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NYCA Under 18 Saturday, September 24
Chris Archer-Lock writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

The Berkshire Under 18 team forged its way west towards the Iron Bridge, near Telford, where the Abraham Darby Academy provided the venue for the National Youth Chess Association championships. The Under 18 event was contested by eight counties, with Kent joining ourselves in representing the southern England contingent. In the cradle of the industrial revolution, Berkshire's play was to be very industrious, if not revolutionary, with an impressive mettle shown throughout.

Round 1 saw a solid start with four points and equal fourth position gained. Robert Starley showed the way, by holding onto his Kentish opponent's opening gambit pawn, resisting the charge of a wall of kingside pawns, and then exploiting the space behind them to impressive effect. Daniel Noel also scored a convincing win in a patient game which ended with his opponent falling prey to a late combination. George Tunstall and Ragul Sudhakar both had slightly the better of drawn games.

Further momentum was gained in Round 2, with a five point haul including Charlie Bucknell's knight cemented on c5 providing the foundations for a convincing win against Yorkshire. Ragul Sudhakar scored a late victory in which the red flag would have been hovering, but for the technological revolution of digital clocks. At that point, our work smelt a clear fourth place.

Hopefully it wasn't the pleasant chill of the interval's team photo, but we only scored one win in Round 3, from Robert Starley's expertly crafted Nimzo-Indian Defence, from which his opponent was saddled with doubled c pawns which were to remain a millstone into a lost endgame. The round produced plenty of excitement, not least George Tunstall's absolute cliffhanger with Staffodshire's strong board 1, which saw each side attack on opposite wings and the pendulum swing many times until the remaining bishop and rook's pawn was not enough to engineer a winner. On board 8, Harry Indge salvaged a draw through impressive application, which was the mark of his play throughout.

Finally, in Round 4, the team manufactured a draw-free round, securing another 3 points. Max Papachristos withstood early pressure to trap his opponent's king on a draughty h file, where his heavy pieces finished the job. Our final standing in a comfortable fifth position was a fair reward for a day of endeavour mixed with inspiration. Robert Starley deservedly won the prize for our top performance on the day, with four games of different styles each resulting in victory. The team managers would like to congratulate the players on their efforts and team spirit, and to thank the travelling parents and Nigel Dennis for their support on the day.

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Results
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