British Chess Championships Playoffs

British Championships

Scroll to the bottom of the article for links to all reports on all the previous rounds

Playoff Results:
GM Stephen Gordon (0) 0-1 GM Gawain Jones (0)
GM Gawain Jones (1) 1-0 GM Stephen Gordon (0)

Gawain Jones becomes the 99th British Champion

Today saw the prizegiving ceremony take place which was very well attended, and fortunately there were no controversies this year!
However the main attraction was the playoff between Gawain Jones and Stephen Gordon to see who would win the 99th British Championship. The two had previously met in Round 4 with Gawain Jones being the victor.
See the full games of the playoff below, they were full of drama, excitement and amazing chess!

Game 1

After Gordon’s draw and Jones’ victory yesterday, the players entered a two-game rapidplay playoff. With 20 minutes each plus 10 seconds per move. If the players drew 1-1 after the two games, an armageddon game would be played.

Gordon-Jones 10...Kh81. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 Nbd7 8. O-O c6 9. d5 c5 10. Ne1 (See diagram right) This is all normal King’s Indian stuff and has been seen hundreds of times before. 10…Kh8 Gawain has played this move before in longplay games and beat Erwin L’Ami in this line in 2009. 10… Ne8 is the more common move in this position. 11.Kh1N L’Ami’s choice was 11.Nd3, the most common move. 11… Qe7 12. Qd2 Ng8 13. g3 f5 This is a typical King’s Indian move, Black has blocked the centre and now tries to expand on the kingside. 14. exf5 gxf5 15. Ng2 Ndf6 16. Rae1 Bd7 17. Bg5 Qf7 18. f4 18. f3 The computer prefers to stymie Black’s play in the centre and then open lines on the queenside with a3 and b4. 18… e4 19. Nd1 b5 20. Nde3 Rab8 21. b3 b4 22. Qd1 Ne8?? (See diagram below) A horrendous blunder, but one that is easily made in rapid time controls. I assume that Gawain was trying to release the bishop to c3 and rearrange his pieces on the kingside, but this idea has a slight tactical flaw…

Gordon-Jones 22...Ne8
23. Bh5 The queen is trapped and there is nothing to be done. 23…Bc3 24. Bxf7 Rxf7 25. Re2 White is simply a queen for a bishop up and Black has zero compensation. However Gawain chose to play on for a few more moves to shake off the blunder in order to prepare himself for the must-win second game. Gordon-Jones 30...Ngh5 25…Ng7 26. Rc2 Bd4 27.h3 Nf6 28. g4 fxg4 29. hxg4 Rg8 30. f5 Ngh5?! (See diagram right) Desperation, but Gawain can do nothing else at this stage. 31. Bxf6+?! 31. Bh4! Ng7 32. g5 and Black is in an awful tangle and will probably just resign 31… Nxf6 32. Rf4 Gordon is now feeling the need to defend pawns, of course there is nothing wrong with this move but ideally he just wants to trade pieces rather than defend things. 32. Qe1 Nxg4 33. Nxg4 Rxg4 34. Ne3 and White is in no danger as all his pieces defend the king very well. 32… Rfg7 33. Rd2 Be5 34. Rdf2 Rg5 34…Bxf4 35. Nxf4 Grabbing the exchange like this is of no use and simply weakens the long diagonal. Gawain must play for mate. 35. Kg1 Be8 36. Kf1 R8g7 37.Qc2 h5 38. Rxe4 Nxe4 39. Qxe4 hxg4 40. f6 Rh7 41. Ke2 Gordon is still fine here, but Jones hasn’t given up the ghost just yet. Perhaps the simplest and most forcing way to reach a won ending would be 41. Qxh7+ Kxh7 42. f7 Bxf7 43. Rxf7+ 41… Bg6 (See diagram below) Now White’s queen is trapped, but he has ways to block the attack.

Gordon-Jones 41...Bg6
42. f7?? Gordon makes a horrible miscalculation somewhere here. 42. Rf5 Bxf5 43. Nxf5 Bxf6 44. Qf4! and Black can’t defend all his weaknesses. 42… Rxf7 43. Nf5 This move now comes too late, Gawain suddenly has regained all his material back. Stephen’s mind must have been all over the place by now and the position is now really complicated. 43…Rfxf5 44.Rxf5 Bxf5 45. Qe3 Rh5 46. Nf4 Rh2+ 47. Kf1 Kh7 48. Ne6 Rh1+ 49. Kg2 Rh2+ 50.Kg1 Rh5 51. Kg2 g3 52. Ng5+? 52. Kf3!? Bringing the king forward like this protects the king from immediate checks although this position will still be very difficult to defend. 52… Kg7 52… Kg8 !! This moves the king far away from knight, so it cannot move with check. 53. Kf3 Rh4 and the threat of Rf4+ amongst other things is simply fatal. 53. Nf3? The final mistake. 53. Kf3 This once again is best. Rh4 54. Ne6+ Kf7 53… Bh3+ 54. Kg1 Rf5 55. Qe4 Rf4 56. Qd3 Rxf3!! 0-1 (See diagram below) 56… Rxf3 57. Qxf3 Bd4+ 58. Kh1 g2+ 59. Kh2 g1=Q+

Gordon-Jones 56...Rxf3

A really sad game for Stephen, to be a queen up and lose must have been very difficult to handle. On the flipside, Gawain must have been relieved and delighted that he didn’t resign and even came back to win in such counter-attacking ‘never say die’ style.

Game 2

Gordon faced an unenviable task in Game 2, he had the Black pieces against Gawain Jones after what had happened no more than 15 minutes before. Gordon had to win to force an Armageddon game.

Jones-Gordon 12.Re11. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Gawain rarely plays Open Sicilians, he has many Anti-Sicilian openings in his repertoire. 3…Nd7 4. d4 cxd4 5. Qxd4 a6 6. Bxd7+ Bxd7 7. O-O Jones deviates from his victory over Ivan Cheparinov in 2011. 7… Rc8 8. c4 Qc7 9. b3 b5 Gordon’s Full English Breakfast partner, Lawrence Trent has also played this line before, they presumably have looked at it together at some point. 10. Na3 10… e5 11. Qd3 Qb7 12. Re1N (see diagram right) Bc6 13. Nb1 Nf6 14. Nc3 b4 15. Nd5 Nxd5 16. exd5 Bd7 In a must-win game for Gordon, Jones now has a big space advantage and better development. Gordon somehow needs to find a way to free himself and use his two bishops. 17. Bb2 f6 18. a3 Be7 19. axb4 O-O (See diagram below)

Jones-Gordon 19...0-0
20. Nd4 A nice tactical resource just to split Black’s position in half. 20…f5 21. Ne6 Rf6 21… Bxe6 22. dxe6 Qxb4 This is probably objectively stronger but is no winning try. 22. c5 Bb5 23. Qf3 e4!? Gordon is trying to mix things up hoping that Jones misses something. Objectively this is a losing move but a “normal” move which might draw is no good and Gordon rightly goes for broke. 24. c6 Bxc6 25. dxc6 Rxc6 (see diagram below)

Jones-Gordon 25...Rxc6
26. Qh3? 26. Qh5! The threat of Qe8+ means white will simply be material up and completely winning. 26… Rxe6 Gordon has now opened up the position and although he is still worse, he can now at least harbour some slight hopes of victory. 27. Qxf5 d5 defending the rook. 28. Qxd5 e3?! Gordon tries again to complicate matters but there is nothing happening as long as Jones doesn’t make another elementary blunder.Jones-Gordon 33...Rxc6 29. fxe3 Gawain doesn’t blunder his queen a second time. 29. Rxe3?? Rc1+ 30. Rxc1 Qxd5-+ 29… h6 30. b5 axb5 31. Rac1 Here Gordon had a long think, he realised that the British Championships has slipped away and tries to figure out a possible swindle, but the position is now too dry to try anything. 31…Kh7 32. Rxc6 Qxc6 33. Qxc6 Rxc6 (See diagram right) Of course now only White can realistically hope to win this position. 34. Rc1 Re6 35. Bd4 Kg6 36. Kf2 Kf5 37. Bxg7 Ke4 38. Rd1 Bc5 39. Bd4 Bd6 40. g3 1-0 Gordon had seen enough and resigned.

In some ways this was a tragic end to a fantastic British Championships, I hope Stephen doesn’t get too demoralised by this. Congratulations must go to Gawain Jones who came through the test every time he was asked and is a deserved winner of the 99th British Championships!

Chessbase Report on the British Championships

Download both playoff games and analysis

Links to previous reports:

Preview    Round 1    Round 2    Round 3    Round 4   Round 5   Round 6   Rest Day   Round 7   Round 8   Round 9   Round 10   Round 11


Features editor for the Yorkshire Chess website. I collate and write atricles about all the latest chess activities in Yorkshire and beyond. I've also been known to shove some pieces myself from time to time!



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