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According to this, the BIP 148 UASF (user activated soft fork) goes into effect on August 1. Supposing it results in a substantial fork in the blockchain, is there a way users of Bitcoin Core can choose which chain to use (as opposed to whichever chain one's node receives first)? In other words: How do I tell Bitcoin Core to use an alternative chain?

Is this what preciousblock* is for?

*"Treats a block as if it were received before others with the same work."

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From what you linked it seems to me that preciousblock doesn't supersede a longer chain, it just prioritizes one block over another at the same height.

You could call bitcoin-cli invalidateblock <blockhash> on the first block of the chain that you wish not to follow.

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