ETCETERA / Chess

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The International Master Keith Arkell explains why he didn't win the British Championship.

White: Keith Arkell

Black: Dharshan Kumaran

Occasionally you spend a great deal of time on your moves without seeing anything. Sadly, I chose the crucial last round of the British Championship in Dundee to be afflicted with one of those days.

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 dxc4

I have never had this position before and now let bravado overrule rational caution. Since I had forgotten, or had never known, the theory, and my opponent, always well-prepared, has a portable computer with a large database of recent grandmaster games, I should have played safely with 4. e3.

What happens now is not the sort of thing one should go into unprepared and straight after lunch.

4. e4 b5 5. a4 c6 6. b3 Bb4+ 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Qxd2 Nf6 9. e5 Ne4 10. Qe3?]

Having played the bold 4. e4, I should have been consistent with 10. Qc2] Qa5+ 11. Kd1 f5 12. exf6 Nxf6 13. bxc4. That would have been better for White, but I seemed to have run out of the courage needed to let my king be displaced.

10 . . . Qa5+ 11. Nfd2 Nxd2 12. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 13. Nxd2]?

This move was generally condemned by various commentators, but is no worse than 13. Kxd2, which leads to an equal game after 13 . . . cxb3 14. axb5 Bb7.

13 . . . c3 14. Ne4 b4 15. a5 Ba6 16. Ra4 Bxf1 17. Rxf1 Na6 18. Ke2 Ke7 (see diagram)

Anybody in their right mind, even in a 5-minute game, would now play 19. Kd3 followed by Kc4 and an eventual Nc5 to exchange the knight on a6. With the black rooks then tied to the defence of b4, he has no active plan and the game would be drawn. Instead, after some 40 minutes' thought, I played a horrible move which must have been based on some tactical miscalculation that now eludes me.

I now think I know just how Nigel Short felt when he played the unnatural Qd2 instead of the obvious c5 in game 16 against Kasparov.

19. Nc5??

This horribly premature move turns an equal position into a lost one. This should never have been played without having the king on c4 to defend the pawn that now arrives at c5.

19 . . . Nxc5 20. dxc5 Rab8 21. Rd1 Rb5 22. Rd4 Rd8]

Now 23. Raxb4 loses to c2 while 23. Rdxb4 loses to Rxc5. I could almost have resigned here.

23. Rxd8 Kxd8 24. Kd1

It is too late to bring the king to c4: after 24. Kd3 Rxc5 25. Rxb4 c2 the pawn queens.

24 . . . a6 25. f4 Ke7 26. g4 f6 27. h4 fxe5 28. fxe5 Kf7 29. h5 g6 30. Kc2 gxh5 31. gxh5 Kg7 32. Ra1 Rxc5 33. Rd1 and White resigned.

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