Chess: national solving championship 2024 open to entries from Britain

<span><strong>3925:</strong> White, playing up the board, is to play and checkmate in two moves, against any black defence.</span><span>Illustration: The Guardian</span>
3925: White, playing up the board, is to play and checkmate in two moves, against any black defence.Illustration: The Guardian

This week’s puzzle is a chance to enter an annual national contest in which Guardian readers traditionally perform strongly and in considerable numbers. White in the diagram, ­playing as usual up the board, is to play and checkmate in two moves, against any black defence.

The puzzle is the first stage of the annual Winton British Solving Championship, organised by the British Chess Problem Society. This competition is open only to British residents, and entry is free.

To take part, simply send White’s first move to Nigel Dennis, Boundary House, 230 Greys Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 1QY or by email to

Related: ‘Defeat clarifies so much’: Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley on the power of losing

All entries must be postmarked or emailed no later than 31 July 2024, and provide the entrant’s name and home address. Juniors under 18 on 31 August 2023 should give their date of birth. Please mark your entry “Guardian”.

Receipt of the solution to the first stage problem will be acknowledged after the closing date, when all competitors will receive the answer. Those who get it right will also be sent the postal round of eight harder ­problems, with plenty of time for solving.

The best 15-20 competitors from the postal round, plus the best juniors, will be invited to the final in ­February 2025, where the prize money is expected to be £2,500.

The winner of the final will also qualify for the Great Britain team in the 2025 world solving championship, an event where GB is often a medal contender.

The starter problem is tricky, with both white and black armies scattered apparently randomly round the board.

Obvious first move choices rarely work. It is easy to make an error, so be sure to double check your answer before sending it. Good luck to all Guardian entrants.

This weekend’s English Open and Women’s Championships, which started on Thursday at Kenilworth, Warwickshire, promise to be a test of strength between established grandmasters and masters and the rising Generation Z players in their 20s, teens and even pre-teens.

The English title contest is comparatively new compared with the long established British Championship first played in 1904, whose 2024 renewal will be at Hull in July-August.

The English was often awarded to the highest qualified player in the British before becoming a separate event three years ago with a £2,000 first prize. GM Michael Adams, who has already won the English crown six times, and GM Gawain Jones are the top rated contenders and favourites.

Leading the challenge is the ambitious GM Dan Fernandez, 29, who had a setback in Thursday’s opening round when he was well held to a draw by 12-year-old Adithya Vaidyanathan.

The experienced GMs Daniel Gormally, Mark Hebden and Peter Wells should also be prominent. Young IMs Matthew Wadsworth and Jonah Willow are closing in on the GM title. Among juniors, Stanley Badacsonyi has performed well in opens, while Oleg Verbytski, 12, and Supratit Banerjee, 10, have bright futures.

IM Harriet Hunt, the longtime England No 1, is the strong favourite for the women’s crown, but the former world girls champion conceded a draw with White in Thursday’s’ opening round to 13-year-old Shambavi Hariharan, who played in mature style. The defending champion, WGM Katarzyna Toma, and the former Moscow women’s blitz champion WGM Elmira Mirzoeva are the other leading contenders.

Watching top players can improve your own chess. The English Championships are free to view, with morning and afternoon rounds from Thursday to Sunday on lichess for the open event and the women’s title. You can click on a game and follow it move by move with the aid of continually updated computer assessments. You can switch between games, or follow several games at once.