The Annual General Meeting of the Essex Chess Association was held at Wanstead house recently. The normal business of AGMs was pursued, which was mostly concerned with officers' annual reports and the election of the said officers for a further term. One officer who did not stand for re-election was the outgoung Chairman, Ivor Smith. I have to confess that I have never really appreciated what it is that the Chairman of the ECA does, since it is the President who chairs all the meetings! Ivor will stay on the Committee as Publicity Officer, a post which over the next two years will assume a greater significance than usual as the County Association will be celebrating its Centenary in 1998. One task that Ivor has set himself is the publication of a historical work researching chess throughout the County: the first recorded match which he has so far discovered was one between Colchester and Bury St. Edmunds in 1850 in which the noses of the gentlefolk of Colchester were put severely out of joint when the yokels of St. Edmundsbury gave them a drubbing!

There was a reversion in the post of Match Captain, when Richard Manning carried out his threat that his tenure would be for one season only. John Cooke resumes this role. Richard Joyce, who has performed excellently as Captain of the under-125 team, was elected to the post of Assistant Match Captain. David Smith carries on as Treasurer and Harold Sims as General Secretary. David Millward continues as League Secretary and your correspondent as Junior Organiser.

Perhaps the most significant statement was that of Joe Rosenberg, who assured the meeting that this year will be his last as President and the Association would be obliged to find a replacement for the 1997 AGM.

There were fewer trophies to be awarded than one would normally expect. The most notable absentee in this respect was the Silver Rook, awarded to the winning team in the First Division. Since Wanstead & Woodford have yet to play off against Eastbrook, there was no winning team in that division. The Second Division was won by Grays, whose tally of 8 wins, one draw and one loss was identical to that of Billericay. Unfortunately for Billericay, their one loss, to Grays, is used as a tie-break in such situations, and it will be Grays I who will be promoted to the first division to take the place of Wanstead II. Edmonton II confirmed that club's credentials as members of the Essex League by winning Division 3. This too was on a tie-break but Edmonton beat rivals Waltham Forest II Southend III in the respective matches. Division 4 was won by Eastbrook V.

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The World's Largest Chess Tournament was concluded recently at the Nottinghamshire County Hall. The "Intel" Chess Challenge was initially sponsored by the computer giant, but their untimely withdrawal left the tournament in limbo until the Rotary Club stepped in to fill the void.

This tournament initially involved some 22000 children in 700 schools throughout the country. Each school organised a 7-round team Swiss between January and Easter and the leading players were invited to a "Megafinal", of which there were some 15 or so in different regions of the country. Any player scoring 4.5 or better in their age group in the Megafinal qualified for the Gigafinal, which was the tournament held in Nottingham. Unfortunately for otherwise interested parents, the Sunday of the Test Match was a rest day, so there was nothing to be gained from strolling across the road to the Trent Bridge ground.

There were many from Essex who participated, and most travelled to Nottingham on the Saturday in order to take on the Great & Good in Simultaneous Displays. Nigel Short was one of the stars in attendance and he made short work of all of his opponents, including Danbury's Jonathan Death. Harriet Hunt, Britain's highest graded junior and strongest female player, did not have it all her own way. She lost two games, both against Essex players. Matthew Miller (Colchester) pushed two strong passed pawns down the middle of the board and Lawrence Trent (Ilford) took advantage of the Harriet's pieces becoming rather entangled with one another and launched a mating attack.

The Sunday tournaments were near misses for Essex schools. A Pentium PC was on offer to the school with the highest score from its two best competitors. Lawrence and Stewart Trent managed 9½/12 between the, representing Thorpe Hall school, Walthamstow. Stewart's excellent 5½/6 won him first place in the under-8 section and was the best score by an Essex player. Temple Sutton (Southend) were also amongst the leading schools, with five members playing in different sections. Nicholas and Matthew Jellett were the highest scorers for Temple Sutton, with 5 and 4½ respectively. The winning school was Newcastle RGS, whose under-11s were overpowering. Their best two scored 11/12.