The UK Chess Challenge, claimed by its organisers to be "The World's Biggest Chess Competition", reached its penultimate stage recently in the "Gigafinal", in which some 300 high scorers from the thirteen regional "Megafinals" held in early May were brought together. The competition was divided into 16 sections, in which boys and girls of different ages were separated into their own individual competitions. Many Essex participants made the journey, and expectations were high.

A certain group from our County has been dubbed by others as "The Essex Mafia", and this epithet seemed not at all inappropriate as, after two rounds, players from that group had all won both games. Perhaps the County's best chance of honours lay in the boys' under-11 section, and it was here that Ezra Lutton completed a small piece of unfinished business. Readers may recall that, after Easter, Ezra was taken ill, suffering from appendicitis, shortly after beginning his third round game in an important tournament in Newcastle. The England under-11 board 1, Peter Titmas (Maidstone), was the opponent on that occasion and because the game had been started, Ezra was deemed to have lost on time. Round 2 in Nottingham was Ezra's first chance for vengeance and when it came it was sweet and rapid. Peter was despatched by Ezra's speciality, the Grand Prix attack against the Sicilian Defence. This opening was popular in the 1970s in the English Weekend Congress circuit and used to great effect by Dave Rumens, who won thousands of pounds over a three-year period, twice winning the Cutty Sark Grand Prix, which was the League table of weekend congress successes. It is no co-incidence that Ezra is now coached by Dave Rumens.

Lawrence Trent was the other Essex hopeful in this section, and when the last round began, any one of about 6 competitors could have taken first prize. Lawrence met David Ho (Maidstone) in the final round, and although he attacked strongly, the Kent player's defences proved adequate. This was very unfortunate for the Mafiosi, as although David, Ezra and Lawrence all shared first place on 5/6, David was awarded the title on the best sum of progressive scores. Ezra was second and Lawrence third. Katie Bates scored 4.5 in the Girls' under-11, givin her a share of third place.

Other sections were also hotly contested by Essex players. John Sneesby and Graham Walker were taking part in the boys' under-12 and John started especially well, winning his first three games and taking a draw against the eventual winner, Nicholas Timms (Somerset). Unfortunately, John was unable to maintain this excellent run and lost rounds 5 and 6. Graham finished on 4, but did not have the tough opposition that John had encountered.

Bobby Payne led the Boys' under-10 from start to finish and won his first National Title, finishing ahead of some very strong players. Bobby's final tally was 5.5/6, a superb performance. In the Girls' under-10, Heather Walker had lost her showdown game against Jessie Gilbert (Surrey) and had to be content with second place and 5/6. Jessie scored 5.5.

Josiah Lutton and Stewart Trent were the County's best hopes in the under-9, but both fell short of the title. Josiah lost the key game against Lee Gold (London).

Amongst the older age groups, the best Essex performance in the under-15 was by Edward Hawker (Chelmsford). His score was 3.5. In the under 18, in which a shortage of entrants caused the amalgamation of the Boys' and Girls' sections, Ellen Walker started well, winning her first two games and then losing narrowly to the eventual winner of the boys' event. Again, her final round was the showdown, and a loss to Lucy Broomfield (London) made her the County's fifth player to achieve a second place.

All section winners will now move forward to the "Terafinal", a four-round knockout with prizes for all, and £500 for the overall winner. This will take place at teh Royal Festival Hall on 24th August.

Schools in the London Boroughs of Havering and Barking & Dagenham are invited to lake part in a new Chess League. Brian Edwards, the indefatigable organise from the Eastbrook Club, is interested to hear from any teachers wishing to take part. Please write to Brian at 57 Moor Lane, Cranham, Essex.

A small number of matches were played within the Summer term.

Albany

Barking Abbey

1

Jonathan Holmes

0 1

Naveed Rafiq

2

Anthony Hecker

0 1

Akmal Jalil

3

Martin Monksfield

1 0

Khalil Ahmed

4

Jonathan Ryan

1 0

Roy Faulkener

5

Craig Webb

0 1

Adam Brown

6

Adam Green

0.5 0.5

David Shaw

2.5 3.5

Dagenham Priory

Campion

1

Joseph Arakj

1 0

Kevin Quinlan

2

John Punter

0.5 0.5

Philip Murphy

3

Jamie Bagge

0 1

Matthew Murphy

4

Robert Ashdown

0 1

Chris Skinsley

5

Tony Richards

0.5 0.5

Nicky Larkin

6

Philip Jiggins

0 1

Michael Stimpson

2 4

-----------------------------------------------------------

There were some entertaining side show at Nottingham. Here, 6-year-old David Howells beats Britain's leading female player.

White - David Howells

Black - Susan Lalic

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Ng5 Nf6 5.Bc4 h6 6.Nh3 Nc6 7.c3 e5 8.Be3 Bxh3 9.gxh3 exd4 10.cxd4 Bd6 11.Nc3 Qd7 12.Qb3 Na5 13.Qb5 Nxc4 14.Qxc4 0-0 15.Rg1 Kh7 16.d5 Rae8 17.Rd1 Qxh3 18.Rd4 Qxh2 19.Kf1 Qh3+ 20.Ke2 Be5 21.Rdd1 Qf5 22.b3 Bxc3 23.Qxc3 Nxd5 24.Qxg7#