One of the less satisfactory features of the Swiss system - where the pairings of each round are drawn up to ensure, as far as possible, that each player meets an opponent on the same score as himself - lies in its great equalising influence. The Smith & Williamson British championship this year has been a good example.

As usual, the early rounds were spent in sorting out the stronger from the weaker players. But once the cream has risen to the top of the tournament table, its representatives have to meet each other, which leads to a large number of draws. And while the cream is churning in this manner, players from the homogenised middle of the table take their chance to win games against lesser mortals and climb back up to positions of contention.

After eight rounds, Kosten, Miles, Adams, Emms, Ledger and Sadler were all within half a point of each other at the top and looking as though they could forget the rest of the field in the race for the title. Paired against each other, however, their games ended in three draws and suddenly the chasing pack was back on their heels.

One of those who took advantage of the slow-moving front-runners in that round was Malcolm Pein, who improved his position with a quick win against Stuart Conquest.

Finding himself facing his favourite Grunfeld Defence, Pein chose a line that brings White's queen into the game early in order to persuade Black to cede occupation of the centre.

Black's 10...Na5 and 11...c5 (instead of Ne5 and c6) is a highly questionable plan which left the big white pawn centre unchallenged. White increased his advantage with 15.e5! and 17.h5 and after 18.hxg6 Black was lost. If he plays 18...fxg6, then Bg4 and Be6+ is too strong.

White finished the attack neatly with 21.d6. After 21...exd6, White wins with 22.Nd5 followed by f6 and Ne7+. At the end, after 22...Rfe8, almost any combination of Nd5, dxe7, f6 and Qh7+ polishes off matters. Conquest was evident not eager to see precisely which way his opponent was going to deliver the coup de grace.

White: Malcolm Pein

Black: Stuart Conquest

1 d4 Nf6 12 Be3 Nd7

2 Nf3 g6 13 f4 a6

3 c4 Bg7 14 h4 b5

4 Nc3 d5 15 e5 c4

5 Qb3 dxc4 16 Qe4 Qc8

6 Qxc4 0-0 17 h5 Nc5

7 e4 Nc6 18 Bxc5 Qxc5

8 Be2 Bg4 19 hxg6 hxg6

9 d5 Bxf3 20 f5 Qb6

10 gxf3 Na5 21 d6 Nc6

11 Qd3 c5 22 Qh4 resigns