Southend Easter Congress

Wells outclasses the rest

Trent, Martyn & Spence share second

Lawrence Trent v Stephen Gregory
Lawrence Trent is only a pawn ahead at the moment.
Within a dozen moves he had removed all Black's pawns.

Grand Master Peter Wells, the only GM or IM participating in this year's Southend Open, scored a most impressive 6½/7 to take the 500 first prize. His drawn game was against the highly promising young Belgium-based English player, Rafe Martyn. In fact, Peter did not have to play any of the players ranked 2nd - 5th as they all dropped points against players they were meant to beat and, apart from Rafe, the strongest players to meet the eventual Champion were Rob van der Plaas and Dave Ledger.

The number 4 seed, Michael Twyble, himself one of the most promising Essex juniors about 25 years ago, came unstuck against Basildon's Josiah Lutton in round 1 and, although Michael remained unbeaten for the remainder of the tournament, two draws in late rounds left him on 5/7. Although he did win some prize money, it was a paltry amount compared to the winnings of the trio finishing half a point ahead of him. Lawrence Trent was paired against David Millward in the first round and, although the grading difference between the two is now 50 points, David has been over 180 in recent seasons and played well enough to secure the draw. FM David Ledger came unstuck against Alan Barton, who had a tremendous tournament, reaching 5/6 before being forced to play Wells in the final round. The Grand Master had no difficulty, burying Black's bishop behind a wedge of pawns and, having a big material advantage in active pieces, won in under 30 moves.

Lawrence and Rafe each scored 3½/4 but then played one another. Both are under 16 and, being amongst the top players nationally in that age group, have been playing one another reasonably regularly in junior events ever since they were 10 years old. Lawrence normally has the upper hand in these encounters but this time it was Rafe who won. The third player to reach a score of 5½ was David Spence, who, like Rafe, completed the tournament unbeaten. In his first round he dropped half a point against veteran Derby player Raymond Gamble and drew twice more, in round 5 and 7.

Southend is an unusual Open Championship firstly in that it is a 7-rounder and, secondly, it is the only 7-round event in the Congress. It is a great opportunity for promising players to test themselves against strong opposition, safe in the knowledge that there are always a few lower grades around if the going gets tough. Because of the wide range of grades amongst the participants, there are some fairly generous grading prizes. Just as the place money was dominated by young men (Peter Wells, at 37, is by far the oldest of the top 4) so the grading prizes were won by the youthful. Gavin Lock (25) took the grading prize for the 176 - 190 group, Edmund Player (20) the grading group 161-175, Stewart trent (15) the prize for the best score in the 146 - 160 group, Alexander Combie (18) the prize for players 120-145 and George O'Toole (9) the under 120 prize. George finished with a flourish, gaining a material advantage, ganging up on white's king and then chasing away the defending queen with a couple of pawns. Mate was inevitable. Stewart's group was remarkable in that, of the 10 who completed the tournament, nine of them finished on 50%, Stewart just one point ahead of them.

If the 7-rounder was a triumph of youth over experience, the same could not be said of the 5-round "Sections". Here, the four section winners were Ivor Smith (Writtle), Arnold Lutton (Basildon), Don Dennis (Wickford) and Roy Middleton (Hadleigh) of whom Ivor, a former British over-60s Champion, was the youngest.

EPSCA u9 Finals

Essex improve to reach middle order

Essex's youngest-ever team qualified for the National Finals of the English Primary Schools' under 9 Championships largely by virtue of a rule change, but they found that life was not quite so hard as it had been in the Southern Zone played just four weeks previously. There were good fighting performances on most boards to give Essex a score of 16 / 36. By the nature of these events, this was a fairly even contest in which the odd point here or there made a great deal of difference to a team's position. Nineteen teams participate, probably the largest ever number, and Hertfordshire were the winners with 28½ / 36, thereby holding the Peter Ayckroyd Trophy for the first time.

It was already clear that the Essex top half were as good as some of the best teams, but the inexperience showed further down the board order. Perhaps the most welcome improvements were by Tom Colley, who scored 0 in the qualifier but managed 2 in the Finals, and Nathanael Lee, whose 1/3 became 3/3. The other player to score 3/3 was Jack Sirkett. He played some very confident chess, the most entertaining game being his round 2 victory over a Liverpool player. Many children at this level are taught to play the Fried Liver (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb4 Nf6 4 Ng5) as it is the sort of opening which gives the uninitiated some real problems. However, 4 Ng5 is not really good chess even though White generally wins quickly if Black goes wrong. At least twice I have witnessed the following game:- 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd Nxd5?! 6 Nxf7 Kxf7 7 Qf3+ Kg8?? (7...Ke6 is the only way to hang on, but of course that leaves the black king very exposed and mistakes by Black are liable to be fatal) 8 Qxd5+ Qxd5 9 Bxd5+ Be6 10 Bxe6 mate. The Fried Liver is really in the category of Scholar's Mate in that White cannot take advantage if Black plays properly and is probably slightly worse, but it is an easy way to get points with minimal training because young juniors know less about defending than they do about attacking. We have therefore shown our players the Traxler (4...Bc4), ignoring white's threat 4 Ng5 and setting up an immediate counter-attack of 5...Bxf7. Sadly, Jack did not record his game, but the tell-tale signs were there as his queen, knight and bishop cut through White's king-side like a combine harvester, reaping all the pawns and the h1 rook before delivering mate with Qf1, while the white knight sat proudly on h8, having just gorged itself on the redundant rook which had been the erstwhile occupier of that square.

Tom Huband, who scored 2/3 in the qualifier, won his first two games and looked to be heading towards 100% but met with some sort of accident along the way and his big material advantage became a level ending and then that deteriorated still further as he tried too hard in the ending K & h & g v K & h & g. Liam Raybould went the same way, perhaps relaxing when in sight of 100%. Chris Miall lost his first two but kept his head in the final round to set up an unstoppable mate in spite of being the exchange and a few pawns down. Elliot Holland was the unluckiest player in the team as he was drawn against opponents from the three top sides but, having disposed of the Hertfordshire player in the first round, was involved in very close games subsequently but failed to add to his score. This was particularly unfortunate in the final round against the Wey Valley player as Elliot had lost a piece for a pawn, then won a rook through forcing play and, just when victory was within his grasp, he missed a lethal discovered check which allowed the follow-up move f2xe1=Q, the white rook having been captured on the queening square.

On balance, this as a satisfactory performance by the Essex team. They had struggled badly at the qualifying event, scoring only 10 points and nothing below board 7. To improve by 60%, which overtook Sussex and nearly caught Kent, both of whom outscored Essex at the Qualifier, was a result of the players' hard work and dedication. This result might have been better still with a little more luck.

2Wey Valley - Surrey26
8Greater Manchester20
11Kent 17
How the Essex players fared
1Tom Huband1102
2Liam Raybould1102
3Chris Miall0011
4Elliott Holland1001
5Jack Sirkett 1113
6David Watson0101
7Nathanael Lee 1113
8Tom Colley0112
9Chris Neill0.50.501
10Joshua Brown0000
11Laura Hough 0000
12Chantele Birch0000
Essex u9 Team plus guest
The Essex under 9 team in glorious Spring sunshine. Mike Basman (Wey Valley) decided
to muscle in on the photo. Mike, who is National Organiser of the UK Chess Challenge,
must hold the record for making money out of fluffy mascots.
Back row, l to r: Nathanael Lee, Joshua Brown, Jack Sirkett, Tom Colley, Mike Basman,
David Watson, Tom Huband. Front row: Liam Raybould, Chris Neill, Chantele Birch,
Laura Hough, Chris Miall, Elliott Holland

SCCU Jamborees

Essex take first place.

Essex performed creditably to take first place in a very close competition in the Southern Counties' Chess Union u180 jamboree, held at Westminster Univerity, Harrow. As is usually the case with jamboree tournaments, it was a very close battle, but the 6½ points from a possible 10 was sufficient to see Essex through by the narrowest of margins against second-placed Hertfordshire.

In the under 135 competition a team of Essex juniors and the father of one of them scored 2½ points. Antony O'Toole won well and creditable draws from Daniel Hedges, Roly Fischer-Vousden and Klaus Fischer left Essex in mid-table.
Essex u180
1Larry Marden (b)1 - 0Rob Hildane (S)
2George McNally (w)½-½Terry Turner (N)
3Mark Weighell (w)0 - 1Matthew Dignam (H)
4E. Josiah Lutton (b)½-½D.I. Calvert (M)
5Colin Ramage (b)1 - 0K. White (N)
6David Millward (w)½-½Chris Clegg (S)
7Ray Purse (w)0 - 1Yasser Tello (M)
8Paul Barclay (b)1 - 0Tom Allen (N)
9John Philpott (b)1 - 0Roly Pigott (S)
10Aidan Corish (w)1 - 0Andrew Lillie (N)

1 Essex 6/10; 2 Herts 6; 3 Middx 5; 4 Surrey 4; 5 North Circular Chess League 3

Essex u135
1Antony O'Toole (w)1 - 0Ian Deswarte (S)
2Daniel Hedges (b)½-½F Ainscow (MB)
3Alex O'Toole (w)0 - 1B. Toper (H)
4Joe Bloomfield (b)0 - 1P. Grant-Ross (MA)
5Roly Fischer-Vousden (b)½-½Danielle Gross (MB)
6Klaus Fischer (w)½-½Sandy Smyth (S)

1 Herts 5/6; 2 Middx A 4; 3 Essex 2; 4 Middx B 2; 5 Surrey 1

2rNk3/5pR1/8/5P2/8/8/8/7K 1k6/1r6/2K5/Q7/8/8/8/8
White to play and win. The first thing to do in this position is to make it Black's move so 1 Qe5+ Ka7 (1...Kc8 2 Qe8 mate) 2 Qa1 Kb8 3 Qa4. Now Black is in zugzwang and any move loses the rook. Everything is pretty obvious except for 3... Rf7; 3...Rh7; 3...Rb3; and 3 Rb1. Now White's queen uses the long diagonal to set up a double attack. If 3 ...Rf7 4 Qe5+ Ka7 6 Qa1+ Kb8 7 Qb2+ Ka7 (not 7 ...Kc8 8 Qh8 and mates) 8 Qh2 wins the rook. If 3 ...Rh7 4 Qe5+ Ka7 5 Qa1 Kb8 6 Qb1+ wins the rook. There is a matching pair of lines if the rook shelters on b3 or b1. Try it out...

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