Back in 1990, the Suffolk Rating List was published every month. The November 1990 issue contained Elo ratings for all active adults in Suffolk, as well as more than 400 juniors. The ‘Top 100 Juniors’ list showed Simon Lunn at the top (2020) and Emily Orton (1150) at #100.
How things have changed! Nowadays we are struggling to find twenty juniors with ratings over 1150 (or its ECF equivalent).
Suffolk has entered the English Primary Schools’ Chess Association Under 11 tournament again; this will be the fourth successive year that a Suffolk team will compete against other counties. For the past three years Suffolk has been unable to qualify for the Finals, finishing in seventh or eighth place in the Zonals. In 1990 the Suffolk Under 11 team won the Zone Final, then travelled to Newton Abbot in Devon to play in the National Finals. They finished runners-up to Kent by just half a point.
The Under 11s in 1990 were headed by a couple of twins by the name of Pert (1740/1720), and down at Board 8 was an up-and-coming eight-year old by the name of Edmund Player (1430). At the top of a Suffolk Under 11 list today would be 9-year old Adam John (93 / 1219), 10-year old Jaden Jermy (89R / 1067) and 10-year old Aaron Saenz (72 / 971), all from the Bury Knights JCC. These youngsters certainly have the potential to emulate their great predecessors, but we just don’t have the strength in depth.
Chess is not being played nearly so much in schools as it was 25 years ago, and there is only one active junior club in the county. But the good news is that there are a number of people trying to get junior chess off the ground again. They deserve the active support of the county’s adult players.