|From Left: Oliver, Zhong Yi, Jonah (standing),Elliot and Joven|
With this mission in mind, the boys were playing online games consistently during our preparation and worked towards sharpening their tactics. We had discussed possible scenarios of the possible scores that we could get against the higher seeded teams, as well as individual openings that can occur against them. All that remains is the state of form the players were in. Before the tournament day, I wrote in our Facebook group that we had a realistic chance of coming in 3rd, if we were to achieve the predicted scores against the top 3 teams.
Into the storm, as they say..first round was a 4-0 whitewash of St Andrews Sec, then a 0-4 crash against ACI A! Zhong Yi showed me his game and he managed to stretch Edward Lee (who'd just returned from a grueling KL Open) way into the endgame till he bungled a Queen for Rook. Against HCI, it was Oliver and Zhong Yi who managed to hold Calvin Ong and Soo Kai Jie while Elliot was outclassed by Bryan Tan and Jonah sought revenge by beating Yeoh Li Yuan. At this point, I arrived and told the boys that if they achieved 4-0 scores against their opponents, 3rd placing is still possible. It made them ever more determined to go for the target.
After lunch (which I advised them to eat less rice and just sandwiches, sushi), they faced a dud RI Team 2 and steamrolled 3.5 - 0.5. Though not a 4-0, this was good enough for us to meet the next RI Team 1, which we miraculously won 4-0! I predicted a 3-1 win against them but the boys did even better. Finally, the day of reckoning when I received an SMS from Zhong Yi that we needed 4-0 to get 2nd. Though ACI B were the former ACPS boys who had not played much, they were nonetheless no pushovers and managed to tie the match 2-2. With that, VS managed to go above their seeding and ended 3rd place as well as East Zone Champions for 2011.
Hopefully, this can be an inspiration to the other schools who closed their chess clubs simply because the school officials do not think it could be possible to garner results with the top schools dominating the scene the whole time. The boys from VS do not embark on any Junior Squad Training but were simply interested in the game to want improvement. 3rd placing is as good as it gets and I am thankful to the team for making history - its the best showing we had since the 5th placing in the 2007 U16 result. Last year, the same 4 boys finished 11th! A massive improvement indeed.