The 47th Essex Chess Association Congress was held for the first time at Woodlands School, Basildon, and it cannot be said that it was an unqualified success in spite of the hard work of John Sargent and the remainder of the ECA Congress Committee. There were insufficient entries to support an Open Championship and a "Premier" was hastily formed from the few entrants that there were, with greatly reduced prize money. The Major tournament, for players graded under 150, and the Minor, for those under 110, went ahead as planned, but the total entry for the entire Congress was only 98.

Precisely why this was is not entirely clear. Some London-based players no doubt stayed away because of the extra travelling involved (for many years the event has been held in one of the London borough schools which for chess purposes is considered to be Essex). Others were unhappy about the entry fee, which at £25 for the Open might well have dissuaded some competitors.No doubt the Congress Committee will come to a suitable conclusion in plenty of time for next year's event.

The Premier tournament involved fourteen players, and the proceedings were so thoroughly dominated by Scottish 15-year-old Eddie Dearing that by the end of the second day he had a lead of 1½ points with two rounds to go. Originally from Perth, Eddie now lives in Chelmsford and attends the Rainsford School. Such has been the improvement in his chess during the past twelve months that he must now be a serious threat to Karl Mah's hitherto unrivalled supremacy amongst the juniors of Essex. Eddie agreed draws in both of his games on the last day, although in both cases he rejected aggressive lines of play which may well have been winning for him in favour of more solid lines which assured him of first place in the event. Three players shared second place on 4 points. They were Robert McFarland (Lichfield), Andrew Stone (Pinner) and John Friedland (Wood Green).

Another junior dominated the Major tournament, in this case one with no Essex connections whatsoever, other than that he regularly seems to help himself to prize money when he visits the County! Thirteen-year-old Toby Stock (Folkestone) scored 5/6, half a point ahead of four others, to take the £240 first prize. Toby's one loss was to Matthew Broomfield (South Norwood), a mere twelve-year-old, but Matthew finished amongst the group in second place. Jack Speigel (Southend) also scored 4½ as did John Simmons (Wanstead) and Chris Briscoe (Hampton).

In the Minor section, the first prize was actually won by someone old enough to vote. Geoffrey Bishop (Lewisham) scored an impressive 5½/6 to finish half-a-point ahead of Steve Collins (Chelmsford) 5. Three players shared third place on 4½. They were Barry Archer (Hadleigh), William McLaughlin (Metropolitan) and 12-year-old Simon Thanesan (Maidstone).


The AGM of the Essex Chess Association will take place at Wanstead house on Tuesday 25th June commencing at 7.30 p.m. The agenda will include the usual Officers' Reports and Presentation of Trophies and it is likely that the meeting will continue to about 10.30.