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  On the morning of Wednesday 25th April, four Hymers students including captain Ned Carmichael, William De Braal, Quintin Yu and myself departed from Brough train station, along with Mr Elstone, to participate in the final of the ECF Schools National Problem Solving Championship Final held in the mathematics faculty
at Imperial College, London. Having been initially
totally bewildered about how to get past a turnstile at King’s Cross Station, we made our way towards the underground station, which was followed by a short
walk to our destination. The day’s itinerary began with a riveting lecture from former World Champion problem solver Jonathan Mestel (double GM) who entertained us with his talk about some complex end game problems. He explained clearly about the systematic way of analysing and solving the positions. Astonishingly, he kept an audience of 100 young chess players entranced for over an hour prior to the main event itself. An excellent lunch followed and all the eight teams who qualified for the prestigious final got down to the serious business of the day. First up for the Hymers team was the opening round consisting of three problems, all of which were mates-in-one to find. With ease, we managed to start the contest with a perfect 3/3. However, the second round proved eventually to be the start of our downfall. In this round, you were required to write down the two moves
Our links with China have been growing steadily over recent years, hosting Summer schools for Chinese students to learn English and giving a select number of Chinese students the opportunity to study for GCSEs and A-levels here at Hymers. Bringing the Mandarin language into the curriculum is a challenge, however, so we were delighted when an approach came from the Confucius Institute at the University of Hull offering to organise a Culture Day and to run Chinese language classes.
The programme started with a very enjoyable and stimulating Culture Day, when around 40 students from different age groups enjoyed learning the basics of
the language, singing a song in Chinese and trying out the difficult art of calligraphy to produce some of the characters in Mandarin. We also started a beginners’ class after school and had to hold two sessions because of the strength of the uptake. Several of those students will be taking a Level 1 examination in Reading and Listening in 2018. A number of Year 7s learnt a Chinese song in their music lessons and performed it very well indeed at a cultural concert hosted by the Confucius Institute in the Middleton Hall at the University in the presence of an attaché from the Chinese Embassy.
that led to a checkmate with correct notation from either side. The diagram shows an example of the sorts of problems assigned to the participants in this round, a mate-in-two needs to be found.
With only 2 out of a possible 5 points being scored in this nightmarish second round, we managed to accumulate
a commendable 18/30 in the next two rounds, both consisting of mixed helpmates. At this stage, the then current leaders St Paul’s, who in fact went on to win the competition, were exactly 20 points away from us with a maximum of 30 points available to attain in the next two rounds. Though a top place finish seemed highly unlikely, a runner up medal was certainly on the cards and within reaching distance. After a remarkable two tensed rounds of mixed chess problems to solve, the four Hymerians tallied up a creditable end total of 41/65, placing them sixth in the country out of an initial 250 schools! Thanks to Mr. Elstone for accompanying us and rendering it possible for us to enter this contest.
Adithya Venkat, Year 12
So a good start has been made and we are grateful to the language and music teachers at the Confucius Institute for their time and efforts.
Mr I Sanderson

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