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March 3rd -4th
The first weekend of the Welsh Junior Championships were held in Rougemont School, Newport.
Congratulations to the winners:
Under 10 - Stephanie du Toit
Under 12 - Nyasha Katsande, Ben Thomas, Alyssa Wang
Under 14 - Nicholas Evans, Rhys Bennett
Under 18 - Luke Kostanjek
|Rougemont School||Playing Hall|
The Under 10 Champion was Stephanie du Toit
Jnt 2nd - 4/5
Max Lazarus, Ben Chooyin, Karanvir Lutchman-Singh
Jnt 3rd - 3.5/5
Sam Thomas, Michael Burger and Thomas Stanton
Lorca Heeney-Brockett (missing)
Shayanna Sivarajasingam, Mithun Padmanabhan, Alice Tang, Venetia Sivarajasingam, Aishwarya Lutchman Singh, Neya Govindaraj 3/5
Harri Lewis, Shahana Yusuf, Tim Andrews 2.5/5
Emily Wang, Sam Hughes, Jessica Jukes, Che Theaker, Abhishek Deglurkar, Heidi Homewood, Srijan Curpad 2/5
Ben Edwards, Oliver Light, Marlim Pinto, Edward Baker, Ben Sloper, Jason Pinto <2/5
The Under 12 Champions were Nyasha Katsande, Ben Thomas and Alyssa Wang with 4/5
James Evans, Nudhara Yusuf 3.5/5
Daniel Siromani, Greg Clark 3.5/5
Henry Parnell, Megan Richards, David Kett 3/5
Jamie Bell-Thomas, Owain Meek 2/5
Rhydian Downing, Ryan Clayton, Tahlia Morgan-Rose <2
The Under 14 Championships were Rhys Bennett and Nicholas Evans with 4.5/5
Charles Kett, Guto Neave, James Baker 2/5
The Under 18 Championships was won by Luke Kostanjsek with 4/5 (holding trophy)
Jnt 2nd Davin Menon, Alex Bullen, Philippe Rogers 3.5/5
Alex Wills 3/5
Tom Thorpe, Rhys Steele 2.5/5
Matthew Staniforth, Varum Varma 2/5
Thomas Turton, Callum Spooner <2/5
James Thomas W/D
Report by John D Thornton
Rougemont School was a new venue for Welsh Junior Chess, and provided a pleasant and easy to reach venue for these Championships, with the school being just 5 minutes from the M4 on the outskirts of Newport. My only worry would be that with the other weekend Championships in Monmouth, there is a lot of travelling for players from West Wales, if they wish to attend both these weekends.
The first problem to be overcome was the time limit, where a planned incremental limit, which takes the controller out of any possible 2 minute rule claims, was not available on the digital clocks, and we had to revert to a more conventional 30 moves in an hour with a half hour quickplay finish for all the age groups.
As might be expected, the U10s played much faster than was timetabled, and the 3 rounds on Saturday and 2 on Sunday became 5 on the Saturday, finishing around 7pm after probably around 6 hours playing time in one day against the timetabled 15 hours over 2 days. I think the intention is to look at this age group playing more games at a shorter time limit in future years, so that amongst other things there is more interplay between the stronger players.
There are a number of competent girls coming through in the younger age groups, and 10 of the 30 players here were girls, including two of our British Champions. These two met in round 2 with the older one Stephanie du Toit beating Aishwarya Lutchman-Singh to be one of 7 players on 2/2. There were amazingly only 2 draws in over 70 games in the event – someone has taught the players about how to avoid stalemating! - so that after 3 rounds the 7 on 100% had become 4, though 2 of these players had to recover from losing their Queens!. After 4 rounds there were just 2 on 4/4 and so we had Stephanie playing a relative newcomer Ben Chooyin in round 5 for the title. An extra P might not have been enough for her to win a double rook ending, but Ben lost co-ordination between his rooks, allowing Stephanie to double on the 7th rank with a quick mate following. Karanvir Lutchman Singh, (losing only to Ben) and Max Lazarus who recovered from an unexpected first round loss to reach 4 points were jointly runners up with Ben. Sam Thomas, Michael Burger, Thomas Stanton and Lorca Heeney-Brockett were close on their heels in a very competitive event on 3½ points.
This event contained as many as 5 players who had competed previously in World Youth Championships, so it was very competitive with play amongst the top players being a good standard. These 5 were the top 5 scorers in the final table, with Ben Thomas, Alyssa Wang and Nyasha Katsande joint winners on 4/5 and Nudhara Yusuf and James Evans ending on 3½ /5. Ben was held to draws by Nudhara in Round 3 and Alyssa in Round 4; Alyssa drew with Ben and James; Nyasha was beaten in a hugely competitive round 3 game by Alyssa, whilst James caught Nudhara cold in an Evans Gambit in Round 4, but then when in the sole lead on 3½/4 was himself caught with a Classic Bishop Sacrifice (Bxh7+ Kxh7; Ng5+) by Ben in the last round. This was maybe a case of resigning too early as the defence Kg6 to the knight check seemed OK in post game analysis. James missed that the customary Qg4 could be met by ...f5 in the position, as there was no Pawn on e5 to take en passant. Had he played to that position, he may have seen the defence. Of the other players, Daniel Siromani had a good tournament, ending on 3 points being defeated in a tough game by Nyasha in round 5, his only other loss being to Alyssa in Round 1.
We have a very limited number of good players in this age group, and with Owen Bennett ill and unable to attend, there was a 5-player all-play-all with Rhys Bennett and Nicholas Evans clearly ahead of the others on grading. Charles Kett had good, possibly winning positions against both these, but was unable to convert and eventually lost both games. So by round 5, Nicholas and Rhys had left the other 3 trailing well behind – they all finished on 2 points (which included a Bye) - and the event was decided by the last round game between the 2 strongest players. Rhys must have hoped to win the endgame having given Nicholas an isolated Queen's Pawn, with pieces being gradually exchanged, but the final rook exchange converted the IQP into a supported passed Pawn. Nicholas' King could not get through to the Q-side Ps and eventually a draw was agreed as a K-move repetition was inevitable. So Rhys and Nicholas were joint winners on 4½/5.
As with the U14s there were no female participants, but there were 12 players entered with 6 of them graded over 1850, and another 4 all capable of causing an upset. This happened as early as round 1 with 3rd seed James Thomas losing to Varun Varma. Round 2 went much as expected with the only draw in the first two rounds occurring here between top-seed Alex Bullen and Davin Menon. Second seed Tom Thorpe lost to Luke Kostanjsek in round 2 and was then upfloated to Alex Bullen in round 3 where he also lost, putting him out of the running. So by the end of the first day Alex Bullen, Philippe Rodgers and Luke were on 2½/3, Davin Menon and Alex Wills on 2 and James and Varun on 1½, James having dropped another half point against Davin. Disappointingly, James decided to pull out on Saturday night, so the pairings had to be altered for the following day, and there was need for a bye. Luke's Shveshnikov Sicilian was good enough for a draw against Alex Bullen in Round 4, while Philippe found his way back from a poor position to draw against Davin. Alex Wills won relatively smoothly against Varun to join Alex B, Philippe and Luke in the lead on 3 out of 4. Luke dispatched Alex W fairly quickly in the last round, and the last game of the weekend to finish decided the championship. Alex had outplayed Philippe going first the exchange ahead, and eventually into a R ending with a 2 Pawn advantage, although Philippe's Rook was active, and Alex was running out of time. The position settled to a passed aP for Philippe against passed g and hPs for Alex, hindered from advancing by Philippe's King. Both players had one other P. They both knew they needed to win to share the title so neither was keen to take a draw whilst they might have winning chances, and although Alex was a P ahead for much of the time, both sides refused draws and as arbiter at one stage I turned down a 2-minute rule claim from Alex, as to me Philippe was still trying to win. Eventually with both clocks fast heading to zero, everything was exchanged to bare Kings, and a draw left Luke as clear champion on 4/5. Alex Bullen, Philippe and Davin were joint 2nd on 3½.
One undisputed loss by a mobile phone ringing, 2 games where there were touch –move disputes and one 2-minute rule claim were the only real involvement needed by myself and Ian Eustis as arbiters, and it was also useful to have Tim Kett and Kevin Thomas keeping an eye on proceedings, so a big thank you to the players for their co-operation and behaviour and also to the parents who bring their children to play and then have to expend lots of nervous energy whilst waiting anxiously for the results!