Each year many of the best children of primary school age in England compete in the National Team Championships organised by the English Primary Schools Chess Association (EPSCA).
Both Richmond Junior Chess Club and Wey Valley Chess enter teams in the Under 9, Under 11 and Girls EPSCA championships. Children do not have to be members to be selected, but they do have to show that they are strong players and perform outstandingly in qualifying events.
Richmond Junior Chess Club works with other junior clubs in the area to select players for its EPSCA teams and holds qualifying trials in January for the Under 9, Under 11 and girls teams.
To play in the teams that Wey Valley Chess enters in the EPSCA championships, juniors must first compete in the qualifying events. The first qualifier is the Surrey U12 Championships held in January which has two sections, Under 9 and Under 12, from which a selection committee chooses a squad of 20 Under 9 boys and girls, 30 Under 11 boys and girls, and 20 Under 11 girls. Then in February the squad players compete in the Ramsey Cup Under 9/Under 11 Championships to decide the board order. The Under 9 team has 12 players plus 4 travelling reserves; the U11 team has 20 players plus 4 travelling reserves; and the Under 11 girls team has 12 players plus 4 reserves. The reserve players all get to compete as they are paired against reserves from other teams.
EPSCA events are often the first time juniors play in team competitions and may involve a substantial travel commitment, starting with the regional heats (called ‘zones’) which are usually held in March, from which the top teams qualify for a national final held in April or May. The venues are decided at the EPSCA AGM in the Autumn, with member associations across the country taking turns to host events.