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Berkshire Junior Championship

All stories for 2018-19
NYCA Under 14 and Under 18 Championships Saturday, September 26
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

Under 14 team manager Jim Wadsworth writes:
Berkshire's under 14 team, mounted the podium for the third year in a row at the annual NYCA event, claiming 3rd place. Two Berkshire players also secured the individual prize medals for having the top score for their board across all counties.

After a long-ish drive to Telford the young team - with just two "actual" under 14s and an average age of just over 11 years old - performed very well, with all players contributing points during the afternoon.

After the first round we were in second place, level with Kent and with, perhaps inevitably, Sussex just ahead.

Thanks to a rather peculiar set of jamboree pairings, we realised after the fact that round 2 was the decisive one for the team competition. Of our 12 games, six had been against either Kent or Sussex and regrettably we scored just 1 point from those 6 (but we had 100% scores on our other boards). Sussex had a storming round, with 11 points from 12, and Kent edged ahead of us too.

After the traditional team photo, round 3 was our best of the day with a 75% return. Ryan Chen led the way, blowing his opponent off the board in just 15 minutes! Notable also were debutant Ragul Sudhakar's spirited fight back from being down in his game eventually to beat his Lancastrian opponent, and Daniel Noel's long draw against a very strong player also from Lancs.

We went into the final round knowing that we were in third with Lancashire just a couple of points behind us and Kent a similar margin ahead. But we also knew that because (thanks to that odd set of pairings), just as in round 3, we had games against neither Kent nor Sussex, so no opportunity to take points off them. We did however have 3 games against Lancashire. In the event all three of these were closely-fought draws (albeit one of these was significantly aided by the clock - the Berkshire player was left with a bare king whilst his opponent had king and queen and was just two moves from mate when her flag fell!). On the other boards, we conceded just one defeat. That was enough for us to secure a very good 3rd place overall - many congratulations to the team.

Congratulations also to the board prize winners - William Foo (with 100%) and Alfred Wong (unbeaten). Also unbeaten were Roy Zhang, Daniel Noel, Charlie Bucknell and Max Papachristos. Well done to them too.

More generally it's clear that this group of players are real fighters. I mentioned above a draw that was salvaged with the help of the clock. And of the games that were lost by Berkshire players during the afternoon, half only finished either at or just before the flag fall. Very good to see, and a great indicator for the future.

Many thanks to the players, the organisers of the event and especially to the parents who drove all the way to Telford and back.

Under 18 team managers Chris Archer-Lock and Keith Tunstall write:
On a gloriously sunny Saturday and a long but pleasant drive through at least 8 counties, the Berkshire under 18 team got stuck into some serious chess at Abraham Darby Academy, Telford.

The first round was a definite high point for the team with all four top boards winning and 5 points from 8 games to lie in joint second place. The games ranged from James Adair's powerful attack in an open Sicilian to a patient battle from a difficult early position to a duly converted endgame advantage from both George Tunstall and Robert Starley (the last two games of the round to finish).

The second round was much tougher, with just one win from James Holland, supported by draws from the top two boards.

Round 3 Threatened to be as good as round 1, with the lower boards redoubling effort after the blank drawn in round 2, but ultimately a story of near misses. Ben Vanderluis held a small advantage and close to salvaging a draw in a long game; Ashley Trice obtained attacking chances for a small investment of material and nearly achieved a draw by perpetual check; Monish Sudhakar whipped up strong kingside play which gave him the upper hand before a late twist in the game. In the end the two wins were James H with a convincing win in on the white side of an open Sicilian, and James A skilfully exploiting the smallest of opportunities on the black side of the same opening.

In the final round, the top boards played powerfully, in particular with decisive positions obtained quickly by James and James. The lower boards again battled well, with Ben, Philip and Monish all threatening to pick up half a point or more, before late reversals.

When the dust settled, the result on paper doesn't do justice to the effort applied against strong opposition. Despite finishing joint 6th, our top three boards were unbeaten on the day and all received board prizes for the highest score for their board. Well done James Adair and George Tunstall and especially to James Holland with a perfect score having played three of the top four teams.

Many thanks to everyone - players and parents for making it possible to enter an under 18 team.
Related links

Under 14s:

Under 18s: