There will be many Essex players making the jouney to Nottingham in order to participate in this event, and many of these will be juniors. In order to prepare as thoroughly as possible, Ilford club member Howard Berlin decided to organise a training tournament for the best under-12s in the Redbridge area, as well as inviting strong players from outside. The bulk of the training was carried out by David Rumens.
There were two notable upsets in round 1. James Berlin was well beaten by Shaun Alley and Daniel Carter pulled off a fine win against Ezra Lutton, who mis-played the black side of he Scotch. The pre-tournament favourite was Lorin-d'Costa, Hertfordshire's top junior, and he had his work cut out against John Sneesby, who is surely amongst the most improved of the County's junior players this year. John only just made it into the reserves (board 24) for the Essex under-11 side this year, but if the team were to be picked again now he would not be lower than board 10. Lorin had been under a lot of pressure until he managed to win a pawn and ground out the win in the endgame.
In round 2, Lawrence Trent played Lorin, and this too was a close contest. Lawrence was under some pressure from the opening, but negotiated the problems at the cost of a pawn. When the endgame arrived, each player had a rook and a knight and Lawrence won his pawn back. Unfortunately, he then went for exchanges, thinking that this was the route to a draw. All that happened was that Lorin's more active king won a vital pawn and this time there was no recovery. Graham Walker won a close game against Daniel Caps (London). Josiah Lutton salvaged the family honour against Daniel Carter, Lydia Goodwin (Buckinghamshire) beat Heather Walker and Christopher Dixon (Surrey) beat Stewart Trent. By the end of the first day, Lorin had justified his seeding as one of only three players on 3/3. Lydia Goodwin was another and the third was Christopher Dixon. It was a disappointing finish to the first day for the Essex contingent as three Essex players also reached 2/2. Lorin beat Bobby Payne, who played a very good fighting game and had the better of it, overlooking a win in a knight & pawns ending and then allowing Lorin to exchange the knights in favourable circumstances; Lydia beat Josiah Lutton rather more quickly than might have been expected; and Christopher played a hair-raising and extremely risky attack against Graham Walker which paid off only when Graham forgot that bishops can move backards and dropped a knight. Even then black had reasonable chances as white's pieces were under-developed.
The second day started with a good result for John Sneesby against Graham Walker. Graham attacked well but was unable to break through after opposite sides castling, and when John elected to exchange queens he missed a stronger continuation. With a rook and bishop each, John then went into his shell but Graham played too quickly, missing the best line which would have won him a pawn. Even so, with best play it should have been drawn. Then John opened the g-file and with his bishop on the long diagonal Graham had to lose two pawns. He managed to exchange rooks into an opposite coloured bishops ending which initially looked hopeless for white until he managed to imprison Black's king. The only way now to make progress was to lose a queen-side pawn after which the game was almost certainly drawn. Just to make sure, John then forgot about the en passant rule which levelled things completely.
Lorin beat Lydia and Christopher floated down to play Lawrence Trent, a game which Lawrence won without difficulty. Heather Walker beat Josiah Lutton to join the chasing group on 3.
Lorin had now dealt with the main opposition and he now floated down to play Stewart Trent. Stewart is a very promising 8-year-old, but Lorin is a season England under-11 International and the game was rather one-sided. Graham Walker achieved another draw against Oliver Luen in which Oliver missed a mate in 3, instead giving Graham a piece. Once again Graham moved too quickly and blundered it back again. Bobby Payne beat Christopher Dixon and Lydia Goodwin beat Ezra Lutton in a tournament he will want to forget. Lawrence Trent also moved on to four points with a double-edged win against Heather Walker.
In the final round, Lorin made certain of first place with a draw against James Berlin, but subsequent analysis showed that James could have won had he played on. Bobby Payne beat Lydia Goodwin and Lawrence Trent beat Edward Morris to finish on 5. Stewart Trent finished the tournament with another tough pairing, this time against Graham Walker, and Graham won. Christopher Dixon beat Heather Walker and also reached 4 points.
The concensus was that this was a very worthwhile tournament and that David Rumens' coaching was of great benefit to the players. They should be well equipped to do battle in Nottingham.
Trent, Lawrence - Dixon, Christopher
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Be7 5.e5 Qd7 6.c3 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.0-0 f6 9.Re1 fxe5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.dxe5 g6 12.Nf3 0-0-0 13.Qe2 Rf8 14.b4 Kb8 15.a4 g5 16.a5 g4 17.Nd4 c5 18.Bb5 Qc8 19.Nc2 c4?? 20.axb6 axb6 21.Be3 Bd8 22.Nd4 Ne7 23.Qa2 Kc7 24.Qa7 h5 25.Nf5 Nc6 26.Bxc6 Kxc6 27.Nd6 Qd7 28.b5+ Kc7 29.Qxb7# 1-0