18 AUGUST 1990, Page 52


James the First

Raymond Keene

My hearty congratulations to Grand- master James Plaskett who has won his first-ever British championship in the re- cently concluded Harry Baines Memorial competition at Eastbourne. Plaskett is the kind of player who can go through a tournament without drawing any games at all. This unbridled aggression makes him the Hurricane Higgins of chess. His victory will be a popular one, when so many players are more concerned not to lose than to win.

Hodgson — Plaskett: Harry Baines Memorial British Championship, 1990; Schmid Benoni. 1 d4 c5 2 d5 1416 3 Nc3 g6 4 e4 d6 514 Bg7 6 Bb5+ N1d7 Any other reply can be convincingly met with 7 e5. 7 Bd3 0-08 NO Na6 90-0 NM 10 Be2 Nb6 11 a3 Na6 1215 True to his enterprising style Hodgson sacrifices a pawn to gain the initiative on the king's wing. 12. . . gx13 13 exf5 Bxf5 14 Ng5 14 Nh4 is also worth consideration, intend- ing Nf5. 14. . . Bg6 15 Bd3 After the game the players looked at 15 h4 h6 16 h5 hxg5 17 hxg6, but considered that both kings could be equally exposed. 15. . . Qd7 16 Bxg6 fxg6 The conven- tional recapture would be 16. . . hxg6. The text appears to weaken the e6 square but Black can always mask this by playing . . . Nc7. Mean- while the opening of the 'f' file potentially reduces White's attacking forces. 17 Rxf8+ Rxf8 18 Ne6 Rf7 19 Ne4 Nc7 20 Nxg7 Kxg7 21 b4 White's attack is no longer convincing. With the text White speculates, at the cost of further material, on vague attacking chances along the al – h8 diagonal. 21 . . . Qf5 22 bxcS Qxe4 23 cxb6 axb6 24 c4 Qxc4 25 Bb2+ Kg8 26 Rd l Qxd5 27 Qel e5 White resigns. Of course objectively White is losing, but his decision to abandon ship at this point was probably caused by demoralisa- tion at the failure of his attack. I would personally not have resigned in this position but played 28 0e3 and struggled on.

Plaskett — Mestel: Harry Baines Memorial British Championship, 1990; Old Indian De- fence.

1 d4 N16 2 c4 d6 3 Nc3 e5 4 Nf3 Nbd7 5 Bg5 c6 6

e3 Be7 7 Qc2 Ng4 This breaks various good rules about not moving pieces twice in the opening. 7 . . 0-0 looks superior. 8 h3 exd4 9 Bxe7 Qxe7 10 Nxd4 Nh6 11 0-0-0 Nc5 12 g4 This opening has obviously been a disaster for Black, whose knight on h6 is now completely locked out of the game. 12 . . . Bd7 13 Bg2 0-0 14 e4 White has come out of the opening well but this move, blocking the action of the white bishop, seems a dubious way to proceed. 14 . . . 13e6 15 Qe2 Qg5+ 16 Kbl Rfe8 17 Nf3 Qg6 18 Ka 1 15 An ingenious thrust speculating on the unprotected state of White's bishop on g2 as well as the potential pin in the e' file against White's queen. 19 exf5 Bx15 20 Qd2 I'Ve4 A losing blunder. Black should play 20. . . Be7 and if 21 Qxd6 Qxd6 22 Ftxd6 N17 23 Rd2 Be6 with some compensation for the lost pawn. 21 gxf5 Qxg2 22 Nxe4 Rxe4 23 Ng5 Rxc4 241 Rhgl Qh2 If 24 . . . 0d5 25 Qe2 followed by Qe6+ is very strong. 25 Qe2 Rd4 26 Qe6+ Kh8 27 Rdel Black resigns. White's threat is 28 Qe8+ Rxe8 29 Rxe8+ Ng8 30 Nf7 mate and there is also the threat 28 Qxh6 g,xh6 29 Nf7 mate. The only defence is 27 . . . Rf8 when 28 Qxh6 hoping for 28 . . . gxh6 29 Nf7+ Rxf7 30 Re8+ Rf8 31 Rxf8 mate founders on 28 . . . Rdl + However, after 27 . . . Rf8 even the simple 28 Nf3 is good enough to win.

The draw for the Candidates tournament for the 1993 World Championship match has now been made and I am very sorry to say that once again Nigel Short has been drawn to play Jon Speelman. When this happened two years ago I wrote in the

Times (and I quote), The World Chess Federation doubtless has its own rules about pairings but if they involve the early•elimination of co-nationals who are both dangerous rivals to the Russians then the rules are wrong. It is the duty of the British Chess Federation to lobby for rule changes. Indeed, they should have put up an immediate and powerful case for the pairing to be changed as soon as it was known that the quarter-finals were bound to eliminate one of our world cham- pionship prospects. I have, sadly, no evi- dence that the British Chess Federation made any effort at all in this direction.'

For my pains two jokers from the British Chess Federation, David Anderton and William Hartston, wrote in implying that I was mad to question any Fide decision. Of course the Federation didn't lift a finger to rectify this situation and the chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance. Once again one of our top players, who are both frequent and deadly rivals to the Soviets, will perforce go out at an early stage. I predict the Soviets will dominate the final stage of the competition and I must ask whether the BCF officials repre- sent our interests in the World Chess Federation or the World Chess Federa- tion's in Britain. The warning was clear — why was nothing done? British chess de- serves a clear and quick answer.

The top placed players at the British Championship (11 rounds) were: James Plaskett (Bedford) 9; Julian Hodgson (London) 81/2; Jonathan Mestel (Cam- bridge) 8; Michael Adams (Truro), John Emms (Norwich), Daniel King (Rich- mond), Jon Speelman (London), 71/2; Andrew Ledger (Bedford), Colin McNab (Scotland), Andrew Muir (Scotland), Niaz Murshed (Bangladesh), Mihai Suba (Lon- don), William Watson (London), Peter Wells (Oxford), 7.