Saturday, November 29
Under 11 team manager Mark Vandersluis:
...and it was a great team effort, with every Berkshire player scoring at least 2 out of 3 - the tin of Quality Street we won was well deserved! Jonathan Matthews and Jonathan Smith shared Board 1 for the afternoon, having come joint first (along with Louise Head) at the U11 trial in October. On the day, four players scored a perfect 3/3: Alfred Wong, Tom Vandersluis, Matty Kemp and Kieran Brown, while Jonathan Matthews was also unbeaten on 2½. Thanks are also due to Leicestershire, who kindly offered their reserves to play as our Board 12 to complete the team.
Under 11 Girls team manager for the day Brent Smith:
The final headline result may not look great: 3rd out of 3 teams, but there were lots of positives to take from this first outing of the season for the Berkshire belles. The last Saturday of November proved a very difficult date to find potential team members who would be available. We finally had to travel one player short, without either of our top two players, a team that was actually all under 10, and included 3 novices out of 5. Getting practice at long time controls, and gaining experience of big events seemed the best that could be hoped for, and expectations were moderate at best.
After the first round, we were in first place with 4 / 6!
Before the second round, the tournament controller gave everyone an anti-Berkshire pep talk (well, except Berkshire, obviously). To be fair, he simply pointed out that the Berkshire players were using more of their time to find better moves and not make simple mistakes. Three of the Berkshire teams then posted their lowest scoring round. For the girls team in particular, this meant only a single point, and we moved into 3rd place. The final round was the best in terms of play for the players of all the teams, with slow play the rule rather than the exception. Aisling Cunningham played well at board 1, slowly building advantages until her opponent had nowhere to hide. Isabella Roper turned round her game for her second win. At this point it looked as if we were headed for another 4 point round, and a 3-way tie between the teams, but Katie Rennie saw her materiel advantage suddenly reversed by a powerful revealed check and Clare Pearson spurned a Queen for Rook trade in the hope of something even better (she was more than a Queen down), but a third win on the day eluded her. Lizzie Smith found herself playing at board 2 on her debut, and although all her games were close, she had to be satisifed with the excellent practice the event afforded.
Many thanks to Leicestershire and Miriam Zaidi who played for us at board 6, and if we had been told at the outset that we could get 7 points, we'd have been very happy. The girls are now all the best of friends and are looking forward to the even tougher challenges ahead in the new year.
Under 11 Girls: