SCCU u175

Essex keep title hopes alive

John Philpott reports

Board Colour Surrey Grade Score Essex Grade Score
1 B David Hill 171 0 Larry Marden 173 1
2 W Martin Smith 170 1 Paul Williamson 172 0
3 B Phil Stimpson 168 ½ Julian Winkworth 170 ½
4 W David Sedgwick 166 1 Howard Grist 168 0
5 B Paul Dupre 165 0 Ian Reynolds 166 1
6 W David Malcolm 163 1 Peter Doye 164 0
7 B Chris Clegg 161 0 Martin McCall 161 1
8 W Angus French 160 0 Mark Weighell 160 1
9 B Neil Maxwell 154 ½ Josiah Lutton 158 ½
10 W John Eckert 150e 0 John White 160 1
11 B Joe Skielnik 151 ½ Colin Ramage 152 ½
12 W Ken Inwood 151 ½ David Millward 159 ½
13 B R. John Wilcox 158 ½ Sid Kalinsky 158 ½
14 W Nick Grey 149 ½ Ian Hunnable 136 ½
15 B Mark Webley 145 1 Kevin White 151 0
16 W Martin Cath 150 ½ Ray Purse 150 ½
TOTAL - Home TOTAL - Away

The mid-point of the SCCU qualifying competition saw the Essex U175s in an unaccustomed second place as a result of Sussex's 9½-6½ victory at Wanstead House in November. While the key fixture of the second phase seemed likely to be the return encounter with Sussex at Hassocks on 1 February, there was an important match with Surrey to be negotiated first. Although Essex had notched up an almost incredible sequence of 14 consecutive victories over Surrey at U175 level, Surrey had been coming ever-closer to Essex in the strength of their line up in recent seasons, and had restricted the Essex winning margin to 8½-7½ at Wanstead House in October. A Surrey victory in the fixture at Coulsdon Chess Fellowship on 11th January could have put even second place and qualification for the BCF stage of the County Championship in jeopardy, and the Essex cause was not helped when, with Robert Parker and Chris Fegan already unavailable, John Moore and Tim Hebbes withdrew in the days leading up to the match. Such is the pool of talent available that Essex still had the edge on paper, but this averaged less than 4 grading points per board and meant that another close encounter seemed likely.

Early developments in the match seemed to be in Surrey's favour on three of the boards as Paul Williamson won his opponent's queen at the too high cost of three minor pieces, Peter Doye fell into a trap of his own making to drop a piece for two pawns and Kevin White lost the exchange. However, the first Essex player to lose was Howard Grist who always seemed in trouble after an over-ambitious early ...g5 thrust. By then, David Millward had drawn to take the cumulative Essex game points tally since the start of the U175 competition past the 800 mark. Essex levelled matters up when Martin McCall scored with the Milner-Barry gambit against one of the five French defences featuring in the match. Draws were then agreed by Ian Hunnable and Ray Purse, both of whom might have hoped for more.

With the three dubious positions not looking likely to be turned round, it was important that Essex got some wins on the scoreboard. An important step forward was made on top board, where Larry Marden's opponent thought for an exceptionally long time on his 12th move in a position known to theory. This long think did not help the Surrey player's game, and he looked quite lost when his flag fell 15 moves short of the time control. There was a real bonus for Essex in the next game to finish as John White had just lost a pawn when his opponent allowed a snap queen sacrifice to exploit the weak back rank. Peter Doye now gave up the unequal struggle in his game, but Mark Weighell restored the two point advantage by making it an impressive four out of four for the team this season, and Ian Reynolds showed a welcome return to form to stretch the lead to three at 6½-3½.

This cushion was needed as the next three games to finish yielded only half a point to Essex through Julian Winkworth, with Paul Williamson and Kevin White both now resigning. One and a half points were needed from the three games in play to secure victory and this was achieved through three contrasting draws. Sid Kalinsky had been pressing for most of the game, but could find no way to break through and agreed a draw at a moment when it seemed his opponent might be about to obtain some winning chances of his own. Colin Ramage, abandoning his customary Grob on this occasion, had a good scrap and ultimately retrieved a pawn down rook and pawn ending. It fell to Josiah Lutton to clinch the final half point when his opponent accepted that the ending of rook, dark squared bishop and h and g pawns against rook, dark squared bishop and h pawn could not be won.

This hard earned victory brought up Essex three match points out of four but failed to close the gap on Sussex, as aided by a home default on Board 14, the League leaders secured an 8½-7½ victory at Middlesex. This leaves Essex looking not just to win the return match with Sussex but to score either 10 - 6 or 9½-6½ with a favourable board count in order to clinch the title on tie-break.

Larry Marden v David Hill

1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 Be7 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 0-0 7.e3 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 c6 10.Bd3 Nxc3 11.Rxc3 dxc4 12.Rxc4 b6 13.0-0 Bb7 14.Ne5 Rc8 15.Qc2 Na6 16.Bh7+ Kf8 17.Bg6 Nb4 18.Rxb4 Qxb4 19.Bxf7 Qd6 20.Qh7 1-0

Angus French v Mark Weighell

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6 Qf6 6.Qd2 Qxc6 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nc3 Bb4 10.e5 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Ne4 12.Qf4 d5 13.exd6 Nxd6 14.Re1 Re8 15.Bd2 Rxe1+ 16.Rxe1 Be6 17.h4 Bxa2 18.h5 Bc4 19.h6 Bxd3 20.cxd3 Re8 21.Ra1 Re6 22.Qg5 Ne8 23.g3 Rxh6 0-1

The Essex Junior Championships will take place during the half-term week at Temple Sutton School, Southend. The dates are Thursday 20th & Friday 21st February and there will be a section for u18s, u16s and u14s of 6 rounds (30 moves in 75 minutes & clocks back 15 min) and a section for u11 and u9 players of 8 rounds, at 40 minutes per player per game. The event will act as a qualifier for the UK Chess Challenge, thereby allowing players whose schools do not support the UKCC the opportunity to enter what must surely be the World's biggest chess tournament, with 60,000 expected to enter in around 2000 schools this year. A printable entry form is available. A supply of printed copies is available by emailing Peter Walker.

6q1/6p1/2k4p/R6B/p7/8/2P3P1/2K5 3B3k/6rP/6pK/6P1/8/8/8/qQ6
White to play and win.
This elegant study, by Henri Rinck, celebrates its centenary this year.
Last week's solution: 1 Bf6!double attack and threat of Qb8 1...Qb2! (threatens Qh2+) 2 Qc2! (parries the threat renews the attack on the back rank. Clearly, Black's Q is immune from capture because of stalemate.) 2...Qc3! 3 Qd3! Qd4! 4 Qe4! and finally Black runs out of moves because of the threat Qa8.

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