SCCU U/14 Team Championships
Sunday, March 11
Jim Wadsworth writes:
The under 14 team had a great start and were competing for the lead, but ultimately were not able to emulate their under 18 colleagues, being pipped at the post in a very tight competition. How competitive it was going to be was evidenced by analysis of the various teams’ grades – the team averages ranged from 112 (Sussex) to 123 (Kent) – i.e. all very close.
Round 1 started brightly for Berkshire. Louise Head fought back against the highest graded player in the under 14 competition, Kent’s Rohan Shiatis. Having been under severe pressure, Louise pushed a pawn up to the 7th rank and found a great tactic to force an exchange of Queen for Rook. Having established that advantage, Louise soon secured the point – and without getting distracted by a change of digital clocks enforced by a dodgy battery. On boards 2 and 3 brothers Alfred Wong and Ryan Wong won and drew respectively. On board 4, Alex Vanlint found himself up against Surrey’s board 3, Yang-Jian Zhou. Alex and Yang-Jian will soon be team-mates representing England in the World Schools chess event in Romania. But today there was no quarter given in a long game. Through most of it Yang-Jian held a small advantage, but Alex fought fantastically well, eventually liquidating all of the material and Yang-Jian’s extra queenside pawns. At the end Alex had king and pawn against king; Yang-Jian was able to maintain the opposition to draw. On board 5, Ragul Sudhakar found himself in time pressure but secured a solid draw. Isabella Roper, board 7, was initially worse but then found a tactic to win her opponent’s Queen, at which point it was all over.
So at the end of round 1, we were handily placed in joint second, just half a point behind leaders Kent. After a brief excursion outside for the team photo, the players went in for the second round. Which went even better than the opener, with wins on boards 2 through 6 inclusive. Regret I can’t really comment on what happened in most of the games as at the time I was in a team managers’ meeting! But at the end of the round we were first equal with Kent, with Surrey one point behind. Given how well the under 18 team was doing, the Berkshire room was a very happy and confident one. Could we sustain it into the final round?
Regrettably for the under 14s, the answer to that question was in the negative. But not for want of trying. On board 6, Charlie Pye was first back to the team room. He had been losing but his Sussex opponent kindly blundered a couple of pieces to give Charlie the point. Ryan got his second draw of the day. Meantime on the top board, Louise found herself under pressure on the clock – and in a tricky position just failed to hit the 30 move time control. At more or less the same time, Ragul got through the same time control with less than 30 seconds to spare, and then went on to win his game. Alex had another long game, but eventually lost. As did Isabella. That left two games still going. Alfred Wong had lost a rook to a middle game tactic, but fought on to the bitter end. Meanwhile on board 8 Tarun Puri had a great chance to win his game, but unfortunately didn’t quite find the right combination.
So we finished on 12 points. Astonishingly, we had been pushed down to 4th place. Not only had Kent pulled ahead of us but we had been overhauled not just by Surrey but also Essex. The latter had had a fantastic final round. All three of those counties finished level on 13½ points, with Kent being deemed the winners on tiebreak.
Oh well, no disgrace as the whole team had fought well throughout in a very competitive event. Many congrats to Ragul Sudhakar and Ryan Wong, both of whom remained undefeated. Many thanks to all the players and their parents for their support.
Last Season's Results
Last Season's Results