Adams takes his sixth British title

by Daniel Fernandez
8/6/2018 – 105th British Championship took place in Hull, England from July 28th to August 5th, and was narrowly won by top seed Michael Adams after a rapid and blitz tiebreak. Adams and Luke McShane were tied with 7 points from 9 games after the classical Open competition. It was Adams' sixth title, while McShane remains the strongest British player never to have won the national championship. Jovanka Houska had the best score among women with 5.0/9 for her eighth British title. | Photos: Arnold Lutton / BritishChessChampionships.co.uk

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McShane runner-up after tiebreak match

There has only very rarely been a dull British Championships, and that prospect was well and truly put paid to when no fewer than four of England's 2600+ players showed up to Hull for this year's edition, attracted no doubt by the £10,000 first prize.

From the outset it was always going to be hard for anyone else to break into that clique. Only one game was lost by any of them other than to one another:

 

David Eggleston This messy position remains perfectly balanced after either 36...axb4 or 36...h6, but McShane with just a few minutes on his clock played 36...h5? which ran into the surprising refutation 37.Ng2! suddenly overloading Black's queen. After 37...Kh7 38.cxd6 Nf6 39.Ne5 Black cannot survive.

This win for David Eggleston (pictured) in the second round was the start of an impressive run for the 30-year-old IM, who would go on to defeat two more grandmasters in Hull.

There then followed several rather peaceful rounds (though there was some pain involved in my loss of a very drawable endgame against Gawain Jones). The results, for instance, of round 5 featured 7 draws on the top 10 boards:

Results of Round 5 (top 10)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Howell David Wl ½ - ½ 4 Jones Gawain Cb
Mcshane Luke J 3 ½ - ½ Adams Michael
Fodor Tamas Jr 3 1 - 0 3 Fernandez Daniel H
Ghasi Ameet K 3 1 - 0 3 Wells Peter K
Emms John M 3 ½ - ½ 3 Hebden Mark L
Eggleston David J 3 ½ - ½ 3 Tan Justin Hy
Gormally Daniel W 3 ½ - ½ 3 Palliser Richard Jd
Hawkins Jonathan ½ - ½ Zakarian David
Pert Nicholas 1 - 0 Kolbus Dietmar
Webb Laurence E ½ - ½ Adair James R

We pick up the action in round seven, when Gawain Jones attempted to use some preparation in a rather technical line against Adams:

 

Suddenly, it appeared as if Adams might run away with the title, without even being held to a playoff. He was then half a point clear, due white in the next game, and had played almost all his pursuers. Then came round eight, where Howell defeated yours truly in a game whose action was almost entirely confined to the first 20 moves:

 

David Howell

David Howell drew with Jones and Adams but lost to McShane in Round 9 | Photo: Roger Noble

Meanwhile Nick Pert, who was England's Olympiad 5th board in 2012 and is due to reprise the role this year, held Adams to a nervy draw with Black.

 

So, going into the final round, the standings were:

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Adams Michael 6,5
  Howell David Wl 6,5
3 Jones Gawain Cb 6,0
  Mcshane Luke J 6,0
5 Pert Nicholas 5,5
  Ghasi Ameet K 5,5
  Gormally Daniel W 5,5
  Arkell Keith C 5,5
  Eggleston David J 5,5

The latter two players drew uneventfully with each other, securing Eggleston a GM norm.

The 3rd and 4th boards saw attempted technical grinds by one or other player, neither of which really got off the ground. However, the bloodthirsty chess on the top boards made up for it:

 

Click or tap the second game to switch

Standings after Round 9 (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Adams Michael 7,0
  Mcshane Luke J 7,0
3 Howell David Wl 6,5
4 Jones Gawain Cb 6,0
  Pert Nicholas 6,0
  Fodor Tamas Jr 6,0
  Gormally Daniel W 6,0
  Fernandez Daniel H 6,0
  Arkell Keith C 6,0
  Eggleston David J 6,0
11 Hawkins Jonathan 5,5
  Ghasi Ameet K 5,5
  Tan Justin Hy 5,5
  Wells Peter K 5,5
  Palliser Richard Jd 5,5

The Tiebreak

Then, the crowd was treated to the spectacle of a tiebreak match for the title (as in, for instance, 2012 and 2017). I have annotated the rapid games, leaving the two blitz games for another day — both of those were convincingly won by Adams, whose time management was simply better.

 

Presumably, McShane's sartorial choices are not responsible for his "always a bridesmaid" result in the British Championship [-Ed.]

Luke McShane

McShane receives his prize | Photo: Roger Noble

Upon receiving his trophy, Adams thanked the city of Hull and the tournament sponsors, particularly Capital Developments Waterloo Ltd, and remarked that he was proud to have won what he called "the strongest British Championship that there has ever been".

Adams and trophy

Adams and the winner's trophy | Photo: Roger Noble

Ultimately, there was a great deal of fighting chess being played, a lot more than one might think if one visited after three or four rounds! This was also true away from the top table — the narcissist in me feels compelled to point out the following beautiful swindle. Can you spot it? White to move and win:

 

Simon Says review of the British Championship

GM Simon Williams took a look at the key British Championship moments in his latest Simon Says show.


The Weekly Show on the British Championship

IM Lawrence Trent also gave it a go on his weekly webcast


All live commentary webcasts

ChessBase once again provided daily live commentary, produced remotely from its Hamburg studio and anchored by IM Michael Rahal, who was joined alternately by GM Karsten Mueller and IM Oliver Reeh.

Click or tap a prior round to view that show

All available Championship games

 

The British Championships is plural, and the "Championship" section won by Adams is but one of several events which ran in parallel. The "Major Open" winner will qualify for the Championship tournament next year, but are also held in Hull were senior and youth tournaments, as well as short tournaments on the weekend and a rapid tournament. The British Championships are undoubtedly an attractive event for chess players of all ages and all skill levels. 

There was one fascinating game between a junior player and a well-known English arbiter who proved his worth as a player too:

 

The Under-21 title was shared between the Joseph McPhillips and Australia's 8th GM Justin Tan (also a British citizen studying in Edinburgh). IM Jovanka Houska remains the best performing female player in the U.K. after reclaiming the British Women's Champion title for the third straight year. 

Congratulations to the winners, a round of applause for the organisers. See you in 2019!

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Once part of a 'golden generation' of young players in Singapore, he moved to England in his late teens and attended Cambridge University. Immediately after graduation, he began training as a time series analyst and also working on his chess, finally becoming a grandmaster in November 2017. He writes chess articles frequently and with enjoyment, and his first chess book is out in May. Away from the board, he enjoys table-tennis and language learning.
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Offramp Offramp 8/13/2018 06:50
wethalon which game was Bc4 from?
wethalon wethalon 8/7/2018 02:05
Bc4!! is a novotny. Someone please add it to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novotny_(chess)
identity777 identity777 8/6/2018 09:32
Brilliant round up of the event
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