When the 2002 ECA Congress was short of players, a decline in numbers by some 30 or so from the previous year, organisers were prepared to put it down to the double distractions of a World Cup and a Jubilee. The expectations were that the event would pick up again in 2003. Sadly, this was not to be. Prize find had been calculated on the basis that 125 competitors would play, but when only 105 entered, the ECA was faced with a loss of some £450. This is clearly a situation which cannot continue indefinitely and the future of the Congress now looks bleak indeed.
But a report on a weekend congress should not be dominated by the financial probems facing the organisers. There was a great deal of excellent chess to be celebrated, including an Open Championship boasting no fewer than three IMs. What is more, these were not just any IMs: Messrs. Gormally, Cherniaev and Pert have all been pushing hard against the stubborn door which leads to the GM title and it is hard to believe that they won't find themselves on the right side of it soon. Elsewhere, there were at least two World Title contenders playing, as George O'Toole and Dana Hawrami, each of whom has been selected to represent England in their respective age groups when the World Youth Chess Championships take place in the autumn.
Quite apart from the IMs, some of the very strongest untitled players from the London area were in attendance. Defending Champion Peter Taylor (Cavendish) alongside Lawrence Webb and Andrew Stone were all graded over 200. This was a very strong section.
There were two noteworthy results from the first round. David Millward inflicted defeat on Gavin Lock and Mark Ruston held Peter Taylor to a draw. Millward was at it again in round 2, this time sharing the point with Andrew Stone to give him a performance over 2 rounds of 216, compared to his actual grade of 159. Five players made their way to 2 / 2: the three IMs, Lawrence Webb and John Anderson. Nick Pert floated down to play Andrew Stone whereas Danny Gormally played Lawrence Webb and Alexander Cherniaev played John Anderson. In this last fixture, the Essex player put up a very spirited performance, reaching an ending in which he had one fewer pawns but with a very active king. Cunning endgame play by the Russian eventually entombed the Black king on the a-file and it was then just a matter of time before the remaining white pieces lined themsleves up to deliver mate. Gormally won comfortably enough but Nick Pert, playing Black, was involved in an ending of N & 3 v N & 3 in which Black had a, b & g pawns and white had a, b & c. There appeared to be two options: sacrifice the knight for the a & b pawns and then hope to win with the whtie forces divided on different sides of the board, or invade with the king, allow the g-pawn to drop, and then try to queen the a-pawn. Nick chose the latter and with both sides down to their last few seonds of a 3-hour session, a draw was agreed because it was not possible for Black to stop White from sacrificing hi knight for the final pawn.
Now the two top seeds played one another and the forcing nature of the first few moves, in which Danny Gormally, playing White, sacrificed a pawn for development, and saddled Black with an isolated pawn, gave the impression that both players were prepared for a long scrap. However, after about 15 moves a draw was agreed even though Black still had an extra pawn and appeared to have reasonable chances of hanging on to it. Meanwhile, Nick Pert rejoined the leaders after a comfortable win against Mark Ruston, who had hitherto enjoyed some fine success, reaching 2½ / 3, a most impressive score for a player in the bottom half of the draw.
Round 5 once again paired two of the IMs together. Cherniaev took the white pieces and Pert played the French Defence. It was a good old-fashioned Advance variation and, after the opening of the c-file, there was an early exchange of queens. No-one here wanted a draw because Danny Gormally would not expect anything other than a win against Peter Taylor, and that was indeed the result. Once again, Nick Pert found himslef playing on the black side of N & 3 v N & 3 but this time he had a central passed pawn to White'a h-pawn. Both sides had a- & b-pawns. Once again, Black went for the king invasion option, but this time White created a passed pawn and, although the black knight positioned itself in front of the passed pawn and appeared to be preventing the advance of either king or pawn through a capture or a fork, the fact that the Black king was in the wrong part of the board allowed white's knight to interfere with its opposite number. This had the effect of evicting the black knight from the queening square and eventually the white king prevented its return. With both black pieces now relegated to the role of spectators, the pawn was going to queen. Therefore the leaders going into round 6 were Danny Gormally and Alexander Cherniaev.
It was now Li Wu's turn to play Danny Gormally. Li, who is one of the strongest teenagers in British Chess, has been playing for Wanstead for about a year. This was going to be a tall order as some 53 grading points separated the players on board 1. Li played a Sicilian Defence, but Danny swept it aside to reach 5½, taking first place because the Webb-Cherniaev game reached an early draw. This result ensured second place outright for Alexander Cherniaev but gave Lawrence Webb the highly-valued British Championship place. Peter Taylor took black against Nick Pert, but once again the difference in ability between a very strong regional player and a world-class IM showed and the game was short and one-sided. John Anderson drew with Jeff Goldberg and thereby retained the R. A. Jones trophy for Essex Champion.
At the prize giving ceremony, after the various winners had been presented with their cheques, the time came to award the SCCU Champion's trophy, which went to Danny Gormally. He was very pleased to win it, and it seemed to mean more to him than the money, commenting "I haven't won a trophy for years!" It will be his to polish until December, when the Hitchin tournament will host the 2003-2004 SCCU title.
The under 160 event was won jointly by Junior players Stewart Trent and Peter Poobalasingham, each scoring 5 points. Stewart begcan with a loss to Peter Byre (Met. Office) and Peter Poobalasingham also began with 1 / 2 as he drew, firstly with Simon Moate and then with Cambridge player John Daugman. Another strong Junior, Dana Hawrami, led after four rounds, but losses in the last two, firstly against William Phillips, and then Stewart, ended his challenge. William Phillips lost to Peter Poobalasingham in round 6.
The under 120 section was won jointly by John Campbell (Roding & Loughton) and Simon Moth (Braintree), again with 5/6. There was a multiple tie for third place as no fewer than 7 players scored 4 points.
|Subin Sen v Tom Winter, rd 2||Stewart Trent's first
round loss did not prevent
him winning first prize
in the under 160.
Gormally v Cherniaev.
Pert awaits Ruston
Anderson v Taylor
|Nick Pert plays the
French v Cherniaev.
For the second time Nick had black in a knight ending.
Cherniaev squeezed out
a win with the last pawn.
|Li Wu's Sicilian proved no match for Danny
Gormally in rd 6.
|Quote of the Championships: Don Dennis (at the bookstall): "Have you got a book which explains how to give up chess?"|
|Danny Gormally, SCCU Champion||John Anderson with the R.A. Jones Trophy.
R.A. Jones, a Southend Jeweller, was a great philanthropist, giving many sports trophies, two sports fields and the 30 acre Priory Park to the people of Southend. The ECA Champions' Cup was first awarded in 1923. R. A. Jones died in 1925.
|Essex u150 Champion Aidan Corish|
Dave Brunt was one of the stalwarts of chess upon whom so many of the rest of us depend but who never receive the plaudits they deserve. The main organiser of the Customs Chess Club, everyone who plays for or against Customs had come to rely upon Dave: he rarely missed a club meeting, opening and closing the premises, making tea, he represented the Club as often as he could, and was always prepared to offer lifts to other team members. He conducted affairs with a quiet good humour.
Although a lifelong Bristol City supporter, Dave was born in Manchester and moved to Bristol as a boy. His accent bore no traces of his northern roots, however. His love of football extended to managing a team for Customs & Excise, for whom he worked in the Computer division for many years.
Dave's chess grade was never much above 100 but, an experienced campaigner, stronger players were never entirely safe from his attacks and he took a few good scalps in his time.
All who knew Dave will miss him terribly and Customs Chess Club will never be the same without him. His death, on 16th May from a cardiac arrest, has robbed us of one of life's gentlemen.
The Woodlands School became a heaving cauldron of chess players as the County's top juniors descended upon Basildon to take part in the Essex Megafinal. The competitors ranged from under 7s, just beginning to find their way in the world of Chess, up to World Title contenders: Li Wu, who swept the board in the under 14 section, represented England in the World Championships last November, scoring a creditable result. Li was the strongest player present, but there was also great experience in the other sections, including British age-group Champions Ezra Lutton and Dana Hawrami, as well as Ezra's brother Josiah, who beat a Russian Grandmaster in open competition last season.
The time control of 20 minutes for all moves is much too rapid for the best players to produce their best chess, but in general the strong players took the points. Perhaps the unluckiest player of the day was Paul Butfield, whose 4 in the under 18 section might have been 6. Poised to deliver mate a rook up against Kyle Bennett, Paul's flag fell and Kyle was deemed the winner because he still had a pawn left; and later Paul had reached a very promising position against top seed Ezra Lutton. Both sides had chances but Paul had a couple of extra pawns which, if he had managed to exchange the queens, would almost certainly have given him a winning position. However, Ezra is a class act and he manufactured a dazzling array of tactics which blew Paul away, winning queen for rook.
Jack Sirkett put in another excellent day's work, winning his age-group for the second year in succession ahead of school team-mate Elliott Holland, but some sections were so tight that a play-off was necessary. In these, Alan Hawrami found a way to win a piece against Josiah Lutton, Ethan Finney defeated Richard Maynes and Angharad Lee accounted for Laura Hough in the under 7s, both players finding it difficult to adjust to the 5-minutes-for-all-moves time control.
Any player scoring 4 points or better will receive an invitation to play in the National Gigafinal at Keele University on 12th & 13th July.
|Ezra Lutton v Jason Klimach.
Ezra gains revenge for last year.
|Lots of chess players||Paul Butfield contemplates
a promising position
|The high boards in
the under 10 section.
|Girls' under 9 & 8 & 7|
|Sarah||Dudley||4||Chingford C Fo E|
|Kelsey Catherine||Phillips||3.5||St Peters|
|Laura||Hough||3||Leigh North Street|
|Caoimhe||Murphy||2.5||Leigh North Street|
|Girls' under 10|
|Melissa||Hirst-Jones||5||Leigh North Street|
|Girls' under 12 & 11|
|Laura||Malbon||4||Leigh North Street|
|Emily||Warner||3.5||St Edwards C of E|
|Samantha||Hardy||3||The John Bramston`|
|Moira||Clarke-Moisley||2.5||St Edwards C of E|
|Boys' under 7|
|Callum Edward||Lambert||4||Thorpe Hall|
|Harry||Woodger||3||Downham C of E|
|Boys' under 8|
|Robert||Gold||6||Chingford C of E|
|Mason||Lang||3.5||Downham C of E|
|Nathaniel||Levine||2.5||R A Butler|
|Boys' under 9|
|Jummy Sheng||Chen||4||Friar's Grove|
|Ronan||Murphy||3||Leigh North Street|
|Charlie||Downes||3||Chingford C of E|
|Hugh||Harding||2||Elm Green Prep|
|Boys' under 10|
|Marcus||Bertuzzo||6||Chingford C of E|
|Peter||Maynes||5||Chingford C of E|
|Jonathan||Migan||5||Chingford C of E|
|William||Cheung||5||St. Cedd's Primary|
|Todd||Goodyear||4.5||Chingford C of E|
|Charlie||Wakeling||4||Leigh North Street|
|Damon||Burgoyne||4||Leigh North Street|
|Liam||Hough||4||Leigh North Street|
|Ike||Okonji||4||West Ham C of E|
|Ashley||Gray||4||Leigh North Street|
|William J.||Garner||4||Dame Bradbury's|
|Dominic||Campling||3||St Peter's Primary|
|James||Garrod||3||Kings road prim|
|Samuel||Woodger||3||Downham C of E|
|Karl||Constantinou||2.5||Downham C of E|
|George||Spencer||2.5||Duwnham C of E|
|Wesley||Ridealgh||2.5||Leigh North St|
|Henry||Omotoso||2||West ham church|
|Aaron Chohan||Kumar||1.5||Barley Lane|
|Alexander||Leggett||0||Downham C E|
|Boys' under 11|
|David||Pedro||5||Woodford Green Prep|
|Michael||Migan||5||Chingford C of E|
|Roland E.S||Johnson||5||Brentwood Prep|
|Jonathan||Bishop||4||St Peter's Primary|
|Nicholas||Campling||4||St Peter's Primary|
|Emeka||Okonji||3||West Ham C of E|
|Jack||Downes||3||Chingford C of E|
|Jamie||Burgoyne||3||Leigh North Street|
|Jonty||Levine||2.5||R A Butler|
|Kristian||Smith||2||West Ham Church|
|Sam||Patmore||1.5||Burnham On Crouch|
|Boys' under 12|
|Dana||Hawrami||6||Ilford County High|
|F Nathanael||Lutton||5||Home Educated|
|Lee||Miles||4||Cecil Jones High|
|David||Page||3.5||Cecil Jones High|
|Faisal||Sharif||3||Ilford Coun High 7Q|
|Daryl||Blows||3||Ceal Jones High|
|Murray||Elsden-James||2||Cecil Jones High|
|Simon||Armstrong||1.5||Cecil Jones High|
|Boys' under 13|
|Ethan T||Finney||5.5||Chingford Foundation|
|Alexander||Hagedorn||4||King Edward VI|
|Calum||Ross||3||The John Bramston|
|Harry David||Gamish||2.5||St.Edwards C of E|
|Boys' under 14|
|Anukhshen||Ruthramanickam||4.5||Ilford County High|
|Sebatian||St. Louis||3.5||Moulsham High|
|Boys' under 15|
|Alan||Hawrami||5.5||Ilford County High|
|E Josiah||Lutton||5.5||Home Educated|
|Jonathan||Hannah||4||King Edward VI|
|Cameron||Ross||2||The John Bramston|
|David||Rees Jones||2||King Edward VI|
|Mixed under 18 & 17 & 16|
|J Ezra||Lutton||5.5||Home Educated|
|Jason||Klimach||4.5||Ilford County High|
|Paul Robert||Butfield||4||Belfairs High|
|Roberto Leonardo||D'elia||1||Ilford County High|
White mates in 2.
|Last week's solution: (Janos Bartsch, 1896) 1. Bb8 and Black is in Zugzwang.|
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