EPSCA (English Primary Schools Chess Association)

The English Primary Schools Chess Association, EPSCA for short, was founded in 1967 to “advance the education of primary school aged children in England and Wales by teaching, supervising and developing the playing of chess.”

Amongst other activities, it runs annual team events for counties or county strength associations for Under 11, Under 11 Girls and Under 9, and also for school teams at Under 11 and Under 9.

EPSCA Inter-Association Championship

Associations are organisations approved by EPSCA which organise primary school chess in defined geographical areas; they include many county associations, but also include a number of strong club-based organisations.  Inter-association championships have been contended at Under 11 for the BH Wood Trophy since 1967, at Under 9 for the Peter Ackroyd Trophy since 1977 and at Under 11 Girls since 1984. A Grand Prix was instituted in 2001 by IM Mike Basman, for the team doing best over all the Inter-Association Championship events in that year. (The winner in that first year was Richmond…)

Each of the championships is run over two stages, a zonal stage and a national final. Each event is held as a three round Jamboree. Jamboree pairings are a type of team pairing system used in England for events in which there are too many players and too few rounds to be accommodated by team
Swiss pairings; the pairings tables (devised by Clifford Hilton), which are used can be found at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/roundRobinPairings.pdf.

The zonals normally take place annually in March, the finals in April or May. The age limits are relative to the Academic Year; in other words, the players must be under the stated age before the 1st of September in the previous calendar year.

The U11 events are held over 20 boards with 4 reserves, whilst the U11 Girls and U9 events are held over 12 boards with 4 reserves. Reserve players may be substituted on any of the bottom four boards of the teams in any round with the approval of the Tournament Controller.

All the games are ECF rapidplay rated. The time control is normally 40 minutes each plus 10 seconds per move in the U11 and U11 Girls, and 30 minutes each plus 10 seconds per move in the U9.

When not substituted into the main team, reserve players play in a separate reserves tournament of three rounds, the games also being ECF rapidplay rated.

Success at the EPSCA Inter-Association Championships

Richmond has been successful over the years in the EPSCA Inter-Association Championship, winning on the following occasions:

  • Under 11 ‒ 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2017, 2018 (tied with Kent)
  • U11 Girls ‒ 1988
  • Under 9 ‒ 1989, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2019 (tied with Barnet), 2023
  • Grand Prix ‒ 2001

Richmond Juniors has also happily hosted various zonal and final events.

We are putting together a record of Richmond Junior’s participation in EPSCA Inter-Association events, which can be found at: /history-of-richmond-at-epsca-inter-association-events. This is currently incomplete, research is ongoing and this record will be updated as more is found.

Eligibility for Richmond Juniors teams

Within the EPSCA Inter-Association Championships, Richmond Juniors is responsible for selecting teams of primary school children who live or go to school in the following London Boroughs:

  • London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
  • London Borough of Hounslow
  • Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
  • London Borough of Merton
  • London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
  • London Borough of Wandsworth

A number of London boroughs contiguous with the Richmond Juniors area are unassociated within the EPSCA structure. Young players from these Boroughs are free to play for Richmond Juniors if they wish. Boroughs to which this applies are Ealing, Brent, City of Westminster, Lambeth, Croydon and Sutton.

Finally, a player may qualify for a Richmond Juniors team, even if they reside and go to school in an area of another association, provided they can demonstrate that they have “significant ties” to Richmond Juniors. The simplest way in this case is to ask permission from the other association. There is an appeals process should permission not be granted, but Richmond Juniors has never exercised that process.

Richmond Juniors general policy when asked by another association about a child with “significant ties” to that other association is permissive. We prefer not to stand in the way of a child and his or her chosen affiliation.

2023 EPSCA Inter-Association Championship

Dates for the 2023 EPSCA Inter-Association Championship have been set as follows:

  • Under 9 Zonals ‒ Saturday 11 March. Richmond will be taking part in the South Zonal in Hampshire. The venue will be: Cantell School, Violet Road, Southampton  SO16  3GJ. 6 teams will take part: Barnet, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Maidenhead, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex and Wey Valley.
  • Under 11 Zonals ‒ Saturday 18 March. Richmond will be taking part in the South Zonal, which will be hosted at Orleans Park School in the Sports Hall. 11 teams will take part: Barnet, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Hillingdon & Ealing, Kent, Maidenhead, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex and Wey Valley.
  • U11 Girls Final ‒ Saturday 25 March. The venue will be: Cheney School, Cheney Lane, Headington, Oxford OX3 7QH. 10 teams will take part: Barnet, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex, Wey Valley and Yorkshire.
  • Under 9 Final ‒ Saturday 22 April. The venue will be: Nottingham High School, Forest Road East, Nottingham NG7 4ED.
  • Under 11 Final ‒ Saturday 6 May. The venue will be: Nottingham High School, Forest Road East, Nottingham NG7 4ED.

UPDATE: 11/03/2023: We won the South Zonal at Cantell School (Southampton), comprehensively with 30½ points from a possible 36 points, and have qualified for the national final. 6 teams took part: Hampshire, Maidenhead, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex and Wey Valley.

The Winning Richmond Team at the U9 South Zonal, 11 March 2023 at the Cantell School, Southampton. L to R: René Uzdin, Ravi Singh, Siddharth Mahadevan, Ian Molina, Nat Jessett, Yichen Xiong, Ali Baran Özdemir, Ismail Mallick, Harvey Li, Riaan Kumar, Alex Petrescu, Iaroslav Bunbich and Jhud Slim. Adults at the back: Nigel Dennis (Arbiter), David Okike (Richmond Match Captain).

UPDATE: 18/03/2023: We came second in the South Zonal at Orleans Park School (Twickenham), with 45½ points from a possible 60 points, second behind Barnet with 51½. We have therefore qualified for the national final. 11 teams took part: Barnet, Berkshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Hillingdon, Kent, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex and Wey Valley.

UPDATE: 25/03/2023: Our Girls team came a creditable 5th in the U11 Girls Final at the Cheney School, Oxford.

UPDATE: 22/04/2023: Our U9 team won the national final at Nottingham High School, and are national champions (for the seventh time).

Winning Richmond Team at the EPSCA U9 Final 2023-04-22
The winning Richmond Team at the EPSCA U9 Final 2023-04-22. LtoR, Front row: Cyrus Huang, Kobe Juang, Harvey Li, Ali Baran Özdemir, Theo Cleanis (with the Mike Basman Shield for the U9 South Zonal); 2nd row: René Uzdin, Yichen Xiong, Siddarth Mahadevan, Alex Petrescu; 3rd row: Riaan Kumar, Jeremy Stehlin; 4th row: Ravi Singh, Ian Molina, Iaroslav Bunbich, Jhud Slim; Back: Adam Taylor (match captain) with the trophy for the U9 Championship.

Richmond Junior Chess Club is naturally seeking its best and most enthusiastic players to take part in its teams. Get in touch!

UPDATE: 29/04/2023: We came third in the U11 Final at Nottingham High School, with 43 points from a possible 60 points, behind 1st Kent with 52 and 2nd Barnet with 49½.

National Primary Schools Chess Championship

The team events for the school teams are called the National Primary Schools Chess Championship (NPSCC). Normally the NPSCC takes place over three stages. There is a zonal stage, from January to March, in which schools attempt to qualify. In a normal year, more than 400 schools partipicipate in the zonal competitions. Then there is a semi-final stage, usually comprising two semi-finals held over a whole weekend at Pontins venues in Sussex and North Wales, and a one-day event held at Bristol Grammar School. The top three teams from each of the two weekend semi-finals and the top two teams from the one-day semi-final qualify for the Final. The final is usually held in the West Midlands, running as a team round-robin.

RJCC normally runs two or three NPSCC zonal events, and also encourages the schools it is active in to participate in the NPSCC.

NPSCC Zonal at Twickenham 2023

Richmond Juniors hosted a National Primary Schools Zonal at Orleans Park School on Sunday 26 February. There were two age sections: