This year’s British Chess Championship will be held from Sunday 22 July to Saturday 4 August 2012 at the Parks Leisure Centre, Howdon Road, North Shields, NE29 6TL (information can be found at www.britishchesschampionships.co.uk). Compared with last year’s star-studded field, this year lacks the defending champion Michael Adams and Nigel Short, who was only defeated in the tie-break in 2011. So far, five grandmasters have indicated that they will play. The favourites are Gawain Jones and David Howell (see this week’s game and position) while stiff opposition will be provided by Stephen Gordon, Simon Williams and that indefatigable virtuoso of the endgame Keith Arkell.
The championship does not consist solely of the main title section, but also a myriad of subsidiary groups based on age and relative strength. One name to look out for, among the potential superstars of the future, is Josh Altman, son of Andrew Altman, the former chief executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. Josh was the highest scorer for the English team which participated in the recent junior chess games in Romania. He is now being trained by Julian Simpole, who previously coached Luke McShane and David Howell. With his naturally vivacious style, now allied to solid coaching, I look forward to great things from young Josh.
Howell-Neverov; Hastings 2010; Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3 This quiet move, which was the legendary Bobby Fischer’s idea against the Najdorf, has recently experienced something of a revival in popularity. 6... e6 7 g4 b5 8 Bg2 Bb7 9 0-0 Be7 This is a dreadful blunder by Black, which effectively ends the game at once (diagram 1) 10 e5 Bxg2 The alternative 10... dxe5 11 Bxb7 Ra7 12 Bc6+ Kf8 13 Ndxb5 axb5 14 Qxd8+ Bxd8 15 Bxb5 is equally hopeless. 11 exf6 Bxf1 12 fxe7 Qxe7 13 Qxf1 White has two minor pieces for a rook and pawn. On the face of it, this may sound like little or no material advantage at all, but in fact, in such a middlegame, the advantage is almost decisive. 13... 0-0 14 b3 Rc8 15 Bb2 Nc6 16 Qd3 Ne5 17 Qe3 Ng624 ... Ne7 25 h5 Qa5 26 h6 f6 27 Rxd6 Qc7 28 Rxd7 Qxd7 29 hxg7 e5 30 g5 Black resigns Black’s problem is that, in the long run, he will be unable to defend his kingside. 18 Rd1 Qa7 19 Rd2 Rc7 20 Qg3 b4 21 Nd1 Qc5 22 Nf3 Rac8 23 Ne3 Rd7 (diagram 2) 24 h4 Having manoeuvred his pieces into position, Howell starts a decisive attack on the enemy king. Although Black has two central pawns, advancing either one will allow the white minor pieces to obtain fine central outposts. 24 ... Ne7 25 h5 Qa5 26 h6 f6 27 Rxd6 Qc7 28 Rxd7 Qxd7 29 hxg7 e5 30 g5 Black resigns