A total of 166 competitors sat down to play in the Basildon Junior Chess Congress, played at the Woodlands School, making this the largest of the London Qualifying tournaments this year. Qualification is necessary for the 12s and under, for whom a score of 3.5 / 6 or better would qualify for the London Finals. 4.5 / 6 would qualify for the premier sections of the same finals. For the older-12s, qualification for London is not necessary and only honour, trophies and prize money were at stake in these sections.

Eddie Dearing (Chelmsford) was hot favourite in the combined under-18 and under-16 sections, and there were no surprises when he reached 3 / 3 at the expense of Amir Habibi (Kent), Ellen Walker (Southend) and Lawrence Trent (Loughton). However, his fourth round opponent was Martin Taylor (Kent), who had take a draw from Eddie in the same tournament a year ago. On this occasion Martin went one better and inflicted defeat on one of the strongest players in British Junior Chess. After this it appeared to be only a formality for Martin to take the title and Eddie to take second place. Lawrence Trent had other ideas, though, and actually won a piece against the new favourite and even after he blundered it back, still had a slight edge in a rook and pawns ending. However, Lawrence was down to his last two minutes while Martin still had six. The slight edge was reversed, then Martin's advantage became overwhelming and finally Lawrence had to bow to the inevitable. Martin's final game against Caius Turner (Powdermill) was not so exciting and Martin did indeed score an excellent 6/6 to take first prize. Eddie made no further mistakes to take second and third place was shared by Lawrence Trent and Amir Habibi. The top prize for under-16 entrants was shared by Caius Turner and Michael Bridger, each with 3.5 points.

The under-14 section was also very closely fought. The early leader was Basidon's John Sneesby, who won his first four games, including and excellent win against Dominic Allen (Powdermill). John then had to play Nicholas Balderson (Amersham) and the honours went to the Buckinghamshire boy. Meanwhile, the latest prodigy was at work in this section. David Howell (Sussex) is only 7 years old, but chose to play in the under-14s. He won his first two games, then lost to John Sneesby and drew with Heather Walker (Southend). In round 5 David demonstrated excellent control to inflict defeat on Alex O'Neill (Ilford). A measure of this achievement is that Alex was a member of the 1997 England under-11 team. In the final round, David beat Russell Bailey (Kent) while Alex beat John in a game in which John's king was trapped in the centre and his h8 rook was unable to join in the fun. This brought Alex and David onto 4.5 points, and now the only question was whether Nichols Fenton (Colchester) could hold the position against Nicholas Balderson. The Colchester boy had lost only one game, in round 1 to Heather Walker, but in the meantime had made amends with four straight wins to share first place at the start of round 6. In the end it was Balderson 1 Fenton 0, so Nicholas Balderson took first place while Alex O'Neill and David Howell shared second.

The under-12s involved 41 players, of whom the favourite was Ezra Lutton (Basildon). Ezra was on target to take the title until round 4, when he shared the point with Daniel Diamond (London). Meanwhile, his fellow England player Lydia Goodwin (Bucks) had won all four and she is very hard to beat. However, Ezra won comfortably enough against Daniel Caps (London) while Daniel Diamond returned the compliment by holding Lydia to a draw. For teh finla round, it was Ezra's turn to play Lydia, and since the two of them were leading by half a point, it was no time for taking risks. The game was indeed drawn, and a splendid win by Surrey player Alexandra Wilson allowed her to tie for first place with Lydia and Ezra.

The under-10 section was a monster, with 63 players involved. Basildon player Josiah Lutton was hot favourite for this, and when he reached 5/5, there were few who would have bet against him taking that extra point and scoring 100%. It was not to be, however, as Jacob Bigio (London) beat Josiah and went on to 5.5. He had previously drawn with Daniel Hedges (Southend). Josiah was therefore involved in a three-way tie for second with Mark Goodwin (Bucks) and AntonChernikov (Wimbledon). There were seven players on 4.5, all of whom have now qualified for the premier sections of the Finals.

Twenty four player fought for the under-8 title, and the winner was Alex Gilmore (London), with 5.5. The best score by an Essex player wsa 5 by Abigail Flint (Galleywood).

Four players were involved in the under-6 section, so it became a double-round all-play-all. Simon Payne (Ilford) was clear winner of this, winning every game. Katie Hale (Chigwell) was runner-up on 4 points.

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Ivanchuk,V - Kovacevic,A [B36]

Belgrade

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 0-0 10.Qd2 Be6 11.0-0 Qa5 12.Rab1 Rfc8 13.b3 b5 14.b4 Qc7 15.e5 dxe5 16.Nxb5 Qb7 17.Rfc1 Rd8 18.Qe1 Ng4 19.Bc5 e4 20.Bxg4 Bxg4 21.Nc3 Bf5 22.Nd5 Rd7 23.Be3 e6 24.Nc3 Rc8 25.Qe2 h5 26.h3 h4 27.Na4 Bd4 28.Nc5 Bxc5 29.Bxc5 e3 30.Rb2 exf2+ 31.Bxf2 g5 32.b5 Qe4 33.c5 Qxe2 34.Rxe2 Bd3 35.Rb2 a6 36.a4 axb5 37.axb5 Rb7 38.b6 Be4 39.Re2 Bd5 40.Re5 f6 41.Rxd5 exd5 42.c6 1-0