Michael Basman is in many ways the most important person in British chess. As a player, he is an International Master, who tied for the British Championship in 1973, losing out in the tie-break. Since then he has turned his hand to organising a mass annual schools championship, attended by 70,000 entrants every year. Sponsored by Delancey, this is the prime breeding ground in British chess for future champions who have gone on to win the British championship, or compete in last month’s London Grand Prix at Simpson’s in the Strand, or will compete in the London Classic at Olympia this December.
Not everyone can become a champion, so Basman is also creating an invaluable social legacy by introducing large numbers of schoolchildren to an activity which will entertain them while exercising their brains.
At his best, Basman was a devastating tactician, as this week’s extracts demonstrate. This win comes from England’s historic victory against the Soviet Union.
Basman (England)–Savon (USSR): Student Olympiad, Harrachov 1967; Torre attack
1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 c5 5 e3 b6 6 c3 Bb7 7 Bd3 0-0 8 0-0 White chooses a quiet opening system known as the Torre attack. 8 … d5 9 Qb1 Nbd7 10 Re1 Re8 White’s advance on the queenside by 11 b4 looks attractive here, for example, 11 … cxb4 12 cxb4 Rc8 13 Qb3 with an unclear position. 11 e4 dxe4 12 Nxe4 Qc7 13 Bh4 I was taking some time over my moves here as I did not have great confidence in the position, particularly the offside queen on b1. In my notes to the game from 1967 I remark that ‘by move 17 I had consumed three quarters of my time’. 13 … Rad8 14 Bg3 Qc8 15 Neg5 White can make this move because Black will not dare to dislodge the knight by 15 … h6 on account of 16 Nxf7 and 17 Bxg6+ 15 … cxd4 16 cxd4 Bd5 17 Ne5 Qb7 18 f3 Black calmly positions his pieces in the centre and the bishop on d5 looks particularly strong. 18 … a6 19 Qc2 Nh5 20 Qe2 Nxg3 21 hxg3 b5 22 a4 In view of White’s time trouble Black decides to force the issue, which enables White to launch a furious attack. 22 … h6 (see diagram 1) 23 Ngxf7 Qb6 The knight sacrifice could not be accepted because of the continuation 23 … Bxf7 24 Nxf7 Kxf7 25 Qe6+ Kf8 26 Bxg6. But the move played is quite adequate. 24 Bxg6 Nxe5 25 Nxe5 Bxe5 26 Bxe8 Bxd4+ 27 Kh2 Rxe8 28 axb5 axb5 29 Rad1 Bf7 30 f4 (see diagram 2) Black has consolidated to the advantage of the two bishops against a rook, and now 30 … Bf6 seems to keep the advantage. However, at this point he makes the fatal mistake and overestimates the strength of his position. 30 … b4 31 Qg4+ Kh8 32 Qh4 Qf6 The final losing blunder, after which his position is rapidly demolished. 33 Rxd4 Qxd4 34 Qxh6+ Kg8 35 Re5 Ba2 36 Rg5+ Kf7 37 Rf5+ Kg8 38 Rg5+ Kf7 39 Qg6+ Kf8 40 Rf5+ Qf6 41 Rxf6+ exf6 42 Qxf6+ Black resigns