The first London Junior Championships qualifying tournament of the new season took place at the Gilberd School, Colchester and attracted one hundred competitors. This was in stark contrast to the proposed event at Stowmarket the previous weekend, which the organisers decided to cancel because, by the Thursday evening, only 45 entries had been received. Roger Sharman, the Colchester event organiser, has been running junior events for many years, and although these events have proved to be enormously successful, Roger decided a couple of years ago to dispense with the thinly-supported under-16 and under-18 events and replace them with an Open. It was the Open Championship which was the salvation of the Colchester event as the 32 entrants made it by far the largest section.

It is a sad fact that junior tournaments are currently being far less well supported than was the case a few years ago. There are no doubt a number of factors at work here and all counties seem to be struggling to attract the younger age groups. However, one area supplying far fewer players than was the case a few years ago is Suffolk. Suffolk, quite remarkably for such a small county, was amongst the leaders in British Junior Chess for a brief period, a success which was due mainly to two organiser, Bob Jones and Kevin O'Connell. Bob has now retired from the post of Junior Organiser and Kevin, who was not involved for so long in any case, has plenty to keep him occupied as an official of the World Chesss Federation.

In the Colchester Open, the top seed was Steve Gregory, of the Ipswich club. However, Steve was beaten in round two by David Flynn, formerly a member of Basildon but now working for IBM in Southampton. David has acquired the happy knack of improving while an adult: not so long ago he would have been regarded as easy pickings for anyone graded over 130, but in August he won the British Championship for players graded under 125 and in Colchester his 4/6 represented a grading performance of 163. The event winner was Tony Rubin, also of Ipswich, who scored 5.5/6. His draw was against Shaun Munson, another Ipswich player. Robin Slade (Chelmsford) was second, with 5 points. Here again Suffolk players had some influence because Robin's only loss was to Mark Gray, a 14 year old from the Ipswich club. Third place was shared by Shaun Munson, Dominic Allen (Powdermill) and Andy King (Grays). Dominic, who celebrated his 15th birthday only last month, played especially well, as he chose to take a half point bye in round 1 and thereafter was undefeated giving him a grading performance of 170. Andy was beaten in round 1 by Peter Flint (Chelmsford) but went on to win four out of his next 5 games, conceding a draw to Dominic.

The under-14 section was well won by Alex O'Neill (Ilford) with 5/6, who won the under-13 Championship. Alex reached 4/4 and then agreed draws with Ezra Lutton (Basildon) and Ben Williams (St. Neots). Three players shared second place. John Sneesby took the under-14 trophy but Ezra Lutton and Michael Bridger also scored 4. This was an exceptionally tough section, in which any one of about 10 competitors were capable of producing a winning performance.

The under-12 section was also tough, and again everyone from the top 10 of the 19 competitors have won events in the past. As it happened, three players pulled well away from the rest as Heather Walker (Southend), Jason Klimach (Ilford) and Josiah Lutton (Basildon) score 5.5, 5 and 4.5 respectively. All three played one another and the game which separated them was Heather's win over Josiah. In fact, there was a great deal of doubtful chess played and all the games amongst the top three swung to and fro. There were no players finishing on 4 points, but five of them on 3.5. This is the required score for qualfying for the London under-12 minor championship. The three on 4.5 or better all qualified for the major championships. Heather won the under-12 title, Josiah the under-11.

The under 10 section was contested by 18 players and Lee Wicks (Colchester) made certain of first place with a round to spare. This was just as well as Lee lost his final round to Chris Russell (Norwich) to finish on 5. Two other players joined Chris in second place: Alex O'Toole (Southend) and Abigail Flint (Galleywood) scored 4.5.

Ten players took part in the under-8 section and the outright winner, and the only player to score 6/6 in the entire competition, was David Donaghy (Ipswich). Nathanael Lutton (Basildon) and Dana Hawrami (Ilford) shared second place with 4.5.

The next junior tournament to be held in Essex will be the Basildon event on 15th November. However, during the half term break the Essex Junior Chess Asssociation will be organising a Coaching Day at Temple Sutton School, Southend. Players wishing to participate in this should contact Peter Walker on 01702 309693.

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The following fine win is by Bogdan Lalic, playing for his native Croatia in the Olympiad, although he now lives in Britain. His wife, Susan, is representing England.

Lalic,B (2560) - Zapata,A (2470)

33rd Olympiad men Elista RUS (11), 09.10.1998

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 c5 6.d5 0-0 7.Nf3 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Bg4 10.0-0 Re8 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nbd7 13.Re1 Qa5 14.Be3 b5 15.a3 Nb6 16.e5 dxe5 17.fxe5 Rxe5 18.Bxc5 Rxe1+ 19.Qxe1 Re8 20.Qf2 Nfd7 21.Bb4 Qa6 22.d6 Re5 23.Kh1 Nc4 24.a4 Bf8 25.Rd1 Qb6 26.Qxb6 axb6 27.b3 Ne3 28.Rc1 bxa4 29.bxa4 Nf5 30.Nb5 Re8 31.Rc7 Rd8 32.Bd5 Ne5 33.Bc3 Nd7 34.Bc6 Nb8 35.Bf6 Nxc6 36.Rxc6 Rd7 37.Rc7 1-0

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