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The Independent Culture
THE TRADITIONAL final event of the final Onyx Grand Prix, the Islington Open took place last weekend with over 100 players competing in the three sections. These resulted in victory for IM Simon Williams in the Open on 4.5/5, ahead of Mark Hebden, Jovanka Houska and J Sherwin on 4; while the Major was won by M Brazier on 4.5/5 and the Minor by T Dineen and E Leung also both on 4.5/5.

Although absent at the York Vikings tournament, this year's British Champion, Julian Hodgson, had already wrapped up the pounds 3,000 Grand Prix first prize with a perfect 200/200.

It was his second victory - the first was in 1990 - and he was followed by Mark Hebden 195.5, Keith Arkell 194.7 and Bogdan Lalic 190.8.

The Grand Prix always comprises a number of different sections, notably the so-called Prixette which was won by Jovanka Houska on 81.5/100, streets ahead of Heather Richards on 64.0. Houska has played excellently this month, preceding her second equal at Islington with a clear first at the Kensington Rapidplay tournament on 12 December: though Simon Williams's victory at Islington enabled him to pip her at the post in the Junior Prix, with 84.4/100 while she was second on 81.5. Meanwhile N. Burrows won the Amateur Prix with 48.3/50; the British Braille Chess Association champion Graeme Lilley won the Disabled Prix with 38.7/50; and the Senior Prix was taken by Brian Shaw with 35.0/50.

More than 15,000 players compete on the Grand Prix circuit which has been contested annually since 1974. Next year the Grand Prix will welcome a new sponsor, the Terence Chapman Group plc, which provides IT consultancy to the financial sector. The group is headed by Terry Chapman, a former London Junior Champion and easily the strongest chess player ever to head a UK public company.

Although he was only second this time, Mark Hebden does take a maximum 40/40 bonus into next year's Grand Prix. This was his typically efficient win in the first round at Islington. Although White won a pawn - and indeed it appears that if 18 Ne7+ Kf7 19 Qxd6 Qf3 20 Qc7 Qxf2+ 21 Kh1 Qf3+ 22 Kg1 Black must acquiesce in perpetual check - Hebden's pressure was bound to count in a practical game and eventually he smashed his way through.

White: C Tippleston

Black: Mark Hebden

Islington Open '99 (Round 1)

Exchange Ruy Lopez