Malcolm Pein on…The 24-Hour Blitz Marathon


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The English Chess Federation raised over £5,000 for the Red Cross recently when it staged a 292-player, 24-hour Blitz Marathon, ‘Checkmate Covid, The Rematch’, on

GM Keith Arkell finished way out in front, with the prodigy Shreyas Royal second. Both players managed to stay awake virtually throughout.

Twenty titled players supported the event, either by playing, commentating, or both, including nine GMs; Keith Arkell, Michael Adams, Luke McShane, Gawain Jones, David Howell, Matthew Turner, Danny Gormally, Simon Williams, and Peter Svidler.

The key to doing well in these events is conserving energy. Arkell has the perfect style for this and has made a career out of effortlessly exploiting small edges in such pawn structures.

K. Arkell – T. Cox
Queen’s Gambit Ragozin

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.e3 0–0 10.a3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qg6 12.g3 (After 12.Rc1 Rd8 13.g3 Rd6 14.Qd1 Bg4 15.h3 Bxf3 16.Qxf3 Na5 17.Qg4 Rad8 (17…Qh7! intending Nb3 is good) 18.Qxg6 Rxg6 19.Rb1 Rb6 20.Rb4 White gradually advanced on all fronts and won instructively in Arkell-Ward, British Ch. 2014) 12…Bg4 13.Bg2 Qf5 14.Qd1 (14.Nd2? Qd3) 14…Bh3 15.0–0 Bxg2 16.Kxg2 Qe4 (Or 16…Na5 17.Nd2 Rac8 18.Qb1 Qd7) 17.Qb1! Qxb1?! (17…Rab8!) 18.Rfxb1 (18.Raxb1! b6 19.c4! dxc4 20.Rfc1 Na5 21.Nd2 keeps an edge) 18…b6 19.Nd2 Na5 20.Rb4 Rac8 (White intends c3–c4 and pressuring the c-file, but Black should have beaten him to the punch)

K. Arkell - T. Cox

21.c4 dxc4?! (21…c5! 22.dxc5 Rxc5 was fine for Black) 22.Nxc4 Nxc4? (Too compliant, 22…c5! 23.dxc5 Rxc5 24.Nxa5 Rxa5 25.a4 Rc8 26.Rd1 Rc7 =) 23.Rxc4 (Keith can play these positions in his sleep and who knows, perhaps he actually did) 23…c5 24.Rac1 Rc6 25.dxc5 Rfc8? (White is a clear pawn up after 25…bxc5 26.Rxc5 Ra6 27.R1c3)

Test Your Strength

K. Arkell - T. Cox White to Play and Win

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

26.cxb6! Rxc4 27.Rxc4 Rxc4 28.b7! 1-0

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