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Under 9 EPSCA Zone Saturday, March 11
David Herring writes:

Berkshire Under 9's have qualified for the national finals by winning first place at the South West Zonal. This is a fantastic result and all the players should feel proud of being the first to win a U9 zonal - and for defeating a strong Oxford team in the process.

Round 1 saw Edmond Lote being the first to complete his match and set Berkshire on their way with a win. (Is it that Edmond moves really fast, or is it that he does not take many moves to defeat an opponent !?) Either way Edmond went on to win all his three matches - all in record times! Meanwhile, the round 1 draw gave tough Oxford opponents to three other Berkshire players: Roy Zhang, Nabeel Hussain and Tom Vandersluis. The results from these games set the tone for the tournament: Berkshire 3: Oxford 0. Combined with wins from Jonathon Cope, Louise Head, Frances Wise, Matthew Wadsworth and Ryan Chen, Berkshire took 9 points from a possible 12 for the first round, an impressive start by any standards.

Round 2 saw Berkshire scoring 7½ points from 12. With a notably huge win for Roy Zhang beating Megan Cleeves for the first time to maintain Berkshire's lead. Daniel Esteve played well to score a full point after coming out of some opening moves in a difficult position. The danger of playing too fast early on was exemplified by Isaac Herring: Giving opponents an early advantage through fast play, and (despite outplaying an opponent in the middle game) could not make up for earlier losses. A lesson we could all learn by: Slow meticulous play from start to finish is always to be encouraged.

This setup a final round where qualification was almost a formality, with the real issue being whether Berkshire could hold on to first place. With just two games remaining - and Oxford winning a lot of round 3 matches - the scores stood at Oxford 21 Berkshire 20½. The stage was set for Matthew Wadsworth and Ryan Chen who faced difficult Oxford opponents to battle it out for the premier position..... The strength of Berkshire's chess play was maintained right to the finish, with Ryan winning and Matthew earning a very creditable draw to hand Berkshire a deserved win on 22 points.

Our reserves on boards 13 to 16 matched this result by scoring 9 out 12 and running out overall winners in their section, well done to Andrew Poile, Sofia Hallstrom, Reece Chen, Luke Orechoff and Joss Lazenby.

Thanks to all parents and schools for supporting Berkshire Junior Chess - your team is performing well!

See you all in Yorkshire on April 1st.

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