The British championship begins at Aberystwyth this weekend, with an early schedule at the seaside resort designed to prevent an overlap for UK teams in next month?s 180-nation Tromso Olympiad. Only the reigning champion, David Howell, has taken up the double option, and he will be the favourite in Wales.
Meanwhile the Olympiad itself is in crisis after the Norwegian organisers excluded Russia?s women, the defending champions, on technical late-entry grounds. The decision is highly controversial, without precedent, and could go legal very quickly after Russia issued an ultimatum expiring at 5pm?on Friday.
The world over-50 team championship is also in progress at Vilnius in Lithuania, where England, led by the grandmasters Keith Arkell and Jim Plaskett, are the No2 seeds after the hosts, with serious medal chances. Games from both the British and Vilnius are viewable free and live online every afternoon and it is also possible to watch the England No1, Michael Adams, who is competing in the Dortmund elite tournament where he won first prize in 2013. Italy?s world title contender Fabiano Caruana, 21, has begun Dortmund 2014 with 3.5/4.
The most significant result of all could be at Biel, Swtizerland, where China?s woman world champion, Hou Yifan, 20, began with an impressive win in a high-class event and is now only 25 rating points behind the all-time female No1, Judit Polgar. Her opponent here, the Dutch No1, made an ambitious pawn sac by d5 and Bc5 but got little in return and Hou?s counters 15 c5! and 19 Nd6! forced the win of a piece.
Hou Yifan v Anish Giri
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Nd7 4 d4 cxd4 5 Qxd4 a6 6?Be2 Ngf6 7 O-O e5 8 Qe3 d5?! 9 exd5 Bc5? 10 Qd2 O-O 11 c4 e4 12 Nd4 Ne5 13 b4 Ba7 14 Nc3 Bg4 15?c5! a5 16 a3 Nxd5 17 Nxe4 Bb8 18 f3 Nf4 19?Nd6! Bxd6 20 cxd6 Nxe2+ 21 Qxe2 Qxd6 22 Nb5 Qf6 23?fxg4 Nf3+ 24 Qxf3 Qxa1 25 Be3 Qf6 26 Qxf6 gxf6 27 Nc7 Rac8 28 Nd5 1-0
This is the third time Aberystwyth has hosted the British and I have painful memories from long ago of the first two. 1955, with 5.5/11, was my worst total in 12 attempts at the national title. In 1961 I was second or third to Jonathan Penrose for most of the event but in the final round I botched my Sicilian and was two endgame pawns down. There were bishops of opposite colours, a draw would reach the prize list and Michael Haygarth made slow progress. But after 10 hours? play, close to midnight and the last game to finish, I resigned. My landlady had locked up and retired to bed, so I scrambled in through a window at the cost of bruised shins. It was my last British championship…
3367 1 Re7! Qxe7 2 Ba6! Kxa6 3 Qa8 mate.
Defending champion David Howell the favourite at British Championship – The Guardian