The British championship has its closing rounds at Torquay this weekend, and armchair internet spectators can view the action, which includes grandmaster and computer commentaries, live from 2.30 onwards.

The early leaders on 3/3 were the six-time champion and title-holder Michael Adams, the rising talent Ravi Haria, and . . . Andrew Smith.

Few would have considered Smith, who is the only Irishman in the field of 54, will be 60 this month and who plays in the Berkshire League, as a potential frontrunner, but he defeated the grandmaster and former champion Chris Ward in round two, and the international master and chess author David Eggleston in round three.

Playing through the latter game, I had a sense of déjà vu. Long ago at Hastings, I was paired against Lodewijk Prins, the Dutch No2. I chose 1 e4 e6 but was bamboozled by his reply 2 b3, then sacrificing the e4 pawn, castling long, and advancing g2-g4.

When I saw how Smith had bamboozled David Eggleston, there it was again, that same 2 b3 French complete with all the trimmings that Prins used against me.


White (to move) has three queens against a lone black king, and it’s checkmate in seven moves, but there’s a catch. The queen trio are only allowed to move on the extreme left-hand file from a1 to a8. You have a choice of two alternatives at White’s first turn. All the other moves have to be precise, but all Black’s replies are also forced. It can be done-try it.

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