British Championships past and present

8/4/2013 – There is some interesting and exciting chess going on at the 100th Anniversary British Championship, with GMs David Howell and Stephen Gordon dominating. But our partners in the organisation have been providing us with historical material that is equally fascinating. We bring you the latest from Torquay 2013 and from the championships in 1929 and 1938 in this double-round report.

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A record-breaking number of over 1000 players are taking part in the 2013 British Championships, attracted by a combination of the beautiful venue and the fact that it’s the 100th in a series stretching right back to 1904. This year it is taking place in the Riviera International Centre in Torquay. There are 23 different sections at the 2013 British Championships, catering for all ages and abilities, but the main focus of interest is on the Championship itself. There are 106 players taking part, of whom 33 are titled players, including thirteen grandmasters. The Championship runs from 29th July to 10th August 2013.

Selection of games from round four

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

We provided you with pictures and standings in our previous report.


British Champions & Their Games - No. 4

1929 - Ramsgate

The British Championship has accommodated players of all stripes, each with their own back-story, but none as unusual as that of Mir Sultan Khan. He was first discovered in 1926 by Sir Umat Hayat Khan, in a Punjabi village playing the Indian form of the game, and took him under his wing. He was taught the international rules and conventions by a number of tutors, In the Spring of 1929 he was brought to the UK and was accepted for the British Championship on the strength of being Indian Champion, but apart from that, being a complete unknown. Sultan Khan’s short preparation was not helped by being illiterate, unable to speak English and suffering from malaria and chronic throat infections.

Indian chess phenomenon Mir Sultan Khan

His campaign started with a loss to the 60-year-old Rev. Hamond, but he went on to win by a clear point to the amazement of many. It was no fluke as he won again in 1932 (London) and 1933 (Hastings). His slow positional style he inherited from his grounding in the Indian rules, and his lack of book knowledge often led to hair-raising positions that spectators could scarcely fathom. It was his utter concentration and fierce will to win that carried him though.

At the end of that year, his protégé and his entourage had to return to India, where Sultan Khan was hailed as a hero, but he had had enough of chess and promptly gave it up, even refusing to teach his own son, saying he should do something better. His protégé gave him a smallholding that he farmed happily for the rest of his life, mostly sitting under a tree smoking his hookah. He died in 1966. His biography was written by R. N. Coles, who knew him as well as any Englishman.

Gerald Abrahams (right) marked a sharp contrast with his opponent here in this Round 3 game, being an erudite, witty Liverpudlian barrister and author of numerous books on chess, law and philosophy.

[Event "British Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "1929.07.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Sultan Khan, Mir"] [Black "Abrahams, G. ."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C01"] [Annotator "Jones,Bob"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2013.07.15"] [SourceDate "2013.07.17"] 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Bd3 Bd6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Re1+ Ne7 8. Bg5 Be6 9. Nc3 c6 10. Ne2 Qc7 11. Ng3 O-O-O ({Black is already in difficulties } 11... O-O {is dangerous on account of} 12. Bxf6 {and the text must inevitably appeal to an aggressive player like Abrahams. Yet White soon shows that the king is equally in danger on the Q-side.}) 12. c3 h6 13. Bd2 h5 14. Bg5 Bg4 15. h3 h4 16. Nf1 Bh5 17. b4 Nfg8 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Ne3 Qd7 20. b5 Rdg8 21. bxc6 Qxc6 22. c4 Qd7 23. cxd5 Kb8 24. Rb1 g5 25. Bb5 Qc7 26. Qa4 g4 { Diagram [#] Black realises it is now or never. If he delays a move in order to protect his king, his own attack can never get started.} ({e.g.} 26... Ka8 27. Rec1 Qd8 28. Bd7 g4 29. Nc4 Bc7 30. d6 gxf3 31. dxc7 Rxg2+ 32. Kh1 Qxc7 33. Nb6+) 27. Rec1 Qd8 28. hxg4 Bg6 (28... Bxg4 {fails after} 29. Nxg4 Rxg4 30. Bd7 Rg7 31. Rxb7+ Kxb7 32. Rb1+ Ka8 (32... Kc7 $4 33. Qxa7#) 33. Bc6+ Nxc6 34. Qxc6#) 29. Rb3 h3 30. Bc6 b6 31. Nc4 Nxc6 {Diagram [#]} 32. Qxc6 ({White was threatening} 32. Rxb6+ axb6 33. Qa8+) 32... hxg2 33. Nxd6 ({Godd enough, but quicker was} 33. Nxb6) 33... Qe7 34. Re3 Rh1+ 35. Kxg2 Rxc1 36. Rxe7 Rxc6 37. dxc6 {c7+ is fatal.} 1-0


Round five (Friday, 02 August 2013)

These were the top pairings and results. Leaders Stephen Gorden (above left) and David Howell, who both had perfect 4.0/4 scores, played a 19-move draw against each other.

No White
Rating
Black
Rating
Result
1 GM Gordon, Stephen J
2521
GM Howell, David W L
2639
½-½
2 GM Hebden, Mark L
2555
IM Ghasi, Ameet K
2459
1-0
3 GM Wells, Peter K
2479
GM Kosten, Anthony C.
2458
1-0
4 IM Hawkins, Jonathan
2517
FM Eggleston, David J
2363
1-0
5 IM Fernandez, Daniel
2346
GM Gormally, Daniel W
2496
1-0
6 GM Lalic, Bogdan
2489
FM Chapman, Terry P D
2308
1-0
7 IM Rudd, Jack
2280
GM Williams, Simon K
2481
0-1
8 IM Zhou, Yang-Fan
2469
IM Kolbus, Dietmar
2288
½-½
9 IM Lane, Gary W.
2401
Mackle, Dominic
2216
0-1
10 IM Bates, Richard A
2375
Weaving, Richard
2196
½-½
11 GM Jones, Gawain C B
2643
Mason, Donald J
2204
1-0
12 Harvey, Marcus R
2202
IM Palliser, Richard J D
2453
0-1
13 Anderson, John
2189
GM Arkell, Keith C
2444
0-1
14 GM Ward, Chris G
2432
Yeo, Michael J
2170
1-0
15 Murphy, Hugh W
2170
IM Knott, Simon J B
2318
0-1

GM Mark Hebden re-joins the leaders after beating IM Ameet Ghasi

GM Peter Wells joined the leading pack after beating GM Tony Kosten

Photos provided by Brendan O'Gorman and Keverel Chess

Selection of games from round five

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Top rankings after round five

Rnk Name
Score
Rating
TPR W-We
1 GM Howell, David W L
4.5
2639
2754 +0.53
2 GM Hebden, Mark L
4.5
2555
2678 +0.60
3 GM Gordon, Stephen J
4.5
2521
2714 +1.00
4 GM Wells, Peter K
4.5
2479
2610 +0.61
5 IM Hawkins, Jonathan
4.0
2517
2494 -0.07
6 GM Lalic, Bogdan
4.0
2489
2461 -0.10
7 GM Williams, Simon K
4.0
2481
2469 -0.01
8 IM Fernandez, Daniel
4.0
2346
2574 +1.48
9 Mackle, Dominic
4.0
2216
2480 +1.61
10 GM Jones, Gawain C B
3.5
2643
2412 -1.04
11 IM Zhou, Yang-Fan
3.5
2469
2457 +0.04
12 IM Ghasi, Ameet K
3.5
2459
2429 -0.06
13 GM Kosten, Anthony C.
3.5
2458
2421 -0.04
14 IM Palliser, Richard J D
3.5
2453
2421 +0.01
15 GM Arkell, Keith C
3.5
2444
2364 -0.36
16 GM Ward, Chris G
3.5
2432
2411 +0.01
17 IM Bates, Richard A
3.5
2375
2260 -0.59
18 IM Knott, Simon J B
3.5
2318
2294 -0.02
19 IM Kolbus, Dietmar
3.5
2288
2497 +1.37
20 Osborne, Marcus E
3.5
2269
2359 +0.64
21 Weaving, Richard
3.5
2196
2403 +1.34

To really appreciate how far the event has come in its 100 years, one needs to take the opportunity to look back at some of the milestones on the way – the great characters, the champions and their games. To do this, IM Andrew Martin is using his computer skills to pick out some key games from the past and run his expert eye over them. Similarly, Bob Jones, local chess history writer, is compiling a set of ten pages, each on a past champion and one of his/her games. These will appear, one at a time, in the daily championship bulletins. Here is the first of them.

British Champions & Their Games - No. 3

1938 – Brighton.

Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander was one of the most charismatic players of his time, full of a positive nervous energy that galvanised all who came into contact with him. The war imposed a seven-year break in what would have been his prime years as a player, but his work at Bletchley Park in charge of Hut 8 was invaluable. His post-war chess career is well documented; player, columnist, author, administrator, all alongside his day job at GCHQ in Cheltenham. He became champion again in 1956 (Blackpool), but soon after he retired from tournament play, as he felt he wasn’t doing himself justice at the board, and his other roles took over. He died in 1975 and his posthumous biography was a joint work by Milner-Barry, Golombek and Hartston.

Harold Vincent Mallison (right) had been at Cambridge with Lionel Penrose and worked his whole life as Maths lecturer at Exeter University. Between the wars he dominated Devon chess together with A. R. B. Thomas and Ron Bruce. More details on his life may be found Keverelchess.

In January 1938 Alexander had shown at Hastings that he was the equal of anyone, coming second with Keres ahead of Fine and Flohr, and was on top form at Brighton, coming a half point clear of Golombek and Sergeant. He hit the ground running with this Round one game against Mallison.

[Event "British Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "1938.07.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Alexander"] [Black "Mallison, H. V.."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [Annotator "Mallison,HV"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2013.07.15"] [SourceDate "2013.07.17"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O Bg4 8. c4 O-O 9. cxd5 f5 10. h3 Bh5 11. Nc3 Nd7 12. Nxe4 fxe4 13. Bxe4 Nf6 14. Bf5 Kh8 { According to Alexander, who had analyzed it, this variation, Marshall's Attack, is unsound and White has a sufficient defence. This has since been accepted as standard.} 15. g4 Nxd5 ({If} 15... Bf7 16. Be6 Nxd5 17. Ng5 {leading to the variation played.}) 16. Be6 Bf7 ({If} 16... Nf4 17. Bxf4 Rxf4 18. gxh5 Qf6 19. Bg4 Rxg4+ 20. hxg4 Qf4 21. Ne5 {wins.}) 17. Ng5 Bxe6 {The exchange cannot be saved.} ({If} 17... Bg8 18. Bxg8 {and Black cannot play} Rxg8 {because of} 19. Nf7#) 18. Nxe6 Qh4 (18... Qf6 {might have given Black more attack as he keeps his strong knight, but White should have sufficient defence.}) 19. Qb3 $1 {The key move in the variation. White not only guards h3 and attacks the knight, but also threatens to win the Queen by Bg5, and Black has no alternative but to part with his strong knight and remain the exchange down.} Nf4 20. Bxf4 Bxf4 21. Nxf8 Rxf8 22. Kg2 Bd6 23. Qe6 (23. Qxb7 {could also have been played.}) 23... Qg5 {threatening Qf4.} 24. f4 {Giving up a pawn for rapid development and to pin Black's bishop.} Bxf4 25. Rae1 Qa5 26. Qe5 Qxe5 27. Rxe5 Kg8 28. Re7 g5 29. h4 gxh4 30. Kh3 h6 31. Rd7 ({Not} 31. Kxh4 {because of} Bg5+) 31... b5 32. d5 a5 33. Re7 a4 34. a3 Bd6 35. Rxf8+ Kxf8 36. Re6 Kg7 37. Kxh4 Bf4 38. Kh5 Bc1 39. Re2 {The sealed move. The game was adjourned here, but Black resigned without waiting for White's sealed move, although 39...Kf6 might have given some drawing chances. But the move chosen by White avoids all risks, and wins without much difficulty.} 1-0


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