Quite apart from the British Championship, which was played over 11 rounds in Torquay, there were many "side-show" events, in which the participants were aiming to win Championships related to age or grade. The Junior Championships were mostly 7 round events, over five or six days in which play commenced every mornning at 9.30 and there were one or two afternoon rounds beginning at 2.45. The Senior Championship, fomerly known as the Veterans' Championship, was also a seven round event. The under-150, under-125 and under-100 Championships were 5 round events.

The two most significant junior events during the first week were the under-11 and under-13 Championships. Three Essex participants played in the under-13, and pride of place amongst these went to Lawrence Trent who shared 3rd place. His unbeaten 5/7 included a very hard fought draw against the Champion, Lorin d'Costa (Royston) in which Lorin won the exchange but Lawrence fought back hard to reach a deadlocked position in which Lawrence sacrificed a further piece but established connected passed pawns on the 5th rank. Neither side fancied their winning chances during the time scramble. Lorin finished on 6.5 points and this included probably one of the most popular wins in recent years in British Junior Chess. Lorin beat the leading Indian player, Kumardip Chakraborty. Kumardip has for the past three British Championships dominated his age group and when a visiting player demonstrates the inadequacy of the home-grown talent, grumbles are to be heard amongst the heirarchy.

The under-11 Championship was led from an early stage by Josiah Lutton, and after 4 rounds Josiah was alone on 100%. However, this run came to an end at the hands of David Howell, a seven year old from Sussex and almost certainly oneof the most prodigious talents this country has produced in recent years. Josiah lost again in round 6, to Patrick Reid (Northampton) so Patrick was the sole leader going into round 7. He then lost to Chetan Deva: Chetan had lost round 1 to Sabrina Chevannes, a vastly improved player who won the Girls' title with 5 / 7. Josiah also won his final round to finish on 5. Bobby Payne was unbeaten and finished on 5 points, and probably his finest win was in the final round against William Bennet (Cambridge). Bobby found himself in real trouble from the opening and almost certainly William missed a clear win. However, Bobby dug deep into his reserves to produce the sort of fighting chess which has achieved so much for him during the past two years. He turned the game around excellently and won it some way into the fourth hour. Heather Walker finished on 4, beating Lee Gold (London) in the final round: more was to be seen of Lee Gold the following week.

The under-8 title was won by David Howell, who scored 5.5 / 6. He took a half-point by in round 1 so that he could finish off his under-11 campaign, and then had 5 straight wins. The best score by an Essex player was Andrew Alexandrou's splendid 4.5, and this was closely followed by Abigail Flint's 4. Sadly for Abigail, she was unable to engage her brain for the first two rounds, by which time the Girls' title was out of reach: Poppy Aarons (London) won this with 4.5.

The under-9 was a three-way tie involving Samuel Buckley (Bath), Thomas Sharp (Kent) and Matthew Elstrop (Hampshire). Alarmingly, there was a total absence of challenge from Essex in this event, our only representative scoring a meagre 2/7.

The under-10 was a battle royal which was not decided until the final 10 minutes of the final round. After 5 rounds, two players shared the lead. Lee Gold and Stewart Trent each won their first 5 games and, of course, were obliged to play one another in round 6. This resulted in the predictable draw and in the last round Lee took white against David Howell and Stewart had black against the leading Scots player in the age group, Colin Hall.

Stewart was under pressure from the start. His brother Lawrence had already won his share of the under-12 title after agreeing a 7-move draw with Chetan Deva: Chetan therefore became the first player in the history of British Junior Chess to win two long-play titles in the same year (the Indian player Tanya Sachdev won the under-8 and shared the under-9 in 1994, but these are both rapidplay events). The state of the under-10 Championship was such that there was no pairing at the top in which a convenience draw would give two players a share of the title: both Stewart and Lee were playing opponents on lower scores for whom a win was the only result that mattered. It was therefore necessary for Stewart and Lee both to play for wins.

From an early stage Lee was in trouble. He lost the exchange and it looked as though the title was slipping away from him. However, even without queens he managed to whip up some pressure and established a passed g-pawn. Eventually, and after fluctuating fortunes, an ending was reached in which white had a bishop and three pawns against black's rook and 2. It was here that David made his final mistake as he blockaded the g6 pawn with his rook, allowing the bishop to arrive on f7. The rook therefore takes no further part in the game and white wins the king and pawn ending on the other side of the board. Lee could now relax: he had a share of the title whatever the result on board 2.

Stewart took the battle to his opponent, but could not find any kind of lasting advantage. His last chance came when, in an ending in which Stewart had a knight against his opponent's bishop, Stewart could have left his opponent with a weak h-pawn. This would probably have dropped, but the chance went begging and, knowing that a draw was no good to him, Stewart finally sacrificed the knight to try and win with his pawns. It was a forlorn hope, of course, and Lee took the title outright.

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The following game, played in the British Championship, netted the winner the Best Game award. Chris Ward is recognised as one of the leading exponents of the Sicilian Dragon, and this sparkling win demonstrates why the opening is so popular: it leads to exciting chess whoever wins.

Tebb,D - Ward,C

British (3), 1998

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Kb1 Qc7 12.Bb5 a6 13.Ba4 b5 14.Bb3 b4 15.Nd5 Bxd5 16.exd5 Rfb8 17.Ba4 Nxd5 18.Bxg7 Nb6 19.Qh6 Nxa4 20.Rd4 Nc3+ 21.Ka1 Qa5 22.bxc3 b3 23.cxb3 Qxc3+ 24.Kb1 Rxb3+ 25.axb3 Qxb3+ 26.Kc1 Rc8+ 27.Kd2 Rc2+ 28.Ke1 Qe6+ 29.Re4 Qa2 30.Kf1 Rf2+ 31.Ke1 Rxg2 32.Qc1 Qf2+ 33.Kd1 Qxf3+ 0-1

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