Sixth form student checks out world class chess competition

Tuesday 14 October 2014

WEB Harry Li landscapeA student from The Grammar School at Leeds is back from the trip of a lifetime, having represented England in the World Youth Chess Championships in Durban, South Africa.

Harry Li, lower sixth, started to learn chess at the age of three by playing against a computer. Having mastered the rules by this means, he played his first competition aged just five when he stepped up to win the under 7 age group.

Since that early victory, Harry, who is largely self-taught, has played consistently well. It was his performance in regular high level competitions, such as the Leeds Chess League and Yorkshire Chess League, which caught the eye of the England selectors. Harry has been a member of the school chess club throughout Senior School and is a member of Alwoodley Chess Club.

The World Youth Chess Championships is hosted every year in a different country. Girls and boys compete separately and there are a number of age categories, which for Harry, playing his first international tournament, was the under 16 age group.  There were 90 countries represented at the Durban tournament.

Harry said: “The competition was very intense, with 11 rounds, each involving a match of at least four hours; however I felt I played well against tough opposition. Although England isn’t known as one of the top countries, we all put up a strong fight and caused a lot of upsets. It helps when no one knows who you are!”

Players have to meet most of the costs of the trip themselves, and Harry’s attendance was made possible thanks to contributions from the DLA Piper Charitable Trust, TD Wealth, his school and individual supporters.

Harry said: “I would like to say a big thank you to those who sponsored me; without their support I wouldn’t have benefited from this experience. I’ve learned a lot, both from playing and observing other matches, and I intend to continue training hard and hope to be back for next year’s competition.”

Richard Obank, partner in the Leeds office of DLA Piper, said: “Harry is an exceptional student who has showed great determination in developing his mastery of chess, and his selection to represent England is a proud moment for Leeds. I was delighted that the Trustees of the DLA Piper Charitable Trust were able to make a grant which was used to help support him in taking up the opportunity to visit South Africa for this important competition, an experience from which he has clearly gained a great deal.”

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