Board

Essex

Devon

1

Robin Slade 149

0.5

0.5

R. Towers 149

2

John White 147

1

0

M. Abbott 149

3

Stephen Williams 147

0 1

M. Cox 147

4

Tom Winter (c) 147

0.5

0.5

W. Ingham 144

5

Keith Jones 146

0.5

0.5

P. Kennedy 141

6

Tony Drake 145

1 0

S. Pope 141

7

Jason Roberts 145

1

0

J. Duckham 136

8

Laurie Burtt 144

0

1

A.Roderick 130

9

Mike Cresswell 143

0.5

0.5

R. Jones 128

10

Peter Walker 136

0

1

P. Roberts (c) 128

11

Phil Zammit 138

0.5

0.5

W. Moffatt 126

12

Roger Sharman 132

0

1

G. Sparke 124

13

Mark Brazier 130

1

0

T. Praile 121

14

Barry Sheppard 130

1

0

J. Vasey 117

15

Terry Cole 123

0.5

0.5

A. O'Reilly 113

16

Iain Gunn 116

0.5

0.5

L. Guard 110

7.5

6.5

David Smith, the Captain of the Essex u150 team, agreed with his opposite number from Devon that Wootton Bassett would be the venue for their preliminary round of the National County Championships. David had a prior commitment on he day concerned, so once he had picked the team, he left the captaincy to Tom Winter. David was not entirely confident of the reliability of some of his team members, so he arranged for a travelling reserve. In the end his pessimism was misplaced and eighteen Essex players arrived to occupy the sixteen boards.

The quantity of players in the Essex team was fine, it was just a shame about the quality as Essex, who on paper were considerably stronger than Devon, made heavy weather of the match. The first result declared was that of Jason Roberts, who claimed that luck was on his side as he won with black against the Vienna Game. The second result levelled the scores as your correspondent was comprehensively outplayed. Meanwhite, Mike Cresswell had won the exchange and a pawn after declining his opponent's King's Gambit, but at the cost of a misplaced queen. The Devon player confessed afterwards that he was "staring into the abyss" after about 15 moves, but played especially well to prevent Mike taking the full point.

Roger Sharman had estabished a very fine attacking position but played the moves in the wrong order and lost a piece. Even so, his advantage had been so strong that even then he nearly pulled off a win. Barry Shephard and Mark Brazier both won comfortably enough, and John White scored a very significant high board win as an 8 - 8 draw was still a distinct possibility.

The final two games were Steve Williams' and Tony Drake's. Tony had a supported passed pawn in an ending in which his bishop and his opponent's knight were both finding it difficult to reach good squares. Steve had a rook and two pawns against rook and three, but Steve's king was well placed to stop his opponent's pawns and his own passed pawn was menacing. After a series of exchanges, Steve now had two pawn against one, but he missed a tactic which cost him rook. The watching players had already worked out that Essex could not afford to draw the match as the tie-break favoured Devon, so it was wth great relief for the Essex contingent that Tony won his opponent's knight and then established a passed pawn on the h-file. This pawn was destined to queen, whereas the black's final pawn was going to be bishop fodder.

Essex go on to play Yorkshire in the next round of the competition, a match which will take place n 16th May. But the team will have to improve considerably if they are to progress to the semi-finals.

White - R. H. Jones

Black - Mike Cresswell

Devon v Essex (played at Wootton Bassett School, Wilts.)

Inter-County u150 Championships

1. e4 Nf6 2. d3 e5 3. f4 Bc5 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. dxe4 Qh4+ 6. g3 Qxe4+

7. Qe2 Qxh1 8. Nf3 Nc6 9. c3 O-O 10. Bf4 d6 11. Nbd2 Bg4 12. O-O-O dxe5

13. Be3 e4 14. Bxc5 exf3 15. Qe4 Be6 16. Bxf8 Rxf8 17. Nxf3 g6 18. Bc4

Qg2 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. Qxe6+ Kh8 21. Ng5 Qxh2 22. Qd7 Qh6 23. Qd2 Kg8

24. Qd5+ Kh8 25. Qd2 1/2-1/2

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