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Adams Wins Again…. but it wasn’t easy!

The final 3 rounds of the British Championship finished with the result most people would have expected, but not without a few twists and turns along the way. In Rd. 7 Adams beat the defending champion, Gawain Jones and thereafter, maybe thinking “job done”, played steadily to get draws against Nick Pert and Danny Gormally. Meanwhile, Luke McShane drew against Hebden in Rd. 7 but finished strongly to beat Fodor and, perhaps surprisingly, former champion David Howell, leaving Adams and McShane tied on 7/9 pts, necessitating a Rapidplay play-off.

Adams won the first game (see this week’s position) and only needed another steady draw to clinch the title. But no; McShane hit back to inflict Adams’ only loss in all the games he’s played in this event since 1989. So, at 1-1 this meant 2 further play-off games had to be played at an even quicker pace – Blitz games, so fast that the computerised board and internet couldn’t keep up with transmitting the moves on screen, but not too fast for Michael who won them both.

This was Michael’s 6th title, having first been champion in 1989 in Plymouth, – the greatest number since Jonathan Penrose won his 10th in 1966. Here is his solitary loss, played at the speed of 20 minutes for all moves, plus an extra 10 seconds per move, which for this game is an average of 18 seconds per move.

White: L. McShane (2669). Black: M. Adams. (2706).

Guioco Pianissimo [C50]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 Also called the Italian Game. 4.d3 This constitutes the quietest form of this opening. Nf6 5.0–0 0–0 6.h3 h6 7.c3 d6 8.Re1 a6 9.Bb3 Re8 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.Nf1 Bxb3 12.axb3 d5 13.Qe2 Qd7 14.b4 Bf8 15.Ng3 Rad8 16.Kf1 g6 17.Qc2 Re6 18.Qa4 dxe4 19.dxe4 Qd3+ 20.Kg1 Red6 21.Be3 Qc4 22.Rac1 Kh7 23.b3 Qe6 24.c4 R6d7 25.c5 Rd3 26.Rc4 Na7 27.Bc1 Nd7 28.Qa2 Nb8 29.Bd2 Nbc6 30.Nf1 Nb5 31.Ne3 Nbd4 32.Nxd4 Nxd4 33.Bc3 Nb5 34.Bb2 c6 35.Ba1 h5 36.Rc2 Bh6 37.Nc4 Nd4 38.Bxd4 R8xd4 39.Qb2 h4 40.Rce2 Bf4 41.Qc2 Kg7 42.Rf1 Kg8 43.Ree1 Qd7 44.Nd6 Rd2 45.Qc3 R2d3 46.Qc2 Rd2 47.Qb1 Rxb4 48.Nc4 Rd4 49.Rd1 Rb5 50.b4 a5 51.Rxd4 Qxd4 52.Nd6 Trapping Black’s rook. 52…Qxb4 53.Nxb5 Qxc5 54.Nc7 White is now a rook up, but if his 3 connected passed pawns can get moving there may yet be a chance, especially at this speed.  54…b5 55.Rd1 a4 56.Qd3 Bg5 57.Qd7 Qc4 58.Qe8+ Kh7 59.Qxe5 Qc2 60.Rf1 Qd2 61.Ne8 Bh6 62.Nf6+ Kg7 63.Ng4+ Kh7 64.Qf6 Bg7 65.Qxh4+ Kg8 66.Nf6+ Bxf6 67.Qxf6 a3 68.e5 Qc3 Black defends his c-pawn at the expense of allowing the rook to grab the d-file. 69.Rd1 Kh7 70.Rd8 and Black can’t avoid mate on h8. 1–0

In last week’s position, Adams (B) was let off the hook by playing 1…g5+ 2.PxP would lose his queen, so he must play 2…Kh5, but then Black has 2…Qxh3 mate.

Here is the final position from the 1st play-off game against McShane. Adams (W) to move and seal the win.

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