The fourth annual Essex Primary Schools Rapidplay Championships took place at Temple Sutton School in Southend and attracted a total of 18 teams from around the County. This was a considerably reduced number of teams from last year, but much of the difference was accounted for by the absence of just two schools: in previous years, Danbury Park School has produced fine teams, trained and organised by Sheila Deeth. Here is an ample illustration of how fragile is the organisation which produces good players. The Deeth family emigrated to the USA and none of the other parents or teachers at the school could find the time, inclination or confidence to pick up where Sheila had left off, and Danbury Park School was absent. The other school which supplied many teams last year but none this was Thorpedene in Shoeburyness.

For the first time, St. Teresa's school (Colchester), entered the competition and they have been one of the County's strongest schools for some years, twice winning British Schools' Championships. Thorpe Hall School (Walthamstow) entered a team into the under-11 Championship and with Lawrence Trent on board 1 and his brother Stewart on board 2 they were certainly a force to be reckoned with. The other strong side, and without a doubt the favourite, was the host school Temple Sutton, whose under-11 team consisted of the top four members of the team which won last year's National under-9 school's title.

In the under-11 competition, the first round provided five matches which were won by the score of 4 - 0. The winning schools were Thorpe Hall, St. Teresa's, Temple Sutton, Prince Avenue (Westcliff) and Doggetts School (Rochford). Prince Avenue performed particularly well, beating another school's A team, and Doggetts played the "odd" under-9 side: although there were 18 teams, there were 15 in the under-11 and 5 in the under-9. It was decided that the lowest scoring team from each section would play one another each round, but no under-11 team would have two matches against an under-9, and vice versa.

The second round paired Prince Avenue against Briscoe (Basildon) and the Basildon side won 3 - 1. Thorpe Hall scored a relatively straightforward win against Doggetts, but the real battle was between Temple Sutton and St. Teresa's. Temple Sutton were expected to win on boards 2, 3 and 4 where the Jellett twins and Tye Byram were operating, but Katie Bates, who was on board 1 for St. Teresa's, is a very tough player at under-11 level. She won a pawn against Heather Walker but then castled queen-side into a knight fork which cost her her queen for the knight. Katie played as actively as she could with her remaining pieces and succeeded in posting both rooks on the seventh rank. However, this was the moment Heather had been waiting for and she calmly gave up her queen for both rooks. Now a whole rook up the remainder of the game was a formality and the 4 - 0 score was probably the worst result that St. Teresa's have ever suffered.

The third round was a forced pairing as Temple Sutton played Thorpe Hall. Once again, boards 3 and 4 were expected to be won by Temple Sutton, but the top two boards would be well matched. Nicholas Jellett, on board 2, scored a fine win against Stewart Trent. Lawrence, who has yet to lose a game against Heather, played a Sicilian Dragon, but Heather's king-side attack was not sufficient. Lawrence's defence was adequate and eventually he queened a pawn and checkmated with little more than a minute of his time left.

The final round paired Temple Sutton against Briscoe, and once again the score was 4 - 0, although the sister / brother partnership of Van and Sammy Trinh ut up some stern resistance against Heather Walker and Matthew Jellett. Indeed, Sammy at one point declined the offer of a draw as he had a lot of pieces gathered around Nicholas's king. St. Teresa's received their second 4 - 0 drubbing of the afternoon, this time by Thorpe Hall, proving beyond reasonable doubt that the stranglehold that St. Teresa's and Temple Sutton have exerted on Primary Schools' Chess in Essex for the past 6 years has, at least, been partially broken. Lawrence Trent was especially pleased to have beaten Katie Bates, as he threw away a won position against her in the recent Rapidplay championship in Colchester.

The under-9 title was won easily by Temple Sutton. Since Stewart Trent was playing in an under-11 team, Daniel Hedges and Tom Swift had little opposition on boards 1 and 2. Indeed, Daniel scored an important win against Edward Morris (Earls Hall), the only player likely to disturb the Temple Sutton domination.

The winning sides in each section received the Essex Primary Schools' Championship shields and a chess clock. The highest scoring player on each board in each section was awarded a chess book, donated by B.T.Batsfords. The winning under-11 players were Lawrence Trent (board 1); Nicholas Jellett (board 2); Matthew Jellett (board 3); and a tie between Tye Byram (Temple Sutton) and Michael Francis (Prince Avenue), all of these playes scoring 4/4. In the under-9s, the prizes went to the entire Temple Sutton team of Daniel Hedges, Tom Swift, Chris Haynes and Adam Hindley. Adam scored 3/4 and the others all scored 4.

The next junior chess event in Essex is the Basildon Rapidplay, on 17th November at the Woodlands School. The organiser for this event, a London Junior Championships Qualifier, is Arnold Lutton (01268 280932).