London: Hammer wins the Festival FIDE Open

12/17/2009 – The London Chess Classic was not just about super-grandmasters. The congress was remarkably inclusive and catered for chessplayers of all abilities, from children who had just mastered how the "horsey" moved, right up to the world rated number one. The nine-round Swiss Open was won by a Norwegian prodigy (yes, there are more than one of those), GM Jon Ludvig Hammer. Big pictorial report.

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London Festival FIDE Open

By John Saunders

Ranked immediately below the Classic itself was the London Festival FIDE-Rated Open, a nine-round Swiss tournament which ran from December 8-15 (with rounds four and five both played on Friday 11 December). With a first prize of £2,500, and overall prize fund of £8,250, it attracted a strong field of 125 players, including nine grandmasters and 17 IMs.


The FIDE Open at the Olympia Centre in London

The highest rated competitor was Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway, and he was expected to be pursued by a posse of 2500+ rated England grandmasters, namely Stuart Conquest, Simon Williams, Mark Hebden of England and a few others of a slightly lesser rating. One of the aforementioned posse was sensationally unhorsed in the first round by an English amateur: Stuart Conquest lost to the 61-year-old, 2119-rated Alan Barton of Hastings Chess Club.


Top seed and winner: Jon Ludvig GM Hammer, 2588, NOR, 8.0/9

The posse never quite caught up with the Norwegian thoroughbred. Jon Ludvig is just a few months older than his superstar compatriot who was busy winning the Classic in the next room. He won his first four games, drew with Hebden, and then won games against three titled players: Loeffler, McDonald and Cherniaev. A last-round draw put him one point ahead of the field. His 8/9 was enough for a TPR of 2756.

Second place was shared by Simon Williams, Mark Hebden and Jovanka Houska. This was a particularly good result for the 2008 and 2009 British Women’s Champion. Jovanka also has a connection with Norway, of course... she is married to a Norwegian and now lives there. She survived two long defensive games against GMs Hebden and Wells and won her final game for a TPR of 2520.

No. Player Pts Nat Rtng Perf WWe
1 GM Hammer, Jon Ludvig 8.0 NOR 2588 2756 +1.46
2 GM Williams, Simon K 7.0 ENG 2550 2616 +0.78
3 GM Hebden, Mark L 7.0 ENG 2522 2610 +1.02
4 IM Houska, Jovanka 7.0 ENG 2391 2520 +1.51
5 GM Wells, Peter K 6.5 ENG 2489 2504 +0.30
6 GM Cherniaev, Alexander 6.5 RUS 2465 2465 +0.26
7 GM Arkell, Keith C 6.5 ENG 2464 2440 -0.13
8 GM McDonald, Neil 6.5 ENG 2412 2481 +0.91
9 IM Pcola, Pavol 6.5 SVK 2386 2434 +0.76
10 GM Conquest, Stuart C 6.0 ENG 2563 2380 -1.64
11 IM Berzinsh, Roland 6.0 LAT 2424 2404 -0.11
12 IM Barle, Janez 6.0 SLO 2420 2368 -0.49
13 IM Loeffler, Stefan 6.0 GER 2416 2419 +0.04
14 IM Ferguson, Mark 6.0 ENG 2410 2365 -0.44
15 IM Crawley, Gavin 6.0 ENG 2407 2369 -0.33
16 IM Gullaksen, Eirik 6.0 NOR 2400 2394 +0.04
17 IM Buckley, Graeme N 6.0 ENG 2388 2396 +0.25
18 IM Ansell, Simon T 6.0 ENG 2387 2325 -0.60
19 IM Rendle, Thomas E 6.0 ENG 2382 2492 +1.42
20 IM Cox, John J 6.0 ENG 2377 2423 +0.56
21 FM Lagerman, Robert 6.0 ISL 2358 2312 -0.33
22 Collyer, Curt D 6.0 USA 2294 2335 +0.64
23 Rowe, Duane 6.0 JAM 2194 2299 +1.06

Here's a nice game we spotted in the Open. It sees the former British Champion Michael Hennigan succumb to some original play by the Latvian IM Roland Berzinsh.

Hennigan,Michael T (2385) - Berzinsh,Roland (2424) [A07]
London Classic FIDE Op London Olympia (6), 12.12.2009 [John Saunders]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.0-0 0-0 5.d3 d5 6.Nbd2 Nc6 7.c4 d4 8.a3 a5 9.b3 Nd7 10.Rb1 Nc5 11.Ne1 e5 12.Nc2 f5 13.b4 axb4 14.axb4 Na4 15.Bb2 e4 16.Nb3 Nxb2 17.Rxb2 Kh8 18.Rb1 exd3 19.exd3 f4 20.Nc5 Ra7 21.Ra1 Rxa1 22.Qxa1 f3 23.Bh1








23...Nxb4! A bolt from the blue and the beginning of an extraordinary concept. 24.Nxb4 Qe7! 25.Qa7. The only good way to defend the c5 knight. But now the queen finds itself out of play on the wrong side of the board. 25...b6 26.Nca6 Bh3! Having lured the queen and knights to the queenside, Black strikes at the kingside. 27.Rb1. 27.Qxc7 Qe2 28.Ra1 Re8 would force White to give the piece back with 29.Nc2 Qxc2 and his position would then be hopeless. 27...Re8 28.Nc2 Qe2 29.Nab4








Now Black finds a very precise move. 29...h5! 30.Qa1. White thinks his queen has arrived back in time to join the defence but it is already too late.








30...Qxf2+!! 31.Kxf2 Re2+ 32.Kxf3 [32.Kg1 f2#] 32...Bg4+. Revealing the point of 29...h5, which was to support this check. 33.Kf4 Bh6# An exquisite finish. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Picture Gallery


Second place: GM Simon Williams, 2550, ENG, 7.0/9 points


Simon Williams playing Russian GM Alexander Cherniaev (who finished sixth) in round 7


GM Mark Hebden, rated 2522, who came third with 7.0/9 points


Richard Almond, 2174, vs IM Hovanka Houska, 2391 (0-1 in 67 moves)


Fourth: IM Jovanka Houska, 2391, ENG, 7.0/9 points (photo John Nunn)


Fifth place: GM Peter Wells, 2489, ENG, 6.5/9 points


Ninth place: IM Pavol Pcola, 2386, SVK, with 6.5/9 points


Despite the loss 10th place for GM Stuart Conquest, 2563, ENG, 6.0/9


16th place: IM Eirik Gullaksen, 2400, NOR, 6.0/9


24th place: GM Aaron Summerscale, 2449, ENG, 5.5/9 points


29th place: IM Odion Aikhoje, 2252, NGR, 5.5/9


43rd place: Terry Chapman, 2222, ENG, 5.0/9 points


44th: WIM Natasha Regan, 2170, ENG, 5.0/9 points


60th: Alan Barton, 2119, ENG, who beat GM Stuart Conquest in round one


63rd: Brandon Clarke, 2056, ENG, 4.5/9 points


105th place: Lovina Sylvia Chidi, 1819, GER, 3.0/9 points

All photos (unless otherwise specified) by John Saunders


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