When we (Aroun Kalyana, Shiv Mandal, Andreas Ktori and Harry Rachman) won the Regional Round of the national Schools’ Challenge competition in November 2019 we were cautiously optimistic. This optimism blossomed into hope after a brilliant victory over Nottingham in the Interregional Round. We felt that, just maybe, this year would be our year. None of us could have foreseen the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and the dramatic effect it would have on our lives.
When the lockdown was imposed, it led to the seemingly inevitable announcement of the cancellation of the competition by the national organisers. While we understood the rationale behind this development, we were undoubtedly disappointed by the frustration of our hopes. This was particularly true of those members of the Challenge community in the Sixth Form, whose last chance of seeing KES crowned National Champions during their school careers had been stolen away by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The 2019-2020 Schools’ Challenge season seemed fated to be a damp squib and would have undoubtedly remained that way if not for the intervention of Mr Abbott. Utilising the medium of Zoom and BuzzIn.live, Mr Abbott started running some online Challenge practices, initially a way to keep our Challenge skills sharp. As he refined the Zoom sessions, making improvements to each successive practice, he realised that if our system was shared with other schools, there was no reason the National Competition couldn’t continue. With this in mind he hosted an exhibition match featuring KES A vs. KES B for the national organisers. They were sufficiently impressed and asked KES to demonstrate the system to other schools, a process for which the KES B team was instrumental, through a series of friendly matches.
With the reinvigoration of the national competition, came a new match for KES A, who were victorious in a semi-final against Dollar Academy. In reaching the National Final, KES A has equalled the achievement of KES legends Yanbo Yin and Patrick Wernham. Should we win the match against Westminster we would be the first KES team to be crowned National Champions since the days of David Tite. Not only has KES excelled within the competition – it has also been crucial to its continuation. To quote Mr Abbott, “We have not only saved the day, but are tantalisingly close to winning the day too.”
In an effort to share the fun, a number of the Sixth Form are running inter-form challenge competitions for each year group. If you haven’t already involved yourself, it’s a brilliant way to develop your general knowledge and reaction speeds whilst having a boatload of fun in the process.