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SCCU U14 Jamboree Sunday, March 08
Tanya Beckinsale and Chris Archer-Lock writes:

With our top U14 players competing in the U18 Open, our U14 Open team faced a ‘David versus Many Goliaths’ challenge, with a team average grade of 106, versus 6 teams with averages 130-156 (if you don’t speak ECF, multiply by about 10 for Berkshire grading!).

Not entirely undaunted, the team rose to the challenge, held their nerve, and fought hard in all their games. Every one of the team scored, against extremely strong players with grading advantages of between 25 & 50 – a fantastic achievement!

The first round was a challenging introduction to the event, both in terms of traffic en route and opposition strength on arrival. Charlie and Ollie each faced heavy tactical traffic in the opening, leading to an uphill struggle. James's opponent managed to neutralise his active play, while Akshay started well in a tactical opening but lost a crucial pawn later on. Helen cleared the hurdles to our first point with good positional play against her opponent's Bogo- Indian system, which later enabled her two horses to combine neatly with a rook to deliver checkmate.

Everything is awesome when you're part of a team. We built on the experiences of round 1 to establish the foundations for a much better second round team effort. Charlie and James both played interesting games which were well fought, and Helen narrowly lost a time scramble after establishing a very promising position. Points had to come and they did. Nikhil had lost a pawn to his opponent's clever tactic but thereafter played very solidly and drew a rook endgame. Oliver played a good positional game in the Caro Kann and was able to win the endgame after forcing the rooks off. Akshay was also a winner having built on a pawn advantage in a two Knights opening to develop unstoppable queenside pawns.

So we embarked upon the final round on an upward trajectory. Charlie quickly sailed though the middle game to an endgame an exchange ahead, and duly navigated the path to victory. James encountered choppy waters early in his game, but turned the tactical tide to land another victory with a light squared attack. The other games saw some difficult opening challenges and in spite of a long time at the board our third round total remained on two points.

It wasn’t a podium finish, with our team finishing 6th out of 7. However, on paper, we should not have scored at all! Instead, the team surprised a number of highly rated players, and had there been any grading prizes available, they would certainly have won them!

Very well done to all the players, and many thanks to Jim, Chris, and all the parents for their help and support.

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