Last week I pointed to the fact that games played at accelerated time limits are acquiring an official imprimatur that threatens to rival the well-established ratings, rankings and titles of chess played at classical time controls. This year’s British Championship (the 104th) last weekend concluded in Llandudno with a four-way tie for first place. In order to separate the top four, a rapidplay play-off was necessary. So the British Championship title for the coming year has now been decided by games at faster speeds.
The final leading scores in the championship and the final involving the top four were as follows: Gawain Jones 10½; Luke McShane 9½; Craig Hanley and David Howell both 7; Richard Palliser, John Emms and Ameet Ghasi 6½.
Jones-McShane: Llandudno 2017
Black has two pawns and some attack for a piece but White’s coming coup shattered his illusions. 20 Rxb7 Qa1+ If 20 … Kxb7 21 Ba6+ wins the black queen. 21 Rb1 Qxa2 22 f6 g6 23 Qh3+ Rd7 24 Re1 Rhd8 25 Re4 c5 26 Bb5 c6 27 Bxc6 Kc7 28 Bxd7 Rxd7 29 Rb7+ Kxb7 30 Qxd7+ Kb6 31 Ra4 Black resigns
Howell-McShane: Llandudno 2017
White has launched a complex sacrificial attack, but in regaining his material his light squares become fatally exposed. 21 Nxb4 Rxb4 22 Nxd7 Qxd7 23 Qxb4 Bb7 24 Qb6 Qxh3 25 Qd8+ Kg7 26 Bd4+ Kh6 27 Qf8+ Kh5 White resigns
Jones-Hanley: Llandudno 2017
46 f5 In this position Black resigned, for if 46 … hxg5 47 f6 with inevitable coronation of a white pawn. Black’s most resilient defence is 46 … Nd7 47 f6 gxf6 48 gxh6 Nf8. Now not 49 Bg8 f5 50 h7 Nxh7 51 Bxh7 Ke6 and Black will draw as the bishop and ‘wrong-coloured’ rook’s pawn are insufficient for the win once the black king can reach h8. Instead 49 Bb3 wins after the complex 49 … f5 (49 … Ke7 50 Ke4 wins easily) 50 Bg8!! (now Black is in zugzwang) 50 … f4 51 Ke4 f3 and now the only winning move is 52 Kf4!! (52 Kxf3 Ke5 53 Kg4 Kf6 is a draw and 52 Kf5 Kc5 actually wins for Black) 52 … f2 53 Bc4 Ke7 54 Kf5 and the white king will inevitably come to g7 when he is winning.