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The Scotsman

Chess News column August 2000

to "The Scotsman" chess column


INTERNATIONAL MASTER Danny Gormally, from London, finally conquered his nerves to achieve his first grandmaster norm and take the gold medal at the Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) at Alexander Palace in London.

In the past, last round nerves has seen Gormally missing out on his first GM norm - by just half a point - on no fewer than seven occasions. However, there were no such last round jitters for the talented Londoner at the MSO Ron Banwell Masters as he finally achieved his first norm with one round to spare when he defeated GM Mark Hebden in round eight.

And, just to make it a more memorable occasion for Gormally, his unbeaten score of 7.5/9 (giving him an impressive tournament performance of 2664) also gave him the gold medal and (UK)1,000 first prize in the tournament. The silver medal went to GM Aaron Summerscale from London while the bronze, on tie-break, went to Russia's IM Alexander Cherniaev.


Final standings: 1 IM D Gormally (England) 7.5/9; 2 GM A Summerscale (England) 7; 3-6 IM Alexander Cherniaev (Russia), GM M Hebden (England), GM J Hodgson (England), IM Amon Simutowe (Zambia) 6.5. Top Scots: GM Colin McNab 6; Eddie Dearing 5.5; WFM Helen Milligan 4.5; Paul Roberts 4.


M Hebden - D Gormally
MSO Masters (8), The Barry Attack

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6 Be2 c5 7 Ne5 Nc6 8 0-0 cxd4 9 exd4 Qb6 10 Nxc6 Qxc6 11 Re1 Bf5 12 Bb5 Qb6 13 a4 Qd8 14 Na2 Ne4 15 c3 Nd6 16 Nb4 Nxb5 17 axb5 Qd7 18 Qb3 e6 19 Qa4 Rfc8 20 h3 h5 21 Qa5 Rc4 22 b6 a6 23 Qa4 Qd8 24 Bc7 Qg5 25 Re3 Be4 26 g3 Qf5 27 Qd7 Bh6 28 Rae1 Bxe3 29 Rxe3 a5 30 Na6!? e5! (Both 30 ..Rxa6 31 Qd8+ Kh7 32 Be5! and 30 ..bxa6 31 b7 Rf8 32 b8Q is good for White) 31 Qxf5 gxf5 32 Rxe4 fxe4 33 Nc5 exd4 34 cxd4 Rc8 35 b3 Rxd4 36 Nxb7 Rd1+ 37 Kg2 Rxc7 38 bxc7 Rc1 39 Nxa5 Rxc7 40 Kf1 Rc2 41 Ke1 Kf8 42 b4 Ke7 43 Nb3 h4 44 gxh4 Rc3 45 Nd4 Rxh3 46 f3 Rh2 47 b5 Kd6 48 fxe4 dxe4 49 Nf5+ Ke6 0-1


ONE of the many spectacles of the fourth Mind Sports Olympiad played last week at the Alexander Palace in London was the staging of the 10th World Micro Computer Chess Championships.

The brainchild of the former Scottish chess champion and computer chess guru David Levy, the event began in Stockholm in 1974 when the Russia's Kaissa won the inaugural event. These annual contests are primarily scientific meetings, and, since 1980, have been run under the auspices of the International Computer Chess Association, formed in 1977.

Only single-processor machines can take part, and, with such a growth in the development and interest of chess computers these days, the contest is eagerly contested with many of the programmes on show now vying for the lucrative home market; with many being commercially available in the high street for under (UK)100.

Last year's winner, the German programme Shredder, created by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen, once again dominated to win by just a half-point ahead of one of the world's most popular software programmes, Frans Morsch's Fritz from the ChessBase stable. The World Amateur title - for non-commercial programs - went to SOS.

However, ChessBase got revenge in the World Computer Blitz Championship, which was dominated by the their trio of Fritz, Nimzo and Junior. The first two programs scored 8.5/9 and Junior ended with 6 points, ahead of main rivals Shredder and Rebel. In two tie-break games Fritz then went on to beat Nimzo 2-0 to take the World blitz title.


Final placings: 1 Shredder 7/9; 2 Fritz 6.5; 3-4 Chess Tiger, Rebel 6; 5-6 Junior, SOS 5.5; 7-8 Nimzo, Insomniac 5; 9 ZChess 4.5; 10 Diep 4; 11-12 Francesca, Crafty 3.5; 13 XiniX 1; 14 Pacque Expert 0.


Shredder - SOS
WMCCC (7), Sicilian Def

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bg5 Nc6 7 Qd2 a6 8 0-0-0 h6 9 Be3 Be7 10 f3 Nxd4 11 Bxd4 b5 12 g4 b4 13 Na4 Rb8 14 Qf2 0-0 15 Nb6 Nd7 16 Nxc8 Qxc8 17 h4 Qc6 18 g5 hxg5 19 hxg5 Bxg5+ 20 Kb1 f6 21 f4 Bh6 22 f5 e5 23 Be3 Bxe3 24 Qxe3 Rf7 25 Qb3 Rc8 26 Rd2 Qxe4 27 Bg2 Qc4 28 Qh3 Kf8 29 Bd5 Qc7 30 Qg2 Ke7 31 Bxf7 1-0


WHO'S UP, who's down and who's stayed the same? Yes, it's that time of the year again when the Scottish Chess Associations chief grader, Douglas Bryson, crunches the numbers to produce, as efficiently as ever, the latest eagerly awaited grading list.

The annual listing calculates a rating number based on a player's performance in tournaments, leagues and clubs around Scotland. The list contains the names and grades of almost 3,000 tournament players and can be purchased from Chess Suppliers at 15 Hope Street, Glasgow, price (UK) 4.75.

Scottish rating levels range from junior beginners at 300, average club players at 1500, up to the dizzy heights of the Scottish No.1, GM Jonathan Rowson at 2565. Unlike the antiquated English system, the SCA grades are directly comparable with FIDE ratings produced by the world chess federation - the FIDE list is headed by world no.1, Garry Kasparov at 2849.

Any player who plays in Scottish tournaments will be allocated a rating once they have played a minimum of eight games and scored at least 8 per cent. If you're looking to increase your grading - or indeed looking to get on the list for the first time - the next important date for your diary is the annual Grangemouth Congress, 8-10 September. If you wish to enter you should contact the organiser, Jim Watson, on 01324-714314.

An entertaining encounter from the Ron Banwell Masters, taking place just now at the Mind Sports Olympiad at Alexander Palace in London. Top Scottish junior Eddie Dearing can't cope with the activity of the White pieces after Simon Ansell's queen sacrifice.


S Ansell - E Dearing
MSO Masters (2), Caro-Kann Def

1 e4 c6 2 d3 d5 3 Nd2 e5 4 Ngf3 Bd6 5 g3 Nf6 6 Bg2 0-0 7 0-0 Nbd7 8 b3 a5 9 a3 Re8 10 Bb2 b6 11 d4 dxe4 12 Nxe5 Nxe5 13 dxe5 Bg4 14 Nc4 Bxd1 15 Raxd1 Nd7 16 Nxd6 Re7 17 Bxe4 Qc7 18 Nf5 Ree8 19 Nxg7 Red8 20 e6 Nf8 21 exf7+ Kxf7 22 Nf5 Ne6 23 Nh6+ Kf8 24 Bf6 Rxd1 25 Rxd1 Re8 26 Bf3 Nf4 27 c4 Re6 28 Ng4 h5 29 Bd8 Qf7 30 Ne3 Nh3+ 31 Kg2 Rg6 32 Bxb6 Rf6 33 Bc5+ Kg7 34 Bd4 Ng5 35 Bxc6 Kh6 36 Bxf6 Qxf6 37 Rd6 Ne6 38 Bd5 1-0


IT was a much-welcomed return to form for Boris Gelfand of Israel after he secured victory in the 37th Rubinstein Memorial tournament in Polancia Zdroj with an unbeaten score of 6.5/9.

One of the first of the younger generation to emerge as a possible threat to the hegemony of Karpov and Kasparov, the victory marks the return to form of the former Belarussian who is now the Israeli No.1. Despite once being a consistent top ten player for many years, he has not produced a top class performance for a while now.

Going into the final round with a half-point lead and quickly drawing his last game, Gelfand was made to wait for his victory after nearest rivals Van Wely and Shirov pressed hard for the full point, which they failed to secure, to share equal first.

As expected, the tournament was virtually decided by the eighth round encounter between Alexei Shirov and Loek Van Wely. Needing a win to stay in first place with Gelfand, Van Wely succumbed to a typical Shirov onslaught with the do-or-die knight sacrifice in the Perenyi Attack, which denied the Dutchman one of his best results ever.


Final placings: 1 B Gelfand (Israel) 6.5/9; 2-3 A Shirov (Spain), L Van Wely (Netherlands) 6; 4-5 V Ivanchuk (Ukraine), M Krasenkow (Poland) 5; 6-8 T Markowski (Poland), S Mocsesian (Czech Rep), Z Almasi (Hungary) 4; 9 P Svidler (Russia) 3.5; 10 A Fedorov (Belarussia) 1.


A Shirov - L Van Wely
Rubinstein Mem (8), Sicilian Def

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 g4 e5 8 Nf5 g6 9 g5 gxf5 10 exf5 d5 11 Qf3 d4 12 0-0-0 Nbd7 13 Bd2 Qc7 14 gxf6 dxc3 15 Bxc3 Qc6 16 Qg3 Bh6+ 17 Kb1 Bf4 18 Qd3 0-0 19 Rg1+ Kh8 20 Bb4 Rg8 21 Rxg8+ Kxg8 22 Be7 h6 23 Be2 Nxf6 24 Qd8+ Kh7 25 Qf8 Be6 (25 ..Qe8!?! 26 Qxe8 Nxe8 27 Rd8 Ng7 28 f6 e4 [28 ..Ne6 29 Bd3+!] 29 fxg7 Kxg7 30 Bg4 Bxg4 31 Rxa8) 26 Qxa8 Bxf5 27 Ka1 Nd5 28 Qf8 Qe6 29 Bc5 Bxc2 30 Rg1 Bg6 31 h4 Bh2 32 Rd1 Nf4 33 Rd8 1-0


THE 37th Rubinstein Memorial in Polonica Zdroj in Poland moves towards its close with two players, Boris Gelfand and Loek Van Wely, out in front, unbeaten on 5/6.

What was a three-horse race with four rounds to play in the tournament soon turned into a two-horse race after Gelfand out-calculated the top seed and favourite, Alexei Shirov, in the sixth round to win a crucial duel. Dutchman Loek Van Wely kept the pace with Gelfand in the race for first with an impressive win over Russia's Peter Svidler.

Going into the home straight, Gelfand must be considered as favourite as he has an easier run-in than Van Wely to the winners post. With Gelfand left to play Almasi, Markowski and Krasenkov in his final three games, Van Wely still has to play Shirov, Almasi and Movsesian.

No such worries at the bottom for the Belarussian Alexei Fedorov. Firmly rooted in last place with 0/6, Fedorov is paying the price for his adventurous play and could be heading for a modern day record - a perfect score of 0/9!

Leader board: 1-2 B Gelfand (Israel), L Van Wely (The Netherlands) 5/6; 3 A Shirov (Spain) 4; 4-5 Z Almasi (Hungary), V Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 3; 6-9 T Markowski (Poland), M Krasenkov (Poland), S Movsesian (Czech Rep), P Svidler (Russia) 2.5; A Fedorov (Belarussia) 0.


P Svidler - L Van Wely
Rubinstein Mem (6), Sicilian Def

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 c3 Nf6 4 Bd3 Nc6 5 Bc2 Bg4 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Qxf3 g6 8 0-0 Bg7 9 Qe2 0-0 10 d3 b5 11 Nd2 Nd7 12 Nf3 b4 13 Bd2 Rb8 14 Ba4 Qc7 15 Rfc1 Rfc8 16 d4 bxc3 17 bxc3 Rb2 18 Qa6 Ncb8 19 Qd3 Nb6 20 Bd1 Nc6 21 Rcb1 Rxb1 22 Rxb1 cxd4 23 cxd4 d5 24 e5 Nc4 25 Bg5 e6 26 h4 Rb8 27 Bb3 N6a5 28 h5 Nxb3 29 axb3 Nb6 30 hxg6 fxg6 31 Bd2 Nd7 32 b4 Nf8 33 b5 Qd7 34 Ne1 h6 35 Qb3 Qf7 36 Ra1 g5 37 Nd3 Ng6 38 Nc5 Nh4 39 Ra6 Rb6 40 Ba5 Rxa6 41 bxa6 Qf5 42 Qh3 Qxh3 43 gxh3 Nf3+ 44 Kg2 Nxd4 45 Nd7 Kf7 46 Bb6 Nb5 47 Bc5 Ke8 48 Nb8 Bxe5 49 Nc6 Bf4 0-1


OVER the years no adventure in chess has got as bad a press as the romantic King's Gambit; the history of which is almost as old as modern chess itself.

It was first analysed in Giulio Polerio's manuscript of the sixteenth century, reached its zenith of popularity in the nineteenth century, but now, as we reach the twenty-first century, it has become unfashionable and has almost disappeared from competitive play due to the improvement in defensive technique.

One of its greatest protagonists, Rudolph Spielman, wrote about his disillusionment in a 1920s article, "From the Sickbed of the King's Gambit". Spurred by a loss to arch-rival Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer looked for a definitive "refutation" of the gambit, concluding that the correct way to play it was 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 d6!, which he subsequently published as "A Bust to the King's Gambit" in the 1961 American Chess Quarterly.

However, thanks mainly to the efforts of Spassky and David Bronstein (who incidentally immortalised the opening with one of their famous encounters with the gambit from the 1960 USSR Championships being used in the opening sequence of the James Bond film, "From Russia With Love".), the modernisation process continued when it was at its lowest ebb.

Today the current standard bearer is Belorussian Alexei Fedorov. One of the world's top players, he never shrinks a King's Gambit challenge - even against one of the world's most dangerous attacking players, Alexei Shirov!

When both met in the fifth round of the Rubinstein Memorial in Poland, chaos soon ensued on the board as the two d'Artagnans battled it out in the King's Gambit, with Shirov turning in a superb modern day miniature to stay in the joint lead in the tournament.


A Fedorov - A Shirov
Rubinstein Mem (5), King's Gambit

1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4 g4 5 Ne5 d6 6 Nxg4 Nf6 7 Nf2 Rg8 8 d4 Bh6 9 Nc3 Nc6 10 Nd5 Nxd5 11 exd5 Qe7+ 12 Be2 Nb4 13 c4 Bf5! 14 Qa4+ Kf8 15 Qxb4 Re8 16 Qd2 Rxg2 17 Kf1 Rg3 18 Qd1 Be4 19 Rh2 f5 20 Nxe4 fxe4 21 Bg4 (21 Rh1 Qg7 22 Bh5 e3!) 21 ..e3 22 Bf3 (After 22 ..Qg7 23 Rh1 Rg2! crashes through) 0-1


DUBBED in the past as "Mensa Behaving Badly", the fourth Mind Sports Olympiad (MSO) opened on Saturday at Alexander Palace in London.

The 4th MSO already has more than 4,000 entrants for 126 competitions in an array of cerebral pursuits including Chess, Bridge, Backgammon, "The Times" British Crossword Puzzle Championships, British Open Dominoes and Cribbage Championships, Draughts, Go, Othello, Scrabble, Shogi, World Memory Championship and Creative Thinking. Although the British championship final of Go will be held at the MSO, the centre of attraction looks likely to be on the phenomenal exploits of the six-year-old Chinese prodigy, Liao Xingwen, who will take on the world's most powerful Go playing computer, programmed by Michael Reiss.

As ever, chess-players are well catered for at the MSO with a large number of various tournaments including a nine round international Swiss, Rapidplay and Blitz events and the final of the UK Chess Challenge which will see over 1,000 children converge for the Giga final.

In the main chess event, the nine-round Ron Banwell MSO Masters, there were no startling upset wins in round 1 but, of the six GMs competing, only Keith Arkell was able to win. The others all drew, including the current Smith & Williamson British Champion, Julian Hodgson, who had to concede a half-point to Edinburgh's Paul Roberts, who achieved the result of his life.


P Roberts - J Hodgson
MSO (1), Pirc Def

1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c6 4 Nf3 d6 5 a4 Nf6 6 Be2 0-0 7 0-0 Nbd7 8 Re1 Qc7 9 Bg5 h6 10 Bh4 e5 11 Qd2 Re8 12 Bf1 Nh5 13 dxe5 dxe5 14 a5 Nf8 15 Bc4 Bg4 16 Qe3 b5 17 axb6 axb6 18 h3 Be6 19 Nd2 b5 20 Bb3 Nf4 21 Red1 Nd7 22 Bxe6 Nxe6 23 Ne2 Nd4 24 Rxa8 Rxa8 25 c3 Ne6 26 Nc1 Qb6 27 Qxb6 Nxb6 28 Ndb3 Nc4 29 Nd3 g5 30 Bg3 Rd8 31 Kf1 Nf4 32 Bxf4 exf4 33 Ke2 Re8 34 Kf3 Ra8 35 Ke2 Ra4 36 Nbc1 Ne5 37 f3 Nxd3 38 Rxd3 b4 39 Nb3 Ra2 40 cxb4 Rxb2+ 41 Kf1 Kh7 42 Nd4 Bxd4 43 Rxd4 Kg6 44 Rd6+ Kh5 45 Kg1 Kh4 46 Kh2 h5 47 Rf6 Rxb4 48 Rxc6 g4 49 hxg4 hxg4 50 fxg4 Kxg4 51 Rf6 Rb7 52 Rf5 Re7 53 Rf6 Rxe4 draw.


A double treat tonight! Find below my review for The Scotsman of a major chess film, The Luzhin Defence, which premiers at the Edinburgh Film Festival tomorrow night (had to go to the press showing at 10.30am this morning!), and goes on general release on September 8th. If you get the chance, see it! A wonderful film.

The Luzhin Defence

Rating: ****
Director: Marleen Gorris
Starring: John Turturro, Emily Watson, Geraldine James, Stuart Wilson, Christopher Thompson


DUTCH director Marleen Gorris's films are always well worth watching, and she's got the Oscar (for Antonia's Line in 1996) to prove it. Adapted from the Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name, Gorris has again weaved her magic with yet another thought-provoking period piece beautifully set around Italy's great Lake Como in the late 1920s.

For a chess-lover, though, her latest film is absolutely compelling. Never before has the cinema shown the tensions, detail and drama of a chess tournament as vividly as Gorris does in The Luzhin Defence.

But John Turturro, whose whole acting career is based on the convincing portrayal of flawed obsessives, is also outstanding as grandmaster Alexander Luzhin, who is forced to choose between love of the game and the love of the first woman ever to show an interest in him. This is acting at the highest level, as Turturro bangs out his moves on the board with all the flair of a true player, handling his pieces with intimidating confidence that would even have frightened Garry Kasparov.

Although knowledge of the game isn't a prerequisite for enjoying the film, it does at least hint at how a top player can work out six or eight moves ahead of the play: in the most dramatic chess battle, the camera shows the pieces gliding automatically into the configurations where Luzhin's brain has already placed them.

Adapted from Vladimir Nabokov's novel of the same name and set in the late 1920s, the movie has a certain Merchant Ivory appeal to it. It tells the story of the shambling, shy, unworldly chess grandmaster, who has retreated and found solace through the logic of chess after witnessing the failure of his parents' marriage. Luzhin's one-dimensional world is turned upside down when he finds love. He cannot deny his feelings when he meets a beautiful Russian aristocrat, Natalia Katkova (Emily Watson), while preparing to play in the tournament of his life: the world chess championship.

Katkova is, in turn, drawn to Luzhin's erratic genius, much to the annoyance of her mother (Geraldine James) but their liaison is doomed as family and "friends" conspire to keep the lovers apart. Tormented by his inability to choose between his two passions, chess or Natalia, fame or happiness, Luzhin has a nervous breakdown. His psychiatrist recommends that he should give up chess and pursue his love for Natalia but Luzhin cannot make the ultimate sacrifice: chess.

In chess circles the best-known part of Nabokov's story - which is basically a sort of chess equivalent of Hamlet - is the fact that the novel's main character commits suicide by jumping out of a window. But this is not quite as fanciful as many have thought. Nabakov, a chess problemist and amateur player, knew what he was writing about: then and now, tragedy has always been a key player in the game.

Last year, for example, Estonian grandmaster Lembit Oll, depressed that his wife had left him and also that he couldn't get invitations to top ranking international chess tournaments, committed suicide by jumping out of the window of his fourth-floor apartment. There have been at least three other deaths in the past ten years, all in similar circumstances involving lost love and inabililty to play at the top level because of a nervous breakdown. And indeed Nabokov actually based his story on one of his friends; the Berlin chess master Curt von Bardeleben, who in 1924 took his own life in a similar, dramatic fashion.

Although this film will never be a big hit at the box office because of its difficult subject matter (chess, love, psychological disorders and suicide - a pretty lethal and depressing combination at the best of times!) The Luzhin Defence is an intelligent, atmospheric piece of work with a superb cast. As Ali G would say: Check it!

Dominion, Edinburgh, today, 6pm
General release, 8th September.


AFTER four rounds of the 37th Rubinstein Memorial in Polanica Zdroj, Poland, top seed Alexei Shirov has now joined early leaders Boris Gelfand and Loek Van Wely in equal first on 3/4 after defeating Poland's Michal Krasenkow.

The full line-up for the category.17 tournament (2672) includes, in rating order, Alexei Shirov (Spain), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Michal Krasenkow (Poland), Peter Svidler (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), Sergei Movsesian (Czech Rep), Alexei Fedorov (Belarussia), Loek Van Wely (The Netherlands) and Tomasz Markowski (Poland).

One of the most intriguing aspects of the tournament has been the fighting chess on offer, in particular a couple of skirmishes involving Peter Svidler with the "no-holds-barred" Perenyi variation in the Sicilian.

Although the young Hungarian Bela Perenyi tragically died in a car accident in 1988, he left behind a lasting legacy with his intriguing knight sacrifice in the Scheveningen, which once again has come under the microscope after new developments have been found for White; in particular a recent encounter between Svidler and Gelfand at Biel.

Although the juries still out with regard to the final verdict on this exciting sacrifice, the variation has certainly tested the playing and analytical skills of some of the world's best players who are not afraid to venture into its wild complications - particularly Svidler, who seems pretty adapt at handling both sides!


Z Almasi - P Svidler
Rubinstein Mem (3), Sicilian Scheveningen

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 g4 e5 8 Nf5 g6 9 g5 gxf5 10 exf5 d5 11 gxf6 d4 12 Bc4 Qc7 13 Qd3 dxe3 14 0-0-0 exf2 15 Bxf7+ Kxf7 16 Qd5+ Kxf6 17 Ne4+ Ke7 18 f6+ Ke8 19 f7+ Ke7 20 Qd2 Qb6 21 Qg5+ Kxf7 22 Rhf1 Bh6 23 Rxf2+ Ke8 24 Rd8+ Qxd8 25 Qxh6 Qe7 26 Nf6+ Kd8 27 Nd5 Qe6 28 Qg5+ Kd7 29 Qg7+ Kc6 30 Rf6 Kxd5 31 Rxe6 Kxe6 32 Qxh8 Nd7 33 Qxh7 Nf6 34 Qc7 Kf5 35 h4 Be6 36 Qxb7 Bd5 37 Qb6 Ng4 38 c4 Be4 39 h5 Rh8 40 Qg6+ Kf4 41 Qf7+ Bf5 42 b4 e4 43 b5 axb5 44 cxb5 e3 45 b6 Ne5 46 Qe7 Rxh5 47 b7 Rh1+ 48 Kb2 Rb1+ 49 Kc3 e2 50 Qh4+ Bg4 51 Qh2+ Kf5 52 Qh7+ Ng6 53 Qd7+ Kg5 54 Qd2+ Kh5 0-1


POLAND'S Akiba Rubinstein was unquestionably one of the strongest players in the world never to become world champion.

The youngest of 12 children, he was born in 1882 in the small Polish town of Stawiski, which at the time was part of Russia. Despite the fact he learned the game late in life at 16, he was soon consumed by chess and abandoned his rabbinical studies in favour of it.

He went on to dominate international chess in the period from 1907 to 1912. With famous victories ahead of all his main rivals - Emmanuel Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine - in 1912 at San Sebastian, Breslau, Pistyan and Vilnyus, he established himself as the natural heir to Lasker's world crown.

His challenge for the ultimate prize foundered on a combination of a lack of funds (which in those days the challenger had to raise), the rise of the Cuban genius Capablanca and the onset of the First World War. In 1921 he challenged the new world champion, Capablanca, for the title, but, hampered by a serious psychological illness, was never able to obtain backers to raise the necessary funds required to challenge.

Despite his failing mental health, Rubinstein continued to play until his illness forced him to retire from active play in 1932, after which chessplayers from around the world raised a fund to save him from penury and starvation. After his death in 1961, he became one of the few players to be honoured by having an annual memorial tournament, that was inaugurated in 1963.

The latest Rubinstein Memorial, the 37th, has just got underway at Polanica Zdroj in Poland. The line-up for the event includes Alexei Shirov (Spain), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Michal Krasenkow (Poland), Peter Svidler (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), Sergei Movsesian (Czech Rep), Alexei Fedorov (Belarussia), Loek Van Wely (The Netherlands) and Tomasz Markowski (Poland).

After three rounds Boris Gelfand and Loek Van Wely have the joint lead on 2.5/3.


V Ivanchuk - A Fedorov
Rubinstein Memorial (2), Sicilian Dragon

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be3 Bg7 7 f3 0-0 8 Qd2 Nc6 9 0-0-0 d5 10 exd5 Nxd5 11 Nxc6 bxc6 12 Nxd5 cxd5 13 Qxd5 Qc7 14 Qc5 Qb7 15 Qa3 Bf5 16 Bd3 Rab8 17 b3 Rbc8 18 Bxf5 gxf5 19 Rd3 Qc6 20 c4 Qf6 21 Rhd1 Rc6 22 Bd4 e5 23 Bc3 Ra6 24 Qb2 Qh6+ 25 Kb1 Qxh2 26 Rd8 Bf6 27 R8d7 Bg7 28 Qc2 Rg6 29 R1d2 Qg1+ 30 Kb2 f4 31 Re2 Rg5 32 b4 a5 33 b5 h5 34 Qd1 Qc5 35 Qd5 Qg1 36 Rxf7 Rxf7 37 Qd8+ Rf8 38 Qxg5 Qf1 39 Rc2 1-0


WHEN Bobby Fischer wrested the world crown from the Soviets after defeating Boris Spassky in 1972, it was expected that one of his potential challengers could be the Brazilian prodigy Henrique Mecking.

Much like Fischer, Mecking won his national championship twice before his 16th birthday and also made his first appearance in the Interzonal at the age of 15. And, by his early twenties, great things were expected of the young Brazilian as he was one of the world's top players: twice a World Championship Candidate losing tough matches to Victor Korchnoi 7.5-5.5 in 1974 and Lev Polugaevsky 6.5-5.5 in 1977.

However, tragic struck Mecking on his home ground when a medical condition forced him to withdraw after only two rounds of the 1979 Rio de Janeiro Interzonal. An intensely nervous player, Mecking was unable to cope with the stress of the game, and convinced himself that he was terminally ill. Diagnosed with Myasthenia - a weakness of the muscles - Mecking's once promising chess career was sadly cut short. Believing that his life was saved by divine intervention, he instead commenced training for the priesthood.

Since then he has only made sporadic returns to the chessboard, the first being in 1991 when he lost in a close match to Predrag Nikolic. Following this successful foray back into the chess arena, Mecking continued to play intermittently between 1992 and 1995 but he then had another long break from the game. He returned only last week to do battle in a six-game match - which he lost 3.5-2.5 - with another rising Brazilian star, Giovanni Vescovi at the "Centro Empresarial" in San Paulo.


G Vescovi - H Mecking
Sao Paulo (6), Sicilian Rossolimo

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 g6 4 0-0 Bg7 5 Re1 e5 6 Bxc6 dxc6 7 d3 f6 8 Be3 b6 9 Qc1 Bg4 10 Nbd2 a5 11 a3 a4 12 b4 cxb4 13 axb4 Ne7 14 d4 0-0 15 c4 f5 16 Bg5 exd4 17 exf5 Ra7 18 fxg6 h6 19 Rxa4 Rxa4 20 Bxe7 Qc7 21 Bxf8 Kxf8 22 Qc2 Ra8 23 Qe4 Bxf3 24 Nxf3 Rd8 25 Qf5+ Kg8 26 Qe6+ Kh8 27 Qf7 Qxf7 28 gxf7 Rf8 29 Re8 c5 30 b5 Kh7 31 Ne5 h5 32 f4 1-0


EVER since the demise in the early 1980s of the hugely popular, and groundbreaking BBC2 chess program, "The Mastergame", chess players have craved for a regular television program on chess.

In the past seven years only World Championship matches have been deemed worthy by the station controllers in the UK. However it's not the case in Germany. With the game having a higher profile with the media, each year the West Deutscher Rundfunk (WDR) hosts an annual, televised game, with the winner staying on to defend his or her title by return the following year.

Since 1996 the World No.2 Vladimir Kramnik has more or less become a permanent fixture on this TV match, having defeated players like Judit Polgar and Michael Adams. Up against the young Hungarian Peter Leko at the weekend, Kramnik was at his devastating best in his final game before he meets Garry Kasparov in the Brain Games Network World Championship in London in October.

With both players having an hour each on the clock for the match, the previous winner always has white - but crucially has to win, a draw for black being as good as victory. In what can only be a boost for his confidence before he plays Kasparov, Kramnik won in only 32 moves with a sacrificial onslaught that ripped open Leko's defences. Forcing the young Hungarian's king out into the open, Leko resigned with mate forced in a few moves.

In the final position, Black's doomed: 32 ..Kh6 (32 ..g5 33 Rg7 Kh6 34 Qxg5 mate) 33 Rf4 g5 34 Qf6+ Kh7 35 Qf7+ Kh6 36 Rf6 mate.


V Kramnik - P Leko
WDR Match, Sicilian Taimanov

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Be2 Qc7 6 Nc3 a6 7 0-0 b5 8 Nxc6 dxc6 9 Be3 Bb7 10 f4 c5 11 f5 Rd8 12 Qe1 Nf6 13 fxe6 fxe6 14 Bf4 e5 15 Bg5 Be7 16 a4 c4 17 axb5 axb5 18 Kh1 b4 19 Bxf6 Bxf6 20 Nd5 Bxd5 21 exd5 Qc5 22 Bh5+ Ke7 23 Qg3 g6 24 Rxf6 Kxf6 25 Rf1+ Kg7 26 Bxg6 hxg6 27 Qxe5+ Kg8 28 Qe6+ Kh7 29 Rf7+ Kh6 30 Qh3+ Kg5 31 Qg3+ Kh5 32 Qe5+ 1-0


AS Festival fever hits the City of Edinburgh, chess fans have the chance to see the premier of a major film, "The Luzhin Defence", where the game features prominently in a tragic story of love and obsession.

Adapted from the Vladimir Nabokov novel "The Defence" by the Academy Award-winning director Marleen Gorris (Antonia's Line, Mrs Dalloway), it stars Hollywood actor John Turturro (Barton Fink and Cradle Will Rock) as a shambling, shy, Rubinsteinian figure who visits Italy's great Lake Como in the late 1920s to play the tournament of his life and unexpectedly finds love.

Having retreated within the logic of chess to escape his parents' failing marriage, Luzhin is cold to the art of love. But in the vibrant Russian beauty Natalia Katkov (Oscar nominee Emily Watson), he spies a glimpse outside of his closed world, and she, in turn, is drawn to his erratic genius that borders on the lines of madness.

Given the prominence of chess in the story, it was essential for the film-makers to commission a major chess consultant, which they found in the redoubtable figure of Grandmaster Jon Speelman, who last week finished equal third in the Smith & Williamson British Championships.

This will be a one-off screening during the Festival before the film goes on general release on September 8th, and will be shown at the Dominion on Tuesday, 22n August, at 6.00pm.


L McShane - J Speelman
British Ch. (8), Caro-Kann Def

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nd7 5 Nf3 Ngf6 6 Ng3 c5 7 Be2 e6 8 0-0 Be7 9 a4 0-0 10 a5 Qc7 11 c3 Rd8 12 Qc2 cxd4 13 Nxd4 Ne5 14 f4 Bc5 15 Ra4 Bxd4+ 16 Rxd4 Nf3+ 17 Bxf3 Rxd4 18 Ne4 Rxe4 19 Bxe4 Qc5+ 20 Kh1 Qxa5 21 Be3 h6 22 Bd4 Nxe4 23 Qxe4 Qb5 24 Rf2 Bd7 25 Qe5 f6 26 Qxb5 Bxb5 27 Kg1 Kf7 28 Be3 a5 29 Rd2 Bc6 30 c4 a4 31 Bb6 a3 32 bxa3 Rxa3 33 Bd4 Ra4 34 c5 Kg6 35 g4 Ra3 36 Re2 Bd5 37 Bb2 Rb3 38 Rf2 Bf3 39 h3 h5 40 g5 h4 41 gxf6 gxf6 42 Bd4 Rd3 43 Bb2 Kf5 44 Bc1 Bd5 45 Bd2 Rxh3 46 Rh2 Rd3 47 Kf1 h3 48 Ke2 Rxd2+ 0-1


IN a shot in the arm for British Chess, the Managing Director of Smith & Williamson, Gareth Pearce, announced at the prize giving ceremony an extension of the sponsorship to the British Championships that will take it through to the centenary of the British Chess Federation in 2004.

The peripatetic nature of the championships sees next year's event moving back to the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarbourgh, whilst the 2002 championships will take place in Torquay at the Riviera Centre.

The good news for the Scots, though, is that in 2003 the premier UK tournament comes north of the border for the first time since Dundee 1993. The George Watson College in Edinburgh will be the venue, and, with the last native winner of the British Championships being Robert Combe in 1946, I'm sure there will be a large home contingent rooting for a long-overdue Scottish winner. And, with over 1,000 competitors taking part in the fortnight-long event, this should provide a pre-Festival economic boost to the City.

As usual, the final task of the British Championship is never easy: the award of the C.H.O'D Alexander Best Game Prize. This year the resident Millfield Chess Coach, IM Andrew Martin, who was also the Commentator during the fortnight, judged the hotly contested competition. Although he awarded the prize to GM Mark Hebden for his epic (71-moves!) tenth round victory over Tony Miles, you can imagine he had his work cut out when players came up with last round efforts like the one below.


D Gormally - C Crouch
British Ch. (11), English Opening.

1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e6 3 e4 d5 4 e5 d4 5 exf6 dxc3 6 bxc3 Qxf6 7 d4 c5 8 Nf3 h6 9 a3 Nd7 10 Bd3 Bd6 11 0-0 0-0 12 Bc2 Rd8 13 Nd2 b6 14 Ne4 Qe7 15 Nxd6 Qxd6 16 Qg4 f5 17 Qh4 Ba6 18 Re1 Nf8 19 d5 exd5 20 cxd5 Qxd5 21 Bxh6 gxh6 22 Qg3+ Kf7 23 Re5 Qc4 24 Rxf5+ Ke7 25 Qg7+ Kd6 26 Rxf8 Kc6 27 Qf6+ Kb5 28 Rxd8 Rxd8 29 Qxd8 Qxc3 30 Qd7+ (Mate is forced after 30 ..Kc4 31 Qa4+ Kd5 32 Rd1+ Ke5 33 Qe8+ Kf6 34 Qf8+ Kg5 35 Qf5+ Kh4 36 g3+) 1-0


DEFENDING champion and top seed Julian Hodgson defied the odds with an impressive comeback to retain his title and the (UK)10,000 first prize in the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millfield School in Somerset.

Hodgson, 37, from London, forged into a clear one-point lead after defeating nearest rival Chris Ward in the penultimate round before a final round draw with Mark Hebden clinched him the title. It proved to be a surprise outcome for the champion after a disastrous start to the defence of his title.

When Hodgson brought his own executive chair a la Bobby Fischer to the tournament and began with 0.5/2, he was the butt of many jokes. However, true-gritted determination brought him back into the tournament and he soon made up for his bad start with seven wins and two draws in the next nine rounds, to take the title for the fourth time with his lowest score.

With a group of four in contention for second place, the 1996 champion Chris Ward, with the only win on the top four boards, grabbed clear second and (UK)5,000 by outplaying teenager Luke McShane.

A little bit of history was also made in the tournament when 13-year-old Humpy Koneru, from India, with a score of 6.5/11, broke the 61-year record of Elaine Saunders to become the youngest winner of the British Ladies title.


Final scores: 1 GM J Hodgson 8.5/11; 2 GM C Ward 8; 3-6 GM M Hebden, GM J Speelman, GM M Chandler, IM D Gormally 7.5; 7-13 GM P Wells, GM B Lalic, GM A Miles, IM B Kelly, IM A Summerscale, IM A Wohl, IM N Pert 7


J Hodgson - C Ward
British Ch. (10), Trompowsky Attack

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 e6 3 e4 h6 4 Bxf6 Qxf6 5 c3 d6 6 Bd3 e5 7 Ne2 g6 8 0-0 Bg7 9 f4 exd4 10 cxd4 Nc6 11 e5 Qd8 12 Nbc3 0-0 13 Rc1 dxe5 14 dxe5 g5 15 Nd5 gxf4 16 Nexf4 Nxe5 17 Rxc7 Bg4 18 Be2 Qg5 19 Bxg4 Nxg4 20 h3 Ne5 21 Nh5 Rad8 22 Nxg7 Qxg7 23 Ne7+ Kh8 24 Qc2 Rd3 25 Rc8 Rdd8 26 Rxd8 Rxd8 27 Qe4 Rd2 28 Nf5 Qf6 29 Nxh6 Qxh6 30 Qxe5+ Qg7 31 Qe4 Rxb2 32 Rf4 Rb6 33 Qe8+ Qg8 34 Rh4+ Kg7 35 Qe5+ Kf8 36 Rh8 1-0


AN exciting finish is in prospect for the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millfield School in Somerset as the defending champion, GM Julian Hodgson, has now miraculously joined GM Chris Ward on 7/9, to share the lead going into the final two rounds.

Hodgson coolly refuted Murray Chandler's route one approach against his Modern Defence with a provocative line called the "Monkey's Bum". The line was christened after the Streatham player Nigel Povah showed his new line to a fellow player, who remarked, "If that works, then I'm a Monkey's Bum!". Such is chess nomenclature that when the line was subsequently published in the normally staid British Chess Magazine, the name stuck.

Chandler, who thought he was winning, hadn't seen Hodgson's saving resource of 18 ..Kf7, after which, Hodgson smoothly converted his extra material to force victory in just 25 moves.

Although its impossible for Hodgson to equal his record-winning score at the British of 9.5/11 (Eastbourne, 1991) after his bad start of 05/2, he's now very much the firm favourite to win the (UK)10,000 first prize as he's powered his way back into contention in the tournament with six wins and one draw.

With Ward and Hodgson now the only two players with 7/9, both have a showdown meeting in the penultimate round, the winner of which is almost certain to take the British title. Hard on their tales are the former champions and elder statesmen of the game, GM Jon Speelman and GM Tony Miles, both just half a point behind on 6.5.


Leader board: 1-2 GM J Hodgson & GM C Ward 7/9; 3-4 GM J Speelman & GM A Miles 6.5; 5-13 GM P Wells, GM M Hebden, WGM H Hunt, GM M Chandler, IM C Crouch, GM B Lalic, IM B Kelly, IM D Gormally, GM K Arkell 6.


M Chandler - J Hodgson
British Ch. (9), Modern Def.

1 e4 g6 2 d4 Bg7 3 Nc3 c6 4 Bc4 d6 5 Qf3 e6 6 Nge2 b5 7 Bb3 a5 8 a3 Ba6 9 0-0 Nd7 10 Bf4 Qe7 11 e5 d5 12 Qe3 f6 13 Rfe1 fxe5 14 dxe5 Qf7 15 Nxd5 cxd5 16 Bxd5 exd5 17 e6 Qe7 18 exd7+ Kf7 19 Qh3 Nf6 20 Nd4 Qxd7 21 Re6 Ne4 22 Re1 Rad8 23 Qf3 Bxd4 24 Rxa6 Bxf2+ 25 Kh1 Rhf8 0-1


IT'S getting tense at the top at the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millford School in Somerset as any one from ten players could still win the (UK)10,000 first prize.

With a titanic seventh round struggle between tournament leaders Mark Hebden and Chris Ward resulting in a draw, Ward, the 1996 champion, could rue the fact that he didn't convert his obvious advantage for a win. Had he been able to take the full point, he would have been the sole leader with the cushion of a one-point lead and just four rounds of play left.

The logjam at the top with only a half-point now separating ten players, has now well and truly made the 87th Championships one of the most open in recent years, and may only be decided by a big play-off on Saturday. Ominously though for the leaders and the chasing pack, the hiatus at the top has left the door open for the defending champion, Julian Hodgson, to come back into contention and retain his title.

Now looking to be playing some of his best chess of the tournament after his disastrous start of 0.5/2, Hodgson, nicknamed the "Master of Disaster", could well become the man to watch in the final stages as nerves and indecisiveness seem to get the better of the other players as the tournament reaches the decisive stages.


Leader board: 1-2 GM M Hebden & GM C Ward 5.5/7; 3-10 IM D Gormally, GM M Chandler, GM J Hodgson, GM A Summerscale, GM-elect L McShane, GM J Speelman, WGM H Hunt, GM A Miles 5.


S Knott - J Hodgson
British Ch. (7), English Def.

1 c4 b6 2 Nc3 Bb7 3 e4 e6 4 Nf3 Bb4 5 Qb3 Na6 6 Be2 Ne7 7 0-0 0-0 8 d3 Ng6 9 a3 Nc5 10 Qc2 Bxc3 11 Qxc3 a5 12 Be3 a4 13 Nd2 f5 14 exf5 Nh4 15 f3 Nxf5 16 d4 Qf6! 17 Bf2 Na6 18 Ne4 Qh6 19 d5 d6 20 dxe6 Rae8 21 Bd3 Rxe6 22 Qc1 Qh5 23 g4 Rg6 24 Bg3 Nxg3!! 25 hxg3 (both 25 gxh5 Ne2+ 26 Kh1 Nxc1 27 hxg6 Nxd3 and 25 Nxg3 Rxg4! 26 fxg4 Qc5+! wins for Black.) 25 ..Qh3 26 Qc2 Nc5 27 Nxc5 Rxg4! 28 Bxh7+ Kh8 0-1


GOING into the decisive second week of the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millfield School in Somerset, two players, GMs Mark Hebden and Chris Ward, are tied in first place on 5/6.

In the top board match of round five, IM Danny Gormally easily equalised against Mark Hebden's so-called Barry Attack to draw, thus allowing the tournament leader - who has never won the title - to be caught at the end of the sixth round.

Joining Hebden in the quest for the (UK)10,000 first prize is the 1996 champion, Chris "Emergency" Ward, whose sixth round casualty was Britain's top female player, WGM Harriet Hunt.

After Ward avoided his normal classical Nimzo-Indian with 4 Qc2, Hunt made the mistake of trying to transpose directly into the Queen's Gambit Tartakower system, only to find that there was a big problem with the early ..b6 - namely 7 Qa4+, which Ward easily found, to totally wreck the Black position.

With both the top two now the only players on 5/6, they now meet in a crunch seventh round match-up, the winner, if any, would be well placed for the British crown and the (UK)10,000 first prize.


Leader board: 1-2 GM M Hebden & GM C Ward 5/6; 3-7 IM D Gormally, GM-elect L McShane, GM A Summerscale, GM A Miles, GM M Chandler 4.5; 7-20 WGM H Hunt, GM J Hodgson, IM M Turner, IM A Webster, GM J Speelman, IM S Williams, GM J Emms, IM B Kelly, GM B Lalic, IM G Crawley, GM P Wells, GM A Wohl, IM S Knott 4.


C Ward - H Hunt
British Ch. (6), Queen's Indian Def.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb7 5 Bg5 d5 6 cxd5 exd5 7 Qa4+ Qd7 8 Bxf6 Qxa4 9 Nxa4 gxf6 10 e3 Bd6 11 Rc1 a6 12 Nh4 Nd7 13 Bd3 b5 14 Nc5 Nxc5 15 dxc5 Be5 16 Rc2 c6 17 f4 Bc7 18 0-0 0-0-0 19 Nf5 Rde8 20 Rf3 Kb8 21 Rg3 Bc8 22 Nd4 Kb7 23 Kf2 Reg8 24 Bf5 Rxg3 25 hxg3 b4 26 Bxc8+ Rxc8 27 Rc1 h5 28 Rh1 Rh8 29 Rh4 f5 30 Nxf5 Bd8 31 Rh3 Bf6 32 b3 Kc7 33 g4 hxg4 34 Rxh8 Bxh8 35 Kg3 Kd7 36 Kxg4 Bf6 37 Kf3 Ke6 38 Nd4+ Kd7 39 Nf5 Ke6 40 g4 a5 41 Ke2 Bd8 42 Kd3 Bc7 43 Nd4+ Kd7 44 Nf3 Ke6 45 Kd4 f6 46 Kd3 Bd8 47 Nd4+ Kd7 48 Nf5 Bc7 49 g5 fxg5 50 fxg5 Be5 51 e4 dxe4+ 52 Kxe4 Ke6 53 Nd4+ 1-0


THE race is hotting up in the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millfield School in Street, Somerset, with the tournament having a new leader as we reach the halfway point.

GM Mark Hebden, from Leicester, defeated the championship leader, GM Aaron Summerscale, to take the sole lead with 4.5 points after five rounds. Ominously though for Hebden, who is looking for his first British title and the (UK)10,000 first prize, there's a determined pack chasing him, just a half point behind, with another six rounds to be played.

Hebden moved into the sole lead in the tournament with a typical, no-holds barred victory over Summerscale, as the tournament moves into the decisive second week. Playing the Mar del Plata variation that was made famous by the Argentine great, Miguel Najdorf, Hebden visibly rocked his opponent with a stunning piece sacrifice in the middle of a crowded board after just 19 moves. After 19 ..Nfxd5!, if White recaptures, Black simply plays 20 ..Nf5!, and there's no suitable defence to the threat of ..Ng3 mating.


Leader board: 1 GM M Hebden 4.5/5; 2-6 IM D Gormally, WGM H Hunt, GM-elect L McShane, GM A Summerscale, GM C Ward, 4/5; 7-17 GM J Emms, IM S Williams, IM N Pert, GM A Miles, IM A Webster, GM M Chandler, IM C Crouch, GM J Hodgson, IM B Kelly, GM B Lalic, IM M Turner 3.5.


A Summerscale - M Hebden
British Ch., (5), King's Indian Def.

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0-0 6 Be2 e5 7 0-0 Nc6 8 d5 Ne7 9 Ne1 Nd7 10 Be3 f5 11 f3 f4 12 Bf2 g5 13 a4 a6 14 a5 Rf6 15 Na4 Rh6 16 c5 Qe8 17 Kh1 Qh5 18 Bg1 Nf6 19 Nd3 Nfxd5 20 Qb3 Kh8 21 cxd6 cxd6 22 Nb6 Nxb6 23 Qxb6 Qe8 24 Nb4 d5 25 Qc7 d4 26 Rfc1 Bd7 27 Nd5 Nxd5 28 exd5 Rb8 29 Bd3 Bf8 30 Be4 Bd6 31 Qb6 Qd8 32 Qb3 g4 33 fxg4 Bxg4 34 Rc2 Qg5 35 Rac1 Bf5 36 Qd3 Rf8 37 Re1 Rhf6 38 Bf2 f3 39 gxf3 Bxe4 40 Qxe4 Rf4 41 Rg1 Qh5 42 Qe2 Qxf3+ 43 Qxf3 Rxf3 44 Bg3 d3 45 Rc3 h5 46 Kg2 h4 47 Bxh4 e4 48 Rd1 Rg8+ 49 Kh1 e3 50 Rcxd3 e2 0-1


DEFENDING champion Julian Hodgson has got off to the worst possible start to the Smith & Williamson British Championships at Millfield School in Street, Somerset, as he now finds himself languishing at the foot of the table after just two rounds.

Following the surprise first round draws by the no's. 1 and 2, Hodgson, who was the odds-on favourite to retain the title, found himself up against his main rival and second seed, Jon Speelman, as early as round two due to a quirk of the 'Swiss' pairing system. With the game ending in a win for Speelman, Hodgson's quest to retain the title and (UK)10,000 first prize received yet another set back.

The tournament arbiter's mulled long and hard over the pairings because they knew that criticism was sure to follow with the top two meeting so early in the Championships (an event that's usually reserved for the second week of the competition). Chief Arbiter David Welch explained in great detail some of the machinations of the 'Swiss System' that is employed in large events of this kind that led to the unusual - but correct - pairing.


Round 2: 1 Miles 1-0 Webster; 2 Kelly draw Emms; 3 Chandler 1-0 Knott; 4 Williams 0-1 Lalic; 5 Ward 1-0 G Buckley; 6 Simutowe 1-0 Wells; 7 Hebden 1-0 Aarthie; 8 Koneru 0-1 Gormally; 9 Turner draw Vigus; 10 Greet 0-1 Arkell; 11 McShane 1-0 Rayner; 12 McMichael 1-0 Wohl; 13 Summerscale 1-0 Stephenson


J Hodgson - J Speelman
British Ch. (2), Nimzo-Larsen Attack

1 b3 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bb2 Bg4 4 Bxf6 gxf6 5 e3 Bg7 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Qxf3 f5 8 d4 c5 9 c3 Nc6 10 Bb5 Qa5 11 Bxc6+ bxc6 12 0-0? (12 Qxf5! as pointed out by Hodgson, draws: 12 ..cxd4 13 exd4 Bxd4 14 b4 Qb6 15 cxd4 Qxd4 16 Qc2 Qxa1 17 Qxc6+ Kf8 18 Qxa8+ Kg7 19 Qxd5 Qxb1+ 20 Ke2 Qxh1 21 Qg5+ Kf8 22 Qh6+ Ke8 23 Qc6+) 12 ..e6 13 a3 Rb8 14 b4 cxb4 15 cxb4 Rxb4 16 axb4 Qxa1 17 Qg3 0-0 18 Qc7 Qb2 19 Qxa7 f4 20 exf4 Qxb4 21 Rd1 Qb3 22 Rc1 Qb2 23 Qa3 Rb8 24 f5 Qxa3 25 Nxa3 Rb3 26 Nb1 Bxd4 27 fxe6 fxe6 28 Nd2 Rb2 29 Nf3 0-1


THE two top seeds in the Smith & Williamson British Championships being played at Millfield School in Street, Somerset, Julian Hodgson and Jon Speelman, got off to a shaky start by conceding draws to lesser opponents.

Hodgson's defence of his title didn't start as well as he would have liked as he found himself in difficulties from the opening against the unknown Indian player, Panja Mahesh Chandran, rated some 400 points lower. Looking as if he was going to cause one of the biggest opening day upsets ever in the 87th annual championships, Mahesh Chandran had the defending champion on the ropes only to slip-up at the crucial moment to let Hodgson off the hook with a draw.

Similarly on board two, Jon Speelman, despite being better throughout against top English junior Simon Buckley, found to his angst that his opponent found all the necessary tricks in a rook and pawn ending to save the day and the half-point.

With these being two of only three draws in the first round, in a unique set of circumstances for the two top seeds in such a strong "Swiss" tournament, both Hodgson and Speelman now find themselves being justly rewarded by having to play each other as early as the second round!


Round 1 (top-ten): Mahesh Chandron draw Hodgson, Speelman draw S Buckley, Default 0-1 Miles, Emms 1-0 Simons, Lilley 0-1 Chandler, B Lalic 1-0 P Hempson, P Kemp 0-1 C Ward, P Wells 1-0 Willmoth, O Jackson 0-1 Hebden, Gormally 1-0 Briggs


P Mahesh Chandran - J Hodgson
British Ch. (1), Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 f4 Qc7 7 Nf3 Bg4 8 Bd3 g6 9 0-0 Bg7 10 Qe1 Nbd7 11 Kh1 Bxf3 12 Rxf3 e6 13 Be3 Ng4 14 Bg1 0-0 15 Qh4 h5 16 h3 Ngf6 17 Bd4 Qd8 18 Qf2 Ne8 19 Rd1 Bxd4 20 Qxd4 Qb6 21 Qxb6 Nxb6 22 f5 Rc8 23 fxg6 fxg6 24 Rg3 Nd7 25 Rxg6+ Ng7 26 Be2 Ne5 27 Rh6 Rc6 28 Kg1 Rb6 29 Rb1 Rc8 30 Nd1 Rxc2 31 Bxh5 Nxh5 32 Rxh5 Rb4 33 Rh4 Re2 34 Rh6 Re1+ 35 Kh2 Rd4 36 Nc3 Rxb1 37 Nxb1 Rxe4 38 Nc3 Re3 39 Rh4 d5 40 Rb4 b5 41 a4 bxa4 42 Rxa4 Nc4 43 Rxa6 Nxb2 44 Nb5 e5 45 Rd6 Rd3 46 Rd7 Na4 47 Nc7 Nc3 48 Ne8 e4 49 Nf6+ draw.


THE Smith & Williamson British Chess Championships gets underway today with the scenic setting of Millfield School in Somerset providing the backdrop as 11 Grandmasters vie for the (UK)10,000 first prize.

In the absence of the top two British players, Michael Adams and Nigel Short, the defending champion, Julian Hodgson, is the top seed for the tournament. Other GM seeds in the frame include Jon Speelman, Tony Miles, John Emms, Murray Chandler, Bogdan Lalic, Chris Ward, Peter Wells and Mark Hebden.

There are 68 players in the field for the 87th annual championships, and overall some 900 competitors competing in 22 sections, from the under-eights to the seniors, as well as a weekend tournament and two quickplays.

Millfield's magnificent venue promises to make the two-week extravaganza a memorable event and the top four games of each round will be broadcast live on the internet at www.chesscenter.com/british2000.html

Late July and early August has more or less become known as the Smith & Williamson month in the British chess scene. The London-based accountants and private bank sponsors an invitation event for junior masters at Whitley, Surrey, which are immediately followed by the British Championships that are now in their third year of sponsorship from the company.

IMs Richard Bates and Andrew Webster, both from Surrey, tied for first place last week in the 2000 S & W Young Masters with a score of 6.5/9.


A Webster - J Werle
Smith & Williamson YM, Reti Op.

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 d5 3 Bg2 c6 4 b3 Bg4 5 Bb2 Nbd7 6 0-0 Qc7 7 c4 e6 8 Qc2 Bd6 9 Rc1 0-0 10 d3 Rfe8 11 Nbd2 Rad8 12 a3 Qb8 13 b4 e5 14 c5 Bf8 15 h3 Bxf3 16 Bxf3 g6 17 e4 dxe4 18 dxe4 Bg7 19 Nc4 Nf8 20 Rd1 Rxd1+ 21 Rxd1 Re7 22 Qd3 Rd7 23 Qb3 Rxd1+ 24 Qxd1 Ne8 25 Qa1 f6 26 Qa2 Kh8 27 Na5 Qc7 28 Qc4 h5 29 Bd1 Kh7 30 Bb3 Qd7 31 Kg2 f5 32 exf5 gxf5 33 Qf7 1-0

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