British Solving Championship won by OTB GM

3/8/2012 – This year's competition was held in the famous English institution, Eton College, where the participants could soak up the atmosphere of large paintings of historic luminaries on the walls. For the first time the title was captured by playing GM (and solving IM): Colin McNab, who broke into a clique consisting of Friedgood, McDowell, Mestel and Nunn. Test your solving skills against the masters.

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British Solving Championship

Report by David Friedgood

The British solving championship, organised by the British Chess Problem Society, was held on Saturday, 18th February 2012. There were two significant ‘firsts’ on this occasion. After 17 years being hosted by Oakham School, the championship moved to that famous English institution, Eton College. Even if your performance was below par, as mine was, it was good to be there, soaking up the atmosphere, looking at the large paintings of historic luminaries on the walls. As a former South African, I was intrigued by a stone dedicating the School Hall building to the old Etonians who fell in the Boer War of 1899 to 1902.

The other significant ‘first’ was the capture of the British Solving Championship for the first time by playing GM (and solving IM) Colin McNab. Colin has always been a force to reckon with since he started solving, having been selected for the British team at the annual world championship on a number of occasions. Now he has broken into the clique which, since 1996, has consisted of David Friedgood, Michael McDowell, Jonathan Mestel and John Nunn.

The championship combines an Open solving event with the British Championship, for which entrants have to qualify by solving problems in a postal round. Visitors this year included former Open winner and World champion GM Piotr Murdzia (Poland), GM Eddy van Beers (Belgium), former Open winner GM Dolf Wissmann (Netherlands) and Marcel van Herck (Belgium) (all titles are for solving). They competed with 35 Brits.

Justifying his 2801 solver’s rating, Piotr Murdzia won overall in magisterial style, scoring 100% and using a mere 172 out of a possible 230 minutes. Van Beers and McNab both scored 61 points from a possible 65, having found only the key of the (as usual) difficult long selfmate, but Eddy took the second place on time tiebreak. Fourth was double GM Jonathan Mestel on 59 – a moderate result by his standards. Britain’s other double GM, John Nunn, suffered a dip in form, but his fifth place on 56 points using only 153 (!) minutes is hardly a bad result.

Some people scored well above their rating expectation: Marcel van Herck, the perennial Roddy McKay, and a particularly deserving winner of the Newcomer’s Prize, David Hodge.

Sponsor of this most successful event was the hedge fund Winton Capital Management. Further details can be found on the British Chess Problem Society’s website, a link to which can be found below this article. The following photographs were taken by the BCPS Assistant Treasurer, Sally Lewis:


A view of the venue between rounds


Piotr Murdzia receiving the Open Trophy from Winton Capital
Management’s Gordon Brown


Colin McNab receiving his Championship trophy

The following two problems and a study were among the thirteen positions for solving. Bear in mind that they were selected by the Championship Director, Brian Stephenson, for their difficulty, rather than their aesthetic value, although the study is an excellent composition. The solutions are hidden and can be checked by clicking on the ‘Reveal’ button.

Nikolai Glinskikh, Schach, 1997

Mate in three – to solve at championship
standard, allow yourself up to 20 minutes

Mario Matous, 4th Prize, Chervony Girnik, 1984

White to play and win – to solve at championship
standard, allow yourself up to 30 minutes

Friedrich Binder, Springaren, 1993

Mate in four – to solve at championship
standard, allow yourself up to 30 minutes

Any queries or constructive comments can be addressed to the author at david.friedgood@gmail.com.

Copyright in this article David Friedgood 2012/ChessBase


The British Chess Problem Society (BCPS), founded in 1918, is the world's oldest chess problem society. It exists to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of chess compositions, and membership is open to chess enthusiasts in all countries.

The Society produces two bi-monthly magazines, The Problemist and The Problemist Supplement (the latter catering for beginners), which are issued to all members. Composers from all over the world send their problems and studies to compete in the tourneys run by the society.

The BCPS also organises the annual British Chess Solving Championship, and selects the Great Britain squad for the World Chess Solving Championship. The Society holds an annual residential weekend, with a full programme of solving and composing tourneys and lectures; this event attracts an international participation. Members are also entitled to use the resources of the BCPS library, and the Society book service, which can provide new and second-hand publications.


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