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Megan Richards: CSC Pupil of the Year 2014

Occasionally you'll surprise yourself with how well you can play, and beat an opponent with a rating that is hundreds of points above your own. This happened to me at the South Wales Open, when I caused something of an upset, netting a win against a player who out graded me by considerably more than 500 points.

This was not the result of hours of preparation. In fact, I only entered the tournament at the last minute. However, I do think my success would not have been possible without the increase in my playing strength resulting from my attendance at Baltic Summer Chess Camp that was held in Riga, Latvia for four days in mid-August.

I had the chance to go on this by winning the Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) Pupil of the year Award. I was completely shocked to be chosen for this, and I was so excited as I knew I would be mixing with some amazing players who would be able to teach me a great deal.

On the first night I and all the other chess players from England went to a restaurant called the Lido with CSC tutor John Foley. It was incredible experience being able to sample new cuisines and see another way of daily living.

Throughout the week I got involved in many different activities within the chess camp. I enjoyed playing in a simul against FIDE trainer Verners Putka on the second day, despite loosing the game. That evening there were more games of chess, as I participated in a club rapid play tournament. Players from the UK had some success, with Jonathan Pein – son of IM Malcolm Pein – taking home a prize for a third place.

The experience of being at this chess camp was incredible; playing against players from around the world certainly opened my mind up to new ideas on the chessboard. During my time there I really grasped the importance of putting myself in my opponent’s shoes every time they made a move. I also understood that I should not be afraid to make tactical moves against stronger opponents, and I learnt to play the Latvian Gambit (it begins with the moves 1. e4 e5 2.  Nf3 f5).

On the third day we were all extremely fortunate to have a talk from Mikhail Tal’s coach Vladimir Kirillov. We were taught about what Tal was like as a youngster and discovered he was adamant he would play Botvinnik as a young child.

We also played a blitz tournament and the RTU Open Tournament. These were great experiences and being involved in them has certainly increased my knowledge about various openings styles of playing and how passionate I feel about chess. Within the chess camp we got the opportunity to learn new openings, play people from around the world and experience new people.

Having the opportunity to play in another country has definitely benefitted me in an extremely positive way. These benefits are ones which I think would not be possible in a local camp. Being able to play people from other countries and to be in their environment was an eye opener for me and a real privilege.

Another incredible memory I have, which I will always remember, is the people I met and the friends I made. Everyone I met approached me with such enthusiasm and friendliness, that I really didn’t want to leave as they are people I shall always remember and hope to see again.

I do think to go on this once in a lifetime experience you must have a real passion for the game and be open to new ideas, whether it is openings, your style of playing or even your attitude. Everything should be taken in to account. I’m sure once you’ve decided that your perfect for the place then I 100% recommend you apply for this award because it truly is an experience I will never forget and I have the CSC Charity and Malcolm Pein to thank for that.

Megan Richards Cardiff 14

WCU Junior Rapidplay Ratings


Junior rapidplay ratings went ‘live’ in late August 2014.  There have since been a few ‘improvements’ within the site which can be found at


For those new to competitive chess, ratings are used to compare the playing strength of the players, the higher the number, the better the player.  They are used when pairing players in tournaments, and are particularly useful for selecting teams, and then putting the players chosen into board order.  Hopefully a child’s rating will improve as they get older and play more chess.  Because of such improvements and also even how the players are feeling on a given day, they shouldn’t be taken literally.  Differences in ratings particularly with juniors should not be treated as too significant, since players within 80 points of each other are able to beat each other very regularly.  

When a player has reached a rapidplay rating of around 900, that player is at a level where he or she should be competitive with and playing longer games with adults at lower club level, either in full weekend tournaments or by joining a club.  I would encourage parents to take this step to further improve the standard of their child as one of the best ways for a player to improve is by regularly meeting competition within 250 points of the player’s rating, which hopefully will itself be steadily rising and requiring increasingly strong opposition.


As a rough guide, when two players meet, the likelihood of success of each player can be worked out by comparing the ratings:

For a rating difference of :-

120 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 2 from every 3 games played

200 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 3 from every 4 games played

240 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 4 from every 5 games played

300 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 8½ from every 10 games played

450 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 9½ from every 10 games played

700 - the higher rated player should expect to score about 99 from every 100 games played


You may notice that the success rate rises particularly steeply as the rating difference increases from 200 to 300. When the lower player does better than he should, his rating will go up and the higher rated player will find his rating goes down, to reflect better what has happened in the game or series of games.  Any win, even if expected, will produce an increase in a player’s rating and a loss of rating points for the opponent.


The ratings are calculated in a very similar way to those produced by zonal officers on the WCU’s live rating sites.  A player’s live rating will change after every game depending on the result of that game, with possible much smaller effects on other players.  A new rating (R2, R3 ...) is being used in a player’s calculations after approximately 10 games, (about 2 events) because of the speed of change in standard of many juniors.  These new ratings can be found as ‘batch ratings’.


In general within the list, the lower rated players will be the younger ones, who are likely to improve the fastest.  For those technically minded, the speed of movement is reflected by a K-factor which has been set at 50 for those under 800, 40 for those between 800 and 1000 and 30 for those over 1000 to account for this.


A few people have responded to the initial list and there have been some changes to individual details as a result. 


I would like to have all competitive rapidplay games played in Wales rated (those where clocks are initially set to under 1 hour for all moves), but am dependent on the event organisers to send me all the results.  If I have had these, you can expect the players’ live ratings to be updated within a week of an event.  I may have to rely on parent ‘pester power’ for this to happen.  If an event hasn’t appeared in your live rating within a week of the event, please contact the event organiser before contacting me as to why the results haven’t appeared.  If you play rapidplay games outside Wales, for these to be rated you would need to send me the detailed results yourself.  After a year of inactivity, a player’s name will be removed from the list.  Those listed in the initial data as Y14 are printable list, and appear in the archive, but are not now in the live rating list. 


If your name has been mis-spelt or your birth year or school year (from Sept 2014) is wrong or missing, please let me know.


Paul Tew is the brains behind the rating program and the technical aspects to get the list available on the internet, and I am very grateful for all the help and assistance he has given.  I can input data but without Paul’s expertise there would have been no way for me to turn this into the lists as you see them.  I hope between us we have produced something you find informative and useful.


My intention is to have printable lists available for download from the main WCU web-site shortly after September 1st when the new rating year will start and early in January each year. 


If you want my first printable list as a download, please press HERE


September 2014


John D Thornton (WCU rapidplay rating officer)   


For corrections, information or comment, e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Terafinal and challengers 2014

Five Welsh juniors competed in the Terafinal and Challengers events held on 16 and 17 August. Neja Govindaraj netted the highest score by a Welsh player, accumulating 9 points out of a possible 18 (the scoring system awards 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw).


The other four players Hiya Ray, Ethan Chung, Nye Bradfield and Sridatta Dantu – all under 7s, picked up several points. They have gained very valuable experience, and they must be applauded for their courage in participating in such a tough competition that contains players aged up to 18, including several with ECF grades of over 200.

Junior champions at The British

Between them, the Welsh Juniors netted four trophies at the 2014 British Championships. Chirag Ghua won the under 10 event with a score of 6/7, winning his first five games and drawing his last two. For this exceptional performance he was also awarded the Roy Clues trophy for the best Welsh performance at The British. Further success in the under 10s came from Venetia Sivarajasingam, who won the title for the best girl with a score of 5/7. This completed a double for her, as earlier that week she had secured the title of Under 9 Girls champion with the same score. Wales also produced a British Girl’s champion in the under 14 section, thanks to the efforts of Imogen Camp, who scored 3.5 out of 7. (Photograph of Imogen taken by John Upham and used by permission)



Junior chess activities are generously supported by a

 grant from the

Welsh Assembly