Over 3 days from the 14th to 16th October the Queensland Interschool State Finals were held in Brisbane.
On Friday 14th, the Girls State Finals was held at Loreto College in Coorparoo. With 99 players in attendance, it was a great turnout, coming only days after Victoria had 200 players in their Girls State Finals. Teams from Brisbane and Gold Coast, as well as Toowoomba and Cairns took part in two divisions: Primary and Secondary.
Somerset College was the favourite for both events, having been the dominant Girls chess school over the past couple of years. But as always, the top seed doesn’t have it their own way! In the secondary competition, the Somerset team was languishing in 4th position – something they are definitely not used to! At this point, leading the way was Brisbane Grammar Girls School who were competing for the first time. With plenty of key match ups between players in both teams, Somerset managed to not drop a single game across the next 3 rounds, and by the time the final round occurred, had managed to already seal the title. 2nd place went to Somerville House who somehow snuck ahead of Brisbane Girls Grammar who finished in 3rd position.
The primary competition was a close battle for much of the day. Over the first few rounds it looked as though any of Somerset, Nundah SS, Somerville House, Kings Christian College or Trinity Anglican School could finish on the podium. The key in these tournaments is who can hold their nerve the best and it was the experience of the Somerset students (see photo below) that set them apart as they proved too strong in the end to clinch 1st place (and the double). Nundah SS finished in 2nd position a couple of points back, whilst Trinity Anglican School – all the way from Cairns – powered home in the final round to snatch 3rd place ahead of both Somerville House and Kings CC.
With one event done and dusted, focus moved to the Open State Finals at Anglican Church Grammar School over the weekend of 15 and 16 October. The Secondary division was expected to be a shootout between GPS schools, Brisbane Grammar and Anglican Church Grammar (Churchie), whilst the primary division was the most open in recent memory, with any of (in seed order) Somerset, Macgregor, Hillcrest, Robertson, Eagle Junction or Kings able to win. It proved to be exactly that, open and close throughout – at the end of the tournament only 2 points seperated those top 6 teams.
In the primary, Hillcrest shot out of the blocks on day 1, and comfortably led the competition whilst their key rivals all dropped points in matches they would have expected to score 4:0. With key match ups happening from round 3 onwards it was still going to be tough work to stay at the top! In round 3, Hillcrest dominated Eagle Junction with a clean sweep 4:0 t o extend their lead, whilst Somerset narrowly defeated Robertson 2.5:1.5, and Macgregor 1 knocked off Macgregor 2 4:0. Hillcrest and Macgregor met in the 4th round with Hillcrest getting the victory 2.5:1.5, as Somerset defeated Gold Coast rivals Kings by 3:1. Robertson were held to a shock draw by Kings 2 while Eagle Junction bounced back to smash Jindalee 4:0.
Heading into the 2nd day of play, Hillcrest (14.5pts) led Macgregor and Somerset by 2 clear points. Top of the regional teams, were Our Lady Help of Christians School (FNQ) on 9pts, leading the way from Townsville Grammar (NQ) and St Thomas Mareeba (FNQ) both on 7.5pts.
The critical 5th round saw Hillcrest play Somerset (above). With plenty at stake, the players gave it their all in some see-sawing battles. With games swinging around wildly, the calculations ended up favouring Somerset who clinched an important 2.5:1.5 victory to close the gap on Hillcrest at the top. On board 2, Macgregor put in a very solid performance to defeat Eagle Junction 3:1, jumping into 2nd place and only half a point behind Hillcrest. Robertson’s hopes took a hit when Somerset 2 took points off in their narrow 2.5:1.5 win. With the final round, theoretically, 6 teams could still win. Hillcrest led going into the final round on 16pts, from Macgregor on 15.5, Somerset 1 on 15 and Robertson, Somerset 2 and Kings all on 13.5. Robertson pulled out all stops to finish as high as they could, and managed to defeat Hillcrest 2.5:1.5 – putting a massive dent in Hillcrest’s hopes at the same time. With the top two seeds Somerset 1 and Macgregor 1 playing, anything could happen! The match teetered on the brink. All games were very even, and then Somerset edged ahead 2:1….with 1 game remaining in the match (board 4), Somerset was half a point behind Hillcrest with Macgregor another half point back. The final game did eventually go to Somerset, clinching them the title by the narrowest of margins. Hillcrest who performed excellently throughout finish in 2nd place, while Macgregor took 3rd place on count-back from Kings.
For the regional teams, it was Annandale CC (NQ) who snuck atop the pile to clinch 1st place ahead of Our Lady Help of Christians (FNQ) in 2nd with Townsville Grammar (NQ) in 3rd on count-back from Trinity Anglican School (FNQ).
In the secondary event, the early favourites, Brisbane Grammar and Churchie 1, met in round 2 as the only two teams to have won their first match up 4:0. Round 2 is early for a ‘deciding match’ but in the past 5 years, it has only been these two teams battling it out for 1st. Brisbane Grammar were down one of their top players, but despite this proved too strong. The Slater-Jones match up on board 2 proved to be an entertaining and drawn out affair, with Tom capitalising on a Henry mistake in time pressure (both were playing off increment only for 30+ moves). With the match going to Brisbane Grammar 2.5:1.:5, the weekend swung well in favour of BGS. Round 4 saw the next big match up, with BGS playing Somerset 1 who led by half a point. BGS showed their strength as they demolished Somerset 1 by 3.5:0.5 to lead by a clear point moving into the final day. With BGS having played the next two seeds, they were expected to cruise home and this is exactly what transpired as they finished on 21pts – 5 points clear!! The race for 2nd place though was super tight, and indeed the round 5 match between Churchie and Somerset was critical as Somerset defeated their higher rated opponents 2.5:1.:5 – closing the gap to only half a point. In the final round, Churchie 1 had to play Somerset 2, whilst Somerset 1 played Brisbane SHS. Somerset 2 did their top team a huge favour, and collected 2 points in a surprise result, whilst Somerset 1 defeated Brisbane SHS 2.5:1.5 to go level with Churchie 1. Courtesy of the match points, Somerset 1 finished in 2nd place ahead of Churchie 1, 3rd.
The all conquering BGS team facing the camera in front row. Shalom in red blazers in row 2.
The regional teams had a tussle of their own for the podium. Shalom College (WB) was the overwhelming favourite, however they floundered on the final day to finish in 2nd place, as Townsville Grammar (NQ) collected 7/8 to surge clear to claim 1st position out of the regional schools. St Augustine’s (FNQ) finished in 3rd place after their solid efforts on day 1 saw them in a strong position heading into day 2.
Overall there were 208 players taking part at any one time. The winning teams from each division now move forwards to represent Queensland at the Australian Schools Teams Championships, being held in Perth on December 3 and 4.
We wish all the teams the best of luck, and know that they will give it their all and do the state proud!