Hastings after round four

1/1/2011 – For strength, the wonderful London Classic now has to rank as Britain's premier chess event, but for any British chessplayer, Christmas means Hastings, and always will. This year's International Chess Congress, the 86th to be held in the sea-lashed British town, sees David Howell in the lead, with four points from four games. FM Steve Giddins reports.

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Fried chickens and impossible missions

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 1

Another Hastings congress starts! Of course, for strength, the wonderful London Classic now has to rank as Britain's premier chess event, but for any British chessplayer, Christmas means Hastings, and always will. There can be no greater joy than to wake up on 28 December, in a local B&B, overlooking the sea, with the waves of the Channel lapping gently against the shore...Sorry, did I say "lapping gently"? I meant "battering the shore", of course, whilst a blanket of dense fog ensured that one could not actually see the extent of the said battering. But no matter – it is the first day of Hastings! This year, the pleasure of that first morning was enhanced by the news that the Ashes were firmly within England's grasp. "Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive", as Wordsworh put it – and all he had to celebrate was a few French aristocrats having their heads cut off!

The 86th Hastings Congress features one of the strongest Masters events for some years, with the field of 103 including 10 Grandmasters and 15 International Masters. The British challenge is led once more by David Howell, fresh from his recent appearance in London. Yesterday's first round got underway at 2.15pm, with an opening ceremony attended by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alan Roberts and Councillor Jeremy Birch, the Leader of Hastings Borough Council, whose generous sponsorship has enabled the tournament to continue for so long.


Gambit man Robert Eames

On top board, the game Eames-Edouard soon had me thinking about fried chicken – not, you understand, because of any dietary fixation on my part, but because Bob Eames met the top seed's Sicilian Defence with the rarely-seen Morra Gambit. Back in 1972, at the powerful "Church's Fried Chicken" tournament at San Antonio, the late American master Ken Smith (he of "Smith-Morra Gambit" fame) employed the line against several super-GM opponents. Unfortunately, the result was an unmitigated disaster, so much so that when one of his opponents in the same event played the French Defence against Smith, Bent Larsen appended a question mark to 1...e6 in the tournament book, and added the priceless annotation "Better is 1...c5, which wins a pawn"! Bob Eames clearly has a different view of the gambit's merits, but on this occasion, he was unable to justify his choice. Edouard returned the extra pawn, to reach a middlegame with the bishop pair and a powerful pawn centre, and then struck when given a tactical opportunity.

Eames,Robert (2287) - Edouard,Romain (2620) [B21]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (1.1), 28.12.2010
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6 7.Bg5 Nf6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.0-0 Bg7 10.Nd4 e6 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Qg4 0-0 13.Rad1 d5 14.Bd3 f5 15.exf5 Qf6 16.fxe6 fxe6 17.Qh5 Qh6 18.Qe2 e5 19.f3 Rb8 20.Na4 Rb4 21.b3 Rh4 22.g3 Rh5 23.Rc1

Here, Eames has played the incautious 23 Rc1?, which was met by the neat 23...e4! 24 fxe4 Bd4+ 25 Kh1 Bf2! The threat against h2 left White with no choice but to surrender the exchange with 26 Rxf2 Qxc1+, after which the GM's technique did the rest: 27.Rf1 Rxf1+ 28.Qxf1 Qxf1+ 29.Bxf1 dxe4 30.h4 Bg4 31.Kg1 e3 32.Nc3 a5 33.Bd3 Rc5 34.Bc4+ Kg7 35.Kf1 Rf5+ 36.Ke1 Rf2 37.Be2 Bxe2 38.Nxe2 Kf6 39.a3 Ke5 40.b4 axb4 41.axb4 h5 0-1.

Flynn,David (2061) - Messam-Sparks,Lateefa (1917) [B99]
Hastings Masters (1.38), 28.12.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 Rb8 10.g4 Qc7 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.g5 Bxd4 13.Rxd4 b5 14.Bg2 b4 15.Ne2 e5 16.Rd2 exf4 17.Qxf4 Ne5 18.Rhd1 0-0 19.Rxd6 Nc4 20.R6d4 Qxf4+ 21.Nxf4 Ne3 22.R1d3 Nxg2 23.Nxg2 a5 24.Nf4 Ba6 25.Rd1 Rfc8 26.Nd5 Kf8 27.Kd2 Rb5 28.b3 Bb7 29.h4 Bxd5 30.Rxd5 Rxd5+ 31.exd5 Rc5 32.Kc1 Ke7 33.Rd2 Kd6 34.Kd1 Rxd5 35.Rxd5+ Kxd5 36.Ke2 Ke4 37.Kd2 Kd4 38.h5

Cue the theme music for Mission: Impossible. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to lose this position as Black, in one move. Sadly for Messam-Sparkes, she found a way: 38...f6 39.h6 1-0.


Clueless

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 2

When it comes to entertainment, I have always been a great fan of the radio comedy show, I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue. This wonderfully silly, self-styled "antidote to panel games", involves various comedians, coming up with funny lines, in various contexts. One of the rounds which often appears on the show is Tradesman's Film Club, in which the panel have to come up with film titles, that might appeal to an audience of, say, motor mechanics, or lawyers, etc. The former, for example, once yielded such offerings as Fiddler on the Roof Rack, The Hatchback of Notre Dame, and, my personal favourite, Bring Me the Head Gasket of Alfredo Garcia. It occurs to me that, amongst the many professions that the team, has covered in this round (not to mention its two closely related variants, Tradesman's Songbook and Tradesman's Book Club), they have never yet had a round called Chessplayer's Film Club. I feel this omission should be rectified, so I am hereby inviting contributions from my readers, for film, book or song titles, that you think might appeal to an audience of chessplayers. To start you off, I will contribute The Pelikan Brief, Short Encounter, Thoroughly Hypermodern Girl, and The Pawn Count of Monte Cristo (all these films, no doubt, distributed by the Back Rank Organisation...). You get the picture – suggestions to me at editor@bcmchess.co.uk please.

Whilst you are thinking about that, I have to say that round 2 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters saw some of the most entertaining chess one could ever wish for. Both of the top two boards ended in fairly short draws, but the next five boards all yielded decisive results. David Howell reached 2/2, after outplaying Swapnil in some tactical complications.

Howell,David (2616) - Swapnil,S Dhopade (2426) [B22]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (2.3), 29.12.2010
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Re1 Nf6 11.a3 b6 12.Be3 Bb7 13.Qe2 Nd5 14.Rad1 Bf6 15.Ne4 Nce7 16.Ne5 Ng6 17.Qh5 Bxe5 18.dxe5 Nxe3.

Now instead of the obvious recapture, Howell played 19.Ng5!? h6 20.Nxf7 Qh4? Fritz offers as the best defence 20...Nf4 21.Nxh6+ gxh6 22.Qxh6 Nf5 23.Bxf5 Rxf5 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 when White ahs Q+3Ps v R+N+B, whilst the exposed position of the black king gives White some advantage. 21.Qxg6 Rxf7 22.fxe3 Qg5 23.Qxg5 hxg5 and White went on to win. 24.Bg6 Re7 25.Rd6 Rf8 26.Red1 Bd5 27.Rd4 Rc7 28.h3 Rc1+ 29.Kh2 Rc5 30.Rg4 Rb5 31.b4 Bb3 32.Rxg5 a5 33.bxa5 Rxa5 34.Rd7 Rxa3 35.Rh5 Rc8 36.Bf7+ 1-0.


Sex, Lies and Audio Chess Tape

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 3

I am delighted to report that my appeal for suggested titles for Chessplayers' Film Club has produced a bumper response. No sooner had I myself come up with Dr Strangemove and Pawn Free, not to mention the well-known story of the latest computer chess program, Deep Throat (which, as everybody knows, was a pawn film...), than my inbox clicked, to reveal a selection from our Chief Arbiter, Alex McFarlane. His offerings included Alice in Blunderland, the chess organiser's appeal for a free venue, Any Hall, and the tragic tale of the demise of an analogue chess clock, Gone with the Wind (think about it!). IM Tom Rendle, rather than thinking about his position, spent his time between moves coming up with Lasker the Mohicans and Svidler on the Roof, whilst his fellow IM Jack Rudd offered, among others, Goodfellows. Ian Cooper sent me a selection, the choicest of which was Bad Day at Black Rook, whilst Dan Scoones came up with several excellent suggestions, including The Byrne Ultimatum, Korchnoi's Complaint, Who's Afraid of Patrick Woolf? and the ingenious Shipov Fools.

My appeal also brought an unexpected e-mail from IM Angus Dunnington. Nowadays, Angus has become one of the growing band of chessplayers, who have defected to the world of online poker, and I had not heard from him for some years, but it is clear that he still keeps a weather eye out for what is happening in the chess world. Angus' proposals included Raiders of the Lost Arkell, Schiller's List, Citizen Kan, Judgement and Planning at Nuremburg, and the rather controversial The Best Years of Our Life - Wasted!

However, the prize for quantity, at least, goes to my predecessor as BCM editor, John Saunders. As regular Chessbase readers will know, John was once acclaimed (if that is the word) by Frederic Friedel for having produced the worst pun in the history of chess and he has not disappointed this time round either. Amongst the better of the several dozen items he sent are The Manchurian Candidate Master, Fanny and CHO'D Alexander, Blazing Sadlers, When Harry Pillsbury Met Salwe, Free Willy Watson, and Karyakin up the Khyber. He also found my personal Holy Grail, Bring Me the Head of Silvino Garcia, but the star turn of all has to be the brilliant Crouch 'n Tiger, Hillarp Persson. My thanks to one and all!

After that digression, any discussion of chess seems rather anti-climactic, but round three of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters once again produced some highly entertaining chess, and also some huge battles. Typical of the fighting spirit was the game Kotronias-Bellin, in which the players fought for some seven and a half hours, for the great majority of which the English IM was on the defensive, but he hung on and claimed a thoroughly merited half point. At the top, two players emerged with 100% scores, David Howell and Hastings regular, Valeriy Neverov. David showed his expertise in IQP positions, by outplaying his opponent on the black side of the same variation he had used as White the day before, whilst Neverov beat Richard Bates in a hard-fought King's Indian. Most of the top games were dour struggles, but Gormally reached 2.5 / 3 in double-quick time, after his Austrian opponent played a highly risky line of the Dutch.


New and old faces in Hastings


IM Rao Prasanna of India (in 15th place)


Gerhana Chkartina of Indonesia (in 37th place)


IM Bhuvanesh R Ramnath of India (38th)


Boris Furman of Russia (44th) – a Hastings regular


FM Richard L. Britton (47th)


Yao Yao Zhu from China (76th)


  • Indonesian player Yemi Jelsen (93rd)


    Ravi Haria of England (80th)


    Hannah Dale of England (101th)


Film 2011

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 4

All the best films have a sequel (or two, or three, not to mention a "prequel" nowadays, as well...), so a brief revisiting of our Chessplayers' Film Club theme seems only appropriate. Ian Hustwayte points out that we have missed The Fischer King, whilst our commentator here at Hastings, Chris Ward, will probably never forgive me for not having quoted Enter the Dragon. The latter was another offering from John Saunders, who also contributed Paint your Stellwagen, Gunfight at Diez del Corral and Cape Flear. I had been intending to spare you some of his more excruciating puns, such as Bridge Euwe the River Kwai and Kind Hartston and Coronets, but my good intentions seem to have evaporated over the past 24 hours. Finally, I was delighted to receive a message from GM Peter Wells, who writes: " An appalling slur on a respected colleague, I realise, but once you have had the idea Dial Emms for Murder, it is difficult entirely to put it to one side!". Indeed it is!

Another New Year's Eve has come and gone in Hastings, and I, and the rest of the congress team wish you all the very best for 2011. One person who will be glad to forget the final day of 2010 is Valeriy Neverov. Yesterday, he faced David Howell on top board, in the battle of the only remaining 100% scores in round 4 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters. Sadly for the Ukrainian, who has three times won or shared first at Hastings, this game was over in the very opening, as he forgot Nunn's Law, and fell into a hoary old trap.

Howell,David (2616) - Neverov,Valeriy (2544) [B81]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (4.1), 31.12.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.h3. This move, which was the legendary Bobby Fischer's idea against the Najdorf, has recently experienced something of a revival in popularity. 6...e6 7.g4 b5 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.0-0 Be7?? A dreadful blunder, which effectively ends the game at once. Neverov evidently forgot "Nunn's Law", which states that "Loose piece drop off". Observe, please, the loose prelate on b7...

10.e5! Bxg2. 10...dxe5 11.Bxb7 Ra7 12.Bc6+ Kf8 13.Ndxb5 axb5 14.Qxd8+ Bxd8 15.Bxb5 is equally hopeless. 11.exf6 Bxf1 12.fxe7 Qxe7 13.Qxf1. White has two minor pieces for a rook and pawn. On the face of it, this may sound like little or no material advantage at all, but in fact, in such a middlegame, the advantage is almost decisive at GM level. The problem for Black is that two pieces are better than one - White can attack a weakness twice, whilst Black can only defend it once. 13...0-0 14.b3 Rc8 15.Bb2 Nc6 16.Qd3 Ne5 17.Qe3 Ng6 18.Rd1 Qa7 19.Rd2 Rc7 20.Qg3 b4 21.Nd1 Qc5 22.Nf3 Rac8 23.Ne3 Rd7

24.h4. having manoeuvered his pieces into position, Howell starts a decisive attack on the enemy king. 24...Ne7 25.h5 Qa5 26.h6 f6 27.Rxd6 Qc7 28.Rxd7 Qxd7 29.hxg7 e5 30.g5 1-0.

Ranking after four rounds

# Player Pts Nat Rtng Perf TB
1 GM HOWELL, David W L 4.0 ENG 2611 3142 +1.00
2 IM RENDLE, Thomas E 3.5 ENG 2400 2706 +1.36
3 GM EDOUARD, Romain 3.0 FRA 2636 2516 -0.44
4 GM ISTRATESCU, Andrei 3.0 ROU 2616 2572 -0.17
5 GM HEBDEN, Mark L 3.0 ENG 2560 2402 -0.55
6 GM SENGUPTA, Deep 3.0 IND 2558 2453 -0.37
7 GM NEVEROV, Valeriy 3.0 UKR 2522 2584 +0.34
8 GM GORMALLY, Daniel W 3.0 ENG 2470 2489 +0.09
9 IM PERT, Richard G 3.0 ENG 2464 2500 +0.18
10 IM SHYAM, Sundar M 3.0 IND 2439 2550 +0.56
11 GM SUMMERSCALE, Aaron 3.0 ENG 2434 2405 -0.11
12 ANWESH, Upadhyaya 3.0 IND 2426 2349 -0.30
13 IM WOHL, Aleksandar H 3.0 AUS 2424 2565 +0.75
14 IM SWAPNIL, S Dhopade 3.0 IND 2409 2454 +0.33
15 IM PRASANNA, Rao 3.0 IND 2400 2586 +0.98
16 IM BATES, Richard A 3.0 ENG 2370 2558 +0.97
17 IM BELLIN, Robert 3.0 ENG 2367 2403 +0.28
18 FM EGGLESTON, David J 3.0 ENG 2307 2582 +1.44
19 FM RAMONDINO, Renzo 3.0 ITA 2257 2474 +0.82
20 ROYSET, Paal 3.0 NOR 2171 2301 +0.55

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