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Berkshire Junior Chess

Complete News for 2003-04 Season

This page contains all the news items published for the 2003-04 season. There is also a page for 2003-03.

Sat 28 August

Susie Yates played in the Middlesex Girls Championships and won with a score of 6/6. She couldn't get the trophy as she is not from Middlesex but got the cash prize - much more useful! She went on to play in the Middlesex Open Rapidplay and managed 2/6, mainly against adults with much higher grades.

Sat/Sun 28/29 August

Although only 3 current Berkshire Juniors entered the 40th Berks and Bucks Congress, I noticed a couple of "old boys" in the results list (Joshua Pitts and Liam Varnam), as well as the new Under 9 team manager Chris Archer-Lock.

The younger players acquitted themsleves very well. Adrian Archer-Lock and Stephen Cairns were both in 3rd= place in the Friday evening Lightning tournament. In the main competition, George Tunstall came 2nd in the C section with 4½/6 (and a performance grade of 126!) with Stephen finishing in 4th= on 3½.

Sat/Sun 21/22 August

The final stage of the UK Chess Challenge 2004 arrives at last - The TeraFinal. At the GigaFinal in July, 2 Berkshire players qualified for this final round, and 4 others qualified for the Challengers tournament. All 6 made a further trip up north, this time to Sheffield (see all their results). In probably his last tournament as a Berkshire Junior, Ben Purton was triumphant! He gained the title of STRAT, and a cheque for £1,000! He also found time to email this report to me:

Terafinal was a good event for Berkshire Juniors , Undoubtably as ever , this report is being biased towards myself as i won the terafinal section with 5.5/6 ahead of the likes of Li Wu and the "Boss" Jonathan Lappage(the guy on all the posters we got). George Turnstall! got the super Ultimo title in the U10's! with a strong performance in the terafinal. Id put him and a youngster called Craig Whitfield(who i played) as the best 2 U11 talents in the tournement , however a young girl called Rhianne Hughes(spelling?) stole the show with impressive beating of 197 grade and Irish international Matthew Dignam.

In the challangers , British U18 champion Sam Williams Won .....However solid performances from Stephen Cairns who has developed alot as player under the best coach in the country(personal opinion, but as ive been coached by alot of IM's. It is a judgement that i still believe). Andrew Winchcombe beat Felllow Berkshire player Stuart Russant to gain a good score!

Ed: Thanks for this report and others, Ben, and best of luck for the future.

August 1-14

The 100th British Championships took place this year in sunny (?) Scarborough and 5 Berkshire Junior players entered various age group tournaments.

Sat/Sun 10/11 July

It's GigaFinal time again! I had planned to go this year, but a last-minute family commitment caused us to "no show". Curiously, the UK Chess Challenge website shows Richard scoring 4 out of 6. I've received reports for each day...

For Saturday, Keith Tunstall writes:
Despite the variable weather the Berkshire Gazebo surfaced again on the first day of this year's Giga final at UMIST. Everyone seemed to enjoy themseleves. Even the U10's who had a hike to the top floor of the building they were playing in!

Just like last year the final round match for George Tunstall was against Rhys Cumming of Sussex. However, this finished in a draw with both players sharing the prize money. The 10 minute play off went to George to take the title of Ultimo. Unlike last year, George will go to the Tera Final in Sheffield in August...

Many other Berkshire players posted scores of 3 or more, with James Holland finishing on 5 / 6 in an under 8 section, to come 2nd= and thus qualify for the TeraFinal Challenger's Tournament.

Sunday's correspondent is soon-to-be-no-longer-a-junior Ben Purton:
On Sunday we did ok! Andrew Winchcombe got a challangers place with 5/6, something i dont agree with is the section size's not allowing any errors , but i guess that to be the best you have to beat everybody as mike basman bangs on about for half a day before the first round. Susie Yates was playing Nicola Thomas in the last round, so i was thinking that she was doing quite well. (Ed: Susie scored 4/6 to finish 4th, just shy of a Challenger's tournament qualifying place.) Stuart Russant somehow(graded 96) qualified for the challangers with 4/6 3rd= . And i got in the tera finals as U18 Ultimo(5.5)- however my bookchoice of "Soft Pawn" which costs 99p on ebay instead of £20 books bemused Mike Basman as he gave the older people first choice.

Later, Ben also wrote to me: Hi, Yeah Stephen Cairns got like 5/6 in the u16's also. (Ed: another Challenger's tournament qualifier!)

Sat 3 July

The first ever All England Girls' National Gold Finals attracted over 100 entrants who had qualified from events around the country. Susie Yates (under 14 section) and Rachel Davey (under 10 section) both scored 2 out of 5. The Berkshire trophy (for best result from a Berkshire girl in any section) was won outright by Katie Ratcliffe who finished an excellent 2nd= in the under 8 section. As far as I can tell, she has never entered a Berkshire tournament, so we know nothing further about her.

Sat 15 May

The annual end of season Berkshire Junior Lightning Tournament was as popular as last year - exactly so, with the same number of entrants. To add to the sense of deja vu, we had the same winner as well: Ben Purton, for the fourth year in a row, if I'm not mistaken. He finished on 5½, the same winning score as last year. Although at 17, this will be his last hurrah.

A number of age group trophies were also awarded:

Under 12 Ben Davey (5 points)
Under 11 Ben Vandersluis (4)
Under 10 George Tunstall (5)
Under 9 James Holland (3½)
Under 8 Daniel Noel (3)

Sat 8 May

Under 9 team manager Keith Tunstall writes:
A strong and experienced Berkshire U11 team played some really tough matches in the EPSCA final in Sussex.

After a good first round (11 pts) the team lay in 5th place. Sadly the second round brought us down to earth with a bump, by producing a stronger draw than the first round and leading to us picking up just 5½ pts and falling to 12th place.

With a rally in the last round the team recovered to score another 11 pts and finish in 11th place, just a ½ pt behind the two 9= teams.

A big thank you to everyone for the day and despite finishing outside the top ten, congratulations to three players who managed to keep a 100% record in the final: Nathan Elliott, Thomas Crocker & James Holland

Sat 24 April

Under 9 team manager Peter Davey writes:
The day of the under 9 ESPCA national final dawns. The top nineteen counties compete for the trophy. This was going to be a tough day for the Berkshire team. The day started with Rachel waking up shivering with a temperature. I had to leave a very dejected daughter behind, and Berkshire board 1. The result of this was all the players had to play one board higher. This was most noticeable for our top boards. I do not think Rachel would have done any better, but I think the others may have well picked up some points being one board lower.

The final result was =13th out of 19. A fine result from the team, considering the strength of the competition. Also should be noted the number of under 8s in our team. Next year team should do very well. We had one new player in the team for the final, Daniel Noel (U8), the only player to score 3 out of 3. Well done. I would like to thank all the team player and parents for their support for my first year as a team manager. A very enjoyable experience. I hope you continue to enjoy playing Chess, and support the Berkshire teams. I would hope to see you playing in the U9 and U11 teams next year.

Sat/Sun 24/25 April

The England Under 11 Trial in Liverpool saw both Patrick Butler and George Tunstall finish 2nd= on 4½/6. As a result, they have been invited to join the England Under 11 team! They are 2 of only 5 players aged under 10 to be chosen for the 26 strong squad. Many congratulations to both players!

Fri-Sun 16-18 April

At the National Junior Chess Squad tournament in Nottingham, Berkshire players posted some excellent results against top-rated competition. Andrew Winchcombe finished 3rd= in the Under 12 section with 5½/7.

Mon/Tue 5/6 April

This year's Maidenhead Junior Congress saw numbers slightly down on last year, particularly amongst Berkshire players. Did they somehow know the weather would not be so good (or had they disappeared to the seaside thinking the weather would be like last year?).

The most remarkable result was surely that of Peter Williams (age 7!) who followed up last year's win in the under 11 section with a win in this year's under 18 section. The best Berkshire performance was by James Hollandwho won the Under 9 section with 9½/11.

A quick summary:

Section   Winner   Best Berks player
Under 18Peter Williams, Alton (5/6)No Berks players!
Under 13Robbie Coats, Shrivenham (5½/6)Patrick Butler (3½/6)
Under 11Daniel Chan, Swindon (7½/9)George Tunstall (6½/9)
Under 9 James Holland (9½/11)James Holland (9½)

Sat 27 March

A busy day at Sonning Common Primary School for the final SAE of the season. This one doubles up as a UK Chess Challenge qualifying event for those juniors whose school don't hold a tournament of their own, or a second chance for those who didn't quite make it from their school event.

With 56 entrants in total, a second section was arranged - a standard SAE for players who had already qualified for the next phase of the UK Chess Challenge. The players in this section thus got some good practice, whilst not preventing others from qualifying for the MegaFinal.

The UK Chess Challenge section was won by Susie Yates, surely this year's overall SAE champion (if there were such a reckoning). See the results page for the 11 other qualifiers. The method of determining age group winners often turns up some anomolies, unlucky for some. From my own school, Tomas Pena-Walsh (age 7) failed to qualify despite scoring equal with the best 8 year-old boy, who did qualify. Tomas had also lost out in our school tournament by a single point to a boy whom he recorded a win over.

The Open section was won by Alex Moffatt, his first SAE win, with 5½/6.

Sat 20 March

Team manager Keith Tunstall reports on the EPSCA Under 11 Zonal:
Hot on the heels of the under 9's success, the under 11 team have also qualified for their EPSCA final.

This was a fantastic performance from everyone throughout the day, but yet again we were beaten to first place by a stronger team that scored 44 points (last year it was Somerset, this year Oxon). The gap was a mere two points (or as I was reminded, a one point swing vs. Oxon ;-) this time, with third place Somerset 4½ behind us.

No less than 8 players scored full marks (Patrick Butler, Joshua Ye, Alex Moffatt, Nathan Elliott, Zach Salvini, James Holland, Charlie Wright and Aaron George) and boards 11-20 only dropped 5½ points over three rounds. The whole team fought all the way.

After a strong first round we lead the table by just a ½ point to Oxon. Incredibly, after a stronger second round we were second to Oxon by a ½ point. Then, despite winning both matches that we played against Oxon in the final round, (Ed: see below for one of these matches) we couldn't match their overall strength and we remained as worthy runners up on the day.

However, spirits we not dampened and those who went home on the bus were boisterous and sang nearly all the way home.

Check your diaries for the final and please make sure this date is free: Saturday, 8 May 2004.

Well done to everyone who played and all the best for the final.


One talking point of the day was a 6 move win by Owan Haughey over Peter Watt of Oxfordshire in the final round:

1  e4      c5
2  Bc4     d6
3  Nf3     Nf6
4  e5      dxe5
5  Nxe5    g6
6  Bxf7 (mate)
My (very) limited chess knowledge suggests that Peter was determined to play the "Sicilian Advanced Dragon", even if his opponent didn't follow the 'correct' line. Right from move 2, Owan was playing the very rare "Philidor" variation of the Sicilian (thanks, Google, assuming the page is correct!).
Thursday 18 March

Caversham Primary School have won this year's Berkshire Primary Schools Chess League. They drew their final match of the season 2½ all, away to Ridgeway, who had won the trophy for the previous two years. A draw was enough to ensure Caversham finish top of the 'A' league, having already beaten both St. Nicholas, Hurst (3½-1½) and Papplewick (4-1).

Richard Smith won probably his last game for the school team, and remains unbeaten throughout his 4 year period of playing for the school, including being the only team member to score (a hard-fought draw against the Oxfordshire number 1, Andrew Willis) in a friendly match we lost 8½-½ against Magdalen College School (now that was a salutory experience!).

When I get the complete league tables, I'll post them on the website.

Sat 13 March

Peter Davey reports: On Saturday 13th March the U9 team went to Oxford for the EPSCA regional qualifying event. Despite some problems in finding the location, all 15 arrived just in time for the first round. This was an eight county event over 3 rounds. The first 5 would qualify for the final. The first round started with a poor 3½ from 12. We worked out that this was because we were playing mainly the stronger counties. The next round would be easier. Luckily it was, we collected 8½ points on this round, putting us in 4th place.

All was now dependent on the last round. Like all team matches the bottom boards came in with the first set of results. 2½ out of 8. This did not look good. Then the top 4 boards came in with 4 straight wins. 6½ points was enough to put us into 5th place. We had qualified. Considering 4 of the 12 team players are under 8 this I think was an excellent result. James Holland as usual won all his games; Philip Archer-Lock was unbeaten on 2.5.

Ed.'s note: further detail is available from the tournament organizers here.

Sat/Sun 6/7 March

Last season's SAE at Gorse Ride, Finchampstead was won by Susie Yates. She defended her title at this year's tournament scoring 5½/6 against a high quality field for her third win of the season.

A new winner in the under 8 section: Frances Wise took home the trophy on a tie-break from two others (Jenny Francis and Joshua Gwilt) after they all finished on 4/6.

on Sunday, the Under 11 team (Unbeaten in their 4 previous matches this season) travelled to High Wycombe for a friendly match against Buckinghamshire. Team manager Keith Tunstall reports:
A superb all-round performance from the team, with everyone scoring and no less than 6 players scoring a maximum.

After a strong first round for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire fought back with a stronger second round only to be overwhelmed in the final round for Berkshire to run out winners by 32½ to 12½.

Great team spirit and hopefully a springboard for the EPSCA qualifier in Somerset on 20-Mar-04.

Sat/Sun 28/29 Feb

A fantastic turnout again for the SAE at St. Michael's, Sandhurst (42 entrants), with 15 entries on the day. There were 20 different schools represented, including some new to Berkshire Junior Chess. Is this a record?

A new name on the circuit, Daniel Noel, in the under 8 section ran a close second to the winner Philip Archer-Lock. Also notable was Tom Vandersluis, who, at only 5 years old (another record?), scored a more than creditable 2½ points!

In the much larger open section, George Tunstall won only his second SAE by just half a point to stop an Archer-Lock double.

Finally, a pair of small navy blue snowflake pattern gloves were handed in at the end of the day. If these belong to anyone, they can contact Mark Vanderlsuis to arrange return (contact details in the Directory of BJCA people).
Thanks to Keith Tunstall and Mark Vandersluis for the above reports.

On Sunday, we hosted the return leg of the Andrew Russell Memorial Cup against Buckinghamshire under 14s at St. Nicholas School, Hurst. An excellent 20 - 11 victory on the day, combined with our 14-10 away win gave Berkshire a comfortable aggregate win! The detailed results page includes a full report from team manger Peter Francis, who also writes:

I think this will have been my last match as U14 team manager (a title that also seems to encompass U15, U13 & U12 responsibilities), as the Francis family is to emigrate this Summer. It has been a privilege to spend my weekends with such a great bunch, and a very successful time it has been too! Remember the silver salvers for the win at Solihull? And now to round off my tour of duty with the Andrew Russell Cup, which looks like a small FA Cup, is icing on the cake. Thanks to all the young people who have made the job so rewarding.

The cup will be available for inspection at Gorse Ride next Saturday.

Sat/Sun 21/22 Feb

Saturday was the day of IM Andrew Martin's attempt on the world record for simultaneous chess - 321 players! The whole event took almost 17 hours, finishing at 2:30 a.m., with Andrew making over 7,000 moves at roughly 9 seconds per move. A 6 year old boy from Finchampstead didn't finish until after 1 a.m! Andrew lost one game and drew 26. Further details on the special website.

Peter Davey (and family) were there. He reports: It was a very long day (sounds like a heart-felt understatement - ed.). Chris and Adrian Archer-Lock both had draws, as did Liam Varnam. There were a few Berkshire families playing: Winchcombe, Couper, Wong, Moffat, Archer-Lock, Palka, Bloomfield, to name just a few. The Davey family were the last to go (of the known Berkshire players). At 1:30 am all three of us resigned en masse. After 16 hours of play Rachel (the last female ) made a blunder allowing Andrew to fork her Rook and King. We all had a lost game but this was the final nail in the coffin.

Update: I have since heard that the last Berkshire player standing was Duncan Palka, who almost made the select final 10 at some time after 2 a.m.

Last week, several Berkshire girls travlled to Swindon (see below), and this week a mixed contingent made the journey west. Keith Tunstall was on the spot: Another weekend, another chess competition... However, considering the venue (an hours drive from central Berkshire) a great turn out for Berkshire - six entrants in the Wiltshire Junior Open Chess Championships. Three established players and three newcomers to an out of county event. One of these, Hannah Richards, enjoyed the beginners event on Saturday so much she then played in the intermediate section on Sunday.

Hannah was 4= on Saturday with 4/6 and then scored 3/7 on the Sunday, recieving the controllers prize for sporting attitude.

The three established players fought it out in the tough U12 Championship section as part of the huge 80+ entry. When the dust settled they were on:

Jenny Francis fought hard in the U8 section to finish with 2/6 and James Rowson scored 3/7 in the Intermediate section.

Sat/Sun 14/15 Feb

Half term, and no Saturday Afternoon Event, but the Maidenhead Junior Club tournament for February proved popular with those looking to take part in the UK Chess Challenge and seeking an alternative qualifying route outside any school tournament they might be participating in. With 3 points for a win, and prizes for everyone, the Chess Challenge is great fun, and I'm personally looking forward to running our own school's tournament next month.

The Maidenhead tournament was won by XiangYu Hu with 19 points out of a possible 21; Prashant Waikar was close behind on 18 points. See the results page for all the MegaFinal qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Berkshire Junior team managers Peter Davey (under 11, and roving reporter for the day) and Peter Francis (under 14) had a nice relaxing day in Swindon at the All England Girls Chess Championships, Western Region. Jenny Francis competed in the U8 and Rachel Davey in the U10. Jenny qualified by getting 3 out of 5, and Rachel qualified again.

Jenny came out of her first game, with a smile across her face having really enjoyed the game. The fact that she had lost did not bother her at all. Her training from her big brother James and her own attitude to the game would make her a very strong Berkshire player. It's a shame the family are moving to New Zealand.

The U10 section was won by Georgia Stevenson. The next four places were shared between four 8 year olds. I would say the luck of the draw was a factor in the final placing. Unlike the Southern region where Holly Carter (Wiltshire ) had the poor draw and Rachel the lucky draw, the reverse happened this time. A well deserved second equal place for Holly and Rachel tied for 4th. Full details are on the Wiltshire web site (Ed.'s note: put your sunglasses on before looking at the details results page! Ed.'s note #2: the results include "Berkshire" players Kalra Santushti (U12) and Katie Ratcliffe (U8, winner!) - does anyone know who they are?).

On a busy weekend for Berkshire's travelling juniors, there was also a tournament at Yately Manor, just over the border in Hampshire. Keith Tunstall writes: This local tournament was all about the magic number '7'. An excellent result for Ben Vandersluis who didn't come 7th but came a magnificent 2= in the U11 minor section. This combined with Alex Moffatt coming 5= gives the magic total of 7.

Then came the other competitions, where all the Berkshire players came 7= in one of those strange to comprehend coincidences. A good turn out and excellent results all round.

Sat 7 Feb

Starting on a personal note, I've never actually helped run one of these Saturday Afternoon Events before, but I finally got my chance for the Streatley tournament. There was another good turnout with several players coming from outside Berkshire (Harwell School is in Oxfordshire, no matter what Mike Basman might say!). With excellent cooperation from everyone, we managed to squeeze in 6 rounds and a very useful training session.

I've noticed that as the season progresses, the player's grades are becoming less indicative of their actual performance - clearly some are catching up quickly. We had another new winner: Thomas Crocker, who finished on a perfect 6. The under 8 trophy went, as last week, to Kevin Wongwith another excellent 4 / 6.

Sat 31 Jan / Sun 1 Feb

Mary Hare School for the Deaf hosted their first Saturday Afternoon Event. There was time for 7 rounds, and there was a second trophy this season for Susie Yates who scored a perfect 7 - if you look at the crosstab on the results page, you'll see that Susie had to beat the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th placed players, so those seven points were won the hard way! The under 8 trophy was jointly awarded to Kevin Wong and Daniel Noel (in his first tournament).

Ridgeway School, Maidenhead under 9 team qualified for the next stage of the EPSCA School's Team Championship at Basingstoke on Saturday 31st January. They finished second to Whiteleaf after beating Yateley Manor "A" team 4-1 in the last round. Individual scores from 5 games were:

1Jack Hill3
2Ben Passmore4
3Jack Luttrell4
4Scott Anderson2
1Alper Bakici4
ReserveTodd Moyse3
(Thanks to Nigel Dennis for the above report)

On Sunday, there was a Under 11 team event (4 teams, 20 boards) at Claires Court school in Maidenhead. The afternoon didn't exactly get off to a flying start as the Coulsdon team went to the wrong Claires Court site (not the first to have done this). Sussex and Hampshire were a few players short, but we had brought 5 reserves, in addition to a near full strength team. As this was a friendly/practice match, we simply lent our reserves to the other teams. Once the chess got going it became clear that the top place would be contested between Sussex and ourselves.

Going into the final round, we were 1½ points ahead of Sussex and due to play them in the showdown match. As mentioned earlier, we had lent two of our reserves to Sussex. They were told by team manager Keith Tunstall not to 'throw' their matches (or indeed, their chances of getting into the final Berks team for the EPSCA Zonal next month). They proceeded to post the first two points of the match to Sussex! After this start though, Berks players continued to arrive in a steady stream back in the team room, reporting victories, and in the end we won the match 12½-7½ for an overall win with 43 points on the day. There were no less than 9 players who scored a perfect 3: Ben Vandersluis, Richard Smith, Owan Haughey, David Andrews, Rachel Davey, James Holland, Thomas Crocker, Duncan Palka, and Ben Morris. George Tunstall, James Francis, and Joshua Ye were also unbeaten on 2½. Well done to all!

Sat/Sun, 24/25 January

Attendances have been excellent at the Saturday Afternoon Events this season, but we had the highest entry yet at St. Nicholas. 53 entrants, with 17 in the under 8 section, including two 5 year olds! Perfect 5 / 5 scores by James Francis and Philip Archer-Lock to win their respective sections. Both players seem to be stuck in a winning loop, and will soon need to rent a warehouse for their trophy store! There were some intersting results between the usual suspects competing for the top places, and some great practice for when the two county teams tackle Wiltshire tomorrow (see below).

On Sunday, the Under 11 and Under 9 teams played three round friendly matches against Wiltshire, against whom our record has been very good in recent years. In the Under 11 match, Berkshire had two incredibly strong rounds and although Wiltshire fought back in the final round, Berkshire still won out 6½-5½. The final score a resounding 27 points to 9 (or a 9 point swing ;-). Good performances all round helped to secure the win with 100% performances from George Tunstall, Ben Vandersluis, Zachary Salvini, David Andrews and Charlie Wright.

The Under 9 match was more closely contested. As the afternoon drew to a close, the overall score stood at a tense 17 all, but the two final games went our way for a final score of 19-17 in favour of Berkshire. Harsha Maturu scored a maximum 3 points on his debut.

Sat/Sun, 17/18 January

A new year, and new themes. This weekend's Saturday Afternoon Event at Nine Mile Ride was again run in two sections, with the top-graded players slugging it out in a tough all-play-all section. Once more James Francis proved the toughest over the rapidplay distance, although this time his opponents made him work harder and he finished on 3½ out of 5, with local boy George Tunstalland Ben Davey snapping at his heels on 3 points. Indeed, if James had lost rather than drawn his last game, there would have been a four-way tie for first!

The open section was jointly won by Alex Moffat and James Vandersluis, with the new sibling theme of the year being continued as the under 8 trophy went to Jenny Francis.

Earlier in the day, there had been a Maidenhead Junior Club tournament which was won by Dhawal Chelani. I have also posted the results for the December MJC tournament (won by James Francis).

On Sunday, there was an Under 14 friendly match v. Coulsdon (results page includes a full report from team manager Peter Francis). Berkshire won handsomely by 22½ - 9½; considering that the Berkshire team's average grade was 65, and Coulsdon could boast an average of 83, this was indeed an excellent result!

Sat/Sun, 10/11 January

Aldryngton school was the place to be this weekend. Starting with a Saturday afternoon tournament on, not unsurprisingly, Saturday afternoon! With over 32 players, there was a risk that two would end up unbeaten after 5 rounds, so a separate All-play-all section was created with the highest graded players invited. This has the advantage of giving these players 5 challenging games, rather than 3 easy games with a couple of tough ones at the end of the afternoon. On the other hand, there is less chance of an exciting upset if the lower-graded players are kept separate.

No matter the format, he's tough to beat at rapidplay, and so it was no great surprise that the day's major trophy went to James Francis who won all 5 of his games. The second section was a family affair with Adrian Archer-Lock top placed on 4½ points, and brother Philip Archer-Lock the winner of the under 8 trophy (trophy number 4 this season!).

An Under 9 team event took place on Sunday at Aldryngton school against Hants, Sussex and Bucks. Team manager Peter Davey writes: After the excellent first round against Hampshire, we found the strength of the other two teams too much for us. Our top boards performed well; Rachel with 2 out of 3, James with 3 out of 3 (well done James) and Peter with 1½ out of 3. Also at the other end we had Philip with 2 out of 2 and Toby with 1 out of 1, and good results in the reserves. Well done Philip and Toby.

Sat/Sun, 13/14 December

There was another high turnout for the Saturday afternoon tournament at Whiteknights school: 43 entrants. Back to this year's pattern, and another new winner in Ben Davey. He beat perennial winner James Francis in a blitz playoff after both were unbeaten over 5 rounds. The scrum that forms around these matches must make it tense for the players, but on this occassion, James' time control escaped him, and he lost on time still only in the middle game. Kevin Wong scored an excellent 3½/5 to become another new winner of the under 8 trophy.

A contingent of Berkshire players did their best to take over one end an analysis room during the first weekend of the London Junior Chess Championships. A good time was had by all. Notable results were achieved by Andrew Winchcombe (3rd= in the Under 14 minor section) and Joshua Ye (5th= in the Under 10 minor). Good luck to all those going to the second weekend after Christmas.

Sat/Sun, 6/7 December

So far this season, we've had new winners at each Saturday afternoon tournament, but James Francis has finally broken the mould by winning his second tournament of the year at Dolphin School. While the overall winners have been spread around, Philip Archer-Lock has made an enviable habit of winning the under 8 trophy almost every time he enters. This one was his fourth this season, by my reckoning.

On Sunday, a strong Berkshire Under 14 team travelled to High Wycombe for the first leg of the Andrew Russell cup (results page includes a detailed report from team manager Peter Francis). The match rules stipulated that no players with a grade over 90 could be fielded, so strength in depth is needed to get positive results. Berkshire have not had much success at this level in recent years, but perseverance is beginning to pay off with a good combination of experienced players (who have stuck with us through difficult times) and new blood. A closely fought contest ended in a 14-10 victory for Berkshire.

Sat/Sun, 29/30 November

With two big tournaments on this weekend, both saw reduced numbers compared with last year, although some players were keen enough to enter both. The Claires Court Tournament ran three sections in the end. The under 15 section ended in a four-way tie between Susie Yates, Ben Davey, Luke Tomkins and Steve Wilkins. The under 11 section was won by James Francis and the under 9 section was won by Rachel Davey.

The Berkshire Junior Congress, our premier event of the year, took place on Sunday. As mentioned above, numbers were down, but quality hasn't suffered. Indeed the under 12 and under 10 sections in particular boasted very challenging fields, if those grades are anything to go by! Berkshire players put in some fine performances, although only George Tunstall ran out a winner, in the under 10 section.

Sheila Dines of Surrey won the under 12 section from a trio of Berkshire players in joint second place (Patrick Butler, James Francis, and Andrew Winchcombe) (Luke Tomkins from Bucks also finished joint second). A measure of the high standard here was that Andrew actually won this section last year.

The under 18 and under 14 sections were combined (and only played 5 rounds for some reason?). James Foster of Coulsden was the overall winner; best Berkshire player was Samir Javeri with 3/5.

All the above under 12 and under 10 players qualified for the respective 'major' London Junior Championships tournament. Other Berkshire qualifiers included: Thomas McFaul, Michael Smith, XiangYu Hu, and Ben Davey (under 12 minor); Zach Salvini (under 10 major); Joshua Ye, Brian Couper, and David Andrews (under 10 minor).

Sat/Sun, 22/23 November

The highlight of the season - the Saturday afternoon tournament at my own school, Caversham Primary! Attendance was slightly down on previous years, although we had managed to encourage most of our own chess club to enter (17 players), and they made up half the total number of entrants, including the entire under 8 contigent. Unfortunately, there were no "outside" under 8 competitors, and so a separate section was not quite possible. We can't be held responsible for the weather which was miserable for the whole afternoon. To avoid the usual outdoor, inter-round footie moving into the corridors, a non-stop Simpsons video proved a popular alternative.

After several high placings this year, Susie Yates achieved a perfect 5/5 to win; Tomas Pena-Walsh won the under 8 trophy. There had only been time for 5 rounds due to a useful half hour coaching session from Dino (actually 2 sessions - the players were split into two groups - one receiving coaching, the other playing out round 3, then vice versa). (someone tell me Dino's surname - I keep thinking of the Flintstone's pet!)

On Sunday there was a large, mixed age group friendly match against Hertfordshire, currently a very strong county in Junior Chess. It was a 3 round, 30 board match with 6 under 14 players, 15 under 11 players, and 9 under 9 players. Herts actually gave games to some 37 different players. In the end we lost 55 - 35, but invaluable experience was gained especially by those for whom this was their first county match. George Tunstall, Adam Durrant and Peter Honey won all 3 of their matches.

Sat, 15 November

Another Saturday afternoon event, another high turnout, two new winners. Despite coming 2nd or 3rd at numerous Saturday tournaments, a winner's trophy has eluded my son until today (I may as well get the statement of personal interest out straightaway). Richard Smith won the St. Mary's tournament with a perfect 6/6, defeating local boy James Holland in a final round showdown. There weren't quite enough youngsters to form a separate Under 8 section, but Fiona Manning scored an excellent 2½ to win the Under 8 trophy.

Richard may have been the highest graded player on the day, but the games were reportedly far from straightforward. He had to come from behind in at least 3 of his matches. The final round game against James certainly looked a lost cause. Down by only a pawn, but in a very poor position, with his clock flag lifted to ominous heights (James still had about half his time left!), and surrounded by a crowd of St. Mary's supporters willing their own player on (a keen, but polite and non-kibbitzing crowd I hasten to add), there was surely only one possible result. But then Richard's king found a safe haven, allowing his dormant rook to come into play; then, a revealed attack went unnoticed which resulted in the gain of a bishop, leaving the opposing queen stranded, and gaining the all-important initiative. The game was turned on its head, but time was short and, possibly reeling from this change of fate, James made a final fatal blunder allowing a quick checkmate.

Sat, 8 November

A very busy day indeed for Berkshire's young chess players. We sent a young but keen team to the NYCA Under 15 competition in Solihull (results page includes a full report from team manager Peter Francis). They finished 8th out of 11, but according to old hands this was our best result in years and most of the team will still be available next year. We were also missing a few of our higher-graded players, but for the best of reasons. Read on.

The Southern Region All England Girls Championships resulted in trophies for the two Berkshire girls who took part. Susie Yates won the Under 14 title (jointly with one other) and Rachel Davey picked up the Under 10 trophy (along with 4 others). Both also qualify for the All England Girls Championships (results page includes a further report from Peter Davey).

Not to be outdone by the girls, George Tunstall was claiming a share of the winner's trophy at the English Under 11 Championships in Bedford. He came up on the rails in the final round, winning his final game after nearly 3 hours, to finish on 4½/5, equal with Dominic Foord (Barnet) and David Grant (Sussex), who drew their final round encounter. George thus qualifies for the England Trial in April. Patrick Butler performed creditably, and scored 2/5.

Meanwhile, chess life goes on closer to home; this week's Saturday tournament at Upton House saw a large entry (48 players, including 18 in a separate under 8 section!). James Holland almost managed a double after last week's win, but lost the playoff to Ben Vandersluis in the open section after they both finished on 4½/5. The under 8 section was won by Philip Archer-Lock; his third such trophy already this season!

Sat, 1 November

After picking up the under 8 trophy at the previous Saturday afternoon event, James Holland goes one better and wins the Winchcombe Primary tournament.

The under 8 trophy was won by Harry Cross on the second blitz playoff match, after the first ended in stalemate.

Meanwhile, a Berkshire contingent of 8 players descended on the Vyne school for the Hampshire Open Chess Championship and collected two titles and four trophies in all. The titles were taken by George Tunstall in the U12 section and Ben Vandersluis in the U10 section. Additional trophies went to Adrian Archer-Lock (second in the U10) and Philip Archer-Lock (also second, but in the U8). A very sociable affair. (thanks to Keith Tunstall for the report and results).

Sat/Sun, 18/19 October

Last season, only one Saturday afternoon tournament was won by a 'home' player, but it's happened already this year. James Paul won the Reading School SAE with an unbeaten 5½ out of 6.

The talking point of the day however was the performance of James Holland. He had come 2nd at the Under 9 trial two weeks ago, and the crosstab line of his results in this event show that he beat a number of much more experienced players, and reports from other participants relate that even in the games he lost, he made his opponents work hard for their win. Although he is one hour off being under 8, he was awarded the Under 8 trophy on the day.

Last weekend Bucks, this weekend, the Bedfordshire Junior Congress under 12 section was carried off by another Berkshire junior: George Tunstall (joint first with Jeffrey Levicki). There are thus two Berkshire qualifiers for the prestigious London Juniors already. (Sorry, detailed results not available.)

Last week's winner at the Bucks Junior Congress, Andrew Winchcombe has been invited to go on a five day visit to Berlin in February with the National Chess Junior Squad!

Sat/Sun, 11/12 October

Saturday morning saw the second Maidenhead Junior Club tournament of the year take place. Karl Maw repeated his success from last month (results now posted), scoring a perfect 5 from 5 rounds.

In a repeat of last year, James Francis, the king of the SAEs, was the winner at the Downs School, Compton tournament, also with an unbeaten 5 point score. The under 8 prize was shared between Jamie Wong and Philip Archer-Lock (who won the prize last week as well).

Word reaches my shell-like that Andrew Winchcombe is continuing his good form from last year and finished first in the under 12 section of the Bucks Junior Congress with 5 points out of 6, thus qualifying for the London Junior Championships (Under 12 major section).

Sun, 5 October

This year, the Under 9 and Under 11 trials were held on the same day, both at Aldryngton School (just next door to the previous day's venue). As with last year, the team managers were left with the pride/embarrassment of handing the winners' trophies to their own sons or daughters! Both tournaments were well-attended and hard-fought; the sunny weather allowed plenty of energy-burning between rounds and the day was thoroughly enjoyable for all concerned.

George Tunstall regained the Under 11 title, scoring 6½ out of 7, and dropping only ½ point in round 4 to second placed Richard Smith. The tactical draw in the final round between Richard and his twin brother Michael ensured not just sole second place for Richard, but a more harmonious atmosphere chez Smith (so I'm making no apologies for my sons on this occassion!).

The low number of girls in Berkshire teams (none, more often than not) over the last few years has been something of an embarassment, especially when other counties always have a good number. But this year, Rachel Davey will not only be in the Under 9 team, but she carried off the trophy by scoring 5½ out of 6. Relative newcomer James Holland was only ½ point behind in second place.

Sat, 4 October

There was an excellent turnout for the first SAE of the year (43 competitors, including many new pawn-pushers) at Maiden Erlegh school in Reading. Top honours were shared between two of last season's stars: Andrew Winchcombe and Thomas McFaul, who both scored 5½ out of 6. Philip Archer-Lock won the under 8 prize with 3 points. This season, all Saturday tournaments will include an under 8 prize. Full results now available.

27 September

Berkshire Under 18 and Under 13 teams entered the NYCA event this year in Solihull. A weakened Under 18 team did well to recover from a first round 12-0 loss to come 10th out of 12. (Detailed results not yet available).

The Under 13 team had their only 12 year old poached by the Under 18s, enabling them to compete for the Under 12 title, which they duly won! Can anyone out there remember the last time Berkshire won a national title? The whole team contributed to this excellent result, with Ben Davey unbeaten on 4 / 5. There's a full report from team manager Peter Francis in the results page.