Jacob gives an outstanding performance at the World Cadets Chess Championship


23 November 2018
It was an honour and privilege to be selected to represent England at the 2018 World Chess Championships. In order to be selected, I had to meet one of three criteria: either win the English Youth Chess Grand Prix, meet the English Chess Federation minimum target grade or be a member of the Junior Accelerator Programme; an elite group of juniors selected on performance in national competitions.  When this selection policy was published, I was in a great position to meet all three criteria.  Fourteen players and four chess coaches made up the England delegation of which there were 87 countries represented and 826 players. The World Championships was an 11 round tournament, playing one game each day.  Each player had 90 minutes to make his or her first 40 moves then an additional 30 minutes were added on.  With a 30-second increment being added on to every move made from move one, this meant that some games lasted over five hours.

The Championships took place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The playing hall was set in the Gaias City of Culture, a piece of modern architecture with an art gallery, library and museum. The venue and the England team hotel were both just outside the city.

Chess tournaments don't differ very much when it comes to the daily routine and the World Championships was no exception.  Wake up by 8:15 and go for breakfast.  At 9am meet my coach to prepare for the game.  This involved researching my opponent's previous tournament games, analysing which openings he was likely to play and then planning strategies to win. I then had to continue preparation independently until lunch.  After lunch, there was some free time until we were picked up at 3pm by coaches taking us on the 10 minute drive to the venue.  We were then ready to start the game at 4 o'clock.  My quickest game was 90 minutes, which I won confidently but all of my other games were between three and four hours.  After dinner, another hour was spent with my coach to analyse the game and wait in anticipation until 10pm for the pairings to be announced for the next day.

Going into my first round I was feeling very nervous especially because I was expected to win this game.  In my section, there were 203 players and I was ranked 37.  In the first round, high ranked players are drawn to play the bottom seeds, so my Lebanese opponent was ranked a lot lower than me.  Nobody wants to lose their first game but there is always the danger that your opponent would be a lot better than their rating.  It was very exciting walking into the playing hall and I had worked very hard to get here.  Thankfully, I controlled the game and I won quite easily, so I could start to feel more relaxed.  I went on to win my next game against a player from Spain.  Then came the highlight of my tournament in round three.  I was playing against the No.1 player in the world, streamed live on chess 24, a chess internet channel. My opponent was International Master Gukesh D from India and will most likely become a future Super Grand Master. Gukesh went on to steamroll everyone in his path and win the tournament.  I loved playing him because he was such a strong player.  I had quite a good game against him and I wasn't getting completely crushed.  Sadly I was the first to make a mistake after 3 hours and I couldn't rescue the game.

My best game was in Round 10, and in my coach's words "The game was a masterpiece, very beautiful. Your opponent suffered on the chessboard. You caused him a lot of pain, playing in this position". I was obviously very pleased and it was another highlight. My win against this Spanish player meant that I could end the tournament on a high. This time I was playing seed 11 from Bulgaria, the game lasted 3 1/2 hours and was equal all the way which ended with us agreeing on a draw. This was a good result given that he is rated 200 Fide points higher than me. Overall I won 6 games, beating players from Lebanon, Spain, Serbia and Italy, drew 2 games to Moldova and Bulgaria and I lost just 3.

I would like to say a huge thank you to the John Carpenter Club for your their sponsorship and City of London School for the permission to take the time off school. I will never forget this experience.

The School said it was very proud of Jacob and his outstanding achievements. He is definitely a name to watch in the world of chess!