The annual Essex Team Blitz tournament took place at Ilford Chess Club's headquarters in Tanners Lane and an unusually large number of 14 teams entered. This was reduced to 13 when it became clear that Ken Groce was the sole represent of Powdermill II. Ken eventually played for Upminster, replacing Roy Watts who generously volunteered to stand down in order to assist Ivor Smith with the organisation. With thirteen rounds required for the all-play-all format, the time limit was reduced to 6 minutes per player per game.

The pre-tournament favourites were Wanstead I, as the quartet of Karl Mah, Gerry Hayes, Marc Bautista and Lawrie Marden were graded on average at a cool 192. As is often the case at such exhausting time controls, play ranged from the brilliant to the bizarre. The ultimate in the bizarre must surely have been the game in which Karl Bowden, the highest rated by quite some way, left his king in check for three consecutive moves before his opponent captured it. This oversight cost Karl a share of the prize for the best score by a board 1.

The event was very close, with no one team achieving consistently high scores on all boards. After 10 rounds the leaders were Southend on 29½, closely followed by Writtle on 28, Wanstead on 25½ and Cavendish on 24½. However, Southend and Writtle were still to meet and neither had yet had the nought-point bye, so Wanstead were looking to be well placed. Cavendish played Wanstead in round 11 and inflicted a 4 - 0 thrashing upon the favourites, storming through the last two rounds to win the title. Cavendish lost only once, to Eastbrook.

The individual board prizes were awarded to Michael Twyble (Southend) for his 10/12 on board 1; Z. Harari (Cavendish) scored 10 on board 2; Russell White (Writtle) and Dave Sherman (Cavendish) each scored 11 on board 3; and the board 4 prize was won by Bill Saunders (Ilford) for his 11/12.

In the individual lightning, which was played after lunch, there was a three-way tie between Philip Rossiter (Cavendish), Russell White (Writtle) and Paul Barclay (Wanstead), each scoring 4/5. This was an especially good result for Paul, whose grade of 145 placed him in the bottom half of the draw. He lost round 1 to Philip Rossiter, but then won the rest, including what must have been a very satisfying last round win over Jeff Goldberg. There were three players on 3½.

One surprising visitor to this event was Nicholas Timms, a Somerset junior who is this year's England captain at under-11 level. However, the prize for the best junior was won most impressively by 9-year-old Bobby Payne, of the Ilford club. Bobby scored 3/5, losing only to Z. Harari and Lawry Marden but beating no less a personage than Joe Rosenberg, the ECA President. Tim Hebbes took the prize for the second junior with 2½.

(Ackniowledgments: Ivor Smith)

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For some years Essex has been fairly well off for Captains of the County teams. There was a time when we could only muster one captain and therefore ran only one team, but for the past few seasons we have managed to raise 5 teams to participate in the various competitions run by the Southern Counties' Chess Union. This year, John Cooke returns as Captain of the first team, to replace Richard Manning, and Richard Joyce will continue to captain one of the teams, probably the under-125s. This leaves vacancies for the under-175 team, formerly captained by Stuart Bates; the under-150s, formerly captained by Mark Tucker; and the Tom Allen's retirement from the post of Captain of the under-100s leaves a vacancy there. A possible candidate has been found for this last, but there are definitely vacancies at this stage for the under-175s and the under-150s. Many Essex players have benefitted from the work done by the outgoing captains, and the ideal candidate would be an existing member of one of the teams. If a reader feels that he or she is up to the job of captaining a County side (normally a 16-board match, of which there would be about 5 between October and May, held on Saturday afternoons) then please contact Joe Rosenberg on 0181 554 2232.