The Bury St Edmunds Chess Club can count more than a dozen juniors amongst its current membership. They rank from 15-year old William Sait (129) and 17-year old former Suffolk Ladies’ Champion Emilia Jewell (121), to Ralph Martin and Alwin Jose, both graded 50.
Other junior members include Alan John (111), Patrick Gembis (102), William Moody (96), Adam John (93), Mario Saenz (81), Daniel Garcia-Leon (76), Aaron Saenz (72), Tom Roy (67), as well as ungraded Jaden Jermy (e100).
This wealth of young players has enabled the club, for the first time in its history, to field teams consisting entirely of juniors in both the Suffolk League and the Bury Area League.
In the Suffolk League, the Bury St Edmunds ‘Juniors’ compete in the Under 125 Cup, where all but William Sait are eligible to play. In the BACL Division 3, the Bury St Edmunds ‘G’ team is selected from a squad of eight juniors. Dedicated parents are willing to transport some of the children to away matches.
This season will be something of an experiment. Ensuring that youngsters keep playing chess as they reach their teenage years is a known problem, but it is reckoned that playing adult-level chess will maintain their interest in the game.
Several members are still very young: Adam John is only 9 and Jaden Jermy is 10. Both these players have enormous potential, and could easily follow the likes of Alan Merry to international titles as well as the opportunity of representing their country.
Bury’s policy of developing young players is clearly working and other clubs in Suffolk may wish to consider a similar route in order to ensure their clubs’ future.