Given we’re nearly a 1/3 of the team, I feel it’s worthy News!
Hertfordshire U160 2013/14 EACU Champions
We had lost three consecutive matches to Cambridgeshire. On paper they appeared to have slightly the stronger side. If the match was drawn, Cambridgeshire would be ahead of us on head-to-head results as they had beaten us in December. If we lost to Cambridgeshire again, we could be overtaken by Norfolk in the afternoon match, and again finish third. That is what could have happened. It didn't. It was a beautiful day.
In the morning match against Cambridgeshire, Nigel Kerby gave us an early win. There were many close games, and draw followed draw. Cambridgeshire eventually drew level, but not for long. Wali and Jon Barnes put us two up, and with draws elsewhere mounting up, we reached 7.5 points with only the top three boards left in play. We lost one of those to cut our advantage to one, but it was clear that Brian Judkins pawns were unstopable, and the win was soon confirmed. The win was by the narrowest of margins by 8.5 to 7.5, and was the exact reversal of our defeat in December. It was therefore not quite enough to confirm us as champions, as heavy defeat to Norfolk could have seen Cambridgeshire overtake us on game points.
Our afternoon match was against Norfolk, and in a repetition of what happened in our afternoon match in January, in contrast to the draws in the morning, this soon turned into a succession of Herts wins. Gary Ruddick set the ball rolling, although the real carnage came later. In contrast to the morning, the top four boards were soon vacated. Grandmaster draws someone called it. Further Herts wins followed from Andrew Maclaren, Roman Bruckner, Wali and Mike Price. Simon Cage won to clinch victory in the match, and further wins were achieved by Mark Harris and Ian Mutton as Herts completed a 12 - 4 win. Not one Herts player lost in the afternoon, which was a considerable achievement considering the closeness of the teams on paper. However, this was not the first time this season that Herts had won by a large margin, and I have the feeling that there a few players in this Herts side who are rather better than their current grades.
By winning the EACU U160 title, we go through to an ECF quarter-final against Greater Manchester. We met Greater Manchester in the semi-final in 2012, and it is likely that the match will again be played somewhere in the midlands. The potential date is Saturday 17th May, although I am awaiting confirmation that Herts U140 are not playing on that date. Herts U140 and Herts U120 have already qualified, and we would face great difficulty raising full teams if all three played on the same day. We are therefore hoping that the U140 match can be moved forward a week. A couple of players have mentioned that they may be away at that time. By all means let me know if you are unavailable as it helps with planning, but we do not have much flexibility with the choice of dates.
Well done to all who have contributed to Herts U160 success this season.