Chess: national solving championship open for entries from Britain

This week’s puzzle is the opening round of a national contest where Guardian readers traditionally perform strongly and in numbers. You have to work out how White, playing as usual up the board, can force checkmate in two moves, however Black defends.

The puzzle is the first stage of the annual Winton British Solving Championship, organised by the British Chess Problem Society. The competition is open to British residents only and entry is free. Its prize fund is expected to be at least £1,200, plus awards to juniors.

To take part, simply send White’s first move to Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1QY. The email route is [email protected] Please include your name, home address and postcode and mark your entry “Guardian”. If you were under 18 on 31 August 2021, please give your date of birth.

The closing date is 31 July. After that all solvers will receive the answer. Those who get it right will also be sent a postal round of eight problems, with plenty of time for solving. The best 20-25 entries from the postal round, plus the best juniors, will be invited to the final in February 2023 (subject to any Covid‑19 restrictions).

The champion will qualify for the Great Britain team in the 2023 world solving championship, an event where GB is often a medal contender. The starter problem is tricky, though less so than two years ago when a hidden variation which involved queen’s side castling even defeated some computers. Obvious moves rarely work. It is easy to make an error, so review your answer before sending it. Good luck to all Guardian entrants.

China’s world No 2, Ding Liren, the pre-tournament favourite for the world championship Candidates in Madrid, suffered a disastrous start in Friday’s opening round when he was outclassed by Ian Nepomniachtchi, who six months ago had failed to win a single game in his 4-0 world title defeat by Magnus Carlsen.

Ding’s over-complex strategic play with the white pieces was brutally refuted by Russia’s Nepomniachtchi, who played under a neutral Fide flag. The Muscovite massed his black army against the white king, and his pawn advance g7-g5! led to a rapid breakthrough. Ding resigned in the face of a forced checkmate.

The only other decisive game in the opening round was the all-American clash. Fabiano Caruana, the 2018 world title challenger, defeated the five-time US champion Hikaru Nakamura by using his more active pieces to create defensive weaknesses which opened up the streamer’s king.

Round-one results: Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Poland) 0.5 Richard Rapport (Hungary), Ding Liren (China) 0-1 Ian Nepomniachtchi (Fide); Fabiano Caruana (US) 1-0 Hikaru Nakamura (US); Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan) 0.5 Alireza Firouzja (France).

There are still 13 rounds to go, but the standout round-two pairing on Saturday is Nepomniachtchi v Caruana. The impressive start by both grandmasters already gives this matchup between Carlsen’s 2021 and 2018 challengers the potential to be a first prize decider.

Play is at the Palacio de Santona in the centre of Madrid. Rounds start at 2pm BST and last approximately five or six hours. The games are free and live to watch online, with move by move grandmaster commentaries and a handy sidebar which enables non-players to see at a glance who is winning, Your favourite major chess site is likely to screen the games live. Chess24 will have the all-time No 1 woman, Judit Polgar, as its main commentator.

There is no English competitor to follow at Madrid but on Monday England teams will be the top seeds in both the World Senior over-50 and over-65 championships at Acqui Terme, Italy.

England over-50s field GMs Michael Adams, Nigel Short, John Emms, Mark Hebden and Keith Arkell. It is the first time that Adams, now 51, has been eligible. Much depends on whether he and Short can recapture some of their golden form of 1993 and 2004 when they were world championship finalists, and whether the squad can avoid any mishaps which could give a rival an advantage in match points.

The United States team are second seeds with a team consisting mainly of ex-Russians who learnt their skills in the former Soviet Union. Georgia, the No 3 seeds, will include the legendary former world women’s champion Nona Gaprindashvili, now aged 81. GM John Nunn leads England over-65s, supported by Paul Littlewood, Nigel Povah, Tony Stebbings and Ian Snape.