Junior Congress Calendar

  • 16-Jul (Lancaster)

Having qualified in superb fashion from the Northern Zonal round in March, Lancashire fielded a squad of twenty-three players at the English Primary Schools Chess Association (EPSCA) Under-11 National Final, held at Nottingham High School on Saturday 11th May 2013.  Lancashire were one of 18 participating Associations, including 7 from the north, together with qualifiers from the midlands and the south, with the latter expected to be very strong opponents who would be competing with Notts for the higher finishing places.

We knew from the outset that this would be a challenging day for our relatively young team – this competition featured the country’s very best primary school chess players (which includes those from Lancashire, of course!!).  Our initial aim was to at least hold our position from the Zonal stage, comparative to the other northern teams, where we had finished 4th of the 7 qualifiers, just ½ a point behind 3rd.  Lancashire’s team was again very youthful, comprising twelve Year 6s, plus three Year 5s and a still remarkable eight Year 4s (all of the latter group again playing on the top 20, points-scoring Boards).

In round 1, the team continued their fine form from the Zonal, scoring 10/20, only slightly down on the first round in March, but now playing against much stronger opponents overall.  Many of the team were still in the playing hall when only a few matches were still in progress, again showing that the squad was taking their time, with the benefits clear for all to see on the scoreboard.  Notable results included a draw for Harvey on Board 2 against Sussex, the eventual Final winners and a win for Ben on Board 10 against Barnet, the eventual runners-up.  This excellent team score left us in joint 7th of the 18 teams, with only Notts ahead of us from the northern qualifiers.  An outstanding start!

In round 2, the totally unexpected happened.  For the first time in five rounds, spanning the Zonal & the Final, several of the players began to rush their games.  This, inevitably, brought errors and, for many of the players, a winning position was transformed into a loss.  And the rushing also extended to some of players offering or accepting draws when much material was still in play and with over an hour still left on the respective clocks.  The overall effect on the team’s score was somewhat catastrophic!  Having scored in double figures for 4 rounds of the event in a row, the Lancs score for this round was 3½/20, with 3 draws, only 2 wins (for Ben, again, on Board 10 and Charlotte, on Board 15) and a rather startling 15 defeats, several of which came in 30 minutes or less.  Matthew did also record a win in the Reserves.  This result sent us plummeting to 15th equal in the rankings and left us with much work to do to regain lost ground.

The final round did see some improvement, but the players continued to play too quickly and again several turned winning positions into defeats, yielding a final round score of 6½/20.  The 6 wins by Lancs included an excellent victory for Samuel Berry on Board 12 over Wey Valley, the eventual 3rd place team.  Huzeffah and Charlie both also produced wins in the Reserves section.

Our finishing position was 16th of the 18 teams (& 6th of the 7 northern qualifiers, thereby missing our initial target) – this was a disappointing outcome, given both the outstanding Zonal result and the excellent first round in the Final, which had given us a glimpse of the team’s potential.  Our Coaches on the day were frustrated that many of the players had rushed and had turned victories into defeats in the process, particularly as, when their matches were reviewed, the players clearly knew what they ought to have done to produce wins.  We will take some time to reflect on why the performance levels dipped so markedly – and so very unexpectedly – and address the causes during our squad coaching which will take place between now & the 2014 competition.

This is a very talented squad and is young enough to “come again” next year (and the year after, in many cases).  They were outstanding both at the Zonal and in the first round of the Final, so we know the ability is there – we just need to continue to encourage, coach & nurture them, so they can fully do themselves justice in future events.  All of them should be immensely proud of their efforts during this event, throughout both stages in 2013.

Whilst congratulating every individual for their efforts, special mention must go to Ben Dible (Board 10), who was our only maximum points scorer in the Final – a superb effort, particularly for a Year 4!  Also undefeated were Teresita Tapia-Laing (Board 5) and Haydn Choi (Board 11) – an excellent competition throughout for these two players, both of whom also scored maximum points in the Zonal.

Many thanks again to all the parents, guardians and grandparents, without whom these events cannot take place and who were again very encouraging and supportive of the whole team throughout the day on Saturday, especially when results took a turn for the worse.

Thanks also to Mark Rowbottom, Tony Choi and Sudarsh Naidoo, who shared the Board Steward duties in the playing hall throughout the day.

Special thanks to Rachel & Natalie Cass, who again provided excellent encouragement and tuition to all the players between rounds, in their capacity as our official Coaches.  The players again commented repeatedly on how valuable the girls’ advice was.  Thank you to both!!

I must also thank Steve Lamb for his sterling efforts in the build-up to the EPSCA events, providing in-depth and extensive coaching to the squad, which had a significant and positive impact on the children’s performance levels.  Lancashire is now starting to hold its own at both U9 & U11 levels – Steve and other Coaches working with him are responsible for this improvement.

Finally, I would like to thank all the Year 6s for their contribution to Lancashire’s primary school chess performances over the last few years.  They are an excellent group of players and a pleasure to work with – thank you!  And we hope they will continue to play chess when they enter secondary school – the Lancashire U12 team awaits.

Report by John Wood

2013 Lancashire U11 Squad

Round Results

    Round OneRound TwoRound Three  
1 Lauren Cornwell Hampshire 0 Wey Valley 0 Manchester 0 0
2 Harvey Wright Sussex ½ Kent 0 Essex 0 ½
3 Maya Shah Richmond ½ Staffordshire 0 Berkshire 0 ½
4 Samuel Wood Hertfordshire 1 Barnet 0 Cheshire & NW 0 1
5 Teresita Tapia Laing Oxfordshire 1 Oldham ½ Yorkshire ½ 2
6 Nauris Kievisas Northants 0 Notts 0 Hampshire 0 0
7 Roshan Naidoo Wey Valley 0 Manchester 0 Sussex 0 0
8 Alexander Barker Kent 0 Essex 0 Richmond 1 1
9 Sam Hardwick Staffordshire 1 Berkshire 0 Hertfordshire 0 1
10 Ben Dible Barnet 1 Cheshire & NW 1 Oxfordshire 1 3
11 Haydn Choi Oldham 1 Yorkshire ½ Northants 1
12 Samuel Berry Notts 0 Hampshire 0 Wey Valley 1 1
13 Ben Albrecht Manchester 0 Sussex 0 Kent 0 0
14 Eleanor Rowlandson Essex 1 Richmond 0 Staffordshire 1 2
15 Charlotte Melvin Berkshire 0 Hertfordshire 1 Barnet 0 1
16 Nathan Jones Cheshire & NW 0 Oxfordshire 0 Oldham 1 1
17 Sam Dawson Yorkshire 1 Northants ½ Notts 0
18 Louis Melvin Bye 1 Wey Valley 0 Manchester 0 1
19 Isaac Childs Sussex 0 Kent 0 Essex 0 0
20 Joe Rowbottom Essex 1 Staffordshire 0 Berkshire 0 1
R1 Huzeffah Ashraf Oldham 0 Northants 0 Cheshire & NW 1 1
R2 Matthew Nally Notts 0 Staffordshire 1 Unknown 0 1
R3 Charlie Harrison Northants 0 Northants 0 Manchester 1 1
    Team Total 10 Team Total Team Total  
        Cumulative Total 13½ Cumulative Total 20  
    Position 7= Position 15= Position 16  

Final Team Positions:

1 Sussex 51½ 49
2 Barnet 47½ 45
3 Wey Valley 46 45
4 Nottinghamshire 44 43
5 Kent 40 38
6 Berkshire 36½ 34
7 Manchester 29 26
8 Cheshire & N. Wales 27½ 25
9 Richmond 27 23
10 Hertfordshire 26½ 25
11 Essex 26½ 24
12 Yorkshire 25½ 20
13 Staffordshire 22½ 19
14 Northamptonshire 21½ 18
15 Oxfordshire 21 19
16 Lancashire 20 17
17 Hampshire 16½ 15
18 Oldham 11 9