Chess: Wily Watson outwits French Defence

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The Independent Online
IN THE eighth round of the British Championship in Norwich, William Watson kept his lead by drawing with Paul Motwani. Christopher Ward moved into second place by beating Aaron Summerscale. Leading scores with three rounds left are: Watson 61 2 ; Ward 6; Motwani, Howell, Arkell, Emms, Webster and Turner 51 2 .

Watson's win in the seventh round was his best game of the event so far. Astutely meeting the French Defence with 5. Bd2 - Andrew Harley is an expert in some of the complex lines with the usual 5. a3 - he led his opponent into an unfamiliar position. When Black played 9 . . . Nh4, he must have intended 11 . . . Qh3, only to change his mind, presumably because 12. Bf1 embarrasses the queen. White's own 16. Qh5 and 17. Qe2 made more of an impression: the pawn on g6 invites an attack with h4 and h5.

Black must have had high hopes for 20 . . . Bxa3. After 21. bxa3 Qxa3, White has enormous trouble dealing with the threat of Rc6 and Rb6+. Watson's 21. Nxd5] was a beautiful rejoinder. He had envisaged the position after 25. Rxh1 and judged that his king would be safe on c1, while Black would find life difficult against the bishop pair and threat of h5. Black's 26 . . . gxh5 lost quickly, but with Bc1-b2, Bc4 and Re1 all in the air, it is hard to suggest any lasting defence.

White: Watson

Black: Harley

1 e4 e6 20 Kb1 Bxa3

2 d4 d5 21 Nxd5 exd5

3 Nc3 Bb4 22 Qxd5+ Ne6

4 e5 c5 23 bxa3 Bc6

5 Bd2 Ne7 24 Qa2 Bxh1

6 f4 Nbc6 25 Rxh1 Qd6

7 Nf3 Nf5 26 h5 gxh5

8 dxc5 Bxc5 27 f5 Qb6+

9 Bd3 Nh4 28 Kc1 Rfd8

10 Nxh4 Qxh4 29 Bc4 Rxd2

11 g3 Qd8 30 Bxe6+ Kf8

12 a3 f5 31 Kxd2 Qf2+

13 exf6 Qxf6 32 Kc1 Rc5

14 Qe2 0-0 33 Qb2 Qe3+

15 0-0-0 Bd7 34 Kb1 Qxg3

16 Qh5 g6 35 Qf6+ Ke8

17 Qe2 Nd4 36 Qf7+ Kd8

18 Qg2 Rac8 37 Qd7 mate

19 h4 Qe7