11 JANUARY 1992, Page 36


Forever England Raymond Keene Nigel Short capped a brilliant year, during which he was named The Spectator Player of the Year, by winning the inaugu- ral English Chess Championship, con- tested by a field of England's top eight grandmasters. Although the British cham- pionship is a well established event there has, curiously, never before been a specifi- cally English championship. The tourna- ment was played on the knock-out format, harking back to the first tournament ever organised in London in 1851. The sponsors were merchant bankers Duncan Lawrie, who for the past decade have so generously supported the English team in the chess Olympics. With the demise of the Soviet Empire this tournament has claim to being the strongest national championship in the world. Among the competitors were two world championship semi-finalists (past and present) in the shape of Nigel himself and Jon Speelman, plus one of the world's top two ranked juniors, Michael Adams.

Nigel reached the final without serious problems, but then encountered an im- mediate setback when he lost the first game to Adams. What clinched a fascinat- ing and hard-fought match in Nigel's favour was his superlative form in the two speed chess play-off games, after the con- ventional time limit games had ended equal at 2-2.

Duncan Lawrie English Championships played at St Paul's School London, Decem- ber 1991.


Hodgson 1 1/2 Short 1 1/2

Nunn 0 1/2 Chandler 0 1/2

Adams 1/2 1/2 1 1/2

Watson 1/2 1/2 0 1/2

Speelman 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 '/z 1/2 1/2 1 Kosten 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 0

Semi-Finals Short 1/2 1 Adams 1/2 1

Hodgson 1/2 0 Speelman 1/2 0



0 1

1/2 1/2

1 1

Adams 1 0 1/2


0 0 Short — Adams: The English Championship Final (Game 2), London 1991; Four Knights Game.

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bb5 One of Nigel Short's most significant contributions to opening theory has been his resuscitation of • antique variations as, for example, here the Four Knights Game. Formerly dismissed as dead-end lines which dissipate White's initiative Nigel has demonstrated time and again that they conceal subtle venom. 4. . . Bc5 5 0-0 0-0 6 Nxe5 This is known as the fork trick. Although White tem- porarily sacrifices a piece his rapidly advancing forest of central pawns soon regains the material and leaves White with a fluent development. 6 . . . Nxe5 Adams rejects the 6 . . . Re8 7 Nxc6 dxc6 8 Bc4 b5 9 Be2 Nxe4 10 Nxe4 Rxe4 which brought Black a splendid victory in the game Paulsen — Morphy, New York 1857. Modern players would tend to give more weight to White's ability to probe Black's shattered pawns in this line, than to Black's temporary lead in mobilisation. 7 d4 Bd6 8 f4 Nc6 9 e5 a6 An attempt to improve on the game Nunn — Hodgson from an earlier round of the Duncan Lawrie Championship. That game had gone 9 . . . Be7 10 d5 Nb4 11 exf6 Bxf6 12 a3 Bxc3 13 bxc3 Nxd5 14 Qxd5 c6 15 Qd3 cxb5 16 f5 f6 and here Nigel Short himself suggests that by playing 17 Be3 d5 18 Qxb5, White would emerge with excellent prospects. 10 Be2 Bb4 It is amusing to see how 'Black's knights and bishop have to scurry away out of the path of the advance of White's centre pawns. In a later game from the Duncan Lawrie play-off Adams (again Black against Short) experimented with 10 . . . Be7 11 d5 Nxd5 12 Nxd5 d6 13 Nxe7+ Qxe7 14 exd6 cxd6 15 f5 f6 16 Bc4+ Kh8 17 8d2 d5 18 Bd3 Ne5 19 R14. Adams now played 19 . . . Bd7 overlooking the principal threat, which was 20 Bb4..After this Short won the exchange and the game quite easily. 11 d5 Bc5+ 12 Khl Nxd5 13 Nxd5 d6 14 Bd3 It looks as if Black is clearing the centre and will equalise without problems, but Short expertly retains an advantage by setting up persistent threats against the black king. 14. . . dxe5 15 fxe5 Nxe5 Of course not 15 . . . Qxd57? 16 Bxh7+ winning the black queen. 16 Bxh7+ Kx117 17 Qh5+ It is fascinating to see what a valuable outpost the h5 square is for the white peen in this game. White's strongest piece visits h5 no fewer than five times. 17 . . .

Kg8 18 Qxe5 (Diagram) White's centralised pieces exert nagging pressure and Black's king- side is by no means secure. If, for example, Black tries to shift the pressure with 18. . . Qd6 19 Qh5 c6 as recommended after the game in some sources, then White can sacrifice a piece with 20 Nf6+ gxf6 21 Bh6 with the threat of Rf3 — g3. If then 21 . . . Qe5 22 0h4 and White is further threatening to bring up deadly reserves with Rael. In this variation Black's king is curiously helpless to flee the danger zone. 18 . . . Bd6 19 Qh5 f6 This is a concession which weakens his king's field but Adams was evident- ly concerned to rule out any possibility that White might sacrifice with Nf6+. 20 Bf4 Be6 21 Radl Bf7 22 Qf3 Bxf4 23 Nxf4 Qc8 24 Nd5 Bxd5 25 Qxd5+ Rf7 26 Rd3 In spite of the exchanges White's attack persists with undiminished vigour. The white rook is headed for the h file or the g file to continue battering the black king. Short's handling of his major pieces here re- minds me strongly of Alekhine's attacking tech- niques. 26 . . . c6 27 Qh5 Re7 28 Rh3 Qfli 29 Qh7+ Kf7 30 Rg3 Ke8 31 Rdl g5 32 Qh5+ Qf7 33 Qh8+ Q18 34 Qh5+ Qf7 35 Qh8+ White repeats moves while searching for the coup de grace. 35 . . . Qf8 36 Rh3 Rg7 37 Re3+ Black resigns If 37 . . . Re7 38 Qh5+ Qf7 39 Rxe7+ Kxe7 40 Rd7+ Kxd7 41 Qxf7+ . Alternatively if 37 . . . Kf7 38 Rd7+ Kg6 39 Rxg7+ Qxg7 40 Qxa8 winning a rook. Position after 18 Qxe5