Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Biggest Collection of Stalemates in the World

I've just got back from the ACT Junior Chess League Primary Allegro Tournament. This tournament was open to all kids in Grades K-6 in the ACT and surrounding regions. This has always been a popular tournament in the ACT Junior Chess calendar but this years event set a new record with over 130 players. Such was the crowd they had to divide it into 2 sections, with a K-3 tournament, and a 4-6 tournament.
The other interesting thing about this event is the prize structure. Instead of trophies/medals for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc there is a prize for best Grade 6 Boy, Grade 6 Girl, Grade 5 Boy etc So even if you have the best score but are only in Grade 5, you would win the Grade 5 medal, rather than the Grade 6 one.
My duties mainly involved answering the "Is this checkmate?" questions that are usual at all junior events, and explaining the meaning of "Stalemate" to some bewildered children. Between this event and a couple of ACT Schools events in the last couple of weeks I've probably added another 50 or so stalemate positions to my already large collection.
One non-stalemate game that did interest me occurred in the first round of the K-3 tournament. Both sides played pretty sensible chess until White popped a queen, and Black was just clearly winning. Having wandered off to deal with some other games I looked back to see the players shaking hands. I assumed that White had resigned (in itself unusual at a primary school tournament), and was astonished to see the following (as far I as could remember) position on the board!

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