David Howell dominates Hastings online tournament

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
1/11/2021 – Already closing on a hundred editions, the Hastings International Chess Congress was organized this year despite the pandemic. Sponsored by Caplin Systems for a second time, the tournament was played online on Saturday and Sunday. In the end, David Howell won the event with a commanding performance, scoring seven wins and four draws to finish 1½ points ahead of second-placed Luke McShane. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / London Chess Classic

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The tradition lives on

Already closing on a hundred editions, the Hastings International Chess Congress was organized this year despite the pandemic. Sponsored by Caplin Systems for a second time, the tournament was played online on Saturday and Sunday. 

This time around, ten top English players were joined by the winner and runner-up of the Caplin British Online Chess Championships – IM Matthew Wadsworth and IM Matthew Turner. Michael Adams, Luke McShane, Gawain Jones, David Howell and Nicholas Pert, all top-10 players in England, participated.

The tournament was a 12-player single round robin with a time control of 15 minutes for the game and 10-second increments from the first move. Six rounds were played on Saturday and the remaining five took place on Sunday. The games were played on the Tornelo platform, with special regulations put in place to secure fair play in the online event.

Hastings International Chess Congress

In the end, David Howell won the event with a commanding performance, scoring seven wins and four draws to finish 1½ points ahead of second-placed Luke McShane. Rating favourite Michael Adams came in sole third place on 7/11.

Five of the seven wins obtained by Howell came in consecutive rounds. In the last of these wins, the eventual champion defeated Adams with the white pieces. Howell had more space and the initiative in the middlegame, and correctly decided to give up a rook and a bishop to get a new queen on move 37:

 

37.cxb6 as after 37...Rxc1 38.b7 Rxf1 39.b8Q the queen is stronger than the rook and bishop with both kings vulnerable to attacks on a relatively open position. Adams tried to muster something up for quite a while, but ended up being mated by his in-form opponent:

 

63...Rxa4 64.Qg5+ Kd7 65.Qe7# 

After eight rounds, Howell had a 1-point lead over his next direct rival, Luke McShane. A fighter at heart, McShane played adventurously in the opening, only to get duly outplayed by his countryman. After ignoring most positional principles taught to beginners, McShane found himself in the following position with the black pieces after castling queenside on move 17:

 

18.Nxc7 Qxd1 19.Raxd1 Kb7 20.Kxg2 Bh6 21.Nxa6 Kxa6 22.Rd6 Bg5 23.Red1 and Black’s setup looks quite disjointed:

 

Howell went on to win the game in 41 moves and cruised to tournament victory by drawing Daniel Gormally and beating Nicholas Pert in the remaining rounds.

Gormally had a good performance, especially against the four strongest players in the field — who, incidentally, finished in the first four position of the standings table. Gormally shared on Twitter:


Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Howell David W L 9,0 0,0
2 Mcshane Luke J 7,5 0,0
3 Adams Michael 7,0 0,0
4 Jones Gawain C B 6,5 0,0
5 Gormally Daniel W 6,0 0,0
6 Turner Matthew J 5,5 0,0
7 Wadsworth Matthew J 5,0 0,5
8 Arkell Keith C 5,0 0,5
9 Pert Nicholas 4,5 0,0
10 Hebden Mark L 3,5 1,0
11 Ghasi Ameet K 3,5 0,0
12 Flear Glenn C 3,0 0,0

All games

 

Links


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.

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