Chess

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Today's effort won Keith Arkell a 'best game' award in the penultimate round of this year's British Championship.

White: K Arkell

Black: C Ward

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Bb4+ 3. Bd2 a5 4. e4

I am not normally inclined to barge forward in the centre in this manner, but my opponent was half a point ahead of me and I felt in need of an early initiative. A win would be put me in contention for the title.

4 . . . d5 5. a3 Be7

This invites complications that favour White. 5 . . . Bxd2+ 6. Nxd2 dxe4 7. Nxe4 Nf6 is better, though White still has a slight edge.

6. cxd5 exd5 7. e5 c5 8. Nf3 Nc6 9. Bb5

Black's Q-side is genuinely weakened by having the pawn on a5 rather than a7. Now my bishop can sit here without fear of attack by a6. It is not easy now for Black to develop the pressure he needs against the white centre. After 9 . . . Bg4, I had planned 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Qa4] with advantage.

9 . . . cxd4 10. Qa4 Bd7 11. 0-0 Bc5 12. Bg5 Qb8?]

The beginning of a dubious plan to hold the pawn on d4. After 12 . . . Nge7 I would have played Nbd2, Nb3 and either Nbxd4 or Rac1 and Nc5.

13. Nbd2 h6 14. Bh4 Qa7 15. Nb3 g5

A very weakening advance, but 15 . . . Nge7 16. Nxc5 Qxc5 17. Rac1 Qb6 18. Bxe7 Kxe7 is also uncomfortable, though on balance that would probably have been better than what happened in the game.

16. Bg3 Nge7 (see diagram) 17. e6]

The direct way to exploit the holes in Black's position and make full use of my black- squared bishop. Now 17 . . . fxe6 is met by 18. Ne5] when 18 . . . Nxe5 19. Bxe5 wins immediately.

17 . . . Bxe6 18. Nxc5 Qxc5 19. Rac1 Qa7 20. Bd6

Black's problem is not so much his king as the effectiveness of his pieces compared with White's, especially the powerful bishop on d6. And he is still suffering from the inability to play a6. Now 20 . . . 0-0-0 loses to 21. Bxe7 and 20 . . . Rd8 is squashed by 21. Bc5 followed by Nxd4.

20 . . . 0-0 21. Bc5 b6

After 21 . . . Qb8 22. Bxc6 White wins material. The queen no longer protects e7 after bxc6.

22. Bd6 Rad8

There was no way to avoid losing material. 22 . . . Nd8 23. Rc7 Qb8 24. Rd7] Qc8 25. Rxe7 was the most elegant way to go. Oddly, his bishop seems to have little effect on the position at all, while my two dominate his knights.

23. Rxc6 Nxc6 24. Bxf8 g4 25. Bxc6 gxf3 26. Bxh6

And the queen's bishop even lived to tell the tale.

Black resigned.

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