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British Championship 2012 – Play-off

In the British Championship, Stephen Gordon went into the final round as clear leader on 8½/11 points, followed by top seed Gawain Jones in clear 2nd place on 8. This placed Gordon in a dilemma familiar to several players in the past – should he press for a win with White against the dangerous Jonathan Hawkins, thereby chancing his arm to become British Champion, or risk losing and allowing Jones to overtake him and take the title. Having already experienced the pain of the former scenario (in 2007 at Great Yarmouth) he opted for safety, agreeing a short draw in 18 moves. He then watched as Jones won, to catch him on 9 points. The cash prizes could be shared, £4,575 each (another factor in the mix) but it necessitated a 2 game play-off to determine the title.

This proved to be a true Battle of the Roses as the Lancastrian Gordon locked horns with Yorkshire-born Jones. Gordon had the advantage of White in Game 1, an extraordinary affair in which he succeeded in winning Black’s queen for a bishop, yet still contrived to lose. Somewhat demoralised, he lost the 2nd game too. Here is that 1st game.

White: S. Gordon. Black: G. Jones. King’s Indian Defence. [E92]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Nbd7 8.0–0 c6 9.d5 c5 10.Ne1 Kh8 11.Kh1 Qe7 12.Qd2 Ng8 13.g3 f5 14.exf5 gxf5 15.Ng2 Ndf6 16.Rae1 Bd7 17.Bg5 Qf7 18.f4 e4 19.Nd1 b5 20.Nde3 Rab8 21.b3 b4 22.Qd1 Ne8?? 23.Bh5 Bc3 24.Bxf7 Rxf7 25.Re2 Ng7 26.Rc2 Bd4 27.h3 Nf6 28.g4 fxg4 29.hxg4 Rg8 30.f5 Ngh5 31.Bxf6+ 31.gxh5 allows counterplay against the White king, after 31…Rxg5. 31…Nxf6 Nevertheless, equal exchanges like this should help White. 32.Rf4 Rfg7 33.Rd2 Be5 34.Rdf2 Rg5 35.Kg1 Be8 36.Kf1 R8g7 37.Qc2 h5 38.Rxe4 Nxe4 39.Qxe4 hxg4 40.f6 Rh7 41.Ke2 Bg6 42.f7 Rxf7 43.Nf5 Rfxf5 44.Rxf5 Bxf5 They are back to approximate material equality, though the bishop pair and extra pawn will prove superior. 45.Qe3 Rh5 46.Nf4 Rh2+ 47.Kf1 Kh7 48.Ne6 Rh1+ 49.Kg2 Rh2+ 50.Kg1 Rh5 51.Kg2 g3 52.Ng5+ Kg7 53.Nf3 Bh3+ 54.Kg1 Rf5 55.Qe4 Rf4 56.Qd3 Rxf3 0–1 White resigned as he cannot prevent the return of the Black queen e.g. 57.Qxf3 Bd4+ 58.Kh1 g2+ 59.Kh2 g1=Q+.

Last week’s position was finished off by 1.Rxh6+ Kg7 2.Rg1+ Kxh6 3.Rg6 mate. This 2-mover is another new composition by Dave Howard of East Harptree, near Bristol.

White to mate in 2 (D. Howard 2012)

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