The most attractive finish in the recent British Championship came on a lowly board in the penultimate round where Michael Barnes was playing White against Richard Bates.

In the diagram position, after Black's 26th move, White was already in some trouble. With five black pieces attacking e4 and five white defending the pawn, it is clear who has the initiative. Add the vulnerable position of White's king to the equation, and Black has the makings of a large advantage. When White played 27.Qb6?! Rc5 28.Qa7?! however, Black must have been delighted. After 28...Qe5 he already had strong threats to the white king, and the enemy queen was completely offside.

The game continued 29.Re3 h4 30.Rf1 hxg3+ 31.Kh1 (31.Rxg3 loses to Nh5) and Black pushed forward with 31...Qd4 32.Rd3 Qc4. White tried to create a few threats of his own with 33.b3 Qe6 34.b4, but he must have been surprised by Black's 34...Nxe4!!

Now 35.Nxe4 Bxe4 36.bxc5 loses to 36...Bxg2+ 37.Kxg2 Qe2+, so White took the rook at once with 35.bxc5.

He must have been expecting either 35...Nf2+ or 35...Nxc3 with attacking designs on the long white diagonal. Instead Bates ended the game immediately with a brilliant forced mating combination: 35...Qxh3+!! 36.Bxh3 (Kg1 allows Qh2 mate) Nf2++ 37.Kg1 Nxh3 mate. A beautiful finish.