Nick Pert, the top seed, captured his first British championship title at age 40 on Sunday in a tight contest at the University of Hull. Half the finishers were covered by a single point, while England’s six elite grandmasters were absent. Pert’s twin brother Richard is a master player, and his niece Nina is a rising talent in women’s chess.

The winner’s ultra-solid style kept him unbeaten on 6.5/9, while his rivals were set back by critical defeats. Andrew Ledger became joint leader with a fine round eight win but spoilt his chance in the final round.

Overall, it was a less than vintage renewal of an annual event which dates back to 1904. The field was the smallest for decades, one-third of the players withdrew before the finish, and the top echelon were all absent. It would have been a great chance for Ravi Haria, the 22-year-old who has shot into prominence with two grandmaster norms, but the UCL graduate has just started a new job.

While chess across the board is back from the pandemic, there seems a competitive reluctance from top level players, some of whom have more reliable incomes as coaches, writers, and streamers in the flourishing online sector.

Puzzle 2440

Savielly Tartakower v Andre Falk, Paris 1954. Black to play and lose. It was the legendary Tartakower’s final tournament, and his amateur opponent thought he had the old maestro on toast. Falk (Black, to move) confidently captured 1....Nxh2 and declared “It’s something like mate in two or else I win the queen”.

What was Tartakower’s answer?

Click here for solution

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