Dorset Juniors WIN Inter-County Team Battle – Full Report!

In a very exciting and epic battle, the Dorset Junior Chess team have triumphed over junior chess teams from Hampshire, Devon and Berkshire and WON the third Inter-County team battle! Huge congratulations to the team.

Our Dorset Junior team amassed a staggering total of 224 points, beating Hampshire by 9 points in what was a nail-biting finish.

Having previously come 4th in the first Inter-County team battle in May 2021, improving to third in the 2nd Inter-County team battle July 2021, this was a fantastic performance and reflects the hard work and enthusiasm of our Dorset Junior players.

There were notable performances by Finn Schell, with a massive 48 points, and Jamie Doyle with 33 points, but this was truly a team performance and every junior on this Dorset team, which included 5 first time tournament players, played a very valuable part and vital role in the win.

Twenty minutes after the start of the 2-hour tournament, Dorset Juniors took the lead, thanks to a blistering run by Harry Mercer, and thereafter never relinquished it. With 45 minutes remaining, the lead over Berkshire, in second, was around 30 points and looked reasonably comfortable.

Leading after twenty five minutes

Twenty five minutes after the start of the 2-hour tournament, Dorset Juniors took the lead, and then capitalised on this, thanks to a blistering run by Harry Mercer on 11 points, who was at that point the top scoring player, with Florence not far behind. Thereafter the team never relinquished the lead although there were one or two tense moments.

On the half-way mark, with an hour remaining, Dorset Juniors had reached over 100 points, 19 points ahead of the nearest rival.

And with 45 minutes remaining, the lead over Berkshire, in second, had increased further to nearly 30 points. Although Devon junior players were now at the top of the leader board, Dorset Juniors had 5 players (Finn, Harry, Florence, Zander and Jamie) in the top ten. Finn, Zander, Florence and Ollie, playing in his first team battle, were all at this point on winning streaks and the position looked reasonably comfortable.

But, with less than 20 minutes left, a late run by Hampshire took them up the table and so with 10 minutes remaining the gap was down to just 3 points. Tense stuff indeed! But the brave Dorset Juniors held on and at the final countdown, were victorious by 9 points.

Fantastic all-round team performance

Dorset Juniors were the second lowest rated team in the tournament, reflecting the inexperience of several of our players. This was a first time Inter-County team battle for five of them: Cyrus, Ollie, Ben, Smyan and Ed, all of whom have only recently joined the junior chess coaching at Southbourne Chess Club.

Our juniors performed above their average rating and achieved the second highest average score per player.

This really was a team effort, with our players who finished in 3rd (Jack), 4th (Harry) and 5th (Zander) team positions contributing a massive 82 points, well above that of the other teams.

Top scorer for Dorset was Finn Schell with an excellent score of 48 points from 15 games (an average of 3.2 points per game) and a performance rating of 1928, including two wins against opponents rated over 2000. Jamie Doyle scored a very strong 33 points but was, unfortunately, drawn against one of the top Devon players (rated 2200) four times, each of these being tight and relatively long games, and therefore, potentially, reducing the number of games he played. Honours were even, with two wins each.

Finn, Harry and Florence all performed well above their rating; Finn and Harry exceeding their ratings by over 200 points and Florence with a win against a 2000 plus rated opponent. Newcomer Smyan also exceeded his rating.

With the final winning margin being just 9 points, the contributions by rookies Smyan, Cyrus, Ollie and Ed made all the difference and were vital in achieving the win. All came up against players with an average rating higher than themselves and performed extremely well.

Overall, strong performances by our regular players and very encouraging performances by the inexperienced juniors, playing in their first team battle.

This bodes so well for an exciting future for Dorset Junior Chess! What a great day.

Nikki Forster 26/1/22

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