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Best ever EPSCA final result for Under 9s Saturday, April 28
Jim Wadsworth and Mark Vandersluis writes:

Click for larger photo
Click for larger photo

The under 9 team finished off a really excellent year by coming 5th in the EPSCA final competition, the highest placing ever achieved by a Berkshire team and only two points adrift from the second placed team. And the day was capped by the reserves coming 2nd in what was a very well-attended and competitive event.

This year the final was hosted by Wiltshire (albeit it was actually held in Gloucestershire for some reason!).

As round 1 got going it seemed as though our hopes before the event might have been misplaced - we had scored just one point amongst the first five games to finish, and those in the team room were starting to get nervous! However, the mood soon changed as victory after victory was recorded. By the end of round one the main team was in 3rd place with 8 points from a possible 12, and the reserves in 1st equal with a perfect 4 from 4. Excellent victories were scored by Louise Head, who defended tenaciously in a tight spot before turning the tables to checkmate her opponent, and by Chloe Rogers who came away with a win even though she was a piece down.

Going into round 2, we were just half a point ahead of both Richmond and reigning champions Wey Valley, and one point behind "dark horses" Kent. Things didn't go quite so well this time on the main boards, with a final tally of 6.5 points (including a good draw for William Foo against Wey Valley despite being a pawn down in the endgame, and a win for Tom Vandersluis playing an opponent from a higher board). The reserves continued their excellent efforts, winning 3 games out of 4.

In the break before the final round we had another quick team talk, as well as the now-traditional team photo. We had slipped to 5th place overall, but with 2nd place through to 7th separated by just 3.5 points, it was pretty much all still to play for. Would we again suffer from the final round jinx, or could we overcome it this time?

Well, as Round 3 developed it became increasingly tense, with team managers and parents continuously monitoring other teams' scores. Alfred Wong set the tone with a quick victory, and Seb Hickman had a very good win over a Wey Valley player. With three games to go it was clear that we and a resurgent Nottinghamshire team were in a tight battle for 5th place. George Wilks secured a good point; and then it all came down to Peter Robinson in one of the very last few games to finish in the whole event - if he won, then we would hold that 5th place by half a point....and that's just what he did, patiently absorbing a lot of pressure from his opponent before coolly promoting a pawn and checkmating his opponent!

And whilst the reserves had a tough 3rd round, they still did enough to secure 2nd place (with Miles Deans winning a very long game against the Sussex player who had started the day as their main board 12). As a result the Berkshire reserves received the honour of being the first team to collect their well-earned medals at the prize-giving ceremony.

It was great that every member of the team won at least one game (itself a "first" for a number of years). But particularly well done to Peter Robinson and Miles Deans for their 100% scores, and to Willam Foo who also remained undefeated all day.

So a very successful under 9 year has now come to an end. The co-managers would like to thank all the players and their parents for their commitment and support. It has been really exciting, and a real privilege to look after the team. Much appreciated!

Related links

Last Season's Results