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Under 11 EPSCA Girls Saturday, April 17
Michael Gilbert writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

I found myself looking after the U11 Girls this Saturday, with the U11 Girls Team Manager, Matt Findel-Hawkins, stuck somewhere on the Continent (unfortunately and far more importantly with Romina Findel-Hawkins at his side – a talent we sorely missed but such are the breaks). Well our girls put up a commendable fight at the U11 Girls Final in Barnet. Finishing on a very respectable 16½ they were perhaps unlucky to have not made it even higher up the rankings but they did secure 7th place. Special mention must go to Isobel Armitage and Thilaga Narayanan who won all three of their games (despite some pretty tough opposition including Kent, Sussex and Wey Valley) but also to Helen Archer-Lock, undefeated on the day with two wins and a draw – not to mention the controller’s prize for Best Game, a truly outstanding day for young Helen and a sign of things to come I think.

Our top boards were expected to struggle and indeed they did…but not one of them folded easily. They fought on with determination right to the end and made their opponents earn every point. It looked like we were going to get at least one from each of the top four but unluckily Lizzie Smith took her eye of the ball for just a moment and her sure win slipped away – bad luck Lizzie! Katie Rennie fought hard on our top board and finally claimed her prize with an outstanding attacking game in the last round which she had basically won by move 10 but then slowly added the pressure until her opponent collapsed (not literally of course). Natasha Ali picked off a second round win for us on board 3 and Isabelle Gilbert, on board 4, kept Barnet and Oxford close in rounds 1 and 2 before finally pushing Nottingham’s player off the board in the last round.

A good show, well worth a mention, was that put on by Isabella Roper; a stumble in the first round was followed up with two strong wins on board 5. Alisha Watts may not have felt this was her day, but she should take pride in knowing she had probably the hardest line up of all facing Wey Valley, Kent and Sussex – sitting across the table from that line up and putting in a credible performance is something to be proud of! Amelia Walcott on board 7 started well with a win against Manchester, couldn’t quite pull home the point against Hertfordshire and then faced the fearsome Barnet – Barnet got the best of that one, but Amelia will get them back next time!

Finally, I would like to thank our two last minute entrants without whom we wouldn’t have been able to float a full team. Indira Verdding and Francesca Richards both stepped up for us and both pulled home an extra point! Fantastic effort girls and I look forward to seeing you on future Berkshire teams!

It was a great day, the weather was also spectacular and much fun was had during the breaks. I want to thank both the players and the parents for a great effort and also for balancing having fun on the day with putting in the serious effort needed to almost beat our best ever performance at the U11 Girls Final!

Two special mentions for Berkshire “staff”: to Chris Archer-Lock who put on some great in-break game demonstrations to help get our girls into the right thinking mode and to Lucy Head who stepped in at the last minute to do the necessary calling and pleading to get a full team out on the day.

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