Trading challenge without tears

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ENTRANTS to the European Stock Exchange Competition (Esec) Investor Challenge '95 are promised all the thrills of trading on the stock market with none of the spills. It claims to be "the only virtual reality stock market trading competition in the UK", and gives competitors the chance to invest a notional £100,000 in shares, gilts and options with no danger of damaging their real bank balances.

Anyone who is not a fund manager can enter. In return for £40 the entrant receives an Investor Challenge Pack, containing a guide book to the stock market, three months' subscription to What Investment magazine, a new book, Traded Options, a Private Investor's Guide, and an in-depth report on their own portfolio at the game's finish.

Competitors proceed to transact deals on a telephone service set up specially for the challenge. Orders must be placed each day by the close of trading, and will be booked at the official closing prices. Regular progress reports and a telephone Help Desk will be available.

The competition starts on 24 April, and offers a first prize of £5,000, but its emphasis is on learning. Daniel Hodson, chief executive of the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe), says: "Entrants will ideally be learning about the workings of the stock market and trying out new strategies."

The challenge has already proved successful in the Netherlands and Germany, drawing interest from more than 150,000 participants. Once it has taken off in the UK, Esec has set its sights on organising competitions elsewhere in Europe.

q Further information on 0171- 628 8282.