ESSEX v SURREY Under 100 Semi-final

Board Grade Player Result Result Player Grade
  Essex       Surrey  
1 Nigel Nice 99 1 0 A. Palmer 99
2 Phil Daley 98 1 0 J. Darling 98
3 John Sneesby 98 1 0 B. Moorgan 90
4 Julian Winkworth 98 1 0 B. Jablonski 91
5 Katie Bates 97 0 1 O. Wilson 99
6 Graham Walker 96 1 0 L. Tillett 98
7 Michael Bridger 95 1 0 H. Murray-Smith 96
8 Ron Prickett 95 1 0 L. Boztas 93
9 Stewart Trent 93 1 0 C. Chapman 86
10 Matthew Cain 90 0 1 R. Hamilton u/g
11 Heather Walker 77 0 1 R. Davey 96
12 Edward Morris 77 0 1 D. Wallis 91
      8 4    

In March, when Essex last played Surrey in the under-100 Competition, the Harry Woolverton Trophy for the Southern Counties' Championship was at stake. Essex won that match and needed only to beat Middlesex by a score of 6.5 - 5.5 the following week to take the title on the third tie break, board count between the two sides. Middlesex, a side with a poor away record, defaulted the entire match. Tough on Surrey, one might have thought.

At that stage, Surrey had completed their fixtures. They beat Hertfordshire twice, and won at home and lost away to both Middlesex and Essex. Essex had an identical record against Middlesex and Herts, so with both teams on 4 points from a possible 6, a tie break was required. The first tie break is the result of the matches between the two tying sides, but that did not help because both were home wins by the score of 6.5 - 5.5. The next tie break is the total game points by the two sides. From their 6 matches Surrey scored 38.5, from their 5 matches Essex scored 32. Of course, if Essex were awarded the 12 points defaulted by Middlesex, Essex would have won, but there is a rule which disallows this and a formula to take account of the fact that Essex played one fewer match than Surrey. This formula deducts from Surrey's game points total half of the points they scored in their two matches against Middlesex. Both these matches were 8 - 4 home wins, so Surrey were now left with 32.5 points and were therefore awarded the title.

To say that Essex were unjustly robbed of their title would be a masterly understatement. In every other comparison other than the contrived one actually used, Essex fared better than Surrey. In the Middlesex v Essex match, the Essex side lost 7 - 5 compared to Surrey's 8 - 4 in the same fixture. If just one Middlesex player had arrived to play the match against Essex, then Essex would have won the title, and of course the application of the tie-break rule deprived Essex of a home fixture but allowed some of Surrey's home score to offset their poor away match against Middlesex.

When Essex and Surrey met again in the semi-final of the National stages of the Competition, the Essex players regarded it very much as a play-off, albeit an unofficial one. The strongest available team was assembled at the Briscoe Community Centre, Basildon, and battle commenced.

Initially, things were not going well for Essex. Edward Morris and Heather Walker both lost fairly quickly, and although it took Matthew Cain a lot longer, he was in a poor position from an early stage and was never able to create any counterplay. Although there were some good positions for Essex players, it was a while before any of them were converted into points, and indeed the first win for Essex came from an unlikely quarter. Graham Walker appeared to have played himself into trouble against Leila Tillett, but suddenly he turned the tables and won neatly. Michael Bridger was a pawn up in a rook and pawns ending, but progress was difficult and the win only occurred after his opponent allowed the exchange of rooks. After 7 results Surrey were still 4 - 3 ahead.

Nigel Nice and Phil Daley, both on their debuts, won in style, and from that point onwards it became a rout. Once the score reached 6 - 4, Essex had won as their wins had come on high boards. Even so, John Sneesby was comfortably placed and duly scored the seventh point, while Ron Prickett, now that the match was in the bag, offered his opponent a draw which the Surrey player unwisely declined.

The finals take place at the Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire, this coming weekend when Essex's opponents will be Merseyside. All the County finals take place at the same time, and for the second successive year Essex are represented at both U100 and U175 level, the only County to have two teams competing.

Walker,G - Tillett,L [D20]

Essex v Surrey

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