The first Dunmow Congress, sponsored by Cambridge Financial Planning, took place at one of the most pleasant rural settings of any congress I can recall: the Helena Romanes School is set to the north of the ancient town of Dunmow in rolling countryside. Participants in the Open Championship were therefore treated to a fine view across a wooded valley which may have compensated to some degree for the disturbingly bright sunlight which affected rounds 3 and 4.

The three junior sections were qualifying events for the London Junior Championships which take place next weekend. Once again, there were too few competitors in the under-8 section for it to stand alone, so the youngest players were forced in with the under 10s. Undeterred, the under 8s dominated the tournament as Dana Hawrami (Ilford) scored an excellent 6/6 and Ricky Martin (Saffron Walden) was the last player to lose his 100% record. Indeed, his 5th round game against Dana was an intensely close affair as Dana generally played the better chess but twice or three times lost material through excessive haste. At one stage Ricky missed a very fine mate in 2 as Dana was trying to queen a pawn, and later an unusual win in which white was down to his last pawn while black still had three, white's king dominating the position. Ricky's older brother Joe joined him on 4.5, as did Matthew Cranwell (Suffolk) and a sizeable group of 4 included Essex's wunderkind, 5-year-old George O'Toole.

There are very encouraging signs at last of a resurgence of strength in the younger age groups after a lull of a year or two. 1996 was the best ever year for Essex Juniors as the Under 9s and the under-11s each won their National Championships. Since then, it has proved impossible to maintain the strength of those teams. Now, however, it appears that our under 9 team has a very strong group at its heart as Dana Hawrami is clearly playing excellent chess while still only 7; Alex O'Toole is only a year older and Alex's brother George, as an under-5, will be a member of the Under-9 team until 2002! Add in Abigail Flint (scoring 4/6 in the under-12 section at Dunmow) and we have the makings of a team which should score well next Spring.

The under-12 section was dominated by players from Southend. First place was shared by Edward Morris and Antony O'Toole, each with 5 points, while Matthew Jellett and Daniel Hedges shared 3rd place with Alan Hawrami, the only Ilford representative in the top 5. It had at first appeared that Matthew would run away with the competition, as a stroke of luck against Edward Morris allowed Matthew to escape with a draw. That luck ran out against Alan Hawrami as an ending was reached in which each side had rook, knight and 3 pawns. Alan's knight appeared to be in a bit of trouble, stuck on h7 with no obvious means of escape, but with the rook's help he managed to extricate it at the cost of a pawn, but then Alan set up a battery in which the knight moved away to attack black's rook while discovering an attack on the black king. Any king move allowed a knight fork to win the rook, and with time running out, Matthew was in trouble. It simply did not occur to him to move the rook out of the knight's range, when the discovered check would have been harmless. Alan lost his last game against Antony O'Toole.

Twenty-two players contested the combined section which constituted the Open and the Major, and the form book was strictly applied as Robin Slade marched his way to 5/5. In the final round he played his club mate Steve Collins and Robin appeared to be heading for a win as he was the exchange up in the endgame. However, Steve still had some pawn threats and while addressing this problem Robin blundered a rook. The generous sponsorship allowed the prize funds to be maintained, even though the entries were rather lower than had been hoped, so this assured Robin of the first prize of £64 in the Open, while Steve took the £64 first prize in the Major. Second prize in the Open went to Alex Barnes (Ipswich) whose only loss was against Robin Slade, while Graham Walker took second place in the Major, finishing with a fine sacrificial attack against Terry Cole (Ilford).

Representing the Sponsors, Mr. Greg Thompson announced at the prize giving that his company was prepared to extend the sponsorship for another year, so the second Dunmow Rapidplay Congress will take place at the Helena Romanes School on the first Sunday in December 1999.

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"Pay per view" chess on the Internet is now with us. The first match of this type took place recently between Kasparov and Kramnik at a very rapid time control and the match, which took place over two days, was tied at 12 each. At $1000 per game, both players were no doubt satisfied with their weekend overtime.

The following game was an especially impressive win in which the Word Champion was completely tied up, resigning when it became inevitable the White would win the f-pawn and invade.

Kramnik,V - Kasparov,G [E97]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 a5 10.Ba3 axb4 11.Bxb4 Nd7 12.a4 f5 13.Ng5 Nc5 14.Bxc5 dxc5 15.Bf3 Ra6 16.a5 Kh8 17.Ne6 Bxe6 18.dxe6 f4 19.Qxd8 Rxd8 20.Rfb1 Rb8 21.Nd5 Nxd5 22.cxd5 Bf8 23.Be2 Ra7 24.a6 Bd6 25.h4 Kg7 26.Bc4 b6 27.Bb5 h6 28.Kf1 Rf8 29.Ke2 Rf6 30.Rb3 Kf8 31.Rh3 Ke7 32.Kd3 Kf8 33.Kc4 Kg7 34.Bc6 Kf8 35.Kb5 Kg7 36.Bb7 Kf8 37.Rg1 Ke7 38.g3 f3 39.Rc1 Kd8 40.Rc3 h5 41.Rh1 Ke7 42.Rd1 1-0

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