A BASINGSTOKE man has emerged runner-up at the 2023 British Chess Championship, almost creating one of the biggest upsets of the competition to date, writes David Graham.

Steven Jones, a Popley resident and a key member of Basingstoke Chess Club, showcased his prowess and clinched the second spot, despite lacking a formal title.

The championship, a highlight on the chess calendar, was held in Leicester and drew an incredibly strong lineup of players, including an impressive 30 titled chess masters.

There were international masters, and five grandmasters, out of a field of 63 participants.

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However, it was the unassuming Steven who captured the spotlight. He recorded significant victories along the way.

Over the course of the intense nine-day Swiss-style competition, Steven displayed consistently outstanding chess play.

Steven's journey began with a close match against the nation's top player, grandmaster Michael Adams, resulting in a narrow defeat.

Undeterred, Steven continued to elevate his performance, masterfully navigating the chessboard with calculated strategies that often caught his adversaries off guard.

His total record consisted of an impressive six wins, one draw, and only two losses in the nine matches played.

A pinnacle moment arrived in the final round, when Steven, playing with the black pieces, faced off against grandmaster Daniel Howard Fernandez.

Responding to his opponent's king pawn opening with his preferred Sicilian defense, Steven demonstrated his strategic prowess.

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As the game unfolded, Steven gradually gained the upper hand, culminating in a spectacular checkmate that secured the victory.

Throughout the competition, Steven's playing strength reached grandmaster level in terms of his rating, hinting at a promising trajectory for his chess career and the possibility of future titles.

Basingstoke Chess Club is experiencing robust memberships across both adult and junior sections.

Enthusiasts gather every Wednesday evening at the bridge and chess club on Sherborne Road, starting from 7.15pm.