Saturday 25 March 2023
EPSCA U11 Girls' Final Oxford 2023 - Report by Andrew Willoughby
On Saturday, 25th March 2023, a very young Essex team travelled to Oxford for the final of the EPSCA U11 girls' tournament.
The girls arrived in great spirit, looking ahead to a day of chess, but the first round didn't quite get off to the start we had hoped for. In fact, the first six results were all losses, making us realise just how hard the day was likely to be. Then Carolyn got the first point on the board with an excellent win on board 7, following a lovely queen fork. There were plenty of battles across all boards, with Essex players generally coming off second best. However, wins on the top 2 boards for Shrishti and Grace gave us 3 points for the round and something to build on.
The second round proved little easier, but we started with a win from Dhikshana within half an hour. It seemed like we were up in many games, but we couldn't quite see the games through and ended up on the losing side. Charlotte then picked up the second point of the round with a well-played end game, and Mary followed up with a hard-fought draw soon after. The top two of Shrishti and Grace showed their class with another two wins, meaning 4.5 for the round, and the team moved up the table to 7th place.
In the third round, traditionally the hardest, as it is towards the end of a long day, we saw Pamolee win early. We then went through the run of losses, which had blighted every round, before Grace picked up a draw.
Shrishti played out a very good pawn end game to dispose of Kent's top player, before Theodora worked hard for a draw. The last game involving an Essex player was Mary on board 3, who battled right to the end to pick up an excellent draw.
So 3.5 in the final round gave the team a total of 11 points and a final position of 7th. It was a hard day, with many players playing very good opposition. Incredible performances on the top 2 boards from Shrishti (3/3) and Grace (2.5/3) were the highlight, but every one of the girls should be proud of their performance and battling spirit.
I was very proud of how the girls never gave up and worked hard for every half point. I want to thank all the players for their excellent attitude and sportsmanship throughout the day.
Seven players will still be eligible to play next year, so I look forward to returning in 2024.
For more photos of the day, check out the U11 Girls 2023 gallery here