Chess: New British Premier League kicks off

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The Independent Culture
WHEN the Short-Kasparov match was announced several months ago, there were plans for a London Chess Festival to run alongside. Sadly, apparently owing to lack of funding, this never took on the dimensions envisaged. One exception to the general disappointment was the 'Chessathon' at London's Barbican Centre last weekend, where hundreds of people enjoyed simultaneous displays, speed tournaments, discussions and even some serious chess.

The most significant feature of the event was the start of a new competition designed to raise the profile of club chess. Until now, Britain, unlike France and Germany, had no national chess league.

For most of the past decade, while England had a strong claim to be the world's second strongest chess nation, our leading players were making cross-channel trips at weekends to represent clubs in the French or German leagues. And apart from the professional opportunities for grandmasters, the continental clubs offered far better facilities for ordinary players too.

The '4 Nations Chess League', brainchild of Chris Dunworth, hopes to change all that. In its first season, its Premier League has attracted six powerful teams. It got off to a good start when the Barbican team, led by grandmasters Murray Chandler and Mark Hebden, were beaten by Bristol, who could not even boast a single International Master. The title will be decided after five more weekend rounds in Bolton, Cheltenham, Covent Garden, Liverpool and Maidstone.

The following game was played in the match between Invikta Knights and Northwest Eagles. After 15 . . . Nxf2] White cannot take the knight without losing his queen, but 16. Rhg1] creates the threat of Rxg7+ and Nxd5. White's 18. Ba3] is another imaginative move, inviting 18 . . . Qxa3 19. Rxg7+] Kxg7 20. Rg1+ when Black is mated. But it was all too good to be true. Black's knight galloped through the white position taking more pieces than White's queen could hope to content with. Fittingly, the knight returned to the centre for the final essential defensive move.

White: J Carleton

Black: C Chandler

1 b3 e5 12 g4 Bc5 2 Bb2 Nc6 13 Qf4 Nxg4 3 e3 d5 14 Nf5 Bxf5 4 Bb5 Bd6 15 Qxf5 Nxf2 5 d4 exd4 16 Rhg1 Bxe3+ 6 Qxd4 Nf6 17 Kb1 d4 7 Nc3 0-0 18 Ba3 Nxd1 8 Bxc6 bxc6 19 Rxg7+ Kxg7 9 Nf3 Bf5 20 Bxe7 Nc3+ 10 0-0-0 Qe7 21 Kb2 Nd5 11 Nh4 Bd7 White resigns