Magazine article The Spectator

Nel Mezzo del Cammin

Magazine article The Spectator

Nel Mezzo del Cammin

Article excerpt

As I write, the British Championship in Canterbury is reaching its midpoint and the leading contenders will face the task in the coming week of fighting their way out from the dark wood to outdistance their massed rivals. This week, with no information yet as to who will emerge the ultimate victor, I am celebrating the achievements of former champions Jonathan Speelman (who won on three occasions) and Bob Wade (who won twice).

Speelman-Stean :

London 1980; Queen's Indian Defence 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 Nc3 Bb7 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bh4 g5 7 Bg3 Nh5 Black goes ruthlessly for the bishop pair, even though some holes now arise in his kingside and he will more or less be committed to castling on the other side of the board.

8 e3 Nxg3 9 fxg3 It looks more natural to capture with the h-pawn, but experience has dictated that the open h-file, although optically impressive, brings White very little benefit.

9 . . . Bg7 10 Bd3 Nc6 11 0-0 Qe7 12 Rc1 0-0-0 13 Qa4 Kb8 14 c5 g4 15 Nh4 Bf6 16 Ba6 Bg5 (see diagram below) 17 Bxb7 This is too blunt. Correct is 17 Rfe1 Bxh4 18 gxh4 Qxh4 19 cxb6 axb6 20 Nb5 g3!

21 h3 when White's practical chances for attack are quite considerable.

17 . . . Bxe3+ 18 Kh1 Kxb7 Quite rightly, Stean avoided the appalling complications which would have arisen after 18 . . . Bxc1 19 Bxc6 Bxb2 (19 . . .

dxc6 20 Rxc1 is simply good for White) 20 Qa6! dxc6 21 Nb5! This is clearly extremely dangerous for Black.

19 Rcd1 Bg5 The common-sense line was 19 . …

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