The British Championship finished in Sheffield last night and the prizegiving is being held this morning, days after going to go to press. However, after six of the scheduled eleven rounds the cream was definitely rising to the top, with Michael Adams, Nigel Short and Gawain Jones in the joint lead on 5/6 points, all three overtaking David Howell who had been the sole leader after the previous round. Surely, the winner must come from this quartet.
Here is an example of Adams’ play, taken from Round 4, where he faced an opponent with a chasm of strength and experience between them. There is no great firework display – just a quick, efficient snuffing out of any resistance.
White: C. Atako (2110). Black: M. Adams (2715).
Sicilian Defence – Closed System [B25].
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 White goes for a closed approach to the Sicilian, perhaps fearing his opponent’s attacking skills, but Adams is adept in all types of opening. 3…g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6 6.Nf3 e5 Establishing an outpost on d4 which was Botvinnik’s recommendation. 7.0–0 Nge7 8.Nd2 A move that hints at f4 to follow, so Black gets his response in first. 8…h5 9.Nc4 Nd4 10.Ne2 Bg4 11.f3 Be6 12.Nxd4 cxd4 13.f4 Rc8 14.f5 White gambits a pawn in order to break open Black’s yet-uncastled corner. 14…gxf5 15.exf5 Nxf5 16.Be4 Ne7 17.Bxb7 the pawn is retrieved, but it is Black’s advanced pawns that look the more ominous. 17…Rc7 18.Bf3 d5 19.Na3 The knight is sidelined. 19.Nd2 would have kept the knight central but blocked in queenside pieces. 19…h4 20.g4 h3 21.Bd2 Qd7 22.Be1 0–0 23.Bb4 Rb8 24.Bxe7 Qxe7 25.Rb1 Rb6 26.Qc1 Qh4 Threatening to win the pawn and mate to follow. 27.g5 e4 0–1 White resigned, for if 28.Bd1 or 28.dxe4 dxe4 29.Bd1 …e3 will shut the queen out of the game, and mate via g5 and g2 must inevitably follow. Black’s advanced pawns were the deciding factor.
After overall entries eventually rose to about 950, and the prize money attracting most of Britain’s top active players, the event must be deemed a great success.
In last week’s game position the knight does not move but its role is key to the mate, thus, 1.Rd5+ Kh4 2.Rc4+ Kh3 3.Rh5 mate.
Recently, I was approached by a descendent of the problemist H. F. W. Lane, who had been researching his life in general but knew nothing about his chess activities. In fact, there is little to know beyond his dates (08.10.1878–08.1958) and that he was well-regarded as a composer in his day without being prolific or exceptional. This 2-mover is an example of his work.