Essex players have struggled to come to terms with strong opposition in the British Championships, due to conclude tomorrow in Hove. Karl Mah, Wanstead Club's top player and one of Britain's leading Juniors, who achieved his first IM norm at the Highgate Masters Tournament earlier in the month, was looking to gain a second norm at the British. His draw against IM Aaron Summerscale was a fine result, but a loss against Welsh International player and Concert Pianist Francis Rayner was definitely not what Karl wanted. If Karl is to gain a second norm then he will need a much more convincing performance in the second week.

The performance of the first week amongst Essex players was by Lawrence Trent (Ilford). Lawrence was one of the strongest players to enter the under-11 Championship, and after five rounds he led the field with 4.5, alongside Thomas Rendle (Sussex). At this stage, Lawrence had beaten Jessie Gilbert, Kevin Christee, Chris Jones, Jonathan Fish and had drawn with Thomas Rendle. However, the fifth round saw a change amongst the leaders as Rendle lost to Kenan Boztas (Surrey) and Lawrence drew with Omkar Kulkarni (India). At the start of the last round Lawrence and Kenan Boztas were sharing the lead with Rafe Martin on 5/6, and Lawrence and Kenan had to play each other. Rafe floated down to play Rendle.

Kenan was rather fortunate to have reached this stage with as many points has he had, as in an earlier round he was obliged to play Lawrence's younger brother Stewart. Stewart had established a fine attacking position which promised a win until Stewart left one of his pieces where it could be captured. Kenan took full advantage of this error and won the endgame.

Lawrence's final round game was nerve-racking. Lawrence launched a Grand Prix Attack against Kenan's Sicilian Defence and tried to begin operations along the f-file. Black advanced his queen-side pawns trapping Lawrence's bishop and he had to jettison it for two pawns. This did not seem to be enough and an air of gloom enveloped the Essex contingent amongst the waiting parents.

However, Lawrence is an extremely resourceful player and although he chose to exchange queens, not normally recommended when you are material down, he lodged both knights in the heart of Black's position and placed both rooks on open files. It was here that Black would have been grateful for a little pawn cover for his king, but those pawns had earlier been exchanged for Lawrence's bishop and Black's king had to find shelter behind a bishop and a knight. Although Kenan maintained his piece advantage, and indeed won back the two pawns, to make progress with his king so awkwardly placed was a real problem. Lawrence continued to harry the black pieces and finally black returned a rook for Lawrence's remaining knight. With few pawns remaining it appeared that black could advance his king and win a pawn, but to have done so would have cost him a piece. Kenan retreated his king to shelter on the king-side and the players shook hands on a drawn position, awaiting the result of the Rafe Martin - Thomas Rendle game, upon which their fate depended.

This wait was indeed an agonising one. So long as Rafe Martin failed to win, Lawrence would share the title. By the time the Trent - Boztas game concluded, Rafe Martin had lost the exchange and was in some considerable time trouble. However, as the pawns were exchanged, so the draw became more likely and finally the players shook hands and Rafe Martin joined Lawrence and Kenan as British Champion. One other result mattered: Krunal Kahar (Cheltenham) won his final round to reach 5.5 and therefore shared the title with the other three, a very welcome result for the player who last year led the Under-10 Championship into the final round only to play a disastrous game, losing to Gawain Jones in only half an hour.

Stewart Trent completed the tournament on 3. Other Essex competitors in this section were Ezra Lutton (Basildon) who finished on 4, and his brother Josiah (3.5), and Alexander O'Neill (Ilford) who scored 2.

This has been a marvellous year for Lawrence. He is probably the least experienced of the leading English players in his age group, having entered his first tournament at Stowmarket in the September of 1995. In December last year he was amongst the leaders in the London under-12 Championship and two months later he played superbly to score 100% in the extremely strong West of England Championships in Swindon. His England Trial in April was a great success, albeit after a shaky start, and he has now crowned this year with the British Championship.

When players tie for the British Championships' Junior Sections, titles are always shared. However, Lawrence will have had the added satisfaction of being the only player to complete the tournament unbeaten and, since he led from start to finish, also to have achieved the best sum of progressive scores.

Fish,J (1600) - Trent,L (1600) [B71]

British u11

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.f4 Nbd7 7.Bb5 a6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bb3 Bb7 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.0-0 Bg7 12.Nf3 0-0 13.f5 b4 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Nc5 16.fxg6 hxg6 17.Ng5 Nd7 18.Qd3 Nf6 19.Kh1 a5 20.Qh3 Qc8 21.Qd3 Ba6 22.Qf3 Bxf1 23.Qxf1 Qc5 24.Qf3 a4 25.Be3 Qc8 26.Bd4 axb3 27.cxb3 Qg4 0-1

Trent,L - Boztas,K [B23]

British u11

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6 6.f5 Nge7 7.fxe6 fxe6 8.d3 d5 9.Bb3 b5 10.0-0 c4 11.dxc4 dxc4 12.Qxd8+ Kxd8 13.Rd1+ Bd7 14.Nxb5 cxb3 15.Ng5 Kc8 16.cxb3 a6 17.Nd6+ Kc7 18.Ngf7 Raf8 19.Bg5 Nc8 20.Rac1 Nxd6 21.Nxd6 Bxb2 22.Rc2 Ba3 23.Nc4 Bc5+ 24.Kh1 Rf2 25.Rcc1 Rhf8 26.Bh4 Rxa2 27.Ne5 Bd6 28.Nc4 Bf4 29.Rc3 g5 30.Bg3 Bxg3 31.hxg3 Rff2 32.Ne5 Rad2 33.Rdc1 Rd6 34.Nc4 Re2 [34...Rd4 35.Na5 Rd6 36.e5] 35.Nxd6 Kxd6 36.Rc4 Ke5 37.Rd1 Be8 38.Rc5+ Kf6 [38...Kxe4 39.Rd6] ½-½