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SCCU U14/U140 v. Oxfordshire A Sunday, April 17
Tanya Beckinsale and Chris Archer-Lock writes:

Berkshire Under 14s overcame Oxfordshire A in a well attended event at Claires Court Junior Boys school, which also enabled reserves and players in a graded tournament to gain experience of county match conditions.

We were delighted to have 20 playing for Berkshire, including some high quality England squad representatives. Berkshire were captained by Laura Davidson, and were pleased to welcome a number of Berkshire players, Mia, Henry, Teo, Shaunak and Gaurav joining the U14 squad for the first time, along with those playing for Berkshire Junior for the first time – Orton, Anshul, James Clarke & Arjun.

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The first round of the twelve board match against Oxfordshire saw us have white on all boards, a bit like having service in tennis, knowing that we must return serve as black in the second round. Some of our players got in a powerful first serve, but the round was evenly balanced for a considerable time until those involved in longer rallies saw us take an impressive 7½-4½ lead at the break. This included six wins. Gurveen Kapoor played a commanding game with decisive pressure after a queenside breakthrough. Laura Davidson won a mirror image with a kingside attack breaking impressively through her opponent's defences in a well played Alekhine-Chatard attack against the French Defence. Nicholas Vallis seized a tactical opportunity to win material, and Helen Archer-Lock built up a decisive advantage against an aggressive defence to the queen's pawn. Orton Khoo played well to gain and convert a piece advantage, while Anshul Khandelwal produced an excellent positional fight back with central and dark square pressure after ceding some queenside pawns in the opening. Viktor Stoyanov, Oliver Thornley and Dev Mohan all did well to survive pressure and draw their games.

With black on all twelve boards in the second round, a different challenge was faced, but the team battled well to maximise its score. We faced pressure in the opening on many boards, but survived to secure 6 wins and a 50% score for the round. Viktor Stoyanov gained a positional and then material superiority as his opponent struggled to match his Sicilian Dragon setup. Oliver Thornley enjoyed a quick win, punishing an inaccuracy after he had set up a comfortable Caro Kann defence. Helen Archer-Lock broke out from an initially defensive position to force checkmate. Mia Harris prevailed in an epic battle in which she survived kingside pressure to emerge with a winning rook ending. Orton Khoo played well against an isolated queen's pawn and also won a rook ending. Anshul Khandelwal navigated his opponent's solid queen's pawn opening and applied pressure on the kingside which turned into a decisive attack. Thus our round score of 6 points propelled Berkshire to a match victory of 13½-10½ against very competitive opposition, an excellent result.

A wonderful team effort, with particular mention to Helen, Orton, Anshul scoring maximum points, and Oliver & Viktor, unbeaten on the day.

Having had a disappointing result, losing to Oxon B earlier in the season, it was fantastic to witness a demonstration of what Berkshire can do at full strength! Unfortunately, despite beating their Oxon’s A team, the points difference on the combined games meant that we didn’t go through as Regional champions this year. Moral of the story – with a full team this squad are a force to reckoned with – we just need you all to be available to play!

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Very well done to all our players who were a credit to their county throughout the day. Many thanks to Claires Court for hosting us at their excellent venue, to all our parents for their help and support, and especially to my co-managers Sian Thornley & Tracey Vallis, and in the playing room, Chris Archer-Lock reporting and Paul and Luke Vallis controlling.
Related links

Claires Court Junior Boys
Last Season's Results