Essex                        Surrey 
1 Tim Hebbes 174 (W)       1 0 def 
2 Trevor D Coote 172         Chris RA Clegg 168 
3 Ivor BN Smith 173        1 0 Kenneth FH Inwood 165 
4 Rod J Nixon 170          1 0 R John Wilcox 164 
5 William L Saunders 171   1 0 David Malcolm 163 
6 George E McNally 172       Nicholas D Grey 163 
7 David J Millward 169     0 1 Martin C Page 159 
8 Ian D Hunnable 166       1 0 Jeremy S Tymms 155 
9 Lawrence Trent 151       1 0 Paul R Archer 154
10 Paul R Barclay 165      1 0 Stuart R Jones 153 
11 Martin McCall 164         Angus S James 152 
12 Ivan J Myall 164        1 0 Colin PL Parker 147 
13 Roy Heppinstall 162     1 0 Fred C Manning 132 
14 John White 161          1 0 def 
15 Neville H Twitchell 162 1 0 def 
16 John A Philpott 155     1 0 def 
                         13  2 

The first cycle of matches of the U175 competition had been marked by an extremely close series of contests, with half the games tied and no margin of victory greater than 9-7. It was also noticeable that, in marked contrast to the previous season, there had been no opposition defaults in the matches played by Essex.

Given this background, while Essex would normally expect to win a home match against Surrey, the 13 - 2 margin that was achieved in the first match of the second cycle was astounding, and represents a record for the competition. The day began badly for Surrey with two defaults being conceded at 10.00. Worse was to follow as, of the fourteen Surrey players then expected at Wanstead House, board 1 failed to arrive altogether and board 14 missed the one hour default deadline. As if this was not bad enough for the visitors' morale, the score quickly became 5-0 thanks to a brilliant brevity by Ivan Myall. Playing Black against the Nimzo-Indian, Ivan was able to offer a queen sacrifice as early as move 13. The queen could not be taken, but it was simply left en prise and the following move White was unable to turn down the offer. Ivan then demonstrated a forced mate.

Such a start cannot have helped the morale of the visitors, as even draws such as those that followed in the games of Martin McCall and George McNally simply served to push Essex closer to victory in the match. Following wins by Ian Hunnable and Paul Barclay, Trevor Coote's draw took Essex to the magic 8 points, and it then became a question of how large the ultimate victory margin would be. The next five games to finish were all Essex wins. It was particularly pleasing to see Lawrence Trent, promoted up the order in view of his recent successes, recover after a poor opening to claim the full point. Only in the final game of the afternoon did Surrey achieve a victory, and even there post-game analysis suggested that David Millward may have resigned prematurely.

The next match, against Sussex at Hassocks in a fortnight, will provide a considerably stiffer test. Nevertheless, this win represents a real confidence boost to an Essex squad that had rather under-performed in the first half of the season and puts the County in an extremely favourable position should aggregate game points come into play as a tie-break.

As if this were not enough, the Essex under-125 team, playing at the same venue, met an even more depleted side as Surrey defaulted the bottom 6 boards before the match was started and then two later non-arrivals gave Essex an 8 point lead. A complete whitewash was averted only when Iain Gunn agreed a top board draw to make the final score Essex 15.5 - Surrey 0.5.

Colin Parker v Ivan Myall

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 b6 5 Nf3 Bb7 6 e3 Ne4 7 Bd3 f5 8 0-0 Bxc3 9 bxc3 0-0 10 Ba3 d6 11 Rb1 Rf6 12 Nd2 Rh6 13 g3 Qh4! 14 Nf3 Ng5! 15 gxh4 Nxf3+ 16 Kg2 Ne1++ 17 Kh3 Bg2+ 18 Kg3 Rg6+ 19 Kf4 Rg4 mate (Acknowledgments: John Philpott)