Howell and Adams leading at the 2019 British Championship

by Daniel Gormally
7/31/2019 – Have we already seen the last great British chess player? That's one of the questions GM DANIEL GORMALLY has been pondering as he provides commentary at the British Championship in Torquay, England. IM Ravi Haria (born in 1999) is making a run at the top dogs, as one of five players leading after four rounds. | Photos: Chris Stratford / britishchesschampionships.co.uk

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Five players start with 3½/5

The British championships at Torquay was the first time I have attended but without participating as a player, perhaps a sign that I am giving way to the fashion of the times, and got involved in the commentary instead. A few months ago IM Adam Hunt asked me if I liked to help him with the commentary, so I thought why not? Especially as there had been no indication recently (or perhaps ever) that I was ready to uproot the likes of David Howell and Michael Adams.

Indeed, such is the hegemony that the English players who are 2650 plus enjoy over most of the other players that take part in these events, that it is difficult to see anyone breaking out and joining their exclusive club even in the distant future, let alone soon. They simply remain a class apart, and anyone else hoping to win the British Championship has to get past, not just one, but two world-class players — a formidable task. 

Torquay is a seaside resort town in south-west England

Simon WilliamsI pretty much went straight from a tournament in Ghent, albeit with a brief stop in London. The bustling metropolis was dripping with a heat that seemed to not only be able to bust any thermometers that were lying about, but when venturing outside threatened to turn me into an ice lolly. The day I travelled to Torquay was allegedly the hottest ever. I wasn't surprised. I met up with Simon Williams, the Ginger GM, who was happy to give me a lift to Devon, and when opening his car door it was like stepping into a blast furnace. This was a heat that I had rarely encountered before.

Torquay was noticeably cooler, a welcome relief. One of the positive things about doing the commentary is that it's much less nerve-wracking than playing, and you can really watch the tournament develop in a way that is difficult to do as a player, when you are too wrapped up in your own games. Perhaps the game that stood out as being the most exciting in round one belonged to the aforementioned Simon Williams.

 

Unfortunately after round one I went for a bit of a booze-up, which is an unusual situation for me now as I have more or less given up alcohol. As so often happens in these situations I felt emboldened by the liquid running through my system and decided to walk back to my hotel, a risky venture as it was situated up this rather large hill. (Normally I would get the bus back.)

Mickey AdamsThoughts soon turned to panic when I became hopelessly lost. Is it possible to be lost when you are completely surrounded by civilization? If so I managed it. The problem was I walked up too far, overestimating how high my hotel was. Eventually I began walking along this very dark and high road, with the lights of Torquay situated far below the only source of illumination, and not being particularly comfortable with heights I felt a panic attack coming on. Even stumbling across a couple who seemed equally lost didn't help as they were just as lost as I was, being out-of-towners, and were using a torch to navigate. I decided the only way I could get back to my hotel was to go back down and with some help from Google maps and locals I was finally able to get back to where I was staying. 

Meanwhile, Michael Adams was crunching through the field, looking worryingly as far as his opposition was concerned, like a chess automaton.

 

David Howell in the same round was involved in one of those titanic chess struggles that he is already becoming famous for.

 

In D'Costa vs Pert, Lorin made what seemed to me to be a shocking decision.

 

1.xf6? I described this in the commentary move as one of the "worse moves I have ever seen" which is of course a gross exaggeration. Nevertheless as a commentator I wanted to stand out from the crowd, as there is an over-saturation of chess commentators and chess streamers these days (once people sense an easy buck they all gravitate there) so only by projecting myself as a chess "Mr. Nasty", complete with all the same camp mannerisms and snide put-downs that Simon Cowell employs, did I seem likely to separate myself.

1.♖d4 seemed a nice way to continue, perhaps getting ready for Qd2, followed by penetration on d6. 

Lorin D'CostaNevertheless, with ♗xf6 White seems to me to give up the main bulk of his advantage, and just before this he seemed to have a ideal situation that you want to have when playing one of the top seeds, in other words a nice edge where you can press and where there seems little danger of defeat.

I feel that with ♗xf6, Lorin, a talented player, gives up on his hopes of victory too easily. Perhaps I could even speculate that he wanted to offer a draw, but felt that by reducing his own advantage it would become easier to do so without looking in any way embarrassed?

If the goddess Caissa was indeed enraged by Lorin's decision to depart with his beautiful bishop, then her retribution came quickly, as he was swept aside in a blaze of strategic glory by the top seed in the very next round.

 

Ravi Haria

Adams was nicked for a draw in round 4 by up-and-comer IM Ravi Haria

Current standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Howell David Wl 3,5
  Adams Michael 3,5
  Tan Justin Hy 3,5
  Haria Ravi 3,5
  Palliser Richard Jd 3,5
6 Williams Simon K 3,0
  Pert Richard G 3,0
  Wadsworth Matthew J 3,0
  Eggleston David J 3,0
  Smith Andrew P 3,0
11 Pert Nicholas 2,5
  Gordon Stephen J 2,5
  Emms John M 2,5
  Fernandez Daniel H 2,5
  Arkell Keith C 2,5
  Houska Jovanka 2,5
  D'costa Lorin Ar 2,5
  Pigott John C 2,5
  Ashton Adam G 2,5
  Toma Katarzyna 2,5

Live games and commentary of Round 5

 

Commentary by GM Daniel Gormally and IM Adam Hunt

All available games

 

Links




Daniel is an English grandmaster with a FIDE rating of 2498 and a peak Elo of 2573. He became a Grandmaster in 2005, and played for England in Olympiad and European Championships. Author of Play Chess Like the Pros, Calculate Like a Grandmaster, Mating the Castled King and A Year in the Chess World, Gormally is also an established chess coach at St Mary’s School in Alnwick, England, where he lives.
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