The Essex under-175 team's 100% record in the first half of the season meant that all that was required to ensure qualification to the National stages was a win against Kent. This, however, is often a tall order but John Philpott had assembled a strong side at Charlton House in expectation of a tough battle. It transpired that Kent were not nearly so well prepared for the fray as were Essex, being depleted in quality as well as quantity as several players opted to represent Invicta II in the Four Nations Chess League. In the match at Wanstead earlier in the season Kent had defaulted 5 boards. There was some improvement for the current match, but still there were three defaults and George McNally, Neville Twitchell and Andrew Hartland all had wasted journeys.

Unfortunately, the whole afternoon represented an object lesson by Kent in how not to organise a County Chess Match. Play began 10 minutes late, and would have been further delayed had the away players not set up much of the equipment. No score sheets were provided but fortunately the Essex captain always carries an emergency stock. There were no refreshments, although some public spirited members of the Kent side left the premises during play to bring back teas and coffees for their opponents. Although one would not expect every County to match the catering standards set by Eileen Philpott at U175 home matches, it should not be left to the away captain to visit the local Co-op and return with a tin of biscuits. To add to the orgnisational problems, the floor squeaked every time someone got up to walk around. When three fire tenders arrived in mid-afternoon, it appeared that there was some kind of a curse on the proceedings.

In spite of all these problems there was some good chess played, mostly by the visitors. David Millward, playing despite a heavy cold, was first off the mark with a win as black against a former Essex player. Peter Doye agreed a draw but Larry Marden continued his 100% record on the white side of a Slav defence, trapping his opponent's queen on move 21. Roberto Waldteufel's London System produced a win against the acting Kent captain and Les Crane won with the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit in which his opponent grabbed a second pawn at the cost of development. Ken Clow's draw took the score to 8 - 1 and when Ian Hunnable's Nimzo-Indian caused his opponent to turn his king over, Essex were guaranteed one of the two qualifying places for the National stage of the competition. Ivor Smith succeeded in scoring the full point against the same opponent with whom he had drawn in Wanstead House. Sid Kalinsky made his first appearance of the season and was involved in an exciting game in which the Kent player sacrificed a rook for a strong attack, but accurate defence by Sid denied his opponent anything better than a draw by perpetual check. Colin Ramage played the Grob and a draw was the result. Kent staged a belated rally by winning two of the longer games, but Bill Saunders' 69 move game sealed a 12 - 4 victory.

This win could have secured the Southern Counties' Championship for Essex, but the fact that Surrey beat Sussex in the other match of the afternoon meant that Essex still have some work to do to achieve that feat. This coming weekend the deciding match will be played and provided Essex can draw 8 - 8 or better, they will be Champion County for the second successive season.

Kent v Essex, SCCU Championship match played on 24/1/98

Kent

Essex

1 Matthew Noakes 170 1 0 Tim Hebbes 174
2 default 0 1 George McNally 172
3 Robert Everson 165 0 1 Bill Saunders 171
4 Sid Jacob 161 0.5 0.5 Peter Doye 170
5 Mark Brougham 159 0 1 Larry Marden 169
6 Andy Ropek 157 1 0 Ivan Myall 168
7 John Lewin 156 0.5 0.5 Ken Clow 173
8 Barry Beavis 155 0 1 David Millward 168
9 Stephen Peters 155 0.5 0.5 Colin Ramage 167
10 Paul Rutland 155 0 1 Ian Hunnable 166
11 Zia Mehmet 153 0 1 Les Crane 164
12 Roger Winterburn 153 0 1 Ivor Smith 161
13 Nick Mackett 152 0 1 Roberto Waldteufel 163
14 default 0 1 Neville Twitchell 160
15 default 0 1 Andy Hartland 160
16 Adrian Lawrence 139 0.5 0.5 Sid Kalinsky 157
Ave grade 156 4 12 Ave Grade 166

White - Barry Beavis (Kent) Black - David Millward

Queen's Gambit Declined

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Bd3 dxc4 8.Bxc4 c5 9.dxc5 Qa5 10.c6 Nb6 11.Bd3 Nbd5 12.0-0 Nxc3 13.bxc3 bxc6 14.Qc2 Ba6 15.Bxh7+ Nxh7 16.Bxe7 Bxf1 17.Bxf8 Bxg2 18.Bb4 Qh5 19.Kxg2 Qg4+ 20.Kf1 Qxf3 21.Rd1 Nf6 22.Bc5 Ng4 23.Kg1 Nxf2 24.Qxf2 Qxd1+

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