Whilst Essex achieved some of their aims when they went to Hassocks (John Philpott expressed "mixed feelings" about the outcome of the match) in that they have definitely qualified for the National stages, the fact that Essex's away win against Sussex was by a smaller margin than their home defeat in November means that all tie breaks now favour Sussex. For Essex to maintain their run of Southern Counties Championships now depends entirely upon Surrey being able to break their duck in the Bottom v Top clash of March 1st. Essex play Middlesex that day at Wanstead and John will be looking for an emphatic home win to give the team a psychological boost before doing battle with Midlanders, Northerners and West Countrymen in the National stages of the Competition.
|1||W||Richard Almond||174||0||Tim Hebbes||173||1|
|2||B||Alan Barton||171||1||Robert Parker||174||0|
|3||W||Charlie Linford||155||0||Larry Marden||173||1|
|4||B||Michael Stott||171||1||Howard Grist||168||0|
|5||W||Robert Elliston||169||½||Ian Reynolds||166||½|
|6||B||Stephen Hawes||168||0||Peter Doye||164||1|
|7||W||James Mansson||161||½||John Moore||163||½|
|8||B||Paul Batchelor||160||1||Martin McCall||161||0|
|9||W||Richard Johnson||163||½||Mark Weighell||160||½|
|10||B||Brian Donnelly||167||0||Josiah Lutton||158||1|
|11||W||Ian Kelly||161||0||John White||160||1|
|12||B||Andrew Fleming||161||1||Colin Ramage||160||0|
|13||W||Michael reddie||150||½||David Millward||159||½|
|14||B||Tim Spanton||152||1||Sid Kalinsky||158||0|
|15||W||Adrian Pickersgill||152||0||Ian Hunnable||156||1|
|16||B||Alan Palmer||146||0||Ray Purse||150||1|
|TOTAL - Home||7||TOTAL - Away||9|
John Philpott writes: The 9½-6½ victory that Sussex had achieved at Wanstead House in November meant that Essex would have liked to win the return by 10-6 in order to establish a favourable tie-break should the Counties finish level on points. However, the first priority was simply to win the match, and early developments did not augur well even for this more modest ambition as Howard Grist lost quickly and John White dropped the exchange and a pawn. Essex levelled the match when Josiah Lutton used the Grand Prix attack to extremely good effect and his opponent's flag fell in a lost position. Mark Weighell's impressive run of four successive wins for the team then ended when he had to settle for a draw. Essex went ahead through Ian Hunnable who played a line of the French that had brought both him and Tim Hebbes success against the same opponent on previous occasions, but this lead was short lived as Sid Kalinsky went astray after leaving himself five moves to make in a minute. John Moore agreed a draw after a double rook endgame where both players seemed to have winning chances, while David Millward also drew after simplifying to a theoretically drawn position in a rook endgame with one pawn against two on the same side.
The next phase of the match was almost unbelievably successful for Essex with five straight wins to clinch overall victory and leave the visitors needing 1½ points from the 4 games in play to reach the magic 10 points. However, there was more than a shade of good fortune in this seemingly impressive sequence. Not on top board, where Tim Hebbes on this occasion outplayed an opponent whom he has encountered regularly in County matches. However, on board 3, Larry Marden felt that he had been worse from move 10. His draw offer on move 27 was declined by his youthful opponent acting on orders from his captain, but an error then gave Larry the better of the ending which may still have been drawn when White's flag fell.
Ray Purse, who has been in excellent form on Board 16, ground out a win that seem likely from early on, but Peter Doye who felt that his game was drifting to a draw was unexpectedly gifted a piece. Finally John White, who had kept going despite his material disadvantage, generated kingside chances and was eventually rewarded when his opponent moved his queen to the wrong square and a mating attack ensued.
A look at the four remaining boards did not inspire great optimism as to the number of further points likely to be obtained and in the event only Ian Reynolds managed to add to the Essex tally when he agreed a draw. Colin Ramage gave up his protracted attempts to save a position where he had a rook against two bishops and extra pawns, Martin McCall lost an inferior rook and pawn ending and Robert Parker conceded a bad bishop against knight ending after going astray earlier with one haphazard move in what should have been a winning position.
So near and yet so far. However, on the whole, there are positives to be drawn from this match as Essex have definitely qualified for the National Stages after winning all their away matches in the SCCU competition and should have re-established a psychological edge against Sussex should our paths cross again at or before the Final. Essex performed particularly well with the Black pieces in the match, scoring an unbeaten six out of eight, so this may well have been a good toss to lose.
Richard Almond v Tim Hebbes
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 Bxc3+ 5.Qxc3 b6 6.Bg5 Bb7 7.f3 d5 8.e3 Nbd7 9.Bd3 0-0 10.Ne2 h6 11.Bh4 Ne4 12.Bxd8 Nxc3 13.Bh4 Nxe2 14.Kxe2 c5 15.cxd5 exd5 16.Bb5 Nf6 17.Bxf6 gxf6 18.dxc5 bxc5 19.Rac1 Rac8 20.Rhd1 Rc7 21.Rd4 Rb8 22.Rf4 Bc6 23.Bd3 Rxb2+ 24.Kf1 c4 25.Be2 Rxa2 26.Rxf6 Kg7 27.Rd6 Bb7 28.e4 dxe4 29.Rxc4 Rc2 30.Rxc2 Rxc2 31.fxe4 Bxe4 32.g3 a5 33.Ra6 Ra2 34.Ra7 Bd5 35.Rd7 Be6 36.Ra7 a4 37.Ke1 a3 38.Bd3 Ra1+ 39.Kd2 a2 40.Kc2 Rb1 41.Rxa2 Bxa2 42.Bc4 Ra1 43.Kb2 Bxc4 44.Kxa1 Kg6 45.Kb2 Kg5 46.Kc3 Be6 47.Kd4 Kg4 48.Ke5 Kh3 0-1
Josiah Lutton v Brian Donnelly
1.Nc3 c5 2.e4 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0-0 Nxb5 7.Nxb5 a6 8.Nc3 d6 9.d3 Nf6 10.Qe1 0-0 11.Qh4 b5 12.f5 b4 13.Ne2 Bb7 14.Bh6 Nh5 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.g4 Nf6 17.g5 Nh5 18.Ng3 Nxg3 19.hxg3 Rh8 20.f6+ exf6 21.gxf6+ Kg8 22.Qf4 h6 23.Rf2 Qd7 24.Rh2 Qe6 25.Kf2 d5 26.Rah1 h5 27.Qg5 dxe4 28.Rxh5 Rxh5 29.Rxh5 exf3 and Black's flag fell before White could deliver the coup de grāce with 30 Rh8+! Kxh8 31 Qh6+ Kg8 32 Qg7 mate. 1-0
The North Essex League, whose first division boasts 12 teams, is under threat from an alien menace referred to by John Lambert on his most informative website as the "Tractor Boys". Normally the domain of such urbane organisations as the Chelmsford and Writtle clubs, an allegedly bucolic bunch of bounders has crossed the border from Suffolk and is taking the NEL by storm.
Stour Valley is a brand new club to the League, and is effectively the Ipswich club under another name. In order to comply with the League boundaries Stour Valley's home matches are all played in Colchester. The players concerned are generally very strong and the team has won its first five matches with their board 1, Shaun Munson, scoring 100%. Although Stour Valley have yet to play the other two top sides in the division, there is a very real prospect that the League Championship will go "out of County". Having said that, in the 4-board Knockout Cup, Braintree surprised Stour Valley, holding them to a 2-2 draw but taking the match on bottom board elimination.
Most leagues tend to be rather repetitive affairs in which the same teams generally take the honours year after year. The introduction of this extra very strong team who are clearly prepared to travel great distances (NEL clubs include Dunmow, Billericay and Clacton) must add greatly to the interest engendered. Agricultural banter aside, the addition of such an enthusiastic band of strong players must represent a real shot in the arm for any League.
This coming Sunday sees the annual Southern Counties' under 18 Team Championships, with Essex doing battle with seven other teams. The event begins at 12 noon at the Colet Court School, Barnes. Arnold Lutton is the Team Manager. Elsewhere in Junior Chess, the Final of the Essex Zone of the BCF Schools' Championship was between Southend Boys' High School and King Edward VI Grammar School. Southend won 5½ - ½, the drawn game being on board 1 between Michael Bridger and Alistair Hung.
|White to play and win. Some obvious similarities here to last week's study, but take care, it's all about timing...||Last week's solution (Troitsky 1895): 1 Bh6+ Kg8 2 g7 Kf7 3 g8Q+! Kxg8 4 Ke6 Kh8 5 Kf7 e5 6 Bg7 mate Alternatives include 2 ...e6+ 3 Kd6 Kf7 4 Ke5 Kg8 5 Kf6 and wins or 2 ...e5 3 Ke6 e4 4 Kf6 wins|
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