After a prolonged delay, the Southern Counties' Chess Union has published its fixture list for the inter-county matches during the coming season. As is normal, there are five divisions: and Open Championship for the Shannon Trophy; a competition for players graded below 175 for the Montague Jones Trophy; under-150 for the Amboyna Trophy; under 125 for the Ebony Trophy; and the under-100 for the Harry Woolverton Trophy. Essex is one of only two counties entering a team into each competition, the other being Surrey.

All teams apart from the under-100 Competition will consist of 16 players. The under-100 team is of 12 players. The majority of home matches will be played at Wanstead House, although the under-100 team will play its home matches at Temple Sutton School, Southend.

The fixtures are as follows:-

Open (Captain: John Cooke)

Oct 11th Surrey away

Nov 1st Sussex home,

29th Bucks away

Jan 17th Berks home

31st Cambs. away

Feb 14th Oxon home

28th Herts away

Mar 14th Kent home

Under-175 (Captain: John Philpott)

Oct 4th Middx home

Nov 8th Kent home

22nd Surrey home

Dec 6th Sussex away

Jan 24th Kent away

Feb 7th Surrey away

Mar 7th Middx away

21st Sussex home

Under-150 (Captain: David Smith)

Oct 11th Middx home

Nov 1st Sussex home

29th Kent away

Jan 17th Herts away

Feb 14th Surrey home

Under-125 (Captain: Richard Joyce)

Sept 27th Herts away

Nov 8th Kent home

22nd Sussex home

Dec 6th Surrey home

Jan 31st Oxon away

Under-100 (Captain: Peter Walker)

Oct 11th Herts away

Nov 1st Surrey away

15th Herts home

Jan 10th Middx home

Mar 21st Surrey home

(a date for the home match v Middx is to be arranged)

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The British problem solving team performed well in the World Championships which took place in Croatia recently. Britain took the bronze medals, losing a tie-break from Germany, who took silver. Israel won the gold medals.

Indeed, the best performance by an individual solver was by Jonathan Mestel. This was a great relief and triumph for Mestel, who has been concentrating increasingly upon solving and composing. Last year, an error in an endgame study cost him the World Title and an indifferent performance by Mestel the Player last month at the British Championships in Hove ("Some weak player was masquerading under my name!") will have done nothing for his confidence. But, as I am certain that some football manager once said, "Form is temporary: class is permanent", and Mestel demonstrated his true world class by becoming the only player / solver in the history of chess to achieve the title of Grandmaster in both branches of our game. It will probably be only a matter of time before Jonathan adds the Grandmaster title for Composing to the other two, and I understand that he is also a keen bridge player, in which game the title Grandmaster is also possible.

The other two solvers in the British team were Graham Lee (Oakham) and the current British Champion Mike McDowell (Westcliff). Mike was not happy with his form ("If I had been solving well we would have walked the silver medals") but Graham Lee put in a strong performance, in which the best two solutions from the three team members count towards the team total.

Mestel,J (2515) - Martin,A (2375)

BCF-ch, 1987

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.g3 a6 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bc5 10.Bf4 d6 11.Qd2 h6 12.Rad1 e5 13.Be3 Ke7 14.f4 Be6 15.fxe5 dxe5 16.Nd5+ Bxd5 17.exd5 Rhe8 18.Kh1 Rad8 19.Qc3 Kd6 20.b4 Bxe3 21.Qxe3 e4 22.Rxf6+ gxf6 23.Qf4+ Re5 24.Qxf6+ Kd7 25.Bh3+ Ke8 26.d6 1-0

[diagram for 25/9/97]

Black to play and win.

Forsyth: 4r3/p2q1pkp/R2P2p1/1PpQ1n2/P1N5/6P1/5PKP/8.

1.Bxg5 hxg5 2.Qf7 Kh6 3.Re7 black resigns