Team

P W D L Def Pts

Eastbrook

11 8 2 1 2 18

Wanstead & Woodford I

11 8 2 1 0 18

Ilford I

11 8 1 2 0 17

Writtle

11 7 1 3 5 15

Southend

11 5 3 3 4 13

Powdermill

11 6 0 5 3 12

Edmonton

11 5 1 5 1 11

Brentwood

11 4 1 5 2 9

Upminster

11 3 0 8 4 6

Basildon

11 3 1 7 11 5

Ilford II

11 1 1 9 3 3

Wanstead & Woodford II

11 1 1 9 5 3

Essex League Division 1 Championship play-off

Wanstead

Eastbrook

1

K. Mah

½ ½

D.A. Sands

2

G. Hayes

1 0

R. Nixon

3

T. Donnelly

0 1

R. Smith

4

Ian Hunnable

0 1

K.W. Clow

5

T.D. Whitton

½ ½

C.R. Ramage

6

J.A. Philpott

0 1

R.Purse

7

I.P.Stables

½ ½

J. Davenport

8

K.S. Jones

½ ½

J. White

9

S.A. Taylor

0 1

C. White

10

Paul Barclay

1 0

S. Burns

4 6

After the scheduled matches in the 1995-96 season had all taken place, the Essex League division 1 had joint winners as Wanstead & Woodford had scored the same number of points as Eastbrook. Under normal circumstances the match between the two sides would have been used to break the tie, but since that match was drawn, a play-off was required. By a curious quirk of the rules, Ilford were very close to handing the title to Wanstead: if Ilford had drawn their final match against Writtle, they would have also reached 18 points, but then their results against the two top sides would also have entered into the equation, and since Ilford drew with Eastbrook but lost to Wanstead, that would have given Wanstead the title.

In the play-off, the games were as evenly fought as they had been during the league match at the beginning of the season. Wanstead were 3½ - 2½ ahead at the adjournment. Karl Mah's game against David Sands was level and Ian Hunnable's position against Ken Clow was resignable. Wanstead reckoned to be able to rely on draws from Terry Donnelly and John Philpott and the match would again be tied at 2 wins each and 6 draws. This time, though, board count would be used as a tie break. Wanstead's wins would have been on 2 and 10 whereas Eastbrook's would have been on 4 and 9. Two plus ten makes twelve. Four plus nine makes thirteen, therefore Wanstead would have been the winners.

However, it was a Burns other than the Eastbrook board 10 who wrote "the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft agley", and agley they certainly ganged. It is not clear whether it was John Philpott or Terry Donnelly who was the first resume after the adjournment, but whoever it was did not achieve the desired result and suddenly the onus was on the other to play for a win when he had only been expecting to have to draw. Such situations put players in impossible positions and of course the Wanstead player had to take too many risks and lost. With both these games gone, there was no point in Karl Mah trying to win, as the match was already lost. A draw was agreed on board 1 and Eastbrook won the Silver Rook for the first time in the Club's history.

This is an excellent result for Eastbrook. I certainly would not have backed them at the start of the season, since at full strength Ilford, Wanstead, Southend, Writtle and Powdermill are almost certainly stronger: Eastbrook managed only two draws and a loss against their nearest rivals. However, having lots of players graded over 200 as club members is all very well, but if they don't play as often as one might like or don't produce the results when required, then the team won't win. Eastbrook's is a triumph of good organisation, making the best use of the resources available, and making sure that the weaker teams are well beaten. And, of course, hearty congratulations to Messrs. Smith and Purse for keeping cool heads in moments of crisis.

Miller, Matthew - Hunt, Harriet

Nottingham, 1996

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White to play and win.

Forsyth check: 2r1r2k/1b5p/p2QNq2/3p1P2/3Pp3/8/6RP/6RK

Last week's solution (Veresov - Kukharev, Minsk 1959): 1 Qh6+ Kxh6 2 Rh4+ Kg5 3 f4+ Kxh4 4 g3+ Kh3 5 Bf1 mate