Top seed Romain Edouard of France took the sole lead in Round seven of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters, after an unexpectedly easy win against young Indian talent Rao Prasanna. Edouard commented afterwards that his opponent "had confused ideas from different variations", and the French GM soon netted a couple of pawns for no compensation:
Edouard,Romain (2620) - Prasanna,Rao (2400) [C78]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (7.1), 03.01.2011
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.d3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.c3 Bb6?! This gives White a free hand to attack the b5-pawn. More usual is 10...0-0 11.d4 Bb6 when Black has more pressure against the white centre, as well as potential tactical tricks, such as meeting Nxb5 with Bxd4, etc. 11.h3 h6 12.Na3 Bd7 13.Nxb5 Na5 14.Ba4 0-0 15.b4 Nc6 16.Na3
In this particular version, Black has no visible compensaion for his missing b-pawn. 16...Nh5? 17.Nc4 Qf6 18.Bxc6 Bxc6 19.Nfxe5. Simply helping himself to another pawn. Prasanna fights on, but the game is already over. 19...dxe5 20.Qxh5 Rfe8 21.Be3 Rbd8 22.Qe2 Bb5 23.Rfd1 Bxe3 24.Nxe3 Qg6 25.Nd5 Bd7 26.Nxc7 Bxh3 27.Qf3 Bg4 28.Qg3 Bxd1 29.Qxg6 fxg6 30.Nxe8 Bc2 31.Nc7 Rxd3 32.Nd5 Bb3 33.b5 Bxd5 34.exd5 Rxc3 35.b6 Rb3 36.d6 Kf7
37.Ra7+ Ke6 38.d7 1-0
On board two Istratescu and Kotronias had a long and extremely complicated battle, which eventually ended in favour of the former. Shyam and Howell fought down to bare kings before splitting the point, whilst Gormally beat Rendle on board 4. With the exception of Prasanna's loss, it was a good day for the Indian players, with Sengupta, Anwesh and Das all winning, to join the 5-point group. The last-named won a crushing King's Indian against Hanssen, which rather drastically illustrates the difference between good and bad bishops:
Hanssen,Gunnar Berg (2191) - Arghyadip,Das (2476) [E99]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (7.8), 03.01.2011
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.f3 f5 11.Nd3 f4 12.g4 Bf6 13.Bd2 h5 14.h3 Bh4 15.Be1 Bxe1 16.Qxe1 g5 17.Rf2 Ng6 18.Rh2 Rf7 19.Qf2 Nf6 20.Ne1 Rh7
21.Rc1 Qe7 22.Bd1 Kg7 23.Rc2 Bd7 24.Kf1 b6 25.Qg1 Rah8 26.Rcf2 Rh6 27.Qh1 Kf8 28.Kg1 a6 29.Be2 Nh4 30.Kf1 Qh7 31.Kg1 Ke7 32.Nb1 Qg8 33.Nd2 Qb8 34.Ng2 Ng6 35.Ne1 b5 36.b3 Qa7 37.Bd1 hxg4 0-1.
Ryan Rhys Griffiths put up another top-class result, by beating Alex Wohl with the black pieces. Griffiths now has an excellent chance of an IM norm, with just one point in the last two rounds probably sufficing. Richard Bates has also had an excellent tournament, and his game was a counterweight to the Das effort above, showing the seamier side of the King's Indian.
Bates,Richard (2382) - Sergienko,Vladislav (2133) [E62]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (7.11), 03.01.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 d6 6.c4 Nc6 7.Nc3 Bf5 8.d5 Na5 9.Nd2 c5 10.e4 Bd7 11.a3 Ne8 12.Qc2 Rc8 13.Re1 a6 14.Bf1 b6 15.Rb1 e6 16.b3 Nc7 17.Bb2 e5 18.b4 Nb7 19.Nb3 f5 20.bxc5 Nxc5 21.Nxc5 bxc5
22.exf5 gxf5 23.Na4 Rb8 24.Bc3 Na8 25.Rxb8 Qxb8 26.f4 e4 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Rb1 Qc7 29.Nb6 Kf7 30.Nxd7 Qxd7 31.Bh3 Qc8 32.Re1 Re8 33.Rxe4 Rxe4 34.Qxe4 fxe4 35.Bxc8 a5 36.Bd7 Nb6 37.Bb5 Kf6 38.Kf2 Kf5 39.Ke3 h6 40.h3 h5
With two rounds to go, Edouard leads outright with 6/7. Istratescu, Howell, Shyam and Gormally have 5.5, with six more players behind them on 5. In today's top pairings, Edouard meets Istratescu, board two sees an all-English clash between Howell and Gormally, whilst on board three, Anwesh plays fellow Indian, Shyam.
Another Hastings Congress is drawing to a close! Once again, we have had a great week and a half of chess here on the Sussex coast, and as we head into today's final round, it remains all to play for in the Masters section. Yesterday's 8th round saw some fierce clashes at the top, but nothing has yet been resolved. The top board encounter between Edouard and Istratescu started with a sideline of the super-sharp Botvinnik Anti-Meran, but ended in a 21-move perpetual check, all of which has been seen several times before at GM level. The all-Indian clash between Anmesh and Shyam also ended fairly briefly and peacefully, but the other top games were all long and hard fights. Howell-Gormally was the centre of most attention, and certainly proved to be a fascinating battle. Black always had reasonable play, and although Gormally seemed to weaken in the run-up to the first time-control, his exchange sacrifice led to a position where it was always going to be very hard for White to make progress. Hampered by his exposed king, Howell was unable to avoid an eventual exchange of queens, but Black held the ending easily enough:
Once again, the Indian contingent showed their strength, with Sengupta, Das and Prasanna all winning on boards 4-6, at the expense of Griffiths, Bates and Rendle respectively. Despite this setback, Ryan Rhys Griffiths can still make an IM norm, if he wins today, although has has a tough task, with Black against Bates. Swapnil and Ramnath completed an outstanding day for the Indian players. Notable performers among the home contingent include Adam Ashton, who survived a busted position against Kotronias, and even came close to winning in the ending, and Radovanovic, who should have beaten Hebden with Black. The talented Yang-Fan Zhou moved up with a crushing win against David Spence:
Zhou,Yang Fan (2348) - Spence,David (2244) [C06]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (8.14), 04.01.2011
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Bd3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.Ngf3 g6. This fianchetto looks very strange in the French, but is a respectable idea in this variation. Black aims to blunt the white bishop on d3. 8.0-0 Bg7 9.Re1 cxd4 10.cxd4 0-0 11.Nb3
11...Nb6? But this is the start of a treatment that is too passive. In this line, Black needs to break with 11...f6 in order to activate his pieces and create pressure on White's centre. 12.h4 Bd7 13.Bg5 Qc7 14.Rc1 Rae8 15.h5 Qb8 16.Qd2 Bc8 17.Nc5. Black has been reduced to complete passivity, and it is only a matter of time before White infiltrates decisively on the kingside dark squares. 17...Qc7 18.Bf6 Bxf6 19.exf6 Qd8 20.Qf4 Nd7 21.Nxd7 Bxd7 22.Ne5 Nxe5 23.dxe5 Kh8
So, heading into the last round, the situation at the top shows Edouard with 6.5, a half point lead over seven players with 6 points – Sengupta, Istratescu, Howell, Shyam, Das, Gormally and Prasanna, whilst Neverov, Anwesh and Swapnil have 5.5. The draw pairs Sengupta with White against Edouard, whilst the other 6-pointers all meet amongst themselves. I have made the mistake before, of predicting a fierce last-round battle, only to be disappointed by a package deal of quick draws between the leaders, but I will stick my head out once again, and suggest that the last round should see some real fighting chess at the top.
As well as the main prizes, there are also precious title norms to play for. Shyam needs a win against fellow Indian player Rao for a GM norm, whilst Prasanna needs only a draw against Gormally for the same result. Three players are in with a chance of an IM norm. As well as Griffiths, mentioned above, Anwesh needs a win as Black against Neverov, whilst Adam Ashton can secure an IM norm if he beats Russian veteran, Boris Furman.
In a dramatic last round at the Sussex seaside, it was the Indian players Deep Sengupta and Arghyadip Das who emerged as joint winners of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters. The first-named faced the overnight leader, Romain Edouard, on top board and played a splendid attacking game against the French GM's Sicilian. The black king ended up on f8, and as lines opened, Sengupta penetrated decisively with his heavy pieces:
Sengupta,Deep (2527) - Edouard,Romain (2620) [B66]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (9.1), 05.01.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6 8.0-0-0 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Be7 10.f4 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.e5 d5 13.Be2 Bb7
14.f5 fxe5 15.Qxe5 Bf6 16.Qg3 Qb8 17.Qh3 d4 18.fxe6 Qf4+ 19.Kb1 dxc3 20.exf7+ Kf8 21.a3 h5 22.Rhf1 Qe5 23.Bd3 Qg5
24.Qd7 Bxg2 25.Rde1 Be7 26.Rf5 Qh4 27.Rfe5 Rd8 28.Qc7 Rxd3 29.cxd3 1-0.
The winner of Hastings 2010/2011: Deep Sengupta of India
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