Michael Adams, the England No 1, was the convincing winner of last week’s Cambridge’s international open and its £1,500 first prize at the University Arms Hotel — but only after a scare at the start.  

The Cornishman, 51, overpressed in his first-round game against his namesake Henry Adams, a 17-year-old from Sussex, and offered a draw in a position where the computer’s assessment was that he was clearly losing.

It was a bold move to give his rivals a half-point start, but events proved that Adams was right. His pairings in the next few rounds were easier, as in round two, where his inexperienced opponent could not cope with the wiles of the French Defence Advance Variation 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5, and resigned at move 18 faced with the loss of a piece.

Adams’s sixth-round win against Dan Fernandez proved the tournament decider, as the 28-year-old finished clear second with 7.5/9, half a point behind Adams.

The game showed the power of two bishops against bishop and knight, plus the value of an outside passed pawn on the a file.

Current English tournaments often feature a generation clash between established grandmasters who learnt their skills in the eras of Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, and younger rivals in their teens or twenties. Apart from Adams, the new era did better at Cambridge, as the 21-year-old British champion Harry Grieve tied for third, while the older GMs had a difficult final round.

The Cambridge event proved hugely popular, with more than 160 entrants and dozens more on a waiting list. Most continental opens use the model of a single section where everyone from GM to novice takes part, and it would significantly raise standards and aspirations if there were more such events here rather than separate tournaments for weaker players.

Puzzle 2508

Peter Roberson vs Michael Adams, Cambridge 2023. The England No1 (Black, to play) is winning due to White’s exposed king. What is Black’s fastest route to victory?

For solution, click here

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