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British Championship 2014 Rd. 3 Ward vs Hebden.

At the British Championship in Aberystwyth, the anticipated late rush of entries from the better players did not materialise as several of them were preparing for the forthcoming Olympiad. This left defending champion David Howell as the clear favourite, ahead of a small number of talented aspirants, eager to snatch the crown, given half a chance and a following wind.

The Round 3 draw on Monday paired up two of the seven competing Grandmasters, the 1996 champion, Chris Ward (46) against Mark Hebden (56). Hebden is currently the stronger of the two, and has always featured in the ultimate destination of the title, without actually winning it himself.

White: C. G. Ward (2422). Black: M. L. Hebden (2554).

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 White makes a positive bid for the centre ground. 4…d6 5.Nge2 0–0 6.Ng3 c5 Black has transposed into a Sicilian Defence with an early fianchetto, an opening on which Ward is an expert. 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Taking towards the centre files is the correct thing to do, and now Black is stuck with an immobile backward pawn. 9…Na6 10.0–0 Nc7 11.a4 Na6 12.Bg5 h6 13.Be3 Re8 14.Qd2 h5 15.Bg5 Now the bishop can return to its intended spot. 15…Qc7 16.f4 White commits another pawn to the centre.  16…Nh7 17.Bh4 Bh6 18.Bc4 Nb4 19.Rae1 All White’s pieces are now beautifully placed, and he is almost spoiled for choice as to how best to continue. 19…Bd7 20.Qf2 Unpinning his f-pawn. 20…a6 21.e5 Bxa4 22.exd6 If 22.Nxa4 b5 winning the piece back and netting a pawn. 22…Qa5 If 22…Qxd6 23.Nge4 and Black has several ways of losing material – e.g. 23…Qxf4 24.Qxf4 Bxf4 25.Rxf4. 23.Ra1 There now follows a very finely balanced series of threats and counter-threats. 23…b5 Attacking the bishop, countered by 24.d7 Red8 25.Qxc5 Now the Black queen is unguarded, preventing PxB. 25…Bf8 26.d6 Rxd7 27.Rxa4 Bxd6 If 27…Qd8. 28.Qxd6 bxa4 29.Qxg6+! The “defending” pawn is actually pinned. The end is near. 29…Kh8 30.Bf6+ Nxf6 31.Qxf6+ Kh7 32.Nf5 1–0. Black resigned in view of White’s several mating combinations, which can be worked out from here.

At the end of Round 3, Ward was one of only three of the 58 players still on a maximum score, the others being Justin Tan (17) and Jonathan Hawkins (31), but there’s a long way to go yet, with 8 more gruelling games ahead.

In last week’s position, White won a piece with 1.QxN QXQ 2.Nxe6+ forking the queen, after which the win should be routine.

In this position from a game earlier this year, how did Black launch a stinging attack?

Black to play and win significant material.

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