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London Chess Classic – 2011 – Open Section.

During the recent London Chess Classic, while most attention was directed at the nine chosen elite players in the top section, there was much going on among the massive Open Section, where the entry of 222 included a number of grandmasters and titled players from around the world. Paignton resident, Keith Arkell had several draws in the early rounds, but wins in rounds 6, 7, and 8 projected him up to top board for the 9th and final round, where he was one of only a handful who had a chance of winning the £2,500 1st prize. This caused him to play for a win, and in over-pressing led to a mistake which cost him the game and an appearance in the prizelist.

Here is his win from the penultimate round.

White: Adam Hunt (2458); Black: K. Arkell (2418). Caro-Kann Defence – Arkell/Khenkin Variation.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 In the late 1980s Arkell made a study of this move, feeling it had been neglected, despite seeming to offer Black dynamic possibilities. The leading magazine, New In Chess, christened it the Arkell/Khenkin Variation in recognition of the work they had both done, independently. 4.c4 e6 5.Nf3 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Bc5 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Qg4 Bf8 10.Bd3 Ne7 11.0–0 Ng6 12.f4 Bc5+ 13.Kh1 0–0 14.Na4 Be7 15.Be3 d4 16.Bd2 c5 17.Be4 Rb8 18.b3 Bb7 19.Bxb7 Rxb7 20.Nb2 Qd7 21.Nd3 Qc6 22.f5 exf5 23.Rxf5 a5 24.Raf1 a4 25.bxa4 Qxa4 White now sacrifices his  weak e-pawn in order to get some play in the centre. 26.e6 fxe6 27.Rxf8+ Nxf8 28.Qf3 Qa8 29.Ne5 Qc8 30.a4 Bf6 31.Ng4 Rf7 32.a5 Qb7 33.Qe2 e5 34.Nf2 Bh4 35.Nd3 Qe4! The white queen is overloaded, trying to protect f1 and e4 – it cannot do both, and must lose a piece. 36.Qd1 Qxd3 37.Rxf7 Kxf7 38.a6 Nd7 39.a7 Nb6 40.g3 Bg5 41.Qh5+ Kf8 Now White’s bishop and a mate on f1 are threatened and he cannot avoid both. 42.Kg1 Bxd2 0–1

The final of the British Chess Problem Solving Championship has been held at Oakham School every year since 1995, but this has now come to an end since the school felt unable to offer the venue in the future. Fortunately, the gap has been filled by Eton College, and the 2012 final will be held there in School Hall, on Saturday 18th February.

Reshevsky concluded last week’s position by 1.QxB+! RxQ forced and ending the threat of a back rank mate, allowing RxQ, leaving White a bishop and 2 pawns ahead.

This week’s 2-mover is another world premier by David Howard of East Harptree, near Bristol. In spite of the maximum number of knights, the problemist’s favourite piece, it’s not one of his most difficult, so the Christmas festivities are no excuse for not having time to solve it.

White to mate in 2

McShane Shines (17.12.2011.)

Malcolm Pein’s excellently organised London Chess Classic, ended on Monday with a win for the Russian, Vladimir Kramnik who finished with a score of 16 points from 4 wins, 4 draws and no losses. Hikaru Nakamura was runner-up with 15 pts. and Magnus Carlsen third on 14.

The star of England’s quartet was Luke McShane, the only other player with a double digit score (13), while Westcountryman Michael Adams was completely out of form, coming last of the nine on just 3 points, having lost 5 games. This is in stark contrast to his recent performance at the European Team Championship where he won the gold medal for the best score by any Board 1 player. The two are probably not unconnected as, although a sedentary game, top level chess is extremely draining on the brain and nervous system and one needs adequate time to recuperate fully and be fresh for the next challenge.

McShane, who now works for Goldman-Sachs, beat all his English opponents, including this game between the two former child prodigies.

White: Nigel Short (2698). Black: Luke McShane (2671).

King’s Gambit Accepted [C34]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 h6 The Becker Defence, named after Albert Becker (1896–1984) not Boris, although he was present at the tournament. 4.d4 g5 5.Nc3 d6 6.g3 fxg3 7.hxg3 Bg7 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Qd3 Ng4 10.0–0–0 c6 11.Re1 Nd7 12.e5 dxe5 13.Bh3 Nxe3 14.Rxe3 0–0 Black must take the risk of castling K-side as his Q-side pieces will take too long to develop. 15.Ne4 Nf6 16.Bxc8 exd4 17.Bxb7 dxe3 18.Bxa8 Nxe4 19.Qxe4 Qb6 Protecting his advanced pawn and threatening mate. 20.Ne5 Rxa8 21.Qxc6 Qxc6 22.Nxc6 Re8 23.c3 Re6 24.Nxa7 Black doesn’t mind giving up this pawn as it sidelined the knight and allows him to concentrate on maximising his own dangerous e-pawn. 24…Be5 25.Nb5 e2 26.Kd2 Bxg3 27.Re1 Bxe1+ 28.Kxe1 White has sacrificed his e-pawn to win the exchange, but now his other pawns must race on. h5 29.Nd4 Ra6 30.a3 h4 31.Kxe2 g4 32.c4 h3 33.Kf2 h2 34.Kg2 Rh6 35.Kh1 g3 36.Nf5 g2+ 0-1 To the h-pawn goes the honour of queening, except that White has seen enough.

In last week’s position, Reinfeld’s “obvious” move was 1.Nf5 forcing Black to play Rg8, but then 2.Be5! adds a second mating threat that cannot be avoided.

This position came near the end of a 1953 game between Reshevsky (W) and Kotov. Black has just played 34…Qd3-e2 threatening the rook in the knowledge it can’t be taken because of the back rank mate. Yet White now found a winning move. Can you see it?

White to play and win.