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Welsh Dragons at the Junior 4NCL 2014 / 2015

The Junior 4NCL is a national competition run alongside the established senior 4NCL whereby teams are formed from all over Britain in a league format.  This season was structured into three separate events taking place over three different weekends with teams placed into a first or second division depending on their average grade or rating.


I was asked last year to take over the running of the Welsh Dragons Junior Squad and co-ordinate all the entries into this year’s competition.  Although we have entered Welsh teams in the Junior 4NCL before, I decided to take a new approach this season in an attempt to fulfil the following aims and objectives:

  • To increase the number of full teams that Wales puts into this event.
  •  To give chances for our up and coming juniors to have a series of high quality games of chess against higher quality opponents than they might be used to.
  • To give unrated children who have caught our eye the chance to gain their first WCU rating.
  •  To look for new, younger players who could come through and be our international players of the future and thus increase the depth of the pool from which we can select.
  •  To build a supportive network of parents and families that is vital when trying to keep children playing the game of chess as they get older.
  •  To expose established and new young players in Wales to structured coaching and chess lessons, which are supplied at each J4NCL event.


It was always my priority to achieve these aims before we even considered picking up any podium finishes or trophies.  If we did win anything this season, that that would be a bonus.  It is therefore with delight that I can report that not only did we achieve these targets, we also collected a couple of trophies too.


Weekend One took place last October and sadly, I was unable to attend due to illness.  I managed to recruit an astonishing figure of thirty-five children from all over Wales to play in seven different Welsh Dragons teams.  This amounted to twenty-five percent of the total amount of teams who entered.  It certainly proved to be a baptism of fire for some of our players but they were guided and nurtured by my wife, Syringa Camp, WCU Junior Development Director, Ian Eustis and an army of willing and supportive parents.  All teams and players began to improve through the event as they started to realise what was expected and our all-girls’ team won the female Championship and brought home our first trophy.  This team also came third in the event overall.


Weekend Two was in November and again, over thirty children took part and by now they were well into what they were doing and were starting to produce some good results.  We entered one very strong boys’ team into Division One and they finished a creditable fifth.  This was the first event that I could attend in person and I was struck throughout at how supportive and helpful all of our children were to each other and by the help that was being offered by the parents.


Weekend Three took place in January and twenty-six children took part in five teams.  Our mixed ‘Yellow’ team did us proud by going through the whole event unbeaten and finishing in third place in their division, thus securing us our second trophy of the season.


So, the season has finished and we look forward to next year.  It is vital now that all of the new players who have come into this squad keep playing tournaments and events throughout 2015 and that they are exposed to as much coaching as possible.  Hopefully all children will attach themselves to a club and play in the large number of events that are run in Wales and beyond for young players.  Welsh junior chess has never been so strong but it is important that we keep the conveyor belt moving and that we increase the size of our depth of talent.


Finally, I would like to thank a number of people without whom, none of this would have been possible.  In no particular order they are:  Syringa Camp, Ian Eustis, Tim Kett, Richard Stevenson, Julie McIntosh, Kam Choo-Yin, Audrey Yong and all of the parents and families of our players.  My last word of thanks must go to the children themselves who have attended all the coaching sessions offered, have won with grace, lost with dignity and who all, without fail, have become better players than they were simply by playing in this event.  My grateful thanks to all.


Andrew R. Camp


Welsh Dragons' Manager

Junior chess activities are generously supported by a

 grant from the

Welsh Assembly