Chess

The 4 Nations Chess League completed its second successful season with the final round of its Premier division at the Bolton Moat House. The title was taken - surprisingly, but in the end convincingly - by Midland Monarchs with Slough and Wood Green second and third. The British Chess Magazine team, led by the grandmasters Murray Chandler and Jonathan Mestel had started as favourites, but ended in a disappointing sixth place.

Here are two cautionary tales from the last round. The first shows that you can never relax when a bishop is pointing at your h-pawn. With 20...Rxf6 losing to 21.Bxh7+ Kxh7 22.Qh5+ and 23.Qxe8, Black took with the pawn, but resigned on seeing that 21.Bxh7+ Kxh7 22.Qh5+ Kg7 23.Qg6+ Kh8 24.Rc3 forces mate.

The fatal mistake was 19...Qb8. Instead 19...Qb7 would have kept Black alive.

White: T. Wall

Black: A.A. Smith

1 e4 c5 12 Re1 Qc7

2 d4 e6 13 Qe2 a5

3 c3 Nc6 14 a4 Nb4

4 Nf3 cxd4 15 Bb1 Bd7

5 cxd4 Nf6 16 Bg5 Rae8

6 Nbd2 d5 17 Ne5 Bc8

7 e5 Ne4 18 Bh4 b6

8 Bd3 f5 19 Rc1 Qb8

9 exf6 Nxf6 20 Bxf6 gxf6

10 0-0 Bd6 21 Bxh7+ resigns

11 Nb3 0-0

The next game is another salutory warning against taking b-pawns with your queen. When playing Black, you can, with accurate defence, get away with one extravagance in the opening, but having lurched forth with 4...g5, it was too much to gamble on 6...Qb6 also.

Black's decision not to take the a-pawn at move nine was questionable, but when he captured it three moves later, it was nothing short of reckless.

White's winning combination was very elegant. 14.Rxb4! preserved his knight on d5 and 15.Ne5! completed the destruction. 16.Qxe5 threatened both Qxh8 and Rxf8+ followed by Qxe7 mate. At the end after 17...Ke8 White can mate with Nc7 or Bh5, but would surely have taken the elegant finish with 18.Qf7+ Kd8 19.Qxf8+!

White: G. Buckley

Black: G. Quillan

1 d4 Nf6 10 Qh5 Nc6

2 Bg5 Ne4 11 Nf3 f6

3 Bh4 c5 12 Be2 Qxa2

4 f3 g5 13 0-0 Nb4

5 fxe4 gxh4 14 Rxb4 cxb4

6 c3 Qb6 15 Ne5 fxe5

7 Nc3 Qxb2 16 Qxe5 e6

8 Nd5 Kd8 17 Qf6+ resigns

9 Rb1 Qa3

William Hartston

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