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Under 11 EPSCA Girls Saturday, March 24
Chris Archer-Lock writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

The Berkshire Under 11 Girls team headed along Brian Clough Way towards Nottingham intent on improving on last year's score of 11 points and 10th place in the EPSCA Finals. The opposition in Robin Hood country included the rich in past chess medals, and our arrows were still being sharpened as a difficult first round got underway, which yielded 3½ points including fairly quick wins from Romina Findel-Hawkins, Eve O'Connell and Elizabeth Hammond. Our lowly status in the competition at that point did not discourage the team, who were determined to see a change in their fortunes.

Thiliaga Narayanan led the way on board 1 holding onto a piece advantage through a neat manoeuvre to escape a powerful treble pin; Samantha Perryman added to this through very sound central play; and a hail of other positive results followed including wins through active play by Aylin Gurleyen, a kingside attack from Juliette Keates, and a patient build up from Rhea Ukil. The 7 points gained in the round improved our standing in the event to a creditable sixth equal.

So into the fray for a final round, which followed the pattern of the day. A nervous start saw us in difficulty on many boards, and indeed some early defeats were suffered. Then the remaining games in the hall appeared more promising in a stronger middle phase, which saw Georgina Eden-Hasler turn round a challenging position to achieve her first win, and Elizabeth Hammond found a neat checkmate, while Eve O'Connell completed her 100% score for the day, on which she is to be congratulated. Then the tide turned against us, and if we were not robbed in the forest of compilcations, nevertheless inventive attacking play on a number of boards did not receive its deserved reward. The final game to finish in the hall was Helen Archer-Lock's win in a patient endgame, converting a space advantage earlier in the game into a small but decisive material advantage. So our final score was 14½ points, and position 9th, which represented progress and nearly saw us climb the rankings further.

As ever it was great to see a good team spirit, with the girls enjoying chess in the team room, and supporting each other from the viewing gallery in the hall. Thanks are due to the parents, to Nigel Dennis, to Matt Findel-Hawkins and to Harriet Haslehurst who all helped the team enjoy a fine day at the national finals, and to Claire Lawrence for her work in running the team this year and preparing for the finals.

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