The World Youth Championships which took place in Armenia between September 20th and October 4th involved two players resident in Essex. Karl Mah, from the Wanstead club, has been one of the leading European players in his age group more or less since learning the moves at the age of 7, and of course Karl missed out on a medal in last year's World Championships in the most frustrating manner possible: finishing jointly in first place on 8 / 11, Karl was placed fourth on a tie-break in spite of completing the tournament without losing a game. The other contender, who scored 6 / 11 last year representing Scotland, was Eddie Dearing, originally from Perth but now resident in Chelmsford. Eddie is one of those players who simply cannot get enough chess: he represents Writtle in the Essex League and Ilford in the London League. Essex is indeed a privileged county to have such talented youngsters available for its first team, especially since Karl and Eddie are such firm friends.

It has normally been the case that Karl's results have been slightly better than Eddie's. However, in this year's Championships it was Eddie who took the honours. Both players completed the event on 6 / 11, but such was the power of Eddie's play in the early rounds that he was amongst the leaders for a good deal of the tournament and by the end of it had achieved his first International Master Norm. Indeed, the luck of the draw dictated that Karl and Eddie should play one another, an unfortunate pairing since each only played 11 games and there were 70 other opponents to choose from. Eddie emerged victorious from this game. However, there can be little doubt that the game which gave him the greatest pleasure was in round 1, when he was paired against the Ukranian Ruslan Ponomariov, currently one of the youngest Grandmasters in the world and hot favourite to win the World under-18 title.

When players of high quality meet, the most common result is a draw. Quite simply, this is because nobody wins a game of chess unless somebody else makes a decisive mistake. At the highest of levels, decisive mistakes are relatively unusual. Where the games are not drawn, quite often the winner has to nurse a tiny advantage through a delicate ending and it is therefore by no means easy to identify the point at which the mistake occurred.

In the game against Ponomariov, Eddie identified White's decisive mistake as his 20th move, Nc7. "After 20 Nf4, white is clearly better and Black's counterplay is hardly compensation enough for the pawn." The truth of the matter is that scintillating sacrificial attacks like this one were more common in the 19th century when the protagonists were widely different in ability and the stronger player was allowed to take liberties with the opponent. What followed must have been devastating for the Ukrainian boy, probably one of the most crushing defeats of his career. This cannot have been helped by the reaction of one of the Ukrainian officials, whose post mortem remonstrations did not, apparently, stop at the verbal.

This game has everything. It is not just the quality of the play, which is of the highest: the position after 25 ...Nb4 is reminiscent of some of the all time greats as both Black's knights, his rook and his queen are all under attack simultaneously, but are all immune from capture. The circumstances of the game add greatly to the achievement: Eddie played some wonderfully daring chess in front of a large crown against one of the strongest players in the world, whose chess is firmly rooted in the old Soviet system. If any Essex player has ever produced a better game, I would like to see it.

It would have been understandable if, after this achievement, Eddie had slumped. However, he did not. His second round was another win, this time against the Georgian IM Mikhail Mchedlishvili. It is a measure of Ponomariov's character that, having been mauled so publicly in round 1, his remaining 10 games resulted in 8 wins and 2 draws, which gave him the world title by a clear point.

Ponomariov,R (2555) - Dearing,E (2210) [B22]

World u18 Championship

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Nc6 8.h3 Bh5 9.a3 cxd4 10.cxd4 Be7 11.Nc3 Qd6 12.Be3 0-0 13.Qb3 Rfd8 14.Rfd1 a6 15.d5! exd5 16.g4 Bg6 17.g5 Ne4 18.Nxd5 Qe6 19.Qxb7! Bf8 20.Nc7? Qxh3! 21.Nxa8 Qg4+ 22.Kf1 Qh3+ 23.Ke1 Qh1+ 24.Bf1 Ng3!! 25.Nh2 Nb4!! (threatening 26 Qxb7 and the small matter of Nc2 mate. Black's response was forced) 26.Qc7 Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 Nxf1 28.Nxf1 Nd3+ 29.Kd2 Qxa8 30.Kc3 Qd5 31.Rd2 h5 32.Qc4 Qa5+ 33.Kb3 Nxb2!! 34.Qb4 Bxb4 35.axb4 Qb5 0-1

Eddie's full annotation of this game can be obtained by ordering Chessex from Ivor Smith at 163 Lodge Road, Writtle, Chelmsford, CM1 3JB.