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Under 11 EPSCA Zone Saturday, March 18
Chris Archer-Lock writes:

The Under 11 team completed the qualification double for Berkshire this month, by emerging from a tough South West zone competition clutching the bronze medals. The third place finish on 35 points was some 6 points clear of fourth placed Somerset, and was very creditable given the known strength of winners Oxfordshire (47½ points) and the close run which we gave impressive hosts Wiltshire (36½).

The day started well with a patient accumulation of points in the first round, which saw us placed second with 12½ out of 20, including a win from the last game to finish. Nevertheless it was already clear that there would be a tight battle in Oxfordshire's wake, as we held a slender single point advantage over both Wiltshire and Somerset. Round two started as if to make this even clearer to us, with a number of early defeats. It defined the day that the team fought back from these setbacks and a number of difficult positions, to register a 10 point haul in this testing round. Placed third after round two, the team showed great resolve and were rewarded with a much stronger sequence of results in round three. Somerset were unable to fight back against this, and the gap behind Wiltshire was narrowed to 1 1/2 points, as our score matched the first round with 12½, and this staying power brought Berkshire a strong third position.

The chess itself was of good quality and rich variety. It was pleasing to observe on the one hand fine endgame technique from our youngest player, and on the other the sizzling delights of a fried liver attack on a high board in the last rounds. It was good to see time taken and determination shown in turning around difficult positions to secure key points, while others carried off strong attacks or patient wins.

This was a good all round team performance, through from board 1 to the reserves. The reserves also provided enthusiastic support and all scored points in the reserves competition, which bodes well for the future, since all were under 9 team players. On the day, we also had four players attain a maximum 3/3 - Edward Wise, Ryan Chen, Matthew Wadsworth and James Kirk. Thank you to players and families for their efforts, well done, and we look forward to the Under 11 Finals in Hampton, Middlesex on Saturday 13th May.

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