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The first week of the British Championship in Swansea has left five players in strong contention for the title, and another eight breathing down their necks. Keith Arkell, Aaron Summerscale and Chris Ward share the lead on 5 out of 6; Matthew Sadler and Jonathan Parker have 4 and a half, and the large group on 4 includes two of the pre-tournament favourites, James Howell and Jonathan Levitt.

For the first four rounds, everything seemed to be going smoothly for the top seed, Matthew Sadler. Not only did he win all his games, but the man expected to be his closest rival, Mark Hebden, was having some miserable results.

In the fifth round, however, Sadler drew with his co-leader, Aaron Summerscale, and in round six he was beaten by Christopher Ward. It was an unnecessary defeat, caused apparently by trying to win a level endgame. Now the competition is quite open again.

Sadler's third round win against the Scottish international Mark Condie showed good preparation in a rare opening line. After the unusual 2...Bf5, he gained the bishop pair with 3.cxd5 and 4.Qa4+, then set about exploiting it with 8.b4!

The idea is to push ahead with b5, not only justifying the rook's position on b1, but breaking open the a4-e8 diagonal while Black's king is still in the centre.

Instead of replying with the cautious 8...a6 ( when 9.b5? is met by 9...Nb6 10.Qa5 Nfd7), Condie launched a wild attack and came badly unstuck.

White: Sadler Black: Condie

1 d4 d5 14 cxb7 Bb8

2 c4 Bf5 15 Bb2 Qf5

3 cxd5 Bxb1 16 0-0 Ne4

4 Qa4+! c6 17 Rbd1 Nd2

5 Rxb1 Qxd5 18 Rfe1 h5

6 Nf3 Nf6 19 Ba3 Ne4

7 e3 Nbd7 20 Bf3 Ng5

8 b4 e5 21 Bxf8 Nxf3+

9 dxe5 Nxe5 22 gxf3 Qh3

10 Nxe5 Qxe5 23 Bd6! Rxd6

11 b5 Rd8 24 Qe8+ Kh7

12 Be2 Bd6 25 Qxb8 resigns

13 bxc6 0-0

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