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Billy develops his exceptional chess skills

Image of Billy playing chess in school

On Sunday, 22 October, Billy in Year 7 competed in the Open section of the Birmingham Rapidplay. In his first round, he faced a formidable foe in the form of International Master Ameet Ghasi. Ameet is the current British Rapidplay Chess Champion with a national rating of 2640. He recently drew with legendary former World Number 2 Alexei Shirov. Facing him in rapid format would be a daunting prospect for any chess player, let alone someone who just turned twelve years old.

Quite unbelievably, Billy did what Shirov could not do and had Ghasi in all kinds of trouble. The master offered him a draw at one point and Billy boldly declined, playing on in pursuit of victory. Some ten moves later, he was offered another draw. Billy was objectively winning still in the position, but, with it being complicated and having limited time on his clock, he accepted this time. This is nevertheless a phenomenal result against the reigning British Champion and world-class player in this format. Furthermore, Billy went on to score 4.5/7 overall in the tournament, performing nearly 150 points higher than his rating.

I don't like to use superlatives for the sake of it, but on this occasion they are merited. There are few children Billy's age on the planet who could have achieved what he did on Sunday.

On 27-29 October, Billy played in the Scarborough Open. This standardplay chess tournament, rated by both the English Chess Federation and FIDE, the International Chess Federation, attracted a very strong field of 56 players headed by Grandmaster Danny Gormally, one of England's best players. Billy has been on a roll recently in rapidplay, but standardplay in which individual games can last for over 4 hours poses a different kind of challenge.

In the first round, Billy caused a notable upset as he defeated a 2200+ rated opponent with the Black pieces. However, what happened in round 2 was even more sensational. He faced FIDE Master Tim Wall, who is not only one of England's most seasoned chess masters but also a very well-known and respected chess coach. Billy tore up the script as he survived deep waters to take down Wall after over 4 hours of play, scoring his first ever win against a master in standardplay.

It meant that Billy faced a round 3 showdown with the Grandmaster top seed, Gormally. Once again, he put in a phenomenal effort, but eventually conceded after over 3 hours of play. An impressed and relieved Gormally showed him in the post-game analysis that he had one point been close to nicking a draw!

In round 4, Billy faced another 2200-rated veteran in the form of multi-time British Chess Championship Main Event competitor Nigel Birtwistle (a former opponent of a certain Mr Lam!). Billy held him to a draw for another very creditable result and then came out firing on all cylinders in the final round as he wiped out his 2143-rated opponent in just 28 moves, thanks to some deft manoeuvring followed by a crisp tactical finish.

It meant that Billy finished on 3.5/5 and won the rating prize. His performance rating was well over 2300 which means that he produced a master level performance having just turned twelve years old! He was massively out-rated in every single round, all of his opponents were experienced adult players of international calibre, and every game bar the final one lasted at least 3 hours, with most lasting longer. Moreover, the manner in which he played was striking, showing a degree of positional and strategic sophistication to match his already impressive tactical ability.

All in all, a very impressive result!