Click to follow
The Independent Culture
IN EASILY the longest-running British chess sponsorship, The Times and The Sunday Times have been supporting an annual schools' competition since way back in 1957.

This year's finals, held as usual at the Charing Cross Hotel, were on 1-2 July, with four of the country's very best chess schools: Manchester Grammar, bidding for their fourth successive title; last year's defeated finalists, Torquay Boys' Grammar; St Paul's, who had won the most times overall; and Oakham, runners-up in 1996-7.

St Paul's scored a fairly convincing 4-2 victory over Torquay in one semi-final but the other, between Manchester Grammar and Oakham, was much tougher. Led by the world under-18 champion Nick Pert, his twin brother Richard, and Joanna Lazhevskaya from Chelyabinsk in the Urals (who is at the school on a "Kasparov scholarship"), Oakham are a formidable force. But their bottom three boards are much less experienced and in the end it was just 3.5-2.5 to Oakham.

Both matches on the Friday ended with the same score. In the 3rd/4th play-off Manchester Grammar defeated Torquay. The final was particularly close. In the last game to finish, St Paul's fourth board Ben Brafman managed to win a drawn rook ending against the Ukrainian Kirill Chouliakov for a 3.5-2.5 victory and a record 10th win overall.

Ray Keene awarded the best game prize to Nick Pert's win against Tan and the second to Thomas Dougherty's against Joanna Lazhevskaya.

But this game from the 3rd/4th play-offs would have been a strong contender had White found the win.

The opening play was rather old-fashioned and 20 ...e5? ridiculously optimistic. I came upon the post-mortem after 25 ...Kg8. After some thought we realised that 26 Rg1! is decisive, since if 26 ...f6 27 Bxf6+ Kf7 28 Rg7+!; or 26 ...Qb6 27 Rg2 Qxb2+ (or eg 27 ...f6 28 Bxf6+ Kf7 29 Qd5+ Kxf6 30 Qe6 mate!) 28 Qxb2 Rxb2+ 29 Kxb2 Rb8+ 30 Ka3 wins.

28 Rg1+ Kf7 29 Bxd8 was also sufficient: if 29 ...Qxd8? 30 Qd5+ or 29 ...Rxd8 30 Qh6! win. While 29 ...Qc5! (Fritz) forces White to work harder but 30 Qg2! Rxd8 31 Qg7+ Ke8 32 Rg2!! is soon decisive.

White: John Tompson (Manchester Grammar) Black: Nick Child (Torquay)

Sicilian Dragon

`Clash of the Titans', at 10pm tomorrow on BBC2, features the great 1972 Fischer-Spassky match, with splendid footage of both protagonists and many around them - well worth watching!

1 e4 c5

2 Nc3 Nc6

3 Nge2 g6

4 d4 cxd4

5 Nxd4 Bg7

6 Be3 Nf6

7 Bc4 d6

8 f3 0-0

9 Qd2 Bd7

10 0-0-0 a6

11 g4 b5

12 Bb3 Ne5

13 Nd5 Nxd5

14 Bxd5 Rb8

15 h4 e6

16 Bb3 Nc4

17 Bxc4 bxc4

18 c3 Qa5

19 Kb1 Ba4

20 Rdg1 e5?

21 Nf5! gxf5

22 gxf5 Kh8

23 Rxg7! Kxg7

24 Bh6+ Kh8

25 Bg7+ Kg8

26 Bf6? Rfd8

27 Be7 f6

28 Bxf6 Kf7

29 Bxd8 Rxd8

30 Qh6 Rg8

31 Qe6+ Kf8 32 Qxd6+ Ke8 33 Qe6+ Kf8 34 Qf6+ Ke8 1/2-1/2