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THE EUROPEAN Junior Championships finished on Saturday in Litohoro in Greece after nine hectic days, with a total of 349 boys and 276 girls taking part in the 10 sections.

Once the scourge of junior events, the English contingent, sponsored by Saitek, didn't win any medals this time, though Gawain Jones came close in the boys' under-12 before losing in the final round. He still made our best overall score - seventh equal, on 6/9 - while David Howell (b u-10), Melanie Buckley (g u-18) and Rosalind Kieran (g u-16) made 5.5/9; Stewart Haslinger (b u-18), Matthew Broomfield (b u-16) and Jessica Gilbert (g u-12) 5; Thomas Rendle (g u-14) 4, Aly Wilson (g u-14) 3.5 and Yasmin Ball (g u-10) 3.

The 16 from the other home countries did poorly, though three of the six Scots - Joseph Redpath (b u-14), Colin Hall (b u-12) and Elaine Rutherford (g u-16) made 50 per cent; as did two of the seven Welsh - John Tabatabai (b u-14) and Annie Powell (g u-14).

Not great results - but before criticising it's worth reflecting that chess is hard enough psychologically even for strong players; and how much worse it must be when you are surrounded by coaches much stronger than yourself.

Black was doing well after 18 ...Rxf2! but 21 ...bxc6 22 dxc6 d5 was safer than 21 ...Qc5 and 23 ...Na6?? - a gross blunder - 23 ...h5 was correct. If 31 ...dxc5 32 d6, the pawn queens.

White: Gawain Jones

Black: Dorian Vicol

Centre Counter

1 e4 d5

2 exd5 Nf6

3 Nf3 Nxd5

4 d4 Nf6

5 Be2 Bf5

6 0-0 e6

7 Bf4 Bd6

8 Bxd6 cxd6

9 c4 0-0

10 Nc3 Nbd7

11 d5 e5

12 Nh4 Bg6

13 Nxg6 fxg6!?

14 Qd2 Qb6

15 Rab1 Nc5

16 b4 Nce4

17 Nxe4 Nxe4

18 Qe3 Rxf2!

19 c5 Rxf1+

20 Rxf1 Qxb4

21 c6 Qc5?

22 Qxc5 Nxc5

23 Bg4 Na6??

24 cxb7 Rb8

25 Be6+ Kh8

26 Bc8 h5

27 Rf8+ Kh7

28 h4 Nc5

29 Rf7 Ne4

30 Rc7 Nc5?

31 Rxc5 g5

32 Ra5, and White soon won.