By Raffles Press
Raffles has assembled. Team Raffles Games (TRG) season has officially begun, featuring face-offs between each house as they vie for the title of House Champion 2019. In this article, Raffles Press brings you the highlights of TRG Week 1 (Part 1), from 30th to 31st July 2019.
Chess: A Battle of Wits
By Val Yeo (20S03O)
By the time 2.30pm rolls about, there are three rows and three columns of tables set up neatly, a board of chess on each table simply waiting there awaiting the competitors. Not too far off, two boards of Chinese chess are set up. A few tables are occupied, members of the Chess Society and competitors alike playing some friendly matches before the official match commences. Once the attendance is taken, a quick briefing is done and after resolving the confused mutterings of a few competitors regarding the use of the timer, the game starts.
The room falls silent as players switch from their friendly demeanours to their competitive selves, staring intently at the chess board as they watch their opponents make their moves. Chess pieces slowly get removed from the board as the players make capture after capture, slowly being piling up next to the board. The players’ brows furrow as cogs turn in their heads, contemplating their next move. Some nod in appraisal of their opponent’s move and a few nails are bitten as their King is slowly being cornered. Within seven minutes, the first game of Chinese chess is up, and within 12, only three teams are left on the battlefield.
After all three rounds of chess are played and the scores are tabulated, it falls down to a clear winner. The overall personal champion is Yu Zheng Wen from MT.
Tied for 3rd: BW, BB
Badminton: What’s That Racket About?
By Gabrielle Ng (20A01E) and Ng Jing Ting (20A13A)
Photo courtesy of Raffles Photographic Society
Undeterred by the sweltering heat outside, players of the five different houses filed into the MPH and onto the badminton courts as a member of the school’s badminton team hollered to announce the start of the badminton TRG. Amidst the sea of colour, student referees darted around, shuffling pairs around the courts and directing others to their places. Newly formed pairs exchanged awkward greetings but soon warmed up to each other.
As the games proceeded, some let out shrieks of exhilaration, prancing nimbly to lightly hit the fastest of shuttlecocks; others gave sheepish laughs of embarrassment as they flailed and failed to receive their partners’ smashes. The scent of competition in the air only intensified as afternoon bled into evening, with pairs of players being eliminated steadily as others advanced further into the semifinals and finals. Eventually, the competition was whittled down to the strongest teams, who played with an almost frightening intensity as they careened around the courts. Triumphant victors thrust their rackets into the air, while those at the other side of the court courteously offered a handshake and an occasional high five in a show of their fresh camaraderie.
BW took home first place that day, but everyone went home flushed with the satisfaction of having had the time of their week, assured that they were winners unto themselves.
Table Tennis: The Ball’s in Your Court
By Gabrielle Ng (20A01E) and Ng Jing Ting (20A13A)
Photo courtesy of Hadley-Hullett’s Instagram page
Combining the hush of an examination venue with the occasional interjection of ping, pong, ping, pong as the orange balls slid off the tables and bounced around the players’ legs, the MPH reverberated with the sound of players across all five houses warming up for the table tennis TRG. As paddles slashed through the air and balls ejected themselves off the tables (pushed together to make larger playing fields), friendships blossomed between players as they geared up to face the challenge of the day to give their house a name.
Players wielded their paddles like lethal weapons, casting graceful, swift movements that wowed both opponents and the audience with the flawless trajectory of the ball. More leisurely players hastily flung the ball onto the opposite courts and scrambled to receive the opponents’ serves with occasional screams, evoking much laughter in the otherwise tense competition venue. Players displayed amazing, show-stopping, excellent sportsmanship through the exchange of handshakes after every match. Nevertheless, the true competitiveness of the inter-house face-off shone through, with players tightening their grip on their paddles and even sporting a few beads of sweat in the air-conditioned venue towards the last minutes of the game.
Eventually, table tennis TRG came to a conclusion as HH triumphed over the rest of the houses and took home first place. Congratulations!
Tennis: … And the Winner Takes All
By Ng Ziqin (20S03H) and Sophia He (20S03H)
Thwock. Beat. Thwock. Beat. Thwock. There was something almost musical about the steady rhythm of the low-density tennis balls bouncing off the hardcourt. Spectators watched in awe as the orange-and-yellow balls sailed through the air in beautiful arcs. Overhead, over nets, and on one occasion at 6.38 pm, over the high fences surrounding the tennis court, and onto the road below.
The midday sun beat down mercilessly on the participants’ backs. It may have dampened their shirts with perspiration, but it could not touch their enthusiasm. House Directorate members cheered on from the sidelines, offering support to their players in the form of spirited shouts, free oreos, and the elixir of the gods—Milo.
The first few bouts were conducted round-robin style. Participants from each house were paired up and pitted against a pair from another house in a series of ten-minute doubles matches.
There were squeals. There were swings which completely missed the mark. There was a player who twirled the racket around in his hand like pro whenever he adjusted his grip on it, throughout the game, a player who T-posed and wiggled his bum while waiting for his opponents to ready themselves, and another who would squat down and cringe whenever a serve fell short. The moves were not fancy, but the entertainment value was high.
One pair each from BB, BW, HH and MT proceeded to the semi-finals. The sun was beginning to set. Ten minutes later, it was BB and BW who proceeded to the finals.
The game ended with a winner shot by BB player Roshan Doshi (20S07A), sealing BB’s victory with a scoreline of 9 to 3.
RECAS: Nothing Trivial About This Quiz
By Ng Ziqin (20S03H)
Photograph courtesy of Joel Leong (20S03O) from Raffles Photographic Society
“A little strategy: if you don’t know it, just whack. Cos if you don’t know it, you don’t know it. Don’t think too much about it.”
Huddled together in a corner of A33, the HH team is discussing their game strategy. From the serious looks on their faces, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were talking about anything other than a Kahoot quiz.
Unlike most other TRGs, this one took place in air-conditioned comfort, yet the mood was anything but chill. Some early arrivals were spotted playing a game of Chinese chess before the quiz started—mental warm-up, or intimidation tactics? Interestingly, the absence of a physical component to this event did not deter participants from showing up in their house T-shirts and shorts.
Beginning officially at 3.12 pm and centred on the theme of Technology, the RECAS quiz comprised 16 multiple-choice questions. A total of four houses were represented: BB, BW, MR, and HH.
With house pride and house points on the line, nothing was trivial about this quiz. While the mood started out relatively light-hearted, the competition grew increasingly tense and the players’ investment in the game grew stronger as the questions got tougher and tougher. Answers were shouted frantically across the room, though it soon became impossible to tell which ones were right.
“Saverin. Saverin. I’m pretty sure it’s Saverin,” a BB player was heard telling his teammates seconds before the correct answer was revealed (unfortunately not Saverin).
At the end of an intense eight minutes, it was the HH team, having answered 9 out of 16 questions correctly, who emerged victorious with a whopping 9,869 points. But non-HHians need not despair; the last we heard, the exchange rate for Kahoot points to TRG points was not one-to-one.
Fencing: Never on the Fence
By Huang Beihua (20A03A)
Photo courtesy of Bayley-Waddle’s Instagram Page
Participants took their positions. All was still, the air quiet but heavy with anticipation.
At the command, the fencers launched into action. For some pairs, that would mean a rapid sequence of attacks, the épée’s thin blades clashing and crooking in a cacophony of clangs. For others, a more cautious battle was in order: both combatants, unpredictable behind the heavy masks, feinted and waited with weapons slithering in their hands, preparing to strike as a leopard falls upon its prey at the right opportunity. Whatever the style, whatever the spectacle, the goal was the same: the burst of exhilaration as you clip the opponent with your sword, one that you have to experience to truly know.
We have Raffles Fencing to thank that the thrill was preserved as far as it possibly could be—even for amateurs (ahem, secondary school fencers). That meant real epees where one would (as some participants did) expect foam swords, and full protective gear that were the reserve of professionals. Of course, to truly invite participants into the wondrous world of fencing, an hour-long training session was conducted to teach at least some of the basic movements.
And the result was nothing short of a success—every round of cheering, every victory cry, and even every high-five all testify to the joy and excitement that suffused the hall. What showcased their enjoyment the best, however, was how almost all players agreed to prolong the game as it concluded, evidently unwilling to let go of the captivating sport.