The annual Essex Chess Championships, held at the Longmeads Community centre, Writtle, attracted thirty-three competitors. With the notable exception of Colchester, most areas of the County were well represented.

Eddie Dearing (Chelmsford) was the pre-tournament favourite, but immediately there was an upset as he was well beaten by Andy King (Grays). The other main upset in round 1 was when Bill Saunders (Ilford) lost to Andrew Hartland. At the end of round 2, there were only 4 players on 100%. Jim Burnett (Doncaster) beat Andy Hartland, the Russell White (Writtle) beat Howard Grist (Southend), Kerry Chilvers (Writtle) beat Jack Speigel (Southend) and Steve Collins (Chelmsford) beat Eric Saunders (Ilford).

In the third round, Kerry Chilvers played extremely well to hold Jim Burnett to a draw: Kerry is graded only 142 and Jim is 190. Russell White beat Steve Collins to become the only player to reach 3/3. Andy King, who had drawn with Paul Botham (Ipswich) in round 2, reached 2½ with a win over Matthew Cain (Basildon).

In round 4, Eddie Dearing brought himself back into contention with a fine win over Andy Hartland and Jim Burnett ended Andy King's unbeaten run. Kerry Chilvers played another excellent game, this time dealing with Russell White. Russell, whose grade is 178, is a very inconsistent player. He has won the County Title twice in two years by beating some of the highest graded players in Essex, yet he has trouble "putting away" the 140 and 150 grades. If he can improve this aspect of his game he would probably reach a 200 grade himself. Bill Saunders also won his third game, and Nick Gough (Chelmsford) reached 3 points at Steve Collins' expense. Andrew Brett (Chelmsford) beat Les Crane (Upminster).

Just two players, Kerry Chilvers and Jim Burnett, were on 3½ at the start of the last round. They had already played one another in round 3, so both had to float down to players on 3. Eddie Dearing played Jim and Kerry played Bill Saunders.

The pride of Essex was salvaged as Yorkshire's Jim Burnett was at last beaten, although it took an emigré Scotsman to do it! Russell White beat Paul Botham and Andrew Brett beat Nick Gough to finish on 4. These three victors were joined by Bill Saunders, whose win put an end to Kerry Chilvers' excellent run. Kerry was just one win away from becoming the first player to win the County Championship trophy and the under-150 Championship at the same time. His 3½/5 was plenty for him to take the under-150 title.

The four players on 4/5 (Bill Saunders, Russell White, Andy Brett and Eddie Dearing) will now play off for the title. Howard Grist joined Kerry Chilvers and Jim Burnett on 3½ with a very interesting win against Robin Slade. Robin sacrificed his queen for two pieces and for a long time Howard's king was being buffeted around the board and white was unable to develop his pieces. Eventually, Howard organised his forces and established a stronghold for his king beind a wall of pawns and once that had happened, black was fighting a losing battle. On the adjacent board, Andy King and your correspondent were involved in a hectic game with plenty of mistakes but lots of entertaining chess. A draw was probably a fair result.

Apart from the main prize winners, there were grading prizes for Steve Collins, Andy Brew (Basildon) and Matthew Cain, all of whom played to grades well in excess of their own. Eric Saunders scored 2½ to take the junior prize and make the weekend a profitable one for the Saunders family.