Reading School win Under 19 National Schools Championship
Thursday, July 03
Brent Smith writes:
The Reading School team of Matthew Wadsworth, Roy Zhang, Anthony Zhang, Daniel Noel, Ryan Wong, Alex Vanlint, and Alfred Wong are the U19 National Schools Champions. Their final match against Manchester Grammar ended in a three-all draw, but Reading were declared the winners on age handicap. They had finished runners-up to Machester Grammar twice in the last three years, but were not to be denied at the third attempt.
Reading School have allowed us to reproduce the report from their own website (see here), written by Roy Zhang:
In the semi-finals, we were paired against Hampton School, and although we were stronger on paper, the match was extremely close and decided by one or two games.
The match began cautiously, both sides making full use of their two hours to think. Because the average age of both teams was the same, we needed 3.5 out of 6 games to confirm the win, and in the case of a 3-3 tie, the match would be decided by 'board count' (where wins on higher boards would count for more).
Halfway through the match we were ahead with 2 wins and a loss, but it was not looking promising as the remaining 3 boards all had slightly worse positions. Unfortunately, a loss on top board meant the pressure was on Dan and Ryan to score at least a point between them.
Amazingly, in the final minutes of the 4 hour match, Dan managed to find a winning tactic to turn the tables and cleanly converted the advantage into a win. Ryan also played brilliantly, exploiting his opponents lack of time to salvage half a point from a surely lost position.
Reading 3.5-2.5 Hampton, and we were through to the finals once more, to face Manchester Grammar School.
MGS (who beat us last year in the finals) was stronger and older, although this meant that we only needed 3 out of 6 to win the match on age handicap. Everyone played carefully, all games fought hard, both sides making full use of their time.
Nearing the end, we had 1.5 out of 4, Anthony and Dan scoring against 2 very strong players, who have both had international experience. Thus, we needed at least 1.5 out of 2 on the top two boards for the victory.
Roy turned down a draw by repetition to play on for the win, and this almost led to a loss. But a lucky tactical resource in the ensuing time scramble meant that we had a win on board 2.
We needed just a draw on top board and Matt did not let us down, taking advantage of a better position and his opponent's lack of time to press his opponent, eventually gaining us the half a point that would make us National Champions, the first English state school to do so for over 30 years!