The King's Head Chess Club, which used to meet at the Bayswater pub of that name, remains one of Britain's leading Chess Clubs, with many of the country's strongest players as members. The Club now meets at the Durham Castle, having left the King's Head as a result of the shortsighted policy of the brewer, who allowed a national refurbishment policy to override local demands.

The Club has given its name to a number of significant tournaments, the most recent of which, the King's Head Rapidplay, attracted some 200 competitors. This event, played at the Porchester Hall, was well supported by International players and Michael Adams, the Cornish Grandmaster who helped England take the Gold Medals in the European Championships in Croatia last month, was everybody's favourite to take the first prize. However, there were many other titled players whose intention it was to stop him if possible, including Susan Lalic and Harriet Hunt, two of the three members of the England Women's side which took Bronze in Croatia, Darshan Kumaran (Finchley), an International Master who a few years ago won a World Junior title, and IM Aaron Summerscale.

The event was an accelerated Swiss, in which the first round pairings bring together the top quarter against the second quarter, thereby keeping the grading difference between opponents to a minimum, and assuming that players in the third quarter who pick up early points against the rabbits will be severly dealt with later on should they ever get to play any of the strongest players.

Several Essex players participated in the event, the strongest of them being Jim Burnett (Writtle) who won well enough in round 1, but was then obliged to play on top board against Michael Adams. However, undeterred by the loss of this game, Jim then dealt with a succession of strong Juniors culmnating in the excellent round 5 game in which he beat Simon Williams, a Surrey-based 16 year old who already has at least one IM norm to his name. After a loss in the final round, Jim's tally was 4/6.

Jim's round 4 game was a North Essex League encounter against 13-year-old Matthew Lewsey. Matthew had played particularly well in the first two rounds and his reward for this was a pairing against WGM Susan Lalic, a tremendous experience for a youngster. Matthew's final tally of 4 points earned him the prize for the best score in his age group.

At the very top of the tournament, Michael Adams was proving unbeatable, and indeed his final tally of 6/6 surprised no-one. Two other players reached 4/4. Steve Berry, one of the top Middlesex County players, was having a particularly good tournament, and Susan Lalic had dealt with a succession of strong Juniors (Mark Roberts, Nathan Alfred, Matthew Lewsey and Miroslav Houska) in rounds 1 - 4 before having to play Adams. Her final round win, against King's Head player David Okike, left her in second place on 5/6. Steve Berry floated down to play Darshan Kumaran. Kumaran had previously dropped half-a-point against J. Constance, and he was held to an exciting time-scramble draw by Berry. Steve Berry's final round against Adams left him as perhaps the most unlucky player in the tournament, just missing the prizes but with as tough a set of pairings as anyone.

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Forthcoming events in Essex include the annual Essex Chess Association Team Blitz and Individual Lightning Championships, to be played on Sunday 13th July at the Southend Chess Club (Southend Club is celebrating it centenary this year) and the anual Writtle Chess Congress, to be played over the weekend of July 26th-27th at the Longmeads Community Centre, Writtle. The organiser of both these events is Ivor Smith, from whom details can be obtained on 01245 421193 or on e-mail at 100770.1671@compuserve.com .

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The following game as played in a recent County match.

Larski, Stanislav (Cambs) - Coleman, David (Essex)

1997

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Qxd4 a6 5.Be3 Nf6 6.Nc3 Ng4 7.Nd5 Nxe3 8.Qxe3 Nc6 9.Nb6 Rb8 10.c3 Bg4 11.Nd2 g6 12.h3 Be6 13.Bc4 Bg7 14.0-0 0-0 15.a4 Nd4 16.cxd4 Qxb6 17.Bxe6 fxe6 18.Nb3 e5 19.Rfd1 Rbc8 20.a5 Qa7 21.Rac1 exd4 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 0-1