Chess grandmaster is still king of the castle

Tunbridge Wells Minimum Wage 2

Pupils from schools in and around Tunbridge Wells pitted their wits against an international chess grandmaster at the weekend.

John Emms from Hildenborough, also former captain of the English Olympiad team, took on 34 members of Tunbridge Wells Chess Club simultaneously, at Salomons on Saturday.

The grandmaster won most of the games, but four players managed to hold on to draw their matches.
Freddie Hand and David Liu, of The Judd School; Oleg Lyakh of The Skinners’ School; and Grace Lamb from Beechwood Sacred Heart received cups in recognition of their efforts.

Michael Shahoud, captain of Tunbridge Wells Chess Club, said: “The standard of chess was very high. Despite that, John did not lose a single game, which was quite an achievement and highlighted just how well Freddie, David, Oleg and Grace played.”


Skinners’ head Edward Wesson was thrilled by his student’s achievement and believed it would lead to a ‘resurgence of interest’ in the game at the school.

He said: “I was amazed by the phenomenal achievement and re-presented him with his award at an assembly on Monday.

“We have had a junior chess club for quite some time and set up a senior club last year which takes part in matches.

“It has not been hitherto a massive activity at Skinners’ but we will be looking to Oleg to lead the way and drive a resurgence of interest.”

Mr Wesson said chess is a valuable educational tool and he believes many of his pupils could benefit from it.

He added: “We have a lot of bright boys who will find its wide-range educational benefits as a brain trainer extremely useful.”

Andrew Daniells, operations manager at Salomons Estate which provided the venue free, said: “It was fantastic to see so many youngsters taking part in such a challenging event.

“We hope that it encourages them to continue playing the game and perhaps one day some of them may return and play this event at Salomons as grandmasters themselves.”

The event was sponsored by Savills estate agents.

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