Diah Represents England in Greece
We were incredibly proud to see Year 5 pupil Diah fly out to Greece to represent Hallfield and her country in the European School Chess Championship and World Cadet and Youth Rapid & Blitz Championship. Here, she tells us about her experience.
27 July 2022
It was 20th April 2022 at 5:45 am – the day I had been eagerly waiting for. We were at the Birmingham airport airline check-in desk. The friendly lady at the desk said to me, “That is a nice hoodie!” I think she was possibly able to see the excitement on my face. “Thank you, this is my England squad hoodie. I’m going to Greece for my first international chess tournament to play for England!” I enthusiastically replied. I had been eagerly counting down the days since finding out that I would be going to Greece as a part of the England Junior Chess Squad.Shortly before landing at Rhodes airport, the flight captain made an announcement, “We have a 10-year-old passenger on the flight who is on her way to Greece to represent England for her very first chess tournament. We would like to take this opportunity to wish her the best of luck. Everyone at TUI will be cheering for yours and team England’s success.” This was followed by loud cheering from everyone on the flight. Both me and my mummy were taken by surprise. This made me realise that I have a greater responsibility to give my best, as this time I’m not just playing for myself but for my country, and for all the people who have supported me in my chess journey so far.
The resort was full of chess players from various countries and before I knew it, I was already talking to a group of players from Poland. My first game was going to be on a live board which had no notations. I felt very nervous as I had never played on a board without notations before. Over the next few days, the nervousness was replaced by the excitement of playing with some of the top players from around the world. As warned by Mr Thomas, the standard of play was very strong compared to what I have played in the UK. My best game was against top of the board, well experienced, Turkish player. That game lasted for almost 3.5 hours.
Before starting each round, players exchanged gifts that they had brought from their countries. I had taken UK’s famous Red Bus keyrings. I made some friends with whom I would go for a swim at the beach after the games. I went for long walks almost every morning with my mummy. It helped me calm down before the games.
The England team finished second overall against 331 players from 40 countries – this was the best result for England’s junior chess team so far. I finished joint 7th place. It was a goose-bump moment when England won 2nd prize and an experience that I’ll treasure for years to come.
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