The 2008 champion, Stuart Conquest, has made a late entry to this year’s British Championships which take place at the University of Kent in Canterbury starting Sunday. Former Cowley star Adam Hunt and Oxford 4NCL player Lateefah Messam-Sparks are also playing.

You can follow the action live on the Internet – switching between games – and this can become very exciting as the tournament reaches its climax.

In the next two weeks the British will surely make great viewing for chess fans; but when it comes to Internet chess coverage, the Americans have set new standards.

At the recent 2010 Women’s and Junior Closed Championships, the video commentary ran for each round’s full duration, and I thought analysis provided by Jennifer Shahade and grandmaster Ben Finegold — known as Bennifer — with assistance from super-grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was engrossing.

Both tournaments took place at the new headquarters of American chess: the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in Saint Louis. The women’s competition was a triumph for Irina Krush whose last round win took her to 8/9, half a point ahead of her nemesis of recent years, Anna Zatonskih who could only draw her last round game.

Before the junior competition started, the strong favourite had been the prodigious 15-year-old grandmaster Ray Robson. The impression that this was Robson’s year was strengthened when 18-year-old Sam Shankland, the second highest rated player in the event, lost his first two games — leaving himself with surely too much ground to make up in a nine rounder. Robson proceeded steadily without a major mishap until the last round when he ventured the risky Gallagher variation of the King’s Indian and lost badly.

This allowed both Shankland — who had played well since his shaky start, and next-to-last seed Parker Zhao, to catch him in a three-way tie for first.

Shankland eliminated Zhao in the first play-off round and then took on Robson in the following game where both players had 45 minutes with a five-second increment and Shankland had Black and the draw odds. White: Ray Robson Black: Sam Shankland 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.f3 Needing to win rather than draw Robson tries the so-called Fantasy variation of the Caro-Kann; but unfortunately for him, Shankland had prepared it for his first tie-break game against Zhao.

3…dxe4 4.fxe4 e5 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 Nd7 7.c3 Bh5 8.0–0 Ngf6 9.Nbd2 Bd6 10.Bd3 A little passive and maybe 10.Qb3 b5 11.Be2 was better.

10...0–0 11.Qe1?! This is badly timed and 11.Nc4 Bc7 12.Qc2 looks better.

11...Re8 12.Kh1?! Bc7! 13.Bc2?! Realising that 13.Nc4 exd4 14.cxd4 Nc5 was no good, Robson was left floundering without a plan and taking a long time over his moves too.

13...exd4! 14.cxd4 c5! 15.dxc5 Of course 15.d5 is met with 15…Nxd5 15...Nxc5 16.e5?! Ncd7 17.Qh4 Nxe5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.Nc4 Qd4 20.Qxd4 Bxd4 21.Nd6 Re6 22.Nf5 Bc5 23.Bb3 Re5 24.Bd2 Ne4! 25.Rae1 Rae8 26.Rxe4!? Rxe4 27.Ng3 Bg6 28.Nxe4 Rxe4 29.Bc3 h5 30.Bd5 Re7 31.b4 Bb6 32.a4 a6 33.a5 Ba7 34.Re1 Rd7 35.Bf3 Kh7 36.Re8 Rc7 37.Bd2 h4 38.g3 h3 39.Bg4? f5 0–1 Robson’s final time trouble blunder meant that Sam Shankland had overcome his poor start to the tournament and had become the USA Junior Champion.