1 Andrew Brett 173 1 0 Peter Lane 170
2 Trevor Coote 173 1 0 Andrew Dunn 167
3 George McNally 172 0 1 Alan Brusey 166
4 William Saunders 171 1 0 Dave Regis 164
5 Peter Doye 170 0 1 Andrew Pickering 163
6 Larry Marden 169 1 0 Chris Bellers 161
7 David Millward 160 0 1 Peter Halmkin 159
8 Ivor Smith 161 1 0 Nick Frost 156
9 Ken Clow 173 0.5 0.5 Mark Blackmore 153
10 Colin Ramage 167 0 1 Daniel Hill 153
11 Ian Hunnable 166 1 0 Ewan Walton 152
12 Les Crane 164 0 1 John Gorodi 150
13 Roberto Waldteufel 163 0.5 0.5 Mark Abbott 149
14 Neville Twitchell 160 1 0 Bill Ingham 144
15 Andy Hartland 160 1 0 Steve Homer 144
16 Dave Pearse 158 0.5 0.5 Ivor Annetts 142
166 9.5 6.5 156

For the second time this season an Essex team met one from Devon at the neutral venue of Wootton Bassett, in Witshire, and once again the Essex team won after a tougher struggle than seemed likely when the respective grades are taken into consideration.

Both Essex and Devon had had difficulties with defaults in the quarter-finals. In the case of the Essex team, their Lancastrian opponents simply withdrew a few days before the match and although Essex players had all been informed that the match was off, apparently some from Lancashire did make the journey to Leicestershire, their Captain having failed to inform them of the withdrawal of the Lancs side. Devon too had three defaulted boards in their match against Surrey, so it was both Captains' prime concern that each of the 16 boards should have two eligible players sitting at it for this match. This was achieved, although the starting time was put back in order for this to happen as, not surprisingly, traffic problems delayed a few. Paul Barclay, who has provided an excellent service this season as a reserve, again made a long journey in the knowledge that, if everything went according to plan, he would not get a game.

Ian Hunnable was the first to finish, winning a piece on move 18. Curiously, Ian had written to Chessex (the Essex Chess Association Monthly Bulletin) about the very position which actually arose in his game on move 18 and Ivor Smith had the proofs with him. Ian's moves were no great surprise in this game, but it is a luxury indeed when an opponently obligingly walks into a prepared line, especially as deep as 18 moves.

Draws from Ken Clow and Roberto Waldteufel were followed by a series of reverses and the match appeared to be swinging in Devon's direction as David Millward dropped a piece and Colin Ramage, who had given up his queen for two bishops, missed a continuation which would have given him practical chances. Andrew Brett won a piece but an oversight by George McNally left Essex trailing by 4 points to 3.

The first time control, at 100 minutes for 40 moves, was considerably faster than the usual 105 minutes for 35, and in Andy Hartland's game, complications led to a desparate time scramble in which the Essex players were very relieved to see Andy's opponent's flag fall before te 40th move had been reached. Ivor Smith recorded a win against one of the strongest of British under-15 players, and Larry Marden also won well. These two have had an outstanding season for the Team, each with a grading performance in excess of 200. While the score of 6 - 4 was encouraging, it was far from clear that the remaining 6 games would yield the necessary 2.5 points.

Les Crane lost after his bishop became trapped in a difficult ending, but Neville Twitchell countered with a win which had seemed probable after his opponent lost a lot of time in the early part of the game. John Philpott, the Team Captain, now calculated that a win from Trevor Coote would see Essex through on tie-break even if no other points were forthcoming. Trevor had been under some pressure from his opponent's knights in the early part of the game, but when he converted an extra pawn in the ending the Essex team could relax. David Pearse, making his debut at short notice, ensured that there would be no need to rely on the tie-break as his game was drawn when each side queened his last pawn. At this stage both remaining positions were clearly losing for Essex and, on learning that the match was won, Peter Doye proffered his resignation. Bill Saunders elected to play on and his doggedness was rewarded when, late in the game, his opponent blundered a rook.

9.5 - 6.5 was a slightly flattering score to Essex, but the important issue was that John Philpott's team is still on course for a successful defence of the Under-175 Championship. They play Yorkshire in the Finals at the Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, on 4th July.

Lane,P (Devon) - Brett,A (Essex) [E92]

U175 semifinal 1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Bg5 c6 10.Nxe5 Re8 11.0-0-0 Na6 12.Rd6 Be6 13.Rhd1 h6 14.Bh4 Nc5 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.f4 Bxe5 17.fxe5 a5 18.b3 Kf8 19.Kb2 Ke7 20.a3 Nd7 21.Na4 Nxe5 22.Nc5 Bc8 23.b4 axb4 24.axb4 b6 25.Nb3 Be6 26.b5 Bxc4 27.bxc6 Bxe2 0-1

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