The annual Writtle Congress, incorporating the Essex Championships, took place at the Longmeads Community Centre and attracted 32 competitors. Tournament Controller Ivor Smith found this a very convenient number for a 5-round Swiss tournament.

In the very first round there was an upset, as Jason Roberts, graded 130, shared the point with top seed John Anderson, graded 190. All other players in the top half of the draw won, although Stan Harwood had to work hard against Josiah Lutton, and Richard Weeber took a while to grind down Lawrence Trent's Sicilian Defence.

John Anderson drew again in round 2, this time floating up to play Mark Weighell. Dave Kraszewski was Stan Harwood's second opponent from the Basildon club, and Dave, the second seed, won well. Russell White beat your correspondent, and other players reach two points from two games were Paul Botham (Ipswich), Les Crane (Upminster), Andy King (Grays), Richard Weeber (Grays) and Paul Barclay (Wanstead). A large number took half-point byes in the third round, which took place on the Saturday evening. Dave Kraszewski took full advantage, beating Andy King (Grays) to become sole leader on 3/3. Les Crane drew with Russell White, Paul Botham was held by Jason Roberts, who had perhaps his best day's chess in terms of results against high grades, and Mark Weighell joined the chasing group by beating Ellen Walker.

The Sunday morning saw Dave Kraszewski maintain his lead as he inflicted defeat on Richard Weeber. Russell White and Paul Botham were half-a-point behind as they beat Mark Weighell and Paul Barclay, as was Les Crane, who met Robin Slade (Maldon).

When the final round began there were three players in contention for the Junior Prize: Chris Bates (Colchester) was on 2.5 and played Mark Weighell, while Stewart Trent and Graham Walker, each on 2, were playing each other. Mark confessed afterwards that he had pangs of guilt as he won a game which meant nothing to him in terms of prize money but everything to Chris. Stewart won his game against Graham to reach an excellent score of 3/5. Stewart took the junior prize and Chris was awarded a second junior prize. John Sneesby (Basildon) won a special prize for playing exceedingly well but gaining rather fewer points than he deserved.

On the high boards, Dave Kraszewski had won a pawn but was obliged to defend accurately to keep Russell White at bay. Paul Botham beat Les Crane to reach 4.5, but had to wait until the very end to find out which of Dave or Russell would share the prize fund with him. In the end Russell had to settle for a draw. Dave shared first place with Paul, but as a Suffolk player Paul was ineligible for the title so there would be no play-off. Dave became the first member of the Basildon club to win the Essex Championship.

The under-150 Championship was a 3-way tie as Paul Barclay beat an unfortunate Jason Roberts. Stan Harwood won from a completely drawn position as Richard Weeber blundered a rook and Kerry Chilvers (Writtle) beat Brian Payne (Chelmsford). Jason Roberts won a grading prize as did Roy Hare.

Kraszewski,D - Weeber,R [B25]

Writtle

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.f4 e6 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.Be3 Nd4 9.Qd2 0-0 10.Nd1 Rb8 11.c3 Nxf3+ 12.Bxf3 b6 13.h4 f5 14.h5 d5 15.e5 Bb7 16.d4 cxd4 17.Bxd4 Ba6 18.Nf2 Qe8 19.h6 Bh8 20.Nh3 Qd7 21.Ng5 Rbc8 22.Qf2 Nc6 23.Rd1 Ne7 24.Qc2 Rc6 25.Qa4 Bb7 26.Be2 Rc7 27.Qxd7 Rxd7 28.Nxe6 Rc8 29.Bb5 Bc6 30.Bxc6 Nxc6 31.Ke2 Re7 32.Ng5 Bf6 33.Nf3 Na5 34.Kf2 Bh8 35.b3 Nb7 36.Rd3 Rd8 37.Rhd1 Red7 38.Be3 Nc5 39.Bxc5 bxc5 40.b4 cxb4 41.cxb4 Kf8 42.a4 Ke8 43.Rc1 Rb8 44.b5 Kd8 45.Rc5 Rc8 46.Rcxd5 Rxd5 47.Rxd5+ Ke7 48.Nd4 Rc7 49.Nc6+ Kf7 50.Rd8 Bxe5 51.fxe5 Ke6 52.Ke3 g5 53.Rd6+ Kf7 54.Rf6+ 1-0

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

Essex League Division 1 play-off.

Southend

Wanstead & Woodford

1

Michael Twyble

0.5 0.5

Karl Mah

2

Andrew Dunn

0.5 0.5

G. Hayes

3

John Moore

0 1

Marc Bautista

4

Neil Sutherland

1 0

Terry Whitton

5

Paul Williamson

1 0

Richard Manning

6

Charles Bowering

0.5 0.5

Ian Hunnable

7

Howard Grist

1 0

Michael Bird

8

Stephen Wedlock

0.5 0.5

John Philpott

9

Simon Armour

0 1

Paul Barclay

10

Stan Harwood

0 1

David Smith

5 5

On 5th May I reported in the Recorder that Wanstead were almost certainly safe as Champions as long as the League Management Committee upheld its original ruling concerning a dispute between Southend and Upminster. The original ruling was in Upminster's favour, but this was reversed on appeal and instead of being drawn, the match was awarded to Southend. This gave them the extra point they required to draw level with Wanstead.

So, for the second consecutive season Wanstead & Woodford Chess Club finished their league matches riding high at the top of the first division only to find themselves caught and in a play-off for the Championship. For the second consecutive season they drew the play-off 5 - 5 but lost on board count. Southend, however, became Essex Champions for the first time for more than 30 years. It has been an excellent season for Southend, as their team also won the National Club Championship, under-150 section.

[diagram for 7/8/97]

Black to play and win.

Forsyth Check: r6k/r5pp/3p4/q1pPpBPP/1pQnPp2/1P6/P4P2/RK1R4.

Last week's solution: 1...Nxe4 2 fxe4 Qxg4+ 3 Rg2 Rf1+ 4 Kh2 Qh3 mate.