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British Championships @ Llandudno (15.07.2017.)

No sooner have the club and inter-county competitions ended for the season, than the British Championships loom on the horizon. This year’s event starts a fortnight today at Venue Cymru, a spectacular development on the Llandudno seafront, which is proving popular with players, if the current list of entries is anything to go by. With more coming in every day, total entries have already reached 859, of which 92 are in the main event, the British Championship. The top seeds are David Howell, Gawain Jones and Luke McShane, while Devon-based players include Keith Arkell, Jack Rudd and Brian Hewson. John Nunn has entered the 50+ Seniors section.

The healthy entry may be something to do with the fact that the schedule has been shortened from 11 rounds to 9. The previous formula consisted of 2 full weeks with a rest day in between, totalling at least 2½ weeks away from home, which is a big commitment in time and money, while the new arrangement means it will last just over one week.

Anyone can keep up to date with developments throughout on the event website where games may be followed as they are being played.

Here is another of Devon’s four wins in their recent U-180 Championship Final against MIddlesex.

White: Bill Ingham (165). Black: D. Jagdeep (161)

Queen’s Pawn Opening – Mason Variation.

1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 Mason’s Variation, named after the Irishman, James Mason (1845 – 1905) who played it regularly. 2…Nf6 3.e3 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.c4 c6 6.Qb3 Qb6 7.c5 Qxb3 8.axb3 Nbd7 9.Nc3 Nh5 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 g5 12.Bg3 Nxg3 13.hxg3 Bg7 14.b4 White’s freedom to expand on the queenside and the greater flexibility of his rooks along the board edges are keys to his win. 14…0–0 15.b5 White sensibly seeks to eliminate his weaker doubled pawn. 15…Rfb8 16.Kd2 e5 17.b4 exd4 18.Nxd4 Bxd4 19.exd4 Kg7 20.Bd3 Bxd3 21.Kxd3 Nf6 eyeing up g4. 22.Rhe1 Kf8 23.Ra2 Re8 24.Rea1 Black is unable to double his rooks on the e-file without losing pawns, so White can afford to leave his king to guard that. 24…Ne4 25.Nxe4 dxe4+ 26.Ke3 securely blocking the e-file. Now White’s rooks can get to work. 26…cxb5 27.Rxa7 Rab8 28.R1a5 b6 29.R5a6 Kg7 30.Rxb6 Rxb6 31.cxb6 Rb8 32.b7 f5 33.d5 Kf6 Allowing White’s rook to get where it needs to be … behind his pawn, but there seems nothing much better. 34.Kd4 h5 35.Ra6+ Ke7 36.Rb6 Resigns, as White will shortly have 3 passed pawns supported by rook & king, while Black’s 4 pawns will not be able to break through on the other wing. 1–0

The solution to last week’s problem was 1.Bb4! and any move by the e-pawn next move will be mate or if 1…d3 2.Qa1#.

In this ending from a game played last year, Black is all set to checkmate, if it was his move – but it’s not. What, if anything, can White do about it?

It's White's Move

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