There has been a tendency in recent junior tournaments for entries to be considerably reduced. Roger Sharman would have had a few problems with the older age groups in Colchester last month were it not for the introduction of an Open section to replace the under-18 and under-14s. The extra 18 or so entries engendered by this innovation meant that every section was viable. A week later, the Ipswich event suffered the unthinkable: the under-8 and under-10 sections were so poorly attended that they had to be merged and then the combined entry was only 20 or so. Only three or four years ago these two sections would have totalled 100 players.

In the recent Basildon tournament, Arnold Lutton successfully bucked this trend. He started taking entries a year ago at last year's tournament and since the summer has delivered a pile of entry forms to pretty well every tournament in the South East as well as quite a few in other regions. This policy paid off handsomely as some 185 players sat down to play in no fewer than 6 sections.

This event is unusual and ambitious in that it includes a section for players under six years of age. There were four entries to this section and it was won by a young man named David Howell. He won all six of his games in a double round all-play-all in which the lowest score was 1½.

There were 22 players in the under-8 section, and when Chay Mottley and Jacob Bigio reached 4 / 4 they played one another the predictable draw ensued. Each then progressed to 5½/6. The best Essex players in this section was Lee Wick (Colchester) and Eric Cheung (Harlow) who each scored 4 points and therefore achieved vital qualifying places in the London Finals.

The under-10 section was very large, consisting as it did of 60 competitors, very strong, as most of south-east England's best players in that age group were participating, and very closely contested. After four rounds there were three players on 100%. They were Jessie Gilbert (Surrey), Heather Walker (Southend) and Daniel Diamond (London). Jessie had the downfloat to play David Ridout, another strong player from outside Essex. David won this fairly comfortably, but the game between Heather and Daniel lasted a long time. Heather, playing white, invaded the seventh rank with her rook but after exchanges each player was reduced to a knight and four pawns. Both sides queened, but although Heather queened first, she was unable to take advantage of the check to skewer black's queen on the diagonal as both the available squares were guarded by black pawns. The knights were exchanged and then white proceeded to check black until a draw was offered. Heather declined and, playing for a win when none was there, she allowed black to capture a vital pawn and when the queens were exchanged Daniel proceeded to 5 / 5.

The final round saw Daniel Diamond draw with David Ridout to give Daniel first place, but then wins by Josiah Lutton, Heather Walker, Jason Klimach, Charles Wager and Henry Duncanson allowed all of these people to join David Ridout on 5/6, making second place very crowded indeed. The unfortunate Jessie Gilbert lost both of her last two rounds, having played three of the group on 5. It was very welcome to see Charles Wager scoring well, a tribute to the coaching skills of Ivor Smith. The Chelmsford area has produced few strong juniors in recent years.

The under-12 section was also very large, no less strong, and even more closely contested. There were some early surprises as Graham Walker, Katie Bates, Matthew Jellett and John Sneesby all lost to players from the bottom half of the draw. Graham fought his way back into contention with four wins, but then Bobby Payne won the final round against him. Christopher Hansell was on 5 / 5, but lost to Timothy Woodward so that Bobby, Timothy and Christopher shared first place. There was a group of four players on 4½, one of them being John Sneesby.

Bobby had a piece of luck in one game. His opponent was played the first two moves of a combination which forced Bobby's queen in front of his king. Had black then played a bishop check from h2, the king would have been forced to abandon the queen and black would have been queen for bishop up in an ending. Black missed this possibility and Bobby went on to win.

There were some strange goings-on in the under-14 section. Alex O'Neill had what should have been an easy game in the first round, as his opponent had a low rating and was apparently unaccustomed to playing with a clock. Alex started well enough, but something went wrong along the way and he lost a rook. The game simplified into an easily won ending for Alex's opponent, who carefully queened a pawn, won Alex's bishop and then, with Alex down to a bare king, proceeded to deliver stalemate with queen and rook. Alex recovered from this setback (bonus?) to finish on 3½. The section winner was Matthew Broomfield (London) who scored 6/6.

The under-18 section was a tie between Eddie Dearing (Chelmsford) and Martin Taylor (Kent). Eddie, who is much higher rated than Martin, dropped half-a-point when they played in round 3. Martin, it appeared, was familiar with a particular line of the English Opening in which White can forced a draw after relatively few moves. Perhaps the revelation of this section was the performance of Lawrence Trent, aged 10, who was sole leader after his third round, in whch he inflicted spectacular defeat upon no less a person than Richard Watts, British Champion at under-14 level. Sadly, Lawrence's 100% after 3 rounds became 50% after 6.

Speelman,J (2625) - Kramnik,V (2765) [A07]

CS Masters, Geneva , 1996

1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Bg4 3.Bg2 Nd7 4.d4 e6 5.0-0 Ngf6 6.Nbd2 Be7 7.Re1 0-0 8.e4 c5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.h3 Bh5 11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.a3 Qc7 13.Qe2 Rfd8 14.Nf1 a5 15.Ne3 Nb6 16.Ng4 Ncd7 17.Bf4 Qc4 18.Qxc4 Nxc4 19.Nfe5 Ndxe5 20.Nxe5 Nd6 21.g4 Bg6 22.c4 Rac8 23.Rac1 Bf8 24.b4 axb4 25.axb4 Nxc4 26.Nxg6 hxg6 27.Bxb7 Rd4 28.Be3 Nxe3 29.Rxc8 Nc4 30.Ra1 Nb6 31.Rb8 Rxb4 32.Bc6 g5 33.Ra6 Nd5 34.Rd8 Nb6 35.Ra7 g6 36.Rb7 Nc4 37.Rxb4 1-0