The British championship at Hull reaches its final rounds this weekend after what was predicted to be a four-grandmaster race. Michael Adams, Gawain Jones, David Howell and Luke McShane are all ranked in the world top 100, and this quartet will lead the England team at the 190-nation Olympiad in a few weeks’ time.

The Hull event had stiffer entry requirements this year, and the early rounds were no longer the traditional warm-up for the favourites. Only Howell got through the first three rounds comfortably. Jones ground out two wins from tiny endgame advantages, while Adams, the England No1, was in trouble but found a brilliant trap to win with queen and two pawns against queen and three.

McShane fell to an early defeat, and had himself to blame. He is the world’s strongest amateur, combining chess with a City career, and built a won game by imaginative play before his creativity went haywire. He boxed in his own bishop then made a fatal pawn move in front of his king, which succumbed to a barrage of checks.

The final rounds are free and live to view with commentary on and, starting 2.30pm Saturday and 10am Sunday.


White mates in four moves, by Fritz Giegold (Berliner Morgenblatt 1968). Black in the diagram is down to the pawn push h7-h6 and the answer is just a single line of play. Can you crack it? It’s harder than it sounds.

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