ONE OF the crucial games in the British Championship was Jonathan Speelman's loss with White against Nigel Short. Speelman played one of his favourite innocuous opening systems with Nf3, g3, Bg2 and d4, later played what looked like a temporary pawn sacrifice with e4 but somehow contrived never to regain the pawn. Short made the whole strategy look very poor, but having now seen some earlier games from the event, I begin to understand what Speelman was up to. In the following game, he scored a fine victory by following through a very similar idea.

On this occasion after 9.Ng5 there was never any risk of White not regaining his pawn, and when he did so, he had a nice advantage in central space. 15.d5 was a thematic breakthrough, when 15...exd5 16.cxd5 cxd5 17.Qxd5 would leave both the bishop on h5 and pawn on a7 under attack. As a result, White gained powerful pressure and the option of either pushing his passed d-pawn with d6 or weakening Black's Q-side pawns with dxc6.

The sacrifice with 28.f5 must have been an easy decision to take. With Black's bishop incarcerated on h7 and White obtaining a passed pawn on d7 protected by the knight on c5, the only question was how long Black could survive. 34...Raa8 was a sorry move to have to make to meet the threat of Re8 but Black was soon put out of his misery.

White: Jonathan Speelman

Black: Richard Pert

British Championship 1998

1 Nf3 d5 19 Rac1 Qa5

2 g3 Bg4 20 Nd6 Qc7

3 Bg2 Nd7 21 Qa3 c5

4 d4 c6 22 Ne4 Rfc8

5 0-0 e6 23 b4 c4

6 c4 Bd6 24 Qxa7 Ne5

7 Qb3 Rb8 25 g4 Bg6

8 e4 dxe4 26 f4 Nd3

9 Ng5 Ngf6 27 d6 Qd8

10 Nc3 0-0 28 f5 Nxc1

11 Be3 Bc7 29 Rxc1 Bh7

12 h3 Bh5 30 Qd4 b5

13 Ngxe4 Nxe4 31 d7 Rc7

14 Nxe4 h6 32 Nc5 Ra7

15 d5 exd5 33 Re1 Qf8

16 cxd5 Bb6 34 Bc6 Raa8

17 Bf4 Bc7 35 Bxa8 Rxa8

18 Bxc7 Qxc7 36 Nb7 resigns