The Smith & Williamson British Championship produced one of the most exciting contests for the national title that we have seen for years. At the end, however, financial implications of the results figured more strongly in the players' calculations than chess moves.

Before we get to the concluding events, however, there is the penultimate round to deal with. After nine rounds, Tony Kosten was in the lead with 7 points, followed by Tony Miles, John Emms, Michael Adams, Andrew Ledger and Matthew Sadler all half a point behind and another ten players on 6 points. The top pairings for round ten were: Sadler-Kosten, Miles-Ledger, Hebden-Adams and Emms-Speelman. For any of those players except perhaps Kosten, a single loss would forfeit all chance of even taking a share of the pounds 10,000 first prize.

Adams pushed hard against Hebden, sacrificing a pawn for a strong attack, but was ultimately unable to break down his opponent's resistance and had to accept a draw. Emms and Speelman also drew, but Miles and Sadler, each playing with the White pieces, had established just the sort of clear positional advantages one desires on such occasions: the sort of position where you can push hard for a win without risking defeat. Sadler's game was the first to finish, ensuring that he overtook Kosten as tournament leader.

Black's 9...Qd7, played with the idea of leaving d8 free for the bishop to reroute via a5, looked highly artificial. For the rest of the game, Black had no counterplay against White's Q-side pressure.

White: Michael Sadler

Black: Tony Kosten

1 d4 e6 22 Nc3 bxa4

2 c4 Bb4+ 23 Nxc6 Qxc6

3 Nc3 c5 24 Rxa4 a6

4 e3 Nf6 25 Rca1 h6

5 Ne2 cxd4 26 Bf1 Bf6

6 exd4 d5 27 h4 g6

7 c5 Ne4 28 Kh2 Rcb8

8 Bd2 Nxd2 29 Be2 Kh7

9 Qxd2 Qd7 30 h5 g5

10 a3 Ba5 31 Bxa6 Nxa6

11 g3 0-0 32 b5 Qc7

12 Bg2 Bd8 33 b6 Qe7

13 0-0 b6 34 Rxa6 Rxa6

14 f4 Na6 35 Rxa6 Qe8

15 b4 Nc7 36 Ra7 Kg8

16 a4 Be7 37 Kg2 Bd8

17 Rfc1 Bb7 38 fxg5 Bxg5

18 Nd1 Rfc8 39 Qe2 Bf6

19 Nf2 b5 40 Nb5 e5

20 Nd3 Bc6 41 Qg4+ resigns

21 Ne5 Qe8

Miles joined Sadler in the lead with an equally efficient win.

White: Tony Miles

Black: Andrew Ledger

1 Nf3 Nf6 27 Rc2 Rd8

2 c4 g6 28 Rcd2 Qb4

3 Nc3 d5 29 Qe2 Qe7

4 cxd5 Nxd5 30 Rd3 Re8

5 Qa4+ Bd7 31 Nd2 e5

6 Qc2 Nb6 32 dxe5 Nxe5

7 e3 Bg7 33 Bxe5 Bxe5

8 Be2 0-0 34 Nc4 b5

9 0-0 a5 35 Rd7 Qf6

10 d3 a4 36 Nxe5 Rxe5

11 Bd2 Na6 37 f4 Re7

12 Rac1 e6 38 e5 Qe6

13 Rfd1 Qe7 39 R7d6 Qf5

14 Ne4 a3 40 Qf3 Rc8

15 d4 Nd5 41 Rc1 Rcc7

16 b3 Rfc8 42 b4 Kg7

17 Bxa6 Rxa6 43 Kh2 h5

18 Nc5 Ra7 44 Rf6 Qd7

19 e4 Nf6 45 Rd1 Qe8

20 Nxd7 Nxd7 46 Rfd6 Qc8

21 Bg5 Qb4 47 Qxa3 Ra7

22 Qe2 Raa8 48 Qc3 Qf5

23 Qe3 Qf8 49 Rf6 Qe4

24 Qd3 c6 50 e6 Kh7

25 h3 h6 51 Rd8 resigns

26 Bf4 Kh7

So the last round saw Sadler facing Miles in a do-or-die, winner takes all, battle for the title. And they drew after 15 minutes' play. Of which more tomorrow.