NYCA Under 12 and Under 16
Saturday, November 13
Jim Wadsworth writes:
NYCA Under 12
A very inexperienced under 12 team - more than half the players were making their debut at this level - made the trek up to Abraham Darby Academy in Telford. We were expecting a tough time, and so it proved.
Round 1 started badly, with a series of players returning to the team room having lost, but was arguably a bit of a case of "what might have been". There were wins on the top two boards (with Richard Zhu's game being the very last in the room to finish), and Jeff Abraham also won well. We also benefited (as was the case in each round) from a point won by default thanks to a no-show by one county. However, Jack Lawrence was unfortunate to not win - having waited almost half an hour for his Lancastrian opponent finally to turn up, once the game started Jack had good winning chances, but was ultimately checkmated by his opponent just as the Lancashire player's flag fell. The arbiter (correctly) ruled in favour of Jack's opponent. Tarun Puri probably could have drawn when his opponent, in time trouble, asked for protection from the arbiter under the 2 minute rule. Unfortunately, with the arbiter in attendance, once the game restarted Tarun then made a couple of mistakes and resigned. So we were sharing last place with Staffordshire.
Round 2 was a bit more encouraging. Matthew Wadsworth won again on board 1, winning on time (albeit when winning comfortably over the board - rather bizarrely his opponent had asked for protection from the arbiter under the 2 minute rule when a full rook down....). Tarun made up for his round 1 mishap with a well-controlled win over a strong Kentish opponent. Alexis Gritsanchouk and Bertie Munn also won, and Jeff Abraham played solidly for his draw. Richard, perhaps paying the penalty for his very long round 1 game and the very short break between rounds, unfortunately lost very quickly. Happily for us, Lancashire had a dreadful round so we were now half a point off the bottom!
Round 3 was however another steady stream of losses. The exceptions were Matthew (again winning on time and again when winning over the board), Katie Rennie and Yusuf Hussain. Lancashire had had a better round, so we and Staffordshire were again propping up the table. Could we turn it around?
The answer was yes. Perhaps going outside into the gathering gloom for the team photo was what was needed? We did so, and the team then put in a fantastic final round effort scoring a full 8 points. We were safe from last place ignominy! (And the team manager was left quietly to reflect on how we might have achieved something like that a bit earlier in the day). No matter. The highlights were the first wins for Charlie Grayson (who for this game slowed down his play following a bit of a coaching between rounds, and duly got his reward), Neville Birdi and Jack Lawrence.
NYCA Under 16
The under 16 team fared better than their younger colleagues, eventually finishing 5th overall out of 11 counties. With all but one of this year's team available again next year this is clearly encouraging.After the first round we were in 4th= and just half a point outside the medals with wins from William Foo, Daniel Noel, Louise Head and Alfred Wong. Max Papachristos drew a long game.
In the second round the top 4 boards all lost and the lower 4 all won...however William was very unfortunate. Playing Craig Whitfield - with an ECF rapidplay grade of 190 Craig is one of the top under 16s in England and I think he was the strongest player participating in this year's NYCA - William had Craig in a horrible position after the opening. Sadly William picked the wrong move in the early middle game and Craig was able to escape.
The top two boards won again in round 3, and Louise and Alfred won for the third time in a row. Ragul Sudhakar held on to draw a long game and long-serving Berkshire servant Alex Manton-Jones won his second game of the event. Back up to 4th= overall going into the final round.
In that round 4, the definite highlight was Ragul winning the very last game of the event to finish. With him and his opponent both in time trouble and the arbiter observing (having been called in under the 2 minute rule) it looked to the manager like a drawn game with 2 knights and 5 pawns apiece. However, Ragul's king was slightly more active than his opponent's and this proved to be the difference. Ragul gave checkmate with just seconds remaining on both clocks. Exciting stuff!
Many thanks to all the players and event organisers. And special thanks to all the parents and grandparents for taking the time out and making a typical 300 mile round trip to enable the players to come to and participate. Thanks also to Nigel Dennis and to Justin Moston from Eton (who not only brought Alex Manton-Jones and some other counties' players in the Eton minibus, but also gave lifts to a number of other Berkshire players and their parents).