The British Championship title has remained in the Westcountry after Michael Adams beat Nigel Short in a dramatic 2 game play-off last Saturday, after tying on 8½ points at the end of the scheduled eleven rounds. The prizemoney was shared £6,000 each but the title could only go to one player, so a rapidplay tie-break was necessary. Adams had black in the first game which was drawn and this was the deciding game.
White: M. Adams (262). Black: N. D. Short (267).
Caro-Kann Defence. [B16]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Unusual. Nc3 is much more common, but Adams will want to put his opponent on the back foot as early as possible. 3…dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 Ruining Black’s kingside pawn structure. 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 e6 8.0–0 Nd7 9.c4 Having castled quickly White wastes no time in attacking White’s queenside where Black will presumably need to castle into later. 9…Qc7 10.Nh4 The knight will be safe here for a while, both defending g2 should the need arise and blocking the advance of Black’s h-pawn. 10…h5 11.h3 Bxe2 12.Qxe2 0–0–0 13.Rd1 Bd6 14.d5 White seeks to break open the centre. 14…Rde8 15.Be3 Bc5 allowing White a vital tempo in his queenside attack. 16.Bxc5 Nxc5 17.b4 Nd7 18.dxc6 Qxc6 19.c5 When time is short it is generally better to attack and be asking the questions. 19…f5 20.Rd4 Qc7 21.Rc1 Kb8 22.Nf3 Rd8 23.c6 Nf6 If 23…bxc6? 24.Rdc4 and the doubled rooks would spell serious trouble. 24.b5 Rxd4 25.Nxd4 b6 26.Qb2 Rh6 27.Nf3 Rg6 28.Ne5 Rg8 29.Rd1 Nd5 30.Nd7+ Ka8 The knight is beautifully placed on d7 but there is a greater need to eliminate Black’s knight. 31.Nf6 Nxf6 32.Qxf6 White now commands the d-file. 32…a6 33.Rd7 Qf4 34.Rd8+! 1-0. The fact that it’s check makes all the difference – not allowing Black a last hurrah. For example, 34.Qxf7? would allow Black counterplay e.g. 34…Qc1+ 35.Kh2 Qf4+ 36.g3?? would give Black a mate in 4. Anything else would probably force a draw by repetition.
So congratulations are due to Michael Adams, Cornish-born Taunton resident who thus retained the title he won at Canterbury last year.
Last week’s position by Lane was solved by 1. Rxf4! threatening 2.Rd4 mate. Black has three tries but White can deal with each one.
This position shows the end of a game from the West of England Championship in 1968 between the former champion H. V. Trevenen (Penzance) and B. A. Heath. The Cornishman was past his best by this stage in his career but was still capable of some sharp finishes. Can you spot White’s 3 move knockout combination?