The annual North Essex Congress, played at the Braintree Leisure Centre, attracted 139 players to the four sections. Nineteen of these participated in the Open, and there were no enormous surprises when Karl Bowden (Writtle) and Chris Dunworth (Croydon) shared first place with 4/5, Karl taking the North Essex title. Mark Ferguson (Cambridge University) might have been expected to do somewhat better than his 3 points, but he was beaten by John Friedland (Wood Green). Mark also drew with Russell White, but Russell's Jekyll & Hyde character was again in evidence for, having shared the spoils with an International Master strength player, he then came down to earth when he lost to 12-year-old Matthew Lewsey. Matthew's appetite for playing strong opposition is undiminished, and these days he is achieving increasingly better results. David Anderson and Shaun Munson will vouch for that, as they were both held to draws. Matthew completed the tournament on 2/5.

The under-160 section was contested by 36 players, and 14-year-old Simon Armour (Southend) looked to be running away with the event when he won all three of his games on the first day, including an impressive tactical win against one of the highest graded players in the section, Terry Turner (Powdermill). Sadly for Simon, he did not add to his overnight score, but his 3 points were sufficient for him to share in the under-140 grading prize with five others. The section winner was Les Crane (Upminster) with 4½, and Peter Byford (Braintree), Andrew Hartland (Writtle) and Richard Weeber (Grays) each managed 4.

The largest section was the under-130s, with 51 sitting down to play. Here, there was a 7-way tie for first place, amongst Paul Bloom (Chislehurst), Ken Butcher, Alex Cater and Jim West (all Braintree), Geoff Elliston (Wickford), Christopher Lovisa (Bishops Stortford) and 10-year-old Peter Titmas (Maidstone), all scoring 4/5. David Lilley (Braintree)won the under-110 Grading Prize with 3 points, and Iain Gunn (Maldon) won the Junior Prize with 3.

The only 100% score was achieved in the 33-player under-100 section, when Paul Stukas (Chelmsford) scored 5/5. His nearest rivals were Trevor Adams (Chelmsford) and David Roberts (Woodpushers), each scoring 4. Dominic Allen (Powdermill) won the junior prize with 3½.

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The fixtures for the Essex teams at under-150 , under-125 and under-100 are included below with a couple of provisos. Middlesex are currently without a home venue as a result of Chess & Bridge Ltd. no longer making their premises available. There is a possibility that the Imperial College in South Kensington may become home to the Middlesex teams, but if that is confirmed it will is very unlikely to be in time for the under-150s match on 12th October. John Philpott, the Essex under-175 Team Captain, has already agreed to a postponement of the away match against Middlesex scheduled for this coming Saturday, and at present no further date has been confirmed. In addition, the under-100's match on 14th December will almost certainly have to be re-arranged. Alan Trent, the under-100's Captain, just happens to be father of two of the strongest juniors in the County, and it is expected that junior players will occupy many of the places in this team. The Hertfordshire match co-incides with the London Junior Championships under-14, under-10 and under-8 sections and it therefore seems most unwise to play it on the scheduled date.

Under-150

Under-125

Under-100

12/10/96

Middlesex (a)

5/10/96

Herts (h)

19/10/96

Kent (a)

2/11/96

Sussex (a)

23/11/96

Sussex (a)

2/11/96

Surrey (h)

30/11/96

Kent (h)

7/12/96

Kent (a)

16/11/96

Herts (a)

18/1/97

Herts (h)

11/1/97

Oxon (h)

14/12/96

Herts (h)

15/2/97

Surrey (a)

8/3/97

Surrey (a)

18/1/97

Kent (h)

1/3/97

Surrey (a)

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