The London Junior Championships began their second session between Chrstmas and the New Year at the Bishop Douglass School, Finchley. The youngest age groups' competitions were held before Christmas and now it was the turn of the under-12s, under-16s and under-21s to do battle.

The under-21, which incorporated the under-18, was a considerably smaller tournament than the other two, and had no local interest as there were no Essex competitors amongst the twenty or so high calibre players involved. The joint winners were Simon Ansell (Oxford), who took the under-21 title, and David Moscowicz (Kent) who won the under-18 for the second time. On 4½ were Simon Bibby (Kent) and Roland Cole (Cornwall).

The under-16 championships included five players from Essex. The Ilford contingent consisted of Tim Hebbes and Thomas O'Brien; from further afield were Chris Bates (Colchester), Iain Gunn (Maldon) and Ellen Walker (Southend). Tim and Thomas performed well. Tim was amongst the leaders from the start. His first round was against the current British Girls' champion at under-14 level, Josephine Badger (Norfolk). In Swansea, Tim lost to Josephine, but on this occasion he exacted revenge. A position was reached in which Josephine, playing white, had a knight and an h-pawn whereas Tim had a dark-squared bishop and g- and f-pawns. It looked as though it should have been possible for white to sacrifice the knight for the two pawns and force a draw, but if that possibility did exist then clearly Josephine missed it. In the next three rounds, Tim drew with Thomas Dougherty (Richmond), beat Sujit Kapadia (Richmond) and Matthew George. He then lost a crunch match against Alex Edmans (Berkshire) before finishing with a draw against Ross Rattray (Richmond). Tim's final score of 4/6 was a point behind that of Alex Edmans, who won the event.

Thomas lost in round one to Sujit Kapadia but then won comfortably against Jaimini Kothari (Surrey). A draw against Ross Rattray in round 3 was followed by a win against Lucy Broomfield (London). Two more draws against Matthew George and Stephen Deall saw him through to 3½/6, a very respectable score in a strong section.

The under-12 section, with 130 competitors, was not so large as last year. Neither was it so strong, as several of the leading players in the age-group absented themselves. In spite of this, the winning score of 8½/9 by Nicholas Kingston-Smith (Richmond) was an outstanding achievement. His draw, against Matthew King (Wey Valley) in round 8, was a trifle fortuitous as Matthew missed a refinement in a king-and-pawns ending which would have won the game for him.

Eleven players from Essex took part in the event, and the leading score was by Ezra Lutton (Basildon). Ezra's 6 points were very well earned indeed, as he played on high boards throughout. Typically, Ezra would make an error in the opening and lose some material, but then apply himself so thoroughly to the task in hand that he fought his way back from seemingly impossible positions to win games. This was an excellent fighting performance. Graham Walker (Southend) started badly with a careless loss to a weak player, but then rallied well with five wins in the next six games. The best of these was against Lorin d'Costa (Herts). Lorin has done extremely well during the past six months or so, winning a number of the qualifying tournaments to London. In the game against Graham, he played rather weakly and allowed a strong king-side attack to develop, and a neat bishop sacrifice soon forced mate.

Very solid performances by Kate Bates (Colchester), Luke Tomkinson (Southend) and Lawrence Trent (Ilford) left each of them on 5 points. A score of 5/9 or better in this tournament is an excellent boost for players hoping for an England place later in the year.

Other scores by Essex competitors were Jonathan Death's 4½, 4 points by James Berlin and Heather Walker (in Heather's case she won all three rounds on the last day) and 3 points each for David Gunn, Matthew Miller and Josiah Lutton.

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The nominations for an England trial at under-11 level were submitted at the start of the above tournament, and it was decided that the five year 6 children (Graham Walker, Luke Tomkinson, Jonathan Death, Matthew Miller and David Gunn) should receive nominations. This left one place for a year 5 pupil, which went to Ezra Lutton. The trial takes place in April and Essex has a right to two places. Any further places will be allocated from the above list by the England selectors on merit.

Lutton, J. Ezra - Arefin, Sami

London u12, 1995

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