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Berkshire Junior Championship

All stories for 2018-19
NYCA Under 16 Saturday, November 07
Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

Under 12 team manager Jim Wadsworth reports:

Berkshire's U12 team arrived in sunny(ish) Telford for their turn to compete in the NYCA event. Against some very strong opposition the team performed creditably, with every player contributing points.

Round 1 was a "game of two halves", with the top 6 boards collectively scoring 4½ points. Unfortunately, many of the other boards really struggled, one notable exception being Jonathan Smith who won well on board 9 against his Cheshire & N Wales opponent. At the end of the round we found ourselves in 5th place.

Perhaps some rustiness was understandable, as for a number of the players this was their first competitive event of the season. Certainly round 2 was much more promising. Although the overall score was just one point higher, the games were mostly lasting much longer and even when they ended in defeat the Berkshire players were putting up a big fight. Indeed half of the last 10 games to finish featured Berkshire players. On board 1, William Foo had a good draw with Hertfordshire's Ravi Haria (who travels to Turkey this week to compete for England at the World Youth championships). On board 8 Ben Ward was unlucky eventually to lose to another Hertfordshire player, an experienced campaigner whose father is an IM, the Telegraph's chess correspondent and the voice of Fritz (among other things!). But for a loss of a tempo in a complex middle game, Ben could well have won. By the end of the round we had crept up to 4th place overall and were just 2 points out of the medals. Could we do it? We headed off to the obligatory team photo in good spirits!

Unfortunately round 3 was extremely tough. We lost every game against players from counties lying above us in the table, and a couple more besides. Again there were some long, hard fought games, notably on the top two boards (unfortunately both of which finished in defeat). Having said that, Jonathan Matthews, Louise Head and Alfred Wong all won their games very emphatically, as did 8 year old debutant Michael Gilbert.

So we went into the final round knowing that medals were unlikely. Perhaps the relaxation that came with that helped, since we had our best round of the day. It was great to see Ben Ward and Charlie Pye both getting wins, both of whom had fought fantastically all day but up until then without having scored a point. Matthew Wadsworth on board 2 played a very good game to overwhelm his Welsh opponent. George Wilks defended brilliantly in what was more or less the last game to finish, eventually being awarded a draw by the arbiter when his opponent's flag fell. (Other less experienced arbiters might even have given George the win - although in fact a draw was the correct verdict in the circumstances.)

In the end every player won at least one game; but unusually every player also lost at least one game.

Many thanks to the parents, drivers, organisers and others who gave up their time and contributed to the day. And of course thank you to the players.

Joint Under 16 team manager Chris Archer-Lock adds:

Two Berkshire Under 16 teams journeyed to Telford on a bright Saturday morning. The overture to the campaign had unfortunately seen one rival county meet their Waterloo at the mustering stage, and we arrived an infelicitous two players down following illness on the day. Nevertheless our strong core of Reading School players, supported by familiar faces from across the county including a returning representation of Eton College, meant that we were able to complete well both in the A team competition and in a B team match reduced to six boards. It was also good to welcome back to the event Hampshire as local rivals, with an A team founded on an enthusiastic Winchester College group, and as the only other county entering a full B team for the event.

The first round of the A team competition saw Berkshire establish immediately the consistency which was the mark of the day, with four points out of eight. Roy Zhang epitomised that consistency by accepting the Hampshire player’s Morra Gambit against the Sicilian and nursing the pawn advantage in a compact position through to victory.

The first round of the B team event was the most important and successful. Since only Berkshire and Hampshire had six board B teams, it was announced that they would play a match in the first round for the B team competition medals, before playing in a reserves event against players from the rest of England and Wales in the remaining rounds. Thus the pressure was on from the start, but was soon relieved somewhat by convincing wins from Reece Rogers and Harry Indge. Other games were more in the balance, until Max Papachristos on board 1, with his kingside seemingly under threat, turned defence into attack through a neat combination to unblock his bishop’s route to h4, where it pinned his opponent’s queen on g3. Alex Manton Jones had been behind, but turned his game around to secure a decisive lead for Berkshire. The Sudhakar brothers were still at the board playing the patient chess they showed all day, and Ragul Sudhakar snatched a win from an adverse position. Finally Monish Sudhakar completed a six-nil scoreline in the match, creating a mating net with his rooks and a kingside pawn in the last minute of a measured game.

Round two saw a further four points garnered by the A team, from a different group of players. George Tunstall’s win against Lancashire’s top board in a positional Queen’s Gambit was a highlight. The A team was placed fourth equal after this round, hovering a point outside the top three places. The B team now found life harder as the competition evolved to a reserves event with high board reserves from other counties, particular the day’s top team Yorkshire, added to the mix, and Monish Sudhakar’s win against a Cheshire player was the sole win, as our bottom three boards drew a blank against Hampshire’s top three.

The third round saw a hat trick of four point hauls for the A team. Daniel Noel quickly obtained a decisive advantage against a Lancashire opponent, importantly since we had been tied with that county at this stage. Charlie Bucknell completed his third consecutive win, and the A team finished the round still fourth equal with Lancashire, but only half a point short of Hampshire in third. The B team scored two points, including a good win from Max Papachristos against a promising Hertfordshire opponent.

So to the final round. We knew that the rut of four point hauls needed to be broken by the A team to sneak into the top three, and an early win from Edmond Lote provided encouragement. Ben Vandersluis also won comfortably, but we were under pressure elsewhere. Half points were secured by good play from George Tunstall and Charlie Bucknell, and finally by Roy Zhang, using excellent technique to blockade and draw an opposite coloured bishops endgame two pawns down. However leaders Yorkshire were faltering, and Hampshire and Lancashire in particular reaped the benefit, leaving Berkshire in fifth place at the end of a close contest, with 15½ points out of 32. In terms of individual performances, congratulations are due to Charlie Bucknell and Roy Zhang, who both won medals for the best results on their board. The B team had a tough final round, with Alex Manton Jones the only winner, but at the prize giving were able to bask in their success in the B team event match against Hampshire, as well has having their second best percentage score commended behind Yorkshire whose reserves led the way in percentage terms over the final three rounds.

Our thanks again to the players, families and teachers who supported the event, and congratulations to the players on their effort and results achieved.

Related links

Under 16s:
Last Season's Results

Under 12s:
Last Season's Results

Under 16B:
Last Season's Results