A 16-YEAR-OLD boy has been crowned the new Basingstoke individual chess champion and winner of the Joe French Cup.

The delayed 2023 final saw teenager Ralph Morley win with the black pieces against Jon Kemp in a long game. 

The success will certainly go down as one of the most remarkable in the long history of the Basingstoke Chess Championships dating back to 1898. 

Basingstoke Gazette: Ralph Morley (left) with his final opponent Jon KempRalph Morley (left) with his final opponent Jon Kemp (Image: David Graham)

Ralph from Whitchurch attends Peter Symonds College in Winchester knocked out not one former Joe French Cup winner but two.

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Ivan Stipcevic and Steven Jones had won the Cup five times previously between them.

The new winner is a former Basingstoke Junior Chess champion.

The entire competition saw many of the fancied players beaten by players of lower rankings which made for a very unpredictable outcome. 

Jon Kemp was a worthy finalist and gave a good account of himself in the final.

His achievement is also remarkable. Jon is a club night player and has never played in a league match or congress.

He has no English Chess Federation rating. Despite this, he manged to win against seasoned league players to reach the final.

In the Charles Henshaw Shield, the finalists are David Long and Megan Birch.  The competition is for players graded under 1600 ecf.

Basingstoke Chess Club teams are doing well in their respective leagues. The A team in Division 1 won 3-2 at home against a strong Southampton A team in their last league fixture. 

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The B and C teams currently lead their respective Divisions 3 and 4 while the D team are involved in a very tight Division 5. 

The Borders League side did well to win 4-1 at Woking and are well placed in their league to challenge for top spot.

The next chess morning at the Discovery Centre will be held on Saturday, February 17.  All are welcome and the event is free.