Colin Pace retained the national title for the third year in a row after having the better of Joseph Gauci, the second seed, at this year’s finals, staged at the Chess Academy of St Benedict College in Kirkop.

Pace and Gauci finished on equal points after 10 rounds of play to set up a four-game decider.

The first two games, using classical time-control, were drawn after almost three hours of play. In the next set of two games, with reduced time-control, Pace managed a good win with the black pieces in the opener.

The pressure was all on Gauci now as he had to win the second game to keep his chances alive.

Pace, with the white pieces, produced another good game with a strong attack on the queen side where black’s a-pawn was weakened considerably.

He then slowly pushed his c-pawn up the board until it reached the fifth rank where it became evident that it could not be stopped. Gauci gave up the game and the match.

It was a fitting finale to the 75th edition of the National Chess Finals and a significant triumph for Żejtun resident Pace who confirmed his dominance in the local chess scene. Gauci was also runner-up last year.