banerjee (Scotland)

U8 Girls’ Champion – Bodhana Sivanandan

Under 10s

The under 10s saw one of the closest finishes I have ever seen! Going into the last round there were five players separated by just half a point: George Zhao (7.5), Rishi Vijaykumar (7.5), Billy Fellowes (7.5), Ruqayyah Rida (7) and Anh Nguyen (7). In the final round George defeated fellow leader Billy whilst Rishi could only manage a draw versus Anh meaning George was the outright winner on 8.5/11. This is justice for 2021 where he finished on the same score as the winner but lost out on tiebreak. George has dominated the U10 tournaments this year winning the Northern Gigafinal and the Challengers (9/9)!

Rishi Vijaykumar played impressive chess throughout and is another member of the strong Scottish contingent.

The girls’ prize was won by the impressive Ruqayyah Rida who also finished 3rd overall – having finished 2nd in 2021. Ruqayyah is one of our top female talents and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about her in the years to come.

1st – George Zhao (8.5/11)
2nd – Rishi Vijaykumar (8/11)
3rd (and top girl) – Ruqayyah Rida (8/11)

>>> Full U10 Results

>>> All the U10 games

U10 Champion – George Zhao

U10 Girls’ Champion – Ruqayyah Rida

Under 12s

The event was led from start to finish by Livio Cancedda-Dupuis who had also won the Challengers event in September. Despite losing in round 9 to Avyukt Dasgupta, Livio managed to keep his calm and finish the tournament with two victories including versus top seed Stanley Badacsonyi in the final round.

The girls’ prize was won by Dhriti Anand who had a fantastic tournament defeating many of the top seeds including Stanley Badacsonyi, Theo Khoury and Avyukt Dasgupta. She did lose to her nearest rival Elis Dicen but still managed to finish the tournament a point clear for a deserved title. For Elis – the 2021 overall U10 champion – it just wasn’t her tournament but she is a fighter and will be back!

1st РLivio Cancedda-Dupuis  (8.5/11)
2nd – Theo Khoury (8/11)
3rd – Avyukt Dasgupta (8/11)
Top girl – Dhriti Anand (5.5/11)

>>> Full Under 12 Results

>>> All the U12 games

U12 Champion – Livio Cancedda-Dupuis

U12 Girls’ Champion – Dhriti Anand

Under 14s

The U14 section was a closely fought race between good friends and rivals Kenneth Hobson (Accelerator Programme) and Dimitrios Zakarian. Kenneth is actually coached by Dimitrios’s father David Zakarian, whom as well as being a strong chess player (FIDE Master) is also an author and professor at Oxford. David of course remained neutral throughout and I was impressed by his stance of not following the live games too closely and letting the players get on with it.

Kenneth and Dimitrios played a long and hard-fought draw in round 10 in which both players had chances. This meant that both went into the final round on 8/10 – however Dimitrios was ahead on tiebreak (the infamous Sonneborn-Berger score). Both players won their final games meaning that they shared the prizemoney but Dimitrios took the title on tiebreak. This is the second time Kenneth has finished overall 2nd to Dimitrios – previously being defeated in the final of the U12 2020 edition. Kenneth was first to congratulate Dimitrios and the respect and friendship between the players provides a great example.

3rd place finisher Isaac Lam was leading the event for much of the way before defeat at the hands of Kenneth in round 9. Still this was a great tournament for Isaac with many nice victories.

Olga Latypova won the girls’ prize with 4.5/11 to add to her 2021 U12 girl’s title. Olga finished a full 3.5 points ahead of her nearest rival for the title and showed a high standard throughout.

1st – Dimitrios Zakarian (9/11)
2nd – Kenneth Hobson (9/11)
3rd – Isaac Lam (8/11)
Top girl – Olga Latypova (4.5/11)

>>> Full U14 Results

>>> All the U14 games

U14 Champion – Dimitrios Levon Zakarian

U14 Girls’ Champion – Olga Latypova

Under 18s

FM Yichen Han is the 2022 U18 Delancey UK Schools’ Chess Champion after edging out fellow FIDE Master Rajat Makkar. Yichen was undefeated throughout though had a very close shave versus girls’ winner Anum Sheikh in round 5. Yichen added to his 2017 (U11), 2018 (U10) and 2019 (U12) titles by winning the top title despite still being eligible for the U14s.

FM Rajat Makkar ran Yichen very close and led for most of the way. Rajat was leading on 7/7 going into round 8 where he managed to hold Yichen to a draw. However things started to come unstuck with a defeat to Aron Saunders in round 9 and a draw with Frankie Badacsonyi in round 10 despite being an exchange up at one point. Rajat has an incredible in the UKCC; 2018 (2nd – U12), 2019 (2nd – U12), 2020 (1st – U14), 2021 (1st – U14) and I’m sure he’ll be back next year to try and add the U18 title to his collection.

Anum Sheikh won the girls’ prize finishing a point ahead of Julia Volovich despite losing their individual game. Her result could and perhaps should have been even better after agreeing draws in virtually winning positions against Frankie Badacsonyi, Edward Jackson and Yichen Han. Anum is a sharp and exciting player and with a bit more confidence we believe she can challenge the boys for first place in future!

1st – Yichen Han (9.5/11)
2nd – Rajat Makkar (9/11)
3rd – Frankie Badacsonyi (7.5/11)
Top girl – Anum Sheikh (4/11)

>>> Full U18 Results

>>> all the U18 games

U18 Champion – Yichen Han

U18 Girls’ Champion – Anum Sheikh