West of England U14 team championship
Saturday, June 20
Chris Archer-Lock writes:
A long tale whose trail stretched back to the February snow provided a sunny end to the season for the Berkshire Under 14 team. All bar one of the original squad from the frozen off February event accepted invitations for the revised date with destiny in Tiverton, and a determined team ended up shining in the mid-June Devonian sun.
The day started off in less than relaxed fashion with the train-travelling part of the team’s timetable blown off course by the vagaries of the railway: so much so that it was with relief that this group reached the playing hall with only a minor time deficit, to hear the good news that Alex Matthews had already registered Berkshire’s first point. Although it took some time to settle in during this first round, and some opportunities were let slip, the team gathered together in the interval with a fair return of 6 points from the first 10, and importantly the recognition that we could get into our stride and do well from here. Even the Welsh team, impressive winners of this event on home territory last year and again clearly possessing strength in depth, were just a point ahead and were in our sights.
Round two was telling. James Holland led the way from the front, taking on the Welsh board one in a fiery Dragon Sicilian, and beating away the flames of a kingside attack to slay the opponent as his king was in turn driven into the furnace on the kingside. Jonathan Matthews battled tenaciously to turn disadvantage to victory in another crucial win against the redoubtable Welsh. A fine round saw Berkshire score 8½ out of 10 and overtake the reigning champions by a full point.
The final round was bound to be tense, but was played with great composure and patience by the Berkshire team. Daniel Noel’s win, after steadily building an advantage against his Welsh opponent, typified the fine response to last round pressure. What pressure? The points began to build up, and at one stage it seemed that Roy Zhang had to win the last remaining Berkshire match. In the event, he was calmer than the observers in converting an exchange advantage and the cup was won. Wales dropped late points, making the margin of victory more comfortable, but in reality it had been a very competitive battle and the Berkshire team had responded to the challenge admirably.
Well played to the whole team, whose commitment and excellent attitude were the key to this success. Four players scored 100%: James Holland, Roy Zhang, Daniel Noel and Jonathan Matthews. The whole team played excellent chess, and deserved the winners’ medals and the chance to bask in the Devon sun with an impressive Wales and West of England trophy. Thank you also to Nigel Dennis and to the parents who travelled, were part of the team effort, and helped the Berkshire team to achieve this success on a glorious day in Devon.
Last Season's Results