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Saturday 11 May 2024

Essex Under 11 Team at the 2024 EPSCA Inter-Association Tournament

Essex Under 11 Team at the 2024 EPSCA Inter-Association Tournament
This year Essex had some talented chess players available for the Under 11 team coming for most
areas of the Essex association area (which includes Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge,
Waltham Forest and Newham). It was very gratifying that most them were able to play either at the
zonal qualifier or the final and that we had a full team plus reserves for both.

The Qualifier
This year we were asked to play in the East zone and so on March 16 th we made our way to
University College School in Hampstead, London NW3 to compete against teams from Barnet (our
hosts), Hertfordshire, Hillingdon, Kent, and Richmond.
Round One started well, but soon became a roller coaster ride with wins followed by losses and in
the end the overall 10 points put the team in fourth place.
Round Two was far more enjoyable for the manager. The first loss came from the tenth game to
finish. Even after that the results mostly continued to go with the team. The overall score of 15.5
points meant the team had the best score of the round and had climbed to second overall. Brilliant!
Round three - as sometimes happens when so much effort has been expended there is a drop off in
performance. This time from the first ten games to finish the team had only one win and a draw.
However, after that the results started to go the team’s way with four good wins, and a couple of
draws and only one loss. On the seventy-minute mark a further loss against Kent and I thought the
team’s chances of medalling had gone, however the good news was that the team had qualified for
the final. Then a long wait for the final two games - first our board 2 scoring a point, and finally our
board 3 managing a win against a very tough opponent from Richmond in the last game to finish in
the tournament. Having told everyone we could not get third, I was very surprised to be informed
by the organisers that even after applying EPSCA tie break rules, we could not be split with
Richmond (34 points and 31 wins) and the Essex team had achieved equal third.
This was a very good performance against some very tough opposition. Thanks to all the team
supporters and the organisers.
And so onto….

The Final
This year the EPSCA final was held at the Malcolm Arnold Academy in Northampton on May 11 th .
There wasn’t a hosting association this year so many of the 15 teams involved brought their own
equipment - including ourselves. Still the whole day seem to run smoothly, helped by the weather
which was warm and sunny.
The team was in good spirits with some new recruits and only one player not available from the
zonal team.
Round one started very brightly for the team with four quick wins and only the odd loss and one
draw. The wins carried on as the higher boards finished their games - until the round ended with a
couple of unfortunate losses. Still a score of 15.5 points was a great start and put in equal second

Round two was a little more mixed. It started badly with a quick loss, but soon recovered. A good
score of 13.5 kept us near the top in equal third with Richmond.
Round three - Unusually there were no quick finishes in this round for the team, with the first results
coming on the half hour. From previous years the experience is that games get quicker as players
tire, but not this time. The effort made by the whole team (and their opponents) to play properly
was great to watch. There were some good wins, however a total score of 13.5 for the round was
not enough to keep us in third as Oxfordshire, who had a tremendous last round, just pipped the
team’s score by half a point.
The winner was Kent (51), followed by Barnet (44.5) and Oxford (43). There was some compensation
in that the team’s score of 42.5 was the best Essex Under 11 team result in the final for many, many

The whole team, both in the zonal and final, played with good spirit and supported each other
throughout the day - they are a real credit to their families, schools, and coaches. Many thanks to all
my volunteer helpers particularly my board stewards John and Daniel plus Sasirekha in the zonal.
Finally, thanks to EPSCA, especially Nigel Dennis and his volunteers, and all the other team managers
who make these events possible.

Mark McCallum
Essex Under 11 Team Manager

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