The 2023 Delancey UK Chess Challenge concluded with the Terafinal held at Blenheim Palace 14th and 15th 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.

Players first had to qualify via a Megafinal and then qualified for the Terafinal via one of the following strong National events:

Scottish Gigafinal, Broughton High School 24/25 June
Northern Gigafinal, Wright Robinson College Manchester 1/2 July
Southern Gigafinal, Sandown Race Park 22/23 July
Online Gigafinal, 2/3 September
Challengers, Northampton Town Centre Hotel 9/10 September

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).

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, Pat Armstrong, Rahil Ahmad, Pauline Whitehead, Alex Holowczak, Nevil Chan, Ken Regan, Matthew Carr, Emma-Jane Billington-Phillips, Sean Marsh, Jon Hunt, Ray Sayers, Ed Jones, John Upham, Maha Chandar, Jamie Mitchell, Jennifer Wilson, Harry Marron,  David Eggleston, Julian Clissold, Ravi Kumar, John Stubbs, Oliver Stubbs, John Hipshon, Lara Barnes, Alex McFarlane, Chris Lewis, Daniel Knight, Mark Newman, Richard Croot, Mohammad Rezaul Islam, Thomas Evans, Ritika Maladkar, Andrew Smith, Jo Wildman, Andy Howie, Nilanga Jayawarna, Jorel Ali, Maria Manedilou, Chris Russell, James Corrigan and Adam Robinson. There are many others of course – apologies if I have missed people!!

This was the first ever Terafinal to take place without the original founder Michael Basman who is dearly missed and to whom ourselves and UK junior chess are so deeply indebted.

All the games can be viewed on the Terafinal lichess page

>>> View the games

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.

The battle for first place was dominated by two players; Dildarav Lishoy Gengis Paratazham (England) and Louis Cheng (Scotland). The two met in round 9 with Dildarav half a point behind but managing to gain a hard fought victory to take a half point lead which he didn’t relinquish. Their final points tallies of 10.5 and 10 (from 11 rounds) points to their dominance in the event.

Amy Ba was the convincing winner of the top girl prize scoring a very creditable 50% and finishing 3.5 points clear of her nearest rival. Amy even won an U10 Gigafinal this season (playing up a category).

1st – Dildarav Lishoy Gengis Paratazham (Sythwood), 10.5/11
2nd – Louis Cheng (Edinburgh Chess Academy), 10
3rd – Krish Keshari (Chess with Dino), 9
Girl – Amy Ba (Oxford High), 5.5

>>> Full Results

U8 Champion – Dildarav Lishoy Gengis Paratazham

U8 Girls’ champion – Amy Ba

Under 10s

It was really difficult to predict a winner in this event where four nationalities were represented (English, Indian, Ukrainian and German). A case could be made for many players who have had strong seasons. The standings were close throughout and in the end first place was decided in the final round in the game between George Zhao (Westminster Under School) and Junyi Zhang (St Paul’s). Junyi, needing a win, lost on time, though by then the endgame was difficult to save.

George is already a multi-time winner of the event having won the U10s in 2022 and also finishing as runner-up in the 2021 U8 event.

The girl’s prize was also decided in the final round clash between Sheng Lu (Germany) and Aashita Roychowdhury (England). Aashita, needing to win, manufactured a winning pawn endgame but it was tricky to convert and in pressing too hard even managed to lose the game.

1st – George Zhao (Westminster Under School), 10
2nd – Junyi Zhang (St Paul’s), 8.5
3rd – Ashwin Anjulan (Loyola Prep), 8
Girl – Sheng Lu (Chess Rising Stars), 3.5

>>> Full Results

U10 Champion – George Zhao

U10 Girl’s Champion – Sheng Lu

Under 12s

The race for first place in the under 12s proved to be the closest across all the sections and in the end the trophy was decided on tiebreak score as both Elis Denele Dicen and Tom Junde He (both of Coventry Chess Academy) finished joint 1st on 8.5 points and had drawn their individual game.

Elis is another multi-time winner winning the U8 girls in 2019, U10 girls 2020 and the U10 open in 2021. She is the only girl in the competition’s history to win an open title and now she has done it twice. Elis is a member of the Chess Trust’s Accelerator Programme and is currently the 17th ranked girl in the world in her age category.

Coventry Chess Academy, under the stewardship of Paul Lam continue to produce some outstanding junior talents and this one-two is testament to their high standards.

1st (and top girl) – Elis Denele Dicen (Coventry Chess Academy), 8.5
2nd – Tom Junde He (Coventry Chess Academy), 8.5
3rd – Pengxiao Zhu (7.5)

>>> Full Results

U12 Champion – Elis Denele Dicen

Under 14s

This was another heavily stacked section with multiple British Champions, former UKCC winners and two members of the Chess Trust Accelerator Programme. The deserving winner, Stanley Badacsonyi (Fortismere) went through undefeated including decisive victories over the 2nd and 3rd placed finishers. Stanley is making a name for himself as a very dangerous and fast player on the UK scene and it is fantastic that he has now achieved this latest accolade.

The girls title was a close affair with Dhriti Anand (North London Collegiate) narrowly edging out Lindsay Pyun in part due to her victory over her nearest rival in round 10. Dhriti also won the girls U12 title in 2022 and is now a multi-time winner.

A special mention to Kenneth Hobson who was runner-up now for the third time. Kenneth gained his CM title this year and defeated his first Grandmaster – hopefully next year he’ll make a run on the U18 championship.

1st – Stanley Badacsonyi (Fortismere), 9.5
2nd – Kenneth Hobson (Cowley), 8.5
3rd – Theo Khoury (Gillotts), 8
Girl – Dhriti Anand (North London Collegiate), 3

>>> Full Results

U14 Champion – Stanley Badacsonyi

U14 Girl’s Champion – Dhriti Anand

Under 18s

The U18 section included an International Master and a FIDE Master and the standard of play was higher than ever. The two top seeds met in round 6 and Artem Lutsko (Tytherington School) was the decisive winner after Rajat Makkar’s opening gambit backfired.

In the last 18 months many strong young players from the Ukraine have joined the England chess scene and junior chess has been greatly enriched by this. Artem becomes the UK Chess Challenge’s first champion from the Ukraine and he did it in great style with a thumping 7/7 at the Northern Gigafinal and almost completed a clean sweep in the Terafinal only being held to a draw in the very last round by 2nd place finisher Aron Saunders.

Aron (Downend & Fishpond) had a great tournament going through undefeated to 2nd place. Aron, or ‘QED’ to his online followers, has racked up some impressive achievements in speed chess and variants online and it is great to see the results now following over the board.

In the battle for girls’ title Tashika Arora narrowly finished ahead of Abigail Weersing after prevailing in their crucial round 7 clash.

1st – Artem Lutsko (Tytherington School), 10.5
2nd – Aron Saunders (Downend & Fishponds), 9
3rd – Sanjith Madhavan (St Ninian’s High, Scotland), 8
Girl – Tashika Arora (Oxford), 4.5

>>> Full Results

U18 Champion – Artem Lutsko

U18 Girls’ Champion – Tashika Arora