The British Championship finished late last night, though after 8 of the 11 scheduled rounds, there may well be a play-off this morning, as there was a bunch of 7 players all within a half point of the lead. If so, this can be watched live on the event website.
After the early rounds last week it looked as if last year’s joint champions, Jonathan Hawkins and David Howell, were determined to repeat the feat as they took an early lead. Yet the chasing pack were always on their heels and after Rd. 8 Danny Gormally and Nick Pert had taken the lead on 6½ points, with Keith Arkell, Simon Williams and John Emms joining the defending champions on 6.
This was Rd. 1’s Game of the Day.
White: J. Hawkins (2554). Black: J. D. Wager (2117).
Queen’s Gambit – Slav Defence [A84]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 e6 4.Nc3 f5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 Be7 7.Bd3 0–0 8.Qc2 Ne4 9.g4 Na6 10.a3 fxg4 11.Ne5 Nf6 12.c5 Nb8 As Black’s pieces pose no threat at all, White opens even more lines to the Black king. 13.h3 g3 14.Rg1 gxf2+ 15.Qxf2 Nh5 16.Qc2 Bh4+ 17.Kd2 Nxf4 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 19.exf4 Qf6 20.Rg4 Bf2 21.Bd3 Black now played 21…Bxd4 but then resigned as he could see what was coming next. e.g. 22.Rh4+ Black’s least worst reply is 22…Qxh4 23.Ng6+ Kg8 24.Nxh4. If 22…Kg8 23.Bh7+ Kh8 24.Ng6+ etc. Either way he loses his queen.1–0
After this Rd. 7 game, Pert took Howell’s place at the top of the leader board.
White: D. Howell (2698). Black: N. Pert (2562).
Zukertort Opening – English Variation. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 Bb7 4.d4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d5 Na6 7.e4 Nc5 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bh3 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Bxe5 11.Bh6 Preventing kingside castling. 11…d6 12.0–0 Bc8 13.Bg2 Bf5 14.Re1 Qd7 15.Re3 Bh3 16.b4 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 Na6 18.Rb1 c5 19.dxc6 Qxc6+ As it’s check Black can sidestep the threatened fork. 20.Kg1 Nc7 21.Qd3 Ne6 22.Nd5 Rc8 23.Rc1 g5 24.Ree1 Rg8 At this point, White’s pieces look to be active, while Black’s king is stuck in the centre and his rooks are not united, but… 25.Qxh7 Rh8 Oops! Every player knows that pawn-snatching can often lead to trouble. This simply loses a bishop. 26.Qe4 Rxh6 27.Qg4 Qd7 28.Rcd1 Rh8 White now gives up more material in order to try and get some activity for his remaining forces, but he is now a whole rook down. 29.Rxe5 dxe5 30.Nxb6 f5 31.Qf3 Qc6 32.Qxf5 White can’t afford to exchange queens. e.g. 32.Qxc6+ Rxc6 33.Nd7 Rd6 34.Nf6+ Kf7 32…axb6 White now gets in a few bravado checks, but they lead to nothing. 33.Qg6+ Kf8 34.Qf5+ Kg8 35.Qg6+ Kf8 36.Qf5+ Kg7 37.Qxe5+ Kg8 38.c5 Rh6 39.a4 Qxa4 40.Ra1 Qxb4 0–1
Last week’s position was solved by 1.Qa2! and if 1…RxQ 2.Bf3 mate. Black had about 10 other possible moves, but each one had a mating reply.
From this position in Rd. 3 Allan Pleasants of Weymouth was able to finish Black off with a sharp 4 move combination.