Outstanding Performance by the Under 11s at the EPSCA Final

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The Essex Under 11s played in the EPSCA Under 11 Final at Grace Academy Solihull in Birmingham on 21st April 2018.

The 15 qualifying teams competing were Barnet, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire and North Wales, Essex, Kent, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Richmond, Sussex, Tameside, Warwickshire, and Wey Valley.

This year the final was much earlier which avoided the previous SATs issue, however there was now a clash with the Junior 4NCL. Still this is a final and with only one drop out from the zonal and three new recruits I was able to field a full team and reserves.  It should be mentioned that most of the other teams were stronger for the final.

After the team heroics in the zonal I did wonder if it could be repeated.  Any nerves were quickly calmed with wins for the first seven games to finish.  Thereafter it got more difficult with points against the stronger teams much more difficult to realise. Still there were good wins for Ben, Jaideep, and Felix plus fighting draws for Adhvaith and (last to finish) Max Y. 

A respectable team total score of 12/20 and a respectable seventh place was achieved.

I swapped in my reserves for Round two.  Again the early indications were good with five wins including three of the reserves.  However little did the manager know that this round was going to be a team performance of heroic proportions.  Apart from two losses against Richmond and one against Kent and three draws no other points were dropped.  There were outstanding wins for Jake, Ethan, Max Y, Ben, Harry, Tomas, Max P and Charlotte and very good draws for Olga and Jerry.  The best score by any team in the round of 15.5/20 and a leap into third place behind Richmond and Kent was a great reward for some superb fighting chess.

The final round started badly with a quick loss followed soon after by two more.  Clearly all the exertions and the heat were taking their toll on the players, however they stuck to their task and this time there were good wins for Shayan, Felix and Ethan and good draws for Jerry and Dmitry.  Last to finish (last game of the competition) was top board Nina who had a difficult day against much higher graded opponents but who gave a very good account of herself. A good score of 11.5/20 was unfortunately not enough to keep us in the medals and we slipped down to 5th place overall, however 39 points was by far the best score by an Essex U11 team for many years in this event.

I will mention the rest of the team and reserves as every player played their part in the team: Dylan, Linards, Toby, Leonard, Louis, Dinil, Alex and Dominique.

I was extremely proud of all the team for this performance.  The team was a pleasure to manage and that second round will live long in the memory.

Full result is at http://www.oxfordfusion.com/epsca/TeamsOverall.cfm?EventID=121

I must thank all the parents and helpers for being so supportive both before and throughout the day.  

Also thanks to Alex Holowczak and the other organisers and our arbiter for the day, Dave Thomas.  Finally congratulations to Kent on winning the event.

Mark McCallum (Team Manager)