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All stories for 2019-20
NYCA Under 12, Under 16, Under 16B Saturday, November 01
Chris Archer-Lock and Keith Tunstall writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

As the Berkshire team assembled at the start of the day in Edgbaston, it became clear that the battle would be keen: a strong team had ridden in from the county of the white horse, Kent, and their neighbours Sussex, hardly dark horses, mustered a formidable force from locations ranging from Hastings to Street to Eton on a rank of chess boards next to us.

The initial skirmishes were promising. In round 1, the Under 16 A team amassed an amazing 7 points out of 8. Equally amazing was that this was first place by just half a point. The team talk beforehand had promised a special mention in the website report to fine wins against our close rivals, and Patrick Butler was first to rise to this challenge with a spectacular win, slaying the team which was to finish third with his Sicilian dragon, against an opponent himself a national champion in the times of yore before Felix. Patrick's neat footwork in the centre and on the queenside led to a key breakthrough against the white king cowering on the queen's wing, and the Berkshire warrior's rampant pieces harried and chased the king across an open battlefield to checkmate on the king's wing on h4.

The Under 16 B team found themselves pitched against the large area of Cheshire and North Wales, and starting a player short following a late withdrawal due to illness. Some long fought games yielded 2½ points out of 7 available.

Meanwhile the battle ebbed and flowed for the Under 12 team. A good start was made in the opening on most boards: some pushed on further to victory, while others saw the game turn against tough opposition. The final score from round 1 was 5½ out of 12, pointing to the close battle for third place. First place almost looked assured from the outset for Sussex, as they turned in a perfect round.

Round two was one of contrasting fortunes. The Under 12 team produced similar form to the first round with the same result of 5½ points. This included valuable fighting turnarounds from Charlie Bucknell and Ryan Wong, plus an impressive attacking win from Tom Vandersluis. Moving the team up from 5th to 4th place.

In the Under 16 age group however, this was the toughest round. The B team scored its lowest round total of two points, although there were fine patient wins from David Andrews and Florence Mitchell. The Under 16 A team nearly lost their wheels as they hit a large bump in the road by scoring just 3 points. The first place spot was relinquished, but remarkably we still had second place by half a point. James Adair and Daniel Noel carried the flag with careful wins indicative of the consistent form each showed on the day.

This called for a fight back, which duly came in round 3. The Under 16 A team's 6 points included a win through a powerful pin from Rachel Davey on board 7 and a strong rearguard action from Ben Vandersluis, who was able to agree a draw with seconds remaining in the session. James Holland scored an excellent win against Kent, to add to his comfortable draw with Sussex in the previous round. A significant highlight was James Adair's excellent attacking win against the team which was to finish third, again worthy of special mention. James began with a steady build up against the Closed Variation of the venerable Ruy Lopez Opening. He gradually transferred his pieces to the kingside and unleashed a mighty attack involving the sacrifice of two pieces, first a knight and then the formidable "Spanish" bishop. His opponent was bemused as the forces swarmed around his king, and fell to checkmate on move 31. This fine game against a strong opponent may appear at a Berkshire Junior training session in future.

The Under 16 B team also picked up the score, with wins from Robert Starley and Ashley Trice in a total of 2½. Meanwhile the Under 12's rose to the challenge of fighting for third place, with an improved score of 7. This included maximum points at the top from Roy Zhang and William Foo, with William completing an impressive demolition of his opponent’s central pawns in the French defence, before his pieces created a winning attack.

So the scene was set for the final round battle...

The Under 12 team combined to produce their best round, with a total of 7½ points. The early news was good, with wins on boards 3 and 4, as Charlie Bucknell won quickly in 16 moves and Edmond Lote not long after in 29 moves. Results continued to flow, including wins from each of the Wong brothers. Berkshire’s final position was out of their hands and not decided until the final game of the Under 12 match was won. This propelled Kent from equal third into outright second leaving the Berkshire team in fourth place just a half point behind Lancashire in third. This was a fine effort and unlucky not to be rewarded with trophies. The team had three unbeaten players: William Foo, Tom Vandersluis and Ryan Wong. Ryan Wong's 3½ on board 10 was enough to give him the only board prize in the Under 12 team.

The Under 16 B team followed suit, achieving its best round result, winning 4 games out of the 7 played in the round. Robert Starley secured the final point late in the session, triumphing in a difficult ending with two pawns compensation for the exchange. The Under 16 match against Cheshire and North Wales was well fought throughout, producing long and interesting games.

The Under 16 A team started the final round in second place just 2 points behind the leaders and a clear point ahead of third. It was vital to keep on the racing line and avoid any catastrophes.

Daniel Noel produced the goods winning against his opponent's Sicilian setup, which was essential in keeping the edge over Sussex. The final result was a cliff-hanger on board 1, where James Adair edged out the Kent top board in a tense finish to a lively and well played game by both sides.

The commitment of the top four teams was clear, with them all scoring 5½ points to keep the same 1-2-3 from the start of the round. This meant Kent were the winners of the U16 major competition, Berkshire were second ahead of Sussex in third.

Four of the Under 16 players were unbeaten: James Holland, Adrian Archer-Lock, Daniel Noel and James Adair. With James Adair the only Berkshire player with a 100% on the day. As a result of this there were board prizes for all these players with Patrick Butler taking a board prize for board 5 as well.

Well done and thank you to all the players and parents at the end of an enjoyable and successful team outing.

Related links

Under 12:
Last Season's Results

Under 16:
Last Season's Results

Under 16B: