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Michael Adams wins the Staunton Memorial

8/21/2007 – As is only appropriate in a tournament dedicated to the memory one of England's greatest players, the Fifth Staunton Memorial in London ended in a victory for another British chess all time great, Mickey Adams. In the final round, he drew with Black against Ivan Sokolov to reach an untouchable 8.5/11. Sokolov finished a point behind. Illustrated report.
 

Adams wins 5th Staunton Memorial

Final report by Steve Giddins

This traditional event took place in London from 7-18 August. This event is the brainchild of GM Ray Keene and consists of a twelve-player all-play-all event.

The tournament was held in Central London, in the prestigious surroundings of Simpsons-in-the-Strand. This is on the site of the famous Simpson's Divan, where many of the world's leading players used to congregate in the middle of the 19th century, and where Adolf Anderssen played his Immortal Game against Kieseritzky.

As is only appropriate in a tournament dedicated to the memory one of England's greatest players, the 2007 edition ended in a victory for another British chess all time great, Mickey Adams. In the final round, he drew with Black against Ivan Sokolov to reach an untouchable 8.5/11. Sokolov finished a point behind, where he was joined by Loek van Wely, who drew with Jon Speelman in the final round. Gawain Jones completed an outstanding tournament  by capitalising on an opening blunder by Jan Timman, to finish on 6.5, in the company of Jan Smeets and Jan Werle, the two young Dutch GMs.

Final standings

There were two particularly notable moments in the final round's play. Sokolov, who could finish equal first by beating Adams, maintained some pressure throughout, but missed his best chance at the crucial moment.

Sokolov,Iv NED (2666) - Adams,Mi (2724) [E13]
5th Staunton Mem London ENG (11), 18.08.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.Nd2 h6 7.Bh4 Be7 8.e4 0-0 9.Bg3 d5 10.cxd5 exd5 11.e5 Nfd7 12.Bd3 c5 13.0-0 cxd4 14.Nb5 Nc5 15.Nf3 Nc6 16.Nfxd4 Nxd4 17.Nxd4 Nxd3 18.Qxd3 Bc5 19.Rfe1 Bc8 20.e6 fxe6 21.Nxe6 Bxe6 22.Rxe6 Qd7 23.Rae1 Rf7 24.R6e5 Raf8 25.R1e2 Rf5 26.h3 h5 27.a3 a5 28.Rd2 Rxe5 29.Bxe5 Qe6 30.Bg3 Rf5 31.Re2 Qf7 32.Qb5 Qf6 33.b4 axb4 34.axb4 Bf8 35.Qe8 h4 36.Bc7 Kh7 37.Re6 Qf7 38.Qxf7 Rxf7

Sokolov captured on b6, but Adams was much more concerned about 39.Bd6!, which wins a pawn. Black would be forced to seek chances in a rook ending a pawn down, which he may or may not be able to save. In the game, play instead continued 39.Bxb6 Bxb4 40.Re5 Rb7 41.Be3 Bd6 42.Rh5+ Kg6 43.Rg5+ Kf6 44.f4, which also looks promising for White, until one sees Black's next move. 44...Rb4! The move Sokolov had missed. Now the draw is inevitable. 45.Rxd5 ½–½.

The other main talking point was an extraordinary oversight by Jan Timman.

Timman,J (2560) - Jones,G (2526) [E94]
5th Staunton Mem London ENG (11), 18.08.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 Nc6 10.Be3 Nh5 11.Qd2 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Nf4

Here, Timman played the incautious 13.Bxg7?!, only to be stunned by the reply 13...Qg5!, when Black threatens mate on g2, as well as 14...Nh3+, winning the white queen. A thunderstruck Timman stared in disbelief at the position for several minutes, before deciding that he had to give up his queen for two pieces by 14.Qxf4??. Although he fought hard thereafter, he could not save the game. However, he totally missed the defensive idea 14.Kf2!, after which Black has nothing better than 14...Kxg7, with little or no advantage. An extraordinary oversight for such a player. The game continued 14...Qxf4 Qxf4 15.Bd4 c6 16.Rad1 b6 17.Bf2 Re6 18.Bg3 Qe3+ 19.Kh1 Qc5 20.a3 Ba6 21.Bf4 d5 22.b4 Qe7 23.b5 dxc4 24.bxa6 Qxa3 25.Bd2 b5 26.Ra1 Qc5 27.Bf4 Rd8 28.g4 g5 29.Bg3 Rd2 30.Be1 Rc2 31.Bd1 Rb2 32.Be2 Qe5 33.Rc1 Rh6 34.Rf2 b4 35.Rg2 Rh3 36.Kg1 bxc3 37.Bxc3 Qc5+ 38.Kf1 Rb3 0-1.

Once the play had ended, the players had to exercise their writing hands in earnest, in order to sign the six boards used for the event. The luxury sets and boards, loaned for the occasion by the House of Staunton, proved extremely popular, with many of the players commenting on how nice it was to play on such luxurious equipment. The signed boards will be available for purchase from House of Staunton shortly; details from their website above.

This duty over, the players and guests sat down to a highly enjoyable closing dinner and prize-giving. Chess sets again became a topic of the moment, as Mickey Adams added to his first prize by taking the best game award, for his round nine masterpiece against Jan Werle.


Round nine game Michael Adams vs Jan Werle

Adams,Mi (2724) - Werle,J (2552) [B46]
5th Staunton Mem London ENG (9), 16.08.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Re1 Be7 10.e5 Nd7 11.Qg4 g6 12.Bh6 c5 13.b3 Bb7 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Qf4 Bf8 16.Bxf8 Kxf8 17.c4 d4 18.Qh6+ Kg8 19.Be4 Rb8 20.Nb2 Qd8 21.Nd3 Qf8 22.Qd2 Bxe4 23.Rxe4 Kg7 24.h4 h5 25.b4 cxb4 26.Rxd4 Qe7 27.Rd6 Rhc8 28.Qe3 Rb7 29.Qd4 Nb8 30.c5 a5 31.Rd1 Nc6 32.Qe4 Na7 33.Nf4 Rxc5

34.Rxe6 fxe6 35.Qxg6+ Kh8 36.Qh6+ Kg8 37.Ng6 1-0

The prize consisted of the chess set belonging to the late Morris (Moses) Sobkowski, one of the original founders of the Friends of Chess, who have done so much for British chess over the past 40-odd years. Sobkowski and his chess set survived incarceration in no fewer than five Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Belsen – a remarkable story of human endurance. After his death, the set was donated to the Staunton Society by his widow, Trudie, and was won in 2005 by Jonathan Levitt, winner of the Third Staunton Memorial. Earlier this year, Jonathan kindly re-donated the set to the Society.


The Sobkowski chess pieces – an ordinary set, with an extraordinary story.

Another special award made at the final dinner was to sponsor Jan Mol, who was presented with a special memento by the Staunton Society, a copy of Howard Staunton's 1859 annotated edition of Shakespeare's plays. A wonderful two weeks at Simpson's was brought to an end, with all concerned looking forward to getting together again next year, for a continuation of this great event.


In addition to his £2,500 cash prize, winner Mickey Adams also received a piece of artwork, painted by Staunton Society Hon Secretary, Barry Martin – who also plans a portrait of Mickey and his wife, Tara!


Bringing the sponsor to book – Ray Keene presents Jan Mol with an 1859 annotated edition of Shakespeare, edited by Howard Staunton. Left is Squadron Leader Steve O'Neill, Chairman of the Combined Services Chess Association, who attended the dinner as a special guest.


Gawain Jones, the revelation of the tournament, receives his prize from Ray Keene. Contrary to what I wrote in the various round-by-round reports, Gawain is 19 (not 18), English (not Welsh), uses Italian (not Welsh) algebraic notation, and won five games (not four). Apart from that, I think I got everything else right...


Michael Stean is another retired GM who visited the final round. His book "Simple Chess" is still a classic. Who knows, if you study it hard enough over the next twelve months, maybe you will become strong enough to be invited to the 2008 Staunton Memorial?

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