Chess: Harley stays one move ahead

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The Independent Culture
WILLIAM WATSON moved further ahead in the British Championship by beating Andrew Harley in the seventh round, writes William Hartston. On the previous day he had commented, after frittering away a solid advantage against Christopher Ward, that none of the top players was playing well enough to win. This time, however, he made no mistake and now leads with 6 points, followed by Motwani, Ward, Arkell, Summerscale and Howell on 5.

The best game of round six was Andrew Harley's win against Neil McDonald. While White played excellently to develop his pressure, Black's defeat can be attributed to his stopping to think one move too late.

Playing the fashionable 2. c3 against the Sicilian, White continued with 6. Be2, aiming for pressure against the Q-side with a later Bf3, rather than opting for the usual K-side attack with the bishop on d3.

With 14 . . .b5, Black hoped to neutralise the bishop with Bb7, but 15. Nc6] neatly gained the advantage. After 15 . . . Qxc6 White wins with Nxd5. 15 . . . Nxe3 would normally be met by 16. fxe3 reuniting the white centre pawns. Harley recaptured with the queen, spotting the strength of 18. d5] utilising the pin on the e-file. After 18 . . . b4, the next few moves were forced, reaching a critical position after 22. Qe5.

Now Black has a problem. Where should his rooks go? After Rad8, Black can only contest the c-file with loss of time, but Rfd8 loses the chance to drive away the queen with Re8 and f6. The knight on d5 looks strong, but there is a worrying threat of Nc5 followed by Nxe6. Black prevented this with 22 . . . Kh8, but the king move gave White's attack time to gather a second wind.

He must have thought long and hard about Kh8, but the time to think was on the previous move, which was the right moment to play a rook to d8. Putting his knight on to a tempting centre square, even gaining time by attacking the queen, Black increased his own problems. When you see such an obviously good move, it often pays to think what you are going to do next.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Harley Black: McDonald ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 e4 c5 20 Bxb7 Qxb7 2 c3 d5 21 Na4 Nd5 3 exd5 Qxd5 22 Qe5 Kh8 4 d4 Nf6 23 Nc5 Qb5 5 Nf3 Nc6 24 f4 Nb6 6 Be2 cxd4 25 f5 exf5 7 cxd4 e6 26 Qxf5 Nc4 8 Nc3 Qd6 27 Nd7 Rfe8 9 0-0 Be7 28 Qd3 Qxd7 10 Be3 0-0 29 Rxc4 Re6 11 Rc1 a6 30 Rd1 Qa7+ 12 Qd2 Nb4 31 Qd4 Qd7 13 Ne5 Nbd5 32 Rc7 Qe8 14 Bf3 b5 33 d7 Re1+ 15 Nc6 Nxe3 34 Kf2 Qe2+ 16 Qxe3 Bb7 35 Kg3 Rg8 17 Nxe7 Qxe7 36 d8Q Rxd1 18 d5 b4 37 Qxg8 Kxg8 19 d6 Qd7 38 Rc8+ 1-0 -----------------------------------------------------------------