HE has played chess for his country, is a respected member of his regional side and can unravell a rubiks cube in just 149 seconds.

It is little wonder then, that five-year-old Jeff Tomy’s opponent, despite having 83 years of experience on the player in front of him, admits the prospect of the game is “terrifying”.

For Bob Jones, organiser of the annual Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress, the match between Jeff and John Dawson, 88, is a demonstration of the benefits and beauty of the game.

“It is important to have physical fitness in life but it is also very important to have mental fitness. Chess is sport for the mind and it is something you can do at any age.

He added: “Young players are often very sharp.”

It is one of the first times the event, which is now in its 30th year, has seen the youngest competitor take on the oldest as 134 players went toe-to-toe for a slice of �2,000 prize money.

Jeff’s father, Tomy Joseph, said his son had first shown an interest in the game when he was three-years-old.

The youngster, who is from Watford and was one of 12 children taking part yesterday, has already represented England at a school level.

Speaking before the match, Mr Dawson of Saffron Walden, said: “It is terrifying. These children are usually really good although they are often graded quite low.

“It means if you go in too confident you could be in a for a rude shock.”

After more than an hour-and-a-half, age and experience eventually triumphed and Mr Dawson won.