The 1997 Ralph Barnett Memorial Tournament was the 22nd contest for the trophy established in honour of that stalwart of Middlesex Chess. Held at the St. Matthias Old Church in Poplar, three teams took part this year, from the Essex League, the Surrey League and the Civil Service League.

The event is organised as a jamboree for teams of 20 players with grading limits for certain boards. There is a particular skill to captaincy in this event, as the teams are always picked according to the old grading list, but the event is played after the publication of the new one. To get the best out of their teams, captains need to be alert with regard to the grading movement of improving players.

Essex have a particularly good record in this event. Having taken part on nine previous occasions, Essex were outright winners on six of these and jointly once. This year they took the lead from the start, although for not the best of reasons: David Millward and Syd Kalinsky, both of whom have represented Essex on many occasions in this event, found themselves without games as their intended Civil Service opponents failed to arrive.

The first game to finish was an agreed draw after only 12 moves between Surrey's Peter Kemp and Gary Kenworthy. The Surrey player had the white pieces, and played a particularly drawish line of the English opening. Stan Harwood won well against a Civil Service player, but Howard Staunton delivered the first blow to Surrey, who had to be regarded as the main opposition, when he beat L. Evbaumwan. Paul Barclay drew with veteran player J.B. Hawson, who was Essex Champion more than 40 years ago, but now represents Surrey. At the other end of the age-range, 17-year-old Chris Hobbs scored a fine win against J. Ellis.

Edmonton's Pritpal Thethi played for the Essex League for the first time. Although Edmonton is to the west of the River Lea, the club has entered teams into the Essex league for two or three seasons now. Pritpal's contribution was to beat Bertie Barlow, one of the strongest players in the Civil Service. Other Essex players to beat Civil Service representatives were Peter Jaszkywski and Robert Davies.

On the whole the games between Essex and Surrey players were closer contests, and therefore tended to last longer, than those against the Civil Service. The outcome of the competition was in doubt until all but a handful of games were finished, and the long games were all critical to the Essex cause. Mustapha Rahaman won well against Fred Manning, the Surrey League captain, and Carlton Barrett outpayed his Surrey opponent in an endgame. Howard Grist and Keith Jones both drew against Surrey opposition. This spoiled Keith's 100% record in this event (or extended his unbeaten run!) in his 8th appearance for the Essex League, a superb record. Newham player Mashood Husain was qualified to play for Essex but elected to represent the Civil Service. He did the Essex cause a considerable service by beating a Surrey opponent.

For the second consecutive year the result which sealed victory for Essex was Mike Twyble's draw on top board. Nick Gough, Chas Wren and Mike Cresswell all added to the Essex margin of victory by achieving draws. Chas and Mike had to play very doggedly to draw their games as they had both been under great pressure as their opponents attacked.

Essex League

Club

Gd

Sc

Opponents

Gd

Sc

1

Mike Twyble

Southend

208 0.5

R.A. Allicock

S

197 0.5
2

Gary Kenworthy

Powdermill

195 0.5

P.D. Kemp

S

195 0.5
3

Pritpal Thethi

Edmonton

175 1

B.A. Barlow

C

175 0
4

Ben Spink

Newham 173 0

J.M. Shepley

S

173 1
5

David Millward

Writtle

172 1

default

C

0
6

Nick Gough

Writtle

169 0.5

R.J. Kearsley

S

159 0.5
7

Howard Grist

Southend

168 0.5

J.J. Skielnik

S

159 0.5
8

Syd Kalinsky

Ilford

165 1

default

C

0
9

Steve Piper

Newham 157 0

B. Lo

C

104 1
10

Keith Jones

Wanstead

153 0.5

C.R.A. Clegg

S

154 0.5
11

Paul Barclay

Wanstead

148 0.5

J.B. Hawson

S

138 0.5
12

Peter Jaszkywski

Newham

147 1

P.L. Szabo

C

124 0
13

Mustafa Rahaman

Upminster

146 1

F.C. Manning

S

137 0
14

Stan Harwood

Southend

143 1

W.W. Francis

C

119 0
15

Chas Wren

Newham

-

0.5

W.G. McLaughlin

C

103 0.5
16

Mike Cresswell

Newham

135 0.5

D.L. Hodgson

S

128 0.5
17

Chris Hobbs

Wanstead

134 1

J. Ellis

C

79 0
18

Howard Staunton

Eastbrook 134 1

L. Evbaumwan

S

124 0
19

Robert Davies

Ilford

124 1

M. Sviatapolk-Mirski

C

-

0
20

Carlton Barrett

Wanstead

120 1

D.J. Howes

S

115 0
14 6

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The play-off for the British Championships led to some of the most exciting chess of the entire tournament from the point of view of the spectators. Whereas there was no doubting the very high quality of the long-play games, it is inevitable that where neither player makes a significant mistake, a draw will result. Many of these were hard-fought and very interesting, but the rapidplay play-off games were non-stop action.

In the following game, Tony Miles grabbed a pawn, (13...Qxg2) and succeeded in exchanging queens only three moves later, but Matthew Sadler took advantage of the open lines to deliver a decisive attack. All of the following moves were bashed out in under 20 minutes.

Sadler Matthew - Miles Tony

British Championships Play Off

1997, Hove

1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nd2 de 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. Qe2 c5 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. dc Bxc5

9. Bd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Qd5 11. Bc3 Qg5+ 12. Kb1 Nd5 13. Be5 Qxg2 14. Qh5 f5 15. Nf3

Qg4 16. Rhg1 Qxh5 17. Rxg7+ Kh8 18. Rg5+ Nf6 19. Rxh5 Bxf2 20. Rd2 Be3 21. Rg2

Bd7 22. Ng5 Bxg5 23. Rgxg5 Rf7 24. Rh6 Raf8 25. b3 Bc6 26. Bc4 Bd7 27. a4 a6 28. a5

Bc8 29. Kb2 Bd7 30. Rgg6 Bc8 31. Bxf6+ Rxf6 32. Rxf6 Rxf6 33. Rxf6 Kg7 34. Rxe6

Bxe6 35. Bxe6 f4 36. Bd5 1:0

[diagram for 4/9/97]

Black to play and win.

Forsyth: 3r1r2/pp3pk1/5p2/2p4q/2P5/3B1bP1/P1Q2P1P/R3R1K1.

Last week's solution: 1 Be8 Rg8 2 Bxc6 Nxc6 3 Ng6+ Kh7 4 Nf8+ Kh8 5 Qg6 black resigns