Under 14 Title Retained After Thrilling Match

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The under 14 team played their long awaited second match in their SCCU u130 Final at home to Oxfordshire at the Margaretting Village Hall on 30 September 2018, almost a year after the tournament had started.  We had already lost a close match at Richmond JCC (14-10) but with Oxford then beating Richmond (15½-8½) we could still win the title on games points by reaching the magic number of 15 points against Oxford.  Two new grading lists had been issued since the eligible date for the tournament and several players were now graded over 130 in the July 2018 list.  Under the current grades the Essex team was outgraded on most boards, including the top seven but the team had not lost a home fixture for nearly three years so we were full of optimism.

The first round started well for Essex with Nina efficiently taking advantage of her opponent’s errors to deliver a checkmate and Urbi also had a won game soon after.    Our youngest team member, Max, played an impressive long game and made sure he scored the full point.  Meanwhile it was rare for Abigail to be playing a higher graded opponent on Board 1 but she held a difficult ending.  Oxford had wins on Boards 5, 7 & 9 but Lakshan and Fraser won for Essex and our score was boosted when the Oxford Board 6 player over stepped the time limit giving Chris a win and a healthy 7½ to 4½ score to Essex after the first round of 12 games.

This was an excellent start for Essex but to retain the trophy the team simply had to do a repeat performance (or better) in round two – a tall order against a strong Oxford team.

Round two began with Fraser winning again and Jonathan scoring a good win after his first round loss.   This time Max was up against another talented 8 year old and did not fare so well but his sister seemed to have a promising position.  Charukghan made his much higher graded opponent work hard for his draw but many of the other games looked unclear or worse for Essex.  As the round progressed several good draws were scored (Ben, Chris & Urbi) and although we were gradually achieving a match winning score Oxford was also getting very close to the 9½ points they needed to secure the title.  Prospects for Essex improved when Lakshan scored a win but then Nina’s opponent defended well to secure a draw.  We were down to the last three games with two points required.

Madison again fought hard again but could not save his game so it was 2/2 required.  Abigail had a won position which she converted into the full point but Purba’s game was more finely balanced.  In the dying minutes of the game the Oxford player made a decisive error losing a rook and then running out of time in a lost position.  This gave Essex the 15 points required to retain the Fleming Trophy – an achievement that did not seem possible for much of the second round!!

The final table reads as follows –

SCCU u14 FINAL 2018

 

Essex

Oxon

Richmond

GP

MP

Position

Essex

 -

15

10

25

2

1st

Oxon

9

  -

15½

24½

2

2nd

Richmond

14

 -

22½

2

3rd

 

It was a great effort by the Essex players – in the end the team was not to be denied.  The success of the team was built upon previous excellent performances against Surrey and Kent in the Group stage, especially in the away fixtures where we were able to field strong teams.  The match at Richmond was our only loss over the last two years but every point counted.

Many of the players will no longer be eligible for the team in 2018/19 so this was a particularly satisfying and exciting end to their time in the under 14s.  It was also the last fixture for the Match Captain so it could not have been a better ending after many years in the role.

Commiserations are due to the Oxford team who helped to make this a very hard and competitive match especially as they have previously missed out by half a point on the title.

Oxford won the reserves match 4-2.  All the Essex reserves, Ethan, Isha & Charlotte had regularly featured in the other fixtures and they played an important part in the team’s overall success.  The support of the parents has also been vital to the team and appreciation is especially due to Andy & Nicola for organising the refreshments at the venue with help and contributions from many other parents.

The full result is now available to view on the SCCU website https://sccu-chess.com/index.php/en/final-17-18

Trevor Dickerson

Match Captain