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Berkshire Junior Championship

All stories for 2018-19
NYCA Under 16 and Under 12 Sunday, November 06
Jim Wadsworth writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

For the second time this autumn the Berkshire Junior chess crew rolled into Telford. This time it was the turn of the under 12 and under 16 teams to do battle. Unlike previous years the event was held on a Sunday; to accommodate a slightly earlier return journey the number of rounds was reduced to three.

Under 12s

More than half of the U12 team were in fact under 11 (or younger); and as the manager highlighted in his brief team talk before the start, the Sarson brothers were making their debuts as county players. Despite the relative youth and inexperience of the team, the manager and parents alike were hoping for a good result.

Unfortunately, all too soon a steady stream of players returned to the team room to add a fateful “0” to the score on the whiteboard. Not a good start. Perhaps the manager’s laconic briefing had been too relaxed? Not for at least one player – the manager was soon summoned to the playing hall: the opponent of Nikolai Hinterreither had picked up his rook first rather than the king when attempting to castle. The opponent’s team manager was trying to persuade Nikolai to let his player off. But steely-eyed* Nikolai insisted on making the player move that rook, in line with the letter of the laws. (Unfortunately the game eventually ended in stalemate – a slip by Nikolai when he was about to apply the coup de grace). The other top two boards also drew – in James Kinsler-Lubienski’s case when his opponent had sought protection as his time ran out. The arbiter (probably correctly given the position) ruled in the opponent’s favour. But that was it for round one. Just three draws.

In the break between rounds, the manager implored his troops to forget about the first round, and to start again as though the slate was clean. The tactic seemed to work – in round two we saw win after win being posted on the whiteboard. And it could have been even better than 6 from 12 - Charlie Grayson and James K-L on boards 1 and 2 were amongst the last games to finish in the entire room, both could well have won their games but unfortunately both let their opponents back into it, to eventually lose. Still, 50% was much more like it. Could we carry on at this much improved level?

In summary, regrettably no we couldn’t. All too soon loss after loss was being reported back to the team room. This trend was broken by two praiseworthy highlights: Jamie Sarson marked his debut with his second win in two games; and Nikolai once again drew to ensure he remained undefeated throughout. Many congratulations to the two of them.

Under 16s

With an average age of 13.6 years, this was not the most experienced of U16 teams, but it was a pretty strong team. At the outset we had genuine hopes of at least matching last year’s top half finish.

And things started well, with Daniel Noel’s opponent blundering a piece early on. Daniel confidently and professionally converted the point. However, for many of the other players the clock was the big factor, as proved to be the case throughout the day. With a relatively short time control of 45 minutes a number of the Berkshire players struggled – as did some of our opponents. Charlie Bucknell won on time in a drawn position – his Sussex opponent failed to seek the protection from the arbiter which could well have been granted. These things balance out though - Matthew Wadsworth returned the compliment, losing on time in a similarly drawn position, with his Welsh opponent having just 12 seconds left at the finish. The manager was not pleased…

In contrast to their younger colleagues, the U16s’ second round was no better than the first. There were however some bright spots: Louise Head won in 12 moves – she capitalised brutally on an early mistake from her Welsh opponent. Charlie B again rode his luck – for no obvious reason he was offered a draw when an exchange down in a very difficult position; Charlie did not hesitate in accepting, and rightly so. Daniel won again. Two other games were again lost on time, at least one of which finished in a totally level position that – had he been asked – the arbiter might well have ruled as being a draw.

Perhaps the traditional team photo between games two and three could change the mood? And yes it did, at least to some extent. The U16s had their best round of the event. Charlie Pye was soon a queen up for a knight, thanks to his opponent’s error. Charlie B neatly won an exchange as well, and both soon converted. Matthew finally found his form and blew away a strong Kentish player. Max Papachristos fought extremely well in a tricky position, and then found a fantastic tactic involving not one but two knight forks and a discovered attack on a minor piece to go a whole rook up. Sadly when three or four moves away from a forced mate Max ran out of time – our Achilles heel throughout the day – so ended up drawing. However, that result was enough to ensure we definitely finished ahead of Staffordshire, in 6th place.

Many congratulations to Daniel Noel and to Charlie Bucknell, who both remained unbeaten throughout the event.

And thank you to all the players, to the parents and to Nigel Dennis for their support, participation and of course making the near-300 mile round trip to Telford. Particular thanks to Mark Grayson and Michael Kinsler-Lubienski for their managerial stints in the under 12 tournament hall. Whilst our teams’ results were not what we had hoped for, the collective spirit remained undaunted throughout the day. Much appreciated!

* Author’s note: with this exception, in writing this report I have applied iron** self-discipline to avoid competing with the under 18 team manager’s impressive recent torrent of industrial revolution-related puns.

**oh, and this one…sorry

Related links

Under 16:
Last Season's Results

Under 12:
Last Season's Results