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The annual Hastings tournament is developing into one of the closest contests seen for many years with a remarkably even field of grandmasters any of whom, it seems, could beat any of the others. The favourite, Alexander Khalifman, lost in the third round to Matthew Sadler, while the American grandmaster, Alex Yermolinsky, was beaten in round four by Jon Speelman who had already lost to Tony Miles, who had been beaten by Stuart Conquest, who lost to Bogdan Lalic.

After four rounds, Lalic leads with 3 points, followed by Conquest, Khalifman and Sadler, 21/2; Miles and Speelman 2; Atalik, Hodgson and Yermolinsky 11/2; Luther 1.

The most cheerful finish so far came in the Miles-Hodgson game from round four. In the diagram position, White played 26.Rc2, planning to double rooks on the a-file, increasing the pressure against the a-pawn.

Hodgson replied with 26...Nc3, inviting White to win a pawn with a little combination. Miles took up the challenge with 27.Rxa5 Rxa5 28.Nxa5 Qxa5 29.Rxc3 bxc3 30.Qxb8+ Kh7.

White can now blockade the c-pawn with 31.Be4+ f5 32.Bc2 but after 32...Nd5 the position is by no means clear. Miles had a better idea: 31.Qb7 f5 (preventing Be4) 32.Qxe7! c2 33.Qxe6 c1=Q 34.Qxf5+ g6 (34...Kg8 35.Bd5+ Kh8 36.Qf8+ Kh7 37.Be4+ is no better) 35.Qf7+ Kf8 36.Qf8+ Kh7 37.Bd5! and Black's two queens are helpless against the threat of Qg8 mate. Since 37...h5 loses to 38.Bg8+ Kh8 39.Bf7+ Kh7 40.Qg8+, Hodgson startled his opponent with 37...Qh1+ then resigned after 38.Kxh1.

The blunder of the day, however, was Yermolinsky's last move against Speelman. In the diagram position, he played 39.h4?? and resigned after 39...Ne2+. Any king move is met by Nc3 fatally forking queen and rook.

Meanwhile, in the Challengers Tournament, Luke McShane lost his fourth round game to Vladimir Malanyuk. Here are the moves of his record-setting, 11-year-old beats grandmaster, epic from the third round:

White: Luke McShane

Black: Colin McNab

1 e4 g6 2 d4 d6 3 Nc3 c6 4 Be3 Nf6 5 Qd2 Nbd7 6 Nf3 Qc7 7 h3 Bg7 8 a4 0-0 9 Bc4 Nxe4 10 Bxf7+ Rxf7 11 Nxe4 Nf6 12 Nfg5 Rf8 13 0-0 h6 14 Nxf6+ exf6 15 Ne4 f5 16 Nc3 Kh7 17 d5 c5 18 Nb5 Qd8 19 Bf4 Rf6 20 h4 a6 21 Na3 Rb8 22 a5 Bd7 23 Rfe1 Bf8 24 Nc4 Be8 25 Ra3 Rf7 26 Rae3 Bb5 27 Nb6 Bd7 28 c4 Qf6 29 b4 cxb4 30 Rb3 Re8 31 Rxe8 Bxe8 32 Qxb4 Re7 33 Qc3 Qxc3 34 Rxc3 Re1+ 35 Kh2 Ra1 36 Re3 Bf7 37 Nd7 Bg7 38 Bxd6 Rxa5 39 Re7 Kg8 40 Be5 b5 41 d6 bxc4 42 Bxg7 Kxg7 43 Ne5 Kf6 44 Nxf7 c3 45 Nxh6 f4 46 Ng4+ Kf5 47 d7 Rd5 48 Re5+ resigns.

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