Essex

Kent

1

Jonathan Rogers

0 1

N. McDonald (GM)

2

Andrew Lewis

0 1

P. J. Morris (IM)

3

Andreas Plüg

1 0

D. Gormally

4

Karl Mah

0 1

S. Brown

5

Michael Twyble

0.5 0.5

C. Cooley

6

Jon Manley

1 0

C. Chandler

7

David Sands

0.5 0.5

R.G. Eales

8

Graham Moore

1 0

A. Hanreck

9

Gary Kenworthy

0.5 0.5

D. Moskovic

10

John Hodgson

1 0

A. Harakis

11

David Sherman

0.5 0.5

R.M.R. O'Kelly

12

Jeff Goldberg

0 1

J.D. Wager

13

Jim Burnett

1 0

P.P. Taylor

14

John Moore

0.5 0.5

D. Farndon

15

Bill Saunders

0.5 0.5

J.N. Sugden

16

Russell White

0.5 0.5

C.P. Rice

8.5 7.5

This was a pulsating match in which neither side could establish any lasting domination. Essex were marginally outgraded by their opponents, the home team "weighing in" at an average grade of 199, while the Kent players tipped the balance at 201. Indeed, the biggest difference between the two sides' grades occurred on boards 1 and 2 where each Essex player was outgraded by 11 points. Having said that, the new board 3 for Essex caused something of a stir. Andreas Plüg, a recent addition to the Colchester club, was estimated to be a 214 grade on the basis of his FIDE rating, achieved in Germany. However, the consummate ease with which he despatched Danny Gormally, himself a seasoned and highly rated player, led to some speculation that Andreas may well be much stronger.

Neil McDonald demonstrated why he is a Grandmaster in his game against Jonathan Rogers and International Master Philip Morris had the better of the game against Andrew Lewis: both Essex players were in superb form last year. Simon Brown, having changed his allegiance from Middlesex, scored the point against Karl Mah but Jon Manley and Graham Moore were both on excellent form. Graham has been representing Writtle in the Essex league this season, and will no doubt improve their chances of winning the League Title.

With the scores level and only three games to go, Essex appeared to be heading for defeat. In the context of the match as a whole, perhaps the key game was that on board 12 between Jim Burnett and P.P. Taylor. The Essex player stood considerably worse during the early middle-game and at this level recovery to the extent turning the game round from loss to win is relatively rare. However, some smart work enabled Jim to score the whole point.

All attention now rested on the outstanding games in which Michael Twyble had a clear advantage against Chris Cooley and Bill Saunders was a piece adrift against John Sugden. This was not too alarming from the Essex point of view as, with the unexpected win on board 12, one point from two games would be sufficient. With no more than five minutes of the match remaining, Michael played an inferior line and Cooley grabbed his drawing opportunity with both hands. Bill Saunders was still battling against Sugden, who had very little time remaining and the onlookers must have found it very difficult not to release that tell-tale audible gasp when Sugden blundered a piece. Now it was an Essex player's turn to grab an opportunity to draw a game which should have been beyond him, and Bill succeeded in steering the game to safety, thereby winning the match for Essex by the narrowest of margins.

D. Gormally (Kent) v A. Plüg (Essex)

SCCU County Championship 1996

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e5 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 g6 6.g3 Bg7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.Nge2 Nh5 9.0-0 Nd7 10.a3 a6 11.Rb1 f5 12.f4 exf4 13.gxf4 fxe4 14.Nxe4 Ndf6 15.Ng5 Bf5 16.Ne6 Qe7 17.Nc3 Ng4 18.Nxg7 Kxg7 19.Ra1 Rae8 20.Qf3 Qh4 21.h3 Ng3 22.hxg4 Bxg4 23.Qf2 Rf5 24.b4 Re2 25.Bb2 Rxf2 26.Rxf2 Rh5 27.Ne4+ Kf8 28.Nxg3 Qxg3 29.Rc1 cxb4 30.axb4 Bf5 31.Bd4 Be4 0 - 1