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It was a good British Championship, but not a great one. The excellence was in the competitive spirit and the excitement of a tight finish, but with most of the top British players absent, the general quality of the field was disappointing.

There are some 22 surviving ex-British champions. Only one played in Swansea. There are around 25 British grandmasters, of whom three took part. It was fitting, however, that the destination of the title was decided by a final-round game between two of them.

With Mark Hebden in atrocious form at the start, and Jonathan Levitt conceding a string of draws against unfancied opposition, it was left to the third GM, Matthew Sadler, to make the early running.

In the first week, he looked a likely winner, but his sixth-round loss to Chris Ward left the competition quite open. For the next few rounds, nobody held the lead for more than a day. Ward, Keith Arkell and Jonathan Parker all took turns at the top, before Levitt sped past them with a string of three wins in a row.

Then Sadler came back strongly, beating Arkell in round nine and Parker in round ten. In the first of those he showed fine temperament in coping with some tricky tactics.

When Black played 10...Bxf2, his intention was to exchange his d-pawn for White's f-pawn, leaving White with an isolated e-pawn, but he may have overlooked the force of 14.e4!

The point is that 15...g4 is met by 16.Qh4, attacking the knight on h5. As the game went, White emphasised his advantage with 18.Bxb5! and 20.Bxc6, leaving Black's Q-side pawns rather sickly.

With 23...Nxe4 losing to 24.Ne7+, Arkell nudged his king out of the way, then sacrificed a rook by taking on e4 the following move. White needed to tread carefully to avoid the threats of Black's queen and bishop, but after 28.Qa8! he was always winning.

In the final round, Sadler met Levitt, with whom he shared the lead on 71/2 points. If they were to draw, then any of Ward, Arkell, Turner and Summerscale could share first prize by winning. Tomorrow, we shall continue with a blow-by-blow account of the final round.

White: Matthew Sadler

Black: Keith Arkell

British Championship 1995

Nimzo-Indian Defence

1 d4 Nf6 21 Rxc6 bxc6

2 c4 e6 22 Ne5 Nf6

3 Nc3 Bb4 23 Nxc6 Kh7

4 Qc2 c5 24 Ka1 Nxe4

5 dxc5 0-0 25 Nxe4 Qxe4

6 a3 Bxc5 26 Qxf8 Qc4

7 Nf3 Nc6 27 Nb4 a5

8 Bf4 Nh5 28 Qa8 axb4

9 Bd2 d5 29 axb4 Bd5

10 0-0-0 Bxf2 30 Qa5 Bxg2

11 cxd5 exd5 31 Qf5+ Kh8

12 Bg5 f6 32 Rd1 Qc7

13 Rxd5 Qe8 33 Qf8+ Kh7

14 e4 fxg5 34 Qf5+ Kh8

15 Qxf2 h6 35 b5 Qa5+

16 Qc5 Be6 36 Kb1 Qa8

17 Rd6 Bf7 37 Rd4 Qa5

18 Bb5 Rc8 38 Qd3 Qe1+

19 Kb1 a6 39 Ka2 Qe6+

20 Bxc6 Rxc6 40 b3 resigns