After what must have been a desperately disappointing final round, Karl Mah, Wanstead's and England's top under-16 player, finished on 8 / 11 in the World under-16 Championships held at Cala Galdana, Menorca. Karl's performance, in which he was unbeaten, placed him first equal with 5 others from in a field of more than 80 players, but then Karl was placed 4th on a tie-break.

At the start of the last round, Karl shared the lead with Peter Acs, number 2 seed and Hungary's top player, and these two then played one another. The game was agreed drawn after a mere 19 moves in a position which left very few fighting chances or either side: no pawns had been exchanged, but piece exchanges had left Karl with a bishop pair against his opponent's bishop and knight. Meanwhile, a pack of 8 players were on 7 points, and of the four winners Alik Gershon (Israel) took the Gold Medal ahead of Karen Asrian (Armenia). Peter Acs took Bronze. Fifth place was occupied by Chong Liang (China) and Giorgi Bakhtadze (Georgia) was placed 6th.

The tie-break used in Swiss-paired tournaments such as this is each player's round-by-round sum of progressive scores. Pairings are arranged each round according to score, and Gershon started the tournament with three wins and a draw. The fact that he was amongst the leaders throughout the tournament would have meant that the Israeli player had the toughest opposition possible. Karl began with a win and three draws and it was in round 5 that his title bid really took off as he won three of the next four games. Gershon's sum of progrssives was 52, Karl's 47.

In 1994, Karl won the European under-14 Championship with a marvellously consistent display of controlled attacking chess. In the current tournament, he was unhappy with his form with the white pieces, and indeed of his 6 games with white he won only 1 and drew 5. This is contrasted with this 5 black games in which he won 4 and drew 1. Every chess player knows that to play with the white pieces is an advantage, and a disparity of this sort at this level will certainly give Karl plenty of food for thought over the coming months. Quite clearly, just one more white win would have made him World Champion.

Although it is enormously disappointing to have played so well and then come home without a medal of any shade, taken within the context of the tournament as a whole, Karl's performance was magnificent. He was seeded 21st, the lowest rated of the players who scored 8 points. He played all of the three top seeds, drawing with all of them, and also shared the points with the eventual gold and bronze medallists. He scored a win against Bakhtadze, who was one of the group on 8/11, and another against Halkias (Greece) who finished on 7.5. He was one of only two players in the entire tournament to remain unbeaten, the other being Gershon.

President's Team



E. Dearing Writtle

½ - ½

D. Sands


P. Williamson Southend

½ - ½

R. Smith


D.J. Millward Writtle

½ - ½

R. Purse


R. Watts Upminster

½ - ½

C. Ramage


N. Rugwani Edmonton

½ - ½

J. White


M. Weighell Waltham Forest

1 - 0

C. White


P. Barclay Wanstead

½ - ½

H. Staunton


D. Smith Wanstead

½ - ½

S. Burns


P. Zammit Billericay

0 - 1

N. Pelling


J. Roberts Waltham Forest

1 - 0

M. Medinejah


B. Shephard Grays

½ - ½

J. Pharoah


R. Joyce Powdermill

1 - 0

J. Cooper


R. Payne Ilford

0 - 1

R. Wing


G. Clarke Roding & Loughton

0 - 1

A. Denny


L. Trent Ilford

½ - ½

E. Lodge


N. Went Thamesview

1 - 0

M. Sullivan


S. Trent Ilford

1 - 0

P. Anderson


S. Steptowe Brentwood

0 - 1

A. Mercado


A. Trent Ilford

0 - 1 B. Edwards

J. Burgess Grays

0 - 1

Ray Wing


I. Burgess Grays

0 - 1

M. Huntley

9½ - 11½