Bishops Preparatory School Chess Club



                                                                                      Winter 2007


Opening E – newsletter e2 – e4


“The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the
Universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature
and the player on the other side is hidden from us”
(Thomas Huxley)

While the Schools league in the Western Province flourishes on a Friday afternoon, the Internal League at Bishops Prep has drawn even greater interest. This league appears to be the place where it’s all happening. The whole school follow the logs and ladders on the class and notice boards, curious onlookers peak through the Rossall Pavilion windows at lunch, if only to get a glimpse of the intensity and expressions on the contestants faces. Monday morning assembly now has news filtering down of the latest developments in the epic struggle of boys to get a grip on their respective divisions competing for the “Bishops” and “Kings” Cups.


Inter-Schools Chess


There is only one Southern Suburbs league consisting of 21 teams ranging from 16 schools. The league follows a ‘Swiss tournament’ format. Competition is tight to get into a School team because most schools only enter 1 team or at most 2 in the league. At Bishops we are fortunate to have three teams in the league. Our A1, A2 and A3 teams give a good account of themselves being one of the stronger schools in terms of participation levels at an organised level within the school structure. It is not unusual for our A2’s to sometimes have better results than our A1’s in this league because competition for places is so tight..


The Championship – the Bishops Cup


Newcomers to the club are entered into this competition and compete for the privilege of challenging for a place in the prestigious Kings Cup Premiership. These players have been vying for the top spot in the Championships, played every Monday and Wednesday lunch hour. The tournament follows “rapid play” rules, and games last for 20 minutes. Players are expected to arrive promptly otherwise 2 valuable log points are forfeited.



The Premiership – The Kings Cup


Boys who have been playing chess under supervision at the Preparatory School for a period of at least 1 year are invited to receive Advanced Chess Coaching in early March to prepare for the season. In this way, continuity for the selection of teams is ensured for Friday Inter-schools matches.


Kings Cup players get to play each other every Wednesday for the right to top the Premiership.


Grade 3 Competition – The Knights Cup


The Knights ‘Shield’ is the highest honour bestowed on the newcomers to the Bishops Prep Internal League. Each player receives his ‘shield’ at the end of the competition. The ‘Shield’ serves to remind him of being protected by the Code of honour in the game, namely, to have a high regard for the virtues of goodness, honesty and fair play. To win and lose with dignity, to accept defeat graciously and to receive victory humbly, these are all part of the disciplines within the game.


It is hoped that the lessons learnt at chess will be applied to the everyday home and school issues such as organisation, thinking ahead, planning and general good sense when doing something. The longer term goals embedded in our ethos is also to help boys set goals and targets and pursue those goals with determination and a strong will to overcome the obstacles, whatever they may be.


While the modern day child seeks solace in the comfort of a video playstation, and while even a game of chess could be comfortably played against a computer in the confines of a room through the medium of a gaming consul, we at Bishops Prep aspire to give boys every opportunity to play the game in a friendly, ordered environment, fuelled by a natural curiosity to improve and a general sense that we do this for fun.


While the benefits of winning may enhance self-esteem, we encourage everyone to be considerate of their opponent and to remember that chess is only a game and that losing certainly is not the end of the world. For the younger players this is easier to grasp, but once boys get older, that need to feel accepted, to know that ‘I am good at something’ burns brighter than anything else. Losing and winning is part and parcel of any game. Its also a lesson for life. In our chess club we play for enjoyment first, and to achieve higher honours second.



Advanced- Level Coaching


Advanced coaching takes place by invitation. Sessions are structured to take place on a Wednesday during the lunch hour and a private coach spends time teaching notation, chess tips and game strategy. Guidelines for these sessions are laid down by the school and the Coach teaches according to a specific format over the course of the term. The needs of each player are also taken into account based on their performances in the various competitions.


The size of the group is limited to 15 players during this session, although a maximum of up to 20 may be accommodated. 


It is hoped that boys who attain proficiency in the game continue and play at tournaments organised by the local schools league.


The top 4 schools will play each other in a final knockout tournament in September. Bishops has a good chance to make at least 2 of the three knockout finals at this stage. With a bit of good strategy and focus we hope to get there!











Leighton Forbes, Master-in-charge







member of the independent schools association of southern africa