Chess

Fiend from Hull

28 July 2018

9:00 AM

28 July 2018

9:00 AM

This year’s British Championship commences today in Hull. Among a powerful field, which includes Michael Adams and defending champion Gawain Jones, Luke McShane stands out as a supremely dangerous tactician, who at his best can overrun any opponent. This week’s game shows him outmanoeuvring a leading contender from last year’s championship.

McShane-Howell: British Championship, Llandudno 2017; French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 It is not clear to me that the French Defence suits Howell’s style. In the later playoff game for the title McShane-Howell continued 3 e5 and White also won. 3 … c5 4 Ngf3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Nc6 6 Bb5 Bd7 7 Nxc6 bxc6 8 Bd3 White has a slightly more favourable pawn structure but the position is balanced. 8 … Qc7 9 Qe2 Bd6 10 Nf3 dxe4 11 Qxe4 Nf6 12 Qh4 h6 13 Bd2 More usual is 13 0-0 but it will soon become apparent McShane has something considerably more aggressive in mind. 13 … c5 14 0-0-0 Rb8 15 Rhe1 Bc6 16 Bc3 (diagram 1) 16 … Bxf3 Black decides to wreck the white pawn structure. This means that endgames will always be favourable for him but meanwhile White gains the bishop pair and the g-file could prove to be a useful attacking avenue. 17 gxf3 Bf4+ 18 Kb1 Ke7 19 b3 Rhd8 19 … c4 is tempting but White can reply 20 Bxf6+ gxf6 21 Bxc4 Qxc4 22 Re4 with a good position. 20 Bb2 Rd5 This is a mistake. Better is 20 … Kf8 and if 21 Bxf6 gxf6 22 Qxf6 Bg5 23 Qc3 Rd4 and Black has good counterplay. 21 Re4 (diagram 2) 21 … Rf5 Black’s best chance to hold is 21 … Bg5 22 Qg3 Qxg3 23 hxg3 Nxe4 24 fxe4 Rd7 25 f4 c4 26 Be2 Rxd1+ 27 Bxd1 Bxf4 (27 … Bf6 28 e5) 28 gxf4 g5, when White is better but Black has drawing chances. 22 Ra4 Rd8 23 Rg1 Rg5 24 Re1 (diagram 3) 24 … Nh5 A blunder after which Black is lost. The only try was 24 … Rd4 25 Bxd4 cxd4 26 Rxd4 (forced as 26 … Rh5 was threatened) 26 … Qc3 27 Qxf4 Qxe1+ 28 Qc1 Qxc1+ 29 Kxc1 although White is still better.
25 Bxg7 Now Black’s position falls apart. 25 … Nxg7 26 Rxf4 Kf8 27 Rg4 Rxg4 28 fxg4 Rd4 29 Qxh6 Rxg4 30 h3 c4 31 hxg4 cxd3 32 cxd3 Qc3 33 Qe3 Ne8 34 Rc1 Qg7 35 g5 Qh7 36 Qe4 Qh2 37 Qb4+ Kg7 38 Qd4+ e5 39 Qxa7 Nd6 40 Qe7 e4 41 dxe4 Qf4 42 Qf6+ Black resigns

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