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British Championships Fast Approaching (12.07.2014.)

For the next three weeks, attention will be focussed on the British Championships that get under way next weekend at Aberystwyth University.

Although late entries will still be coming in, the current favourite, and strongest entry so far, is defending champion David Howell. He always appears to be calm and impassive at the board and plays a steady risk-free game, but applying increasing pressure as the game goes on. This Rd. 3 game against the 1996 Champion from last year’s championship at Torquay, put Howell on his way to the title.

White: Chris Ward (2432). Black: David Howell (2639).

Nimzo-Indian Defence [E32]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Ward published a book on this opening in which he said he had “employed it ever since the word go”. Here, Howell uses Ward’s own best weapon against him. 4.Qc2 The Classical Variation – Capablanca’s favoured continuation, but often criticised as being relatively innocuous. Other popular options at this point are 4.a3 the Sämisch Variation, immediately challenging the pinning knight; 4.e3 The Rubinstein Variation, probably the most popular way for White to develop patiently but effectively or 4.Qb3 Spielmann’s Variation. 4…0–0 5.e4 d6 6.e5 dxe5 7.dxe5 Ng4 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.Qxc3 Nc6 10.Nf3 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Be3 e5 13.Rd1 Qe8 14.Be2 Bg4 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Nd4! 17.Rxd4 Having to give up the exchange but probably better than the alternatives. Certainly not 17.Bxd4?? exd4+ winning the queen. 17…exd4 18.Qxd4 c6 19.0–0 Qe7 20.b4 Rfd8 21.Qc5 Being materially down, White would normally want to avoid exchanges which only serve his opponent’s best interests e.g. 21.Qc3 or 21.Qf4 would keep the queens on. 21…Qxc5 22.Bxc5 Rd3 23.b5 Nd7 24.Bb4 a5 25.bxa6 Rxa6 26.c5 Rdxa3 27.Be2 If 27.Bxa3 Returning material in order to obtain other advantage elsewhere e.g. 27…Rxa3 28.Rc1 Ra5 and Black will have the winning advantage of 2 passed pawns. 27…R3a4 28.Bc3 Ra8 29.Rd1 Nxc5 0–1

Westcountry interest in the championship will centre on the fortunes of Jeremy Menadue and Theo Slade from Cornwall; Keith Arkell, Jack Rudd, Alan Brusey and John Fraser from Devon and Martin Simons and Allan Pleasants from Dorset.

In last week’s new 2-mover by Dave Howard, White should play 1.Rf6! threatening 2.Rxe6 mate. Black has four inadequate ”tries” viz. 1…Rxd6 or 1…exf5 then 2. f4 mate. If 1…Kxd6 2. Bf4 mate and if 1…Bc6 2.Rxe6 mate.

David Howell is Black in this position and has a winning move ready. Can you spot it?

David Howell (B) to play and win.