Cornishman Michael Adams plays his best chess in the West Country. Adams won his seventh British championship last weekend at Torquay, 30 years on from the 1989 contest at Plymouth where he set a still unbroken age record by winning the title at 17.

Adams was unbeaten with 7.5/9, finishing a crucial half-point ahead of his rival David Howell, who at 28 is already a three-time champion and is ranked England No1 by a tiny margin over Adams.

Jonathan Penrose holds the record for most championship titles — 10 from 1958 to 1970 — followed by Henry Atkins, who won nine between 1904 and 1925.

Penrose, a college lecturer, and Atkins, a schoolmaster, were both amateurs, while Adams is a widely travelled professional whose best achievement was to reach a world final in 2004.

One interesting technical point unites the trio. All three often played 1 e4 e5 openings. Atkins did so mainly as Black and Penrose mainly as White, while Adams is a king pawn specialist with both colours.

His final round at Torquay shows why his nickname is “spider”, as an intricate web tied up the black pieces.


Just king, bishop and pawn against king, but this simple-looking endgame has defeated masters. Black plans either to capture White’s last pawn or to run his king up the board to h8/g7 from where it can never be dislodged. Only one move in the diagram will foil this plan. Can you find it?

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