THE 120th Scottish Chess Championship will end tomorrow at the Victoria Hall in Helensburgh. The event is open to all nationalities, with the Scottish title reserved, of course, for the top Scot.
In a strong field that includes nine Grandmasters and eight International Masters, the top seed is England’s Gawain Jones, who is the current British champion. Jones is a Londoner who has also lived in Ireland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand – such is the globe-trotting lifestyle of a professional chess player.
Favourite for the Scottish title is GM Colin McNab of Glasgow, but he will be challenged by a host of International Masters, plus FIDE master Alan Tate, a player capable of brilliance, as his one Grandmaster norm shows.
Also a contender is the untitled Clement Sreeves, a native of Helensburgh, who will be hoping to push his rating high enough to claim the FIDE master title.
The 2012 Scottish Champion, GM Jacob Aagaard, is not defending his title, but in Spain last month he had the consolation of breaking a truly
obscure chess world record – the quickest game ever to end with the move ...h2 mate.
White: P Teleman. Black: J Aagaard. Opening: Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 e6 4 Bb5 Nd4 5 Nxd4 This move has long been regarded as dubious, because it effectively loses a pawn. After 5 0–0 a6 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 Re1 Aagaard’s favourite line is 7...g5! going for a quick attack. 5...cxd4 6 Ne2 Nf6 Aagaard overlooked the double attack with 6...Qg5 but after 7 Bd3 Qxg2 8 Ng3 Qh3 White can try to rustle up compensation for the lost pawn with 9 c3. 7 Ng3 This provokes Black’s h-pawn into a fantastic journey. The simple 7 0–0 was more reliable. 7...a6 8 Ba4 h5! 9 0–0 h4 10 Ne2 h3 11 g3 Inexperienced players often underestimate the danger of allowing a pawn to advance so far. The pawn on h3 may be blocked, but being potentially two moves away from queening creates all sorts of sacrificial possibilities. 11...Nxe4 12 Nxd4 Qf6 This leads to a brilliant finish, but objectively the simple 12...b5 13.Bb3 Bb7 was stronger. 13 Nf3 A needless retreat. After 13 c3 White is still fighting. 13...b5 14 Bb3 Bb7 15 Ne1? The only move was 15 d4 but White is still in trouble after 15...Bd6. 15...Nxg3! 16 hxg3 Or 16 fxg3 Bc5+ was also hopeless. 16...h2 Checkmate!