St Catharine’s is delighted to report that 2021–22 has proved to be a vintage year for chess, with members of the College Chess Club celebrating both team and individual victories. Their prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed, and soon St Catharine’s students were called upon to represent the Cambridge University Chess Club (CUCC) on its Committee and for the Varsity chess match, first played in 1873 and widely known as the world’s oldest chess contest.
A squad of St Catharine’s players won the top division of the University of Cambridge’s Inter-College Chess League in commanding style during Lent Term, beating the top seeds from Trinity College and proceeding to win seven out of their eight matches.
St Catharine’s chess squad
(FM denotes FIDE Master, one of the official titles a player can receive from the International Chess Federation or FIDE)
- Omeet Atara, a first-year Human, Social, and Political Sciences undergraduate (captain)
- Tom Green, a first-year Veterinary Sciences undergraduate
- FM Harry Grieve, a third-year Mathematics undergraduate
- Marc Gotthardt, an English PhD student
- FM Koby Kalavannan, a second-year Medical Sciences undergraduate
- Georgi Kocharyan, a second-year Mathematics undergraduate
- Eric Shi, an LLM student
Captain Omeet Atara commented, “The Catz team began this year in a great position, seeded second and with three of our players having previously ranked amongst the top British players whilst representing England internationally in World and European Youth Chess Championships. I am delighted by our strong start and how we maintained this throughout the competition – hopefully we can regroup and replicate this success next year. We would be delighted to hear from new players who would be interested in joining the club too!”
St Catharine’s players went on to excel in the CUCC Individual Chess Championship, the oldest and most prestigious intra-club chess championship dating back to its conception in 1880, which was held in the College’s Rushmore Room on 22 June 2022. Making the most of their home advantage, Koby Kalavannan and Omeet Atara secured first and second place finishes respectively.
Two St Catharine’s chess players were elected to leadership roles by their peers: Koby Kalavannan is the CUCC President 2022–23 and Omeet Atara is the CUCC Secretary 2022–23. They look forward to following in the footsteps of Harry Grieve (CUCC President 2020–21) in further making the University and college chess clubs fun, open and accessible, catering for all levels.
Koby Kalavannan and Harry Grieve were also selected to represent the University of Cambridge against Oxford in the 140th Varsity chess match on 12 March 2022 at the Royal Automobile Club in London. Sadly, this year’s campaign by the Light Blues was unsuccessful with a marginal 4.5-3.5 loss. Koby Kalavannan won the Bob Wade brilliancy prize for a closely fought and entertaining draw and hopes to lead the team to victory this coming year alongside his fellow competitors from St Catharine’s.