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MICHAEL Basman will not, in all probability, win the British Championship this year, but his games, as always, will be more fun than anyone else's. For Basman's unique style has established him as one of the world's leading chess heretics.

For those unfamiliar with his ideas, the main tenets of his beliefs are that by not advancing your centre pawns, you can leave your king in the middle of the board and advance on the wings. Specifically, if White makes the error of playing 1. e4 and 2. d4, he opens lines that make his own king unsafe, thus committing himself to castling. Black, in the meantime, will have played a6 and h6, ready for b5 or g5, even at the cost of a pawn to attack the White king.

This year Basman has modified his system, having evidently decided that 1. e4 h6 2. d4 a6 is just too provocative. Now he plays 1. e4 h6 2. d4 c5, forcing White to decide whether to play dxc5, d5, c3 or something else. Black's a6 follows later.

Jonathan Mestel defeated Basman with 3. d5, blocking the centre and exploiting Black's later extravagances. Basman's third round game against David Knox was a much better advertisement for his system. White's 3. Nf3 led the game into an odd Sicilian, where Black's h6 seemed to be a waste of time. When he played 14 . . . g5] however, it all began to fit together, and 16 . . . Ng4] (17. Bxg4 Rg8]) made the strategy look very good indeed. At the end, 22. Kxh2 Qh4 mate or 23. bxc5 Nxf1 persuaded White to throw in the towel.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: D Knox Black: M Basman ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 h6 12 f4 Be7 2 d4 c5 13 Rac1 Nc5 3 Nf3 cxd4 14 Bf3 g5 4 Nxd4 a6 15 g3 gxf4 5 c4 e6 16 gxf4 Ng4 6 Nc3 b6 17 Bd2 Bf6 7 a3 Bb7 18 Nce2 Rg8 8 Be3 Qc7 19 Kh1 Bxd4 9 Be2 Nf6 20 Nxd4 Qe7 10 Qc2 d6 21 b4 Nxh2 11 0-0 Nbd7 White resigns -----------------------------------------------------------------