While the top players in British chess were making the headlines in a wide variety of international events in 1994, their slightly less well-known rivals spent the entire year at home amassing points towards the Leigh Grand Prix.

Now in its 21st year, the grand prix comprises most of the tournaments in Britain. The stronger the event and the higher the prizes, the more grand prix points and bonuses may be at stake.

At the end of the year, only a player's best results count towards the grand prix total, so there is an advantage in playing as many events as possible. This year, the battle for the £3,000 first prize ended in a close race between Mark Hebden, racing around the weekend circuit, and John Nunn, mainly playing in invitation internationals such as Hastings.

When the calculations were done, Hebden had scored 196.3 points out of a possible 200 from a dozen weekend events. John Nunn took second prize with 195. The women's "Prixette" was won by Susan Lalic.

The following game was a typical Saturday bash by Hebden. Black's purposeful and aggressive play in the opening contrasts with White's rather dithering approach. 7...Ne7!? is an interesting thought, saving the knight for g6 rather than f6, and ensuring that the f-pawn will have the support of a rook in its advance to f4.

When White spends two moves getting his knight to c2, then has it shut out from e3 by a move Black wanted to play anyway, Hebden's strategy had succeeded. Black's own apparent waste of two moves, with Bf5 and Bc8, only lessened White's ability to fight back on the black squares.

The move that makes this game something out of the ordinary is 18...Nge5! giving up a piece to gain a vital square and time for the attack. If White tries to hold his extra piece with 20.Rd2, then 20...Rh6 leaves him defenceless, for example: 21.Rxd8 Bg2

+ 22.Kxg2 Qh3+ 23.Kg1 Nxf3+.

White: C. Costello Black: M. Hebden 1 c4 e5 13 gxf4 exf4

2 Nc3 Bb4 14 Bf3 Bh3

3 Nf3 Bxc3 15 Re1 Ng6

4 bxc3 d6 16 Kh1 Qh4

5 g3 c5 17 Re2 Rf6

6 d3 f5 18 Rb1 Nge5

7 Bg2 Ne7 19 dxe5 Nxe5

8 0-0 0-0 20 Rxb7 Nxf3

9 Ne1 Nbc6 21 Ne1 Bg2+! 10 Nc2 f4 22 Kxg2 Qxh2+ 11 d4 Bf5 23 Kf3 Qh3 mate That game was played at the Islington Open, as was the following, in which Black is punished for extravagant opening play. At the end, Black can only watch sadly as the white h-pawn advances to queen.

White: M. Sadler Black: D. Moscovic 1 d4 c5 9 Qxh6! Qxb2

2 d5 f5?! 10 Kd2! Qxa1

3 h4!? Nf6 11 Qg7 Rf8

4 h5!? e6 12 d6! Rf7

5 Nc3 Na6 13 Qg8+ Rf8

6 Bg5 Qb6?! 14 Qxh7 Rf7

7 Bxf6 gxf6 15 Qg8+ Rf8

8 Qd2 Bh6? 16 Qg6+ resigns William Hartston