Hastings: Four players tie for first with 7.0/9

by ChessBase
1/6/2010 – The 2009-10 Hastings Masters ended in a fourway tie for first place, between Mark Hebden of England, British Champion David Howell, Andrei Istratescu of Roumania, and Romain Edouard of France. In the final round Hebden and Istratescu halved out in 11 moves, but Howell had to fight for a black victory. Our report on the last two rounds includes a big pictorial of lesser-known players.

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Reports by Steve Giddins

Round eight: De pilo pendet

I wandered into the Congress Office yesterday around mid-morning, and stood chatting briefly with Pam Thomas, the Congress Publicity Officer, when suddenly, from the next room, there emerged the dulcet East Ham tones of IM Andrew Martin. I found him surrounded by a couple of boxes full of booklets, each of which he was signing. I mentioned in my first round report that Andrew plays very little tournament chess these days, concentrating instead on his career as a writer and trainer. He is certainly one of the country's busiest junior trainers, and has been heavily involved in the ECF's "Chess Sets for Schools" project. This is a project, which started some 18 months ago, when a company called Holloid Plastics approached the ECF, with a proposal to manufacture and distribute up to 250,000 free chess sets, to be allocated amongst every school in the country. Such a massive boost in school chess activity represents a unique opportunity for English chess.

Andrew Martin

Unfortunately, the management of the project has not exactly been a model of efficiency or effectiveness, and it has attracted a great deal of criticism. However, it now appears that things are finally on the move. With a newly-constituted ECF Management Board firmly behind the project, many thousands of sets are currently in the process of being delivered to the approximately 9,000 schools which have applied for them. Alongside the delivery of sets themselves, the ECF has developed a Certificate of Merit scheme, which involves a multi-level online test, which pupils can take, to improve their chess skill. Andrew has been heavily involved in developing material for this scheme, and the booklets he was signing are part of it. They complement an excellent DVD, which has been produced by Andrew, in cooperation with Chessbase, the world's leading supplier of chess software. Together, the materials add up to a first-rate beginners' course, and it is hoped that as many pupils as possible will sign up to the Certificate of Merit scheme. Ex nihilo, nihil fit, as they say – by working now to develop a whole generation of children, who are familiar with the game, and enjoy playing it, we can build a foundation for Britain's chess future, as well as transforming the ailing finances of the ECF itself.

IM Jack Rudd, modelling the latest in ECF-approved chess education literature

But now ad rem. Yesterday's penultimate round of the 2009/10 Hastings Masters saw two of the leading group win, and thereby assure themselves a half point lead over the field, going into today's final round. Mark Hebden won the longest game of the day against Christophe Philipe of France, whilst Andrei Istratescu beat Simon Ansell in a model positional game. The latter's Kalashnikov Sicilian soon led to a galloping case of what Hans Kmoch, in his classic book Pawn Power in Chess, described as "leucopenia" (that's what you and I call "weak white squares"), after which the Roumanian GM sucked the blood from Black's position, with an efficiency that would have done credit to his mythical Transylvanian countryman:

Istratescu,A (2624) - Ansell,S (2387) [B32]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (8), 04.01.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nf6 9.c4 b4 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.Qd5 Bd7 12.Nc2 Rb8 13.Be2 Qd8 14.h3 Qc8 15.b3 Be7 16.Bg4 Be6 17.Qd1 0-0 18.0-0 Bxg4 19.Qxg4 a5 20.Rd1 Nd8 21.Ne3 Qxg4 22.hxg4

22...Nb7 23.Nd5 Bd8 24.Be3 h6 25.g3 Re8 26.Kg2 Rc8 27.a3 bxa3 28.Rxa3 Nc5 29.Nc3 Re6 30.f3 Kf8 31.Rd5 Bb6 32.Kf2 Rb8 33.Ke2 Ke8 34.Nb5 Kd7 35.Bxc5 Bxc5 36.Rxa5 Rc8 37.Ra4 Ke7 38.b4 Bb6 39.Ra6 Rb8 40.Rxd6 Rxd6 41.Nxd6 Kxd6 42.Rxb6+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Meanwhile, those following the live broadcasts had the unaccustomed experience of seeing a novelty on move 2 of the Sicilian! Well, maybe it is not technically a novelty, but I for one have not seen the move 2.Be2 played in a master game before. Despite its exceptionally modest appearance, it yielded Greet a decent position, but he had used too much time on the clock and lost the thread of the position completely between moves 19-25:

Greet,A (2423) - Gormally,D (2479) [B21]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (8), 04.01.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Be2 Nc6 3.f4 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d3 Bg4 6.0-0 e6 7.Nbd2 Be7 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 0-0 10.Be3 c4 11.Qd2 cxd3 12.cxd3 e5 13.Rac1 Rc8 14.a3 a6 15.b4 exf4 16.Bxf4 d5 17.e5 Nh5 18.Bh2 g6

19.Bd1 Ng7 20.Bb3 a5 21.Qa2 axb4 22.a4 Nf5 23.Bxd5 Ne3 24.Bxc6 Nxf1 25.Rxf1 bxc6 26.e6 Qd5 27.exf7+ Rxf7 28.Qxd5 cxd5 29.Rb1 Rc3 30.Ne5 Bc5+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Bates and Hawkins both had dubious-looking positions from the opening, but survived and eventually made draws (in Hawkins' case, after pressing for the win). Martin Mitchell has had a great tournament, and virtually wrapped up an IM norm, by winning an extraordinary game against John Anderson, in which the black king was chased from pillar to post, but somehow escaped the mates, and eventually decided the game by helping himself to a whole rook in broad daylight:

Anderson,J (2209) - Mitchell,M (2195) [B06]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (8), 04.01.2010
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 a6 5.c4 Bg4 6.Ng1 h5 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.h3 Bxe2 9.Ngxe2 e5 10.Be3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qf6 14.Qe3 Ne7 15.0-0-0 0-0-0 16.Qa7 Nc6 17.Qa8+ Kd7 18.Qxb7 Qxf2 19.Nd5 Qa7

20.Nf6+ Ke6 21.Qxc6 Kxf6 22.Rhf1+ Kg7 23.Rf3 Rhe8 24.Qd5 Rd7 25.Rdf1 Ree7 26.g4 hxg4 27.hxg4 Qc5 28.Qd3 Qg5+ 29.Rf4 Re5 30.Qd2 Rde7 31.Rh1 Re8 32.Qh2 f5 33.gxf5 Rxe4 34.f6+ Kf7 35.Qh7+ Ke6 36.Qh3+ Ke5

37.Qc3+ Kxf4 0-1. [Click to replay]

Another untitled player who has had an excellent tournament is Bob Eames, and he served up a game which will warm the cockles of every King's Gambiteer's heart. Whatever the objective risks of the opening, there is no doubt that when it works, it really works. The young Icelander, Gudmundur Kjartansson, has shown repeatedly over the past couple of years that he is a very strong player indeed, but he was caught out with his theory yesterday, and the result was brutal:

Eames,R (2276) - Kjartansson,G (2391) [C34]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (8), 04.01.2010
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.d4 d6 5.h4 g4 6.Ng1 Bh6 7.Nc3 c6 8.Nge2 Qf6 9.g3 fxg3 10.Nxg3 Bxc1 11.Rxc1 h5 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nce4 Qe7 14.Bc4 f5

15.0-0 Nh6 16.dxe5 fxe4 17.Nxe4 Nd7 18.e6 Kd8 19.Qd4 Re8 20.exd7 Bxd7 21.Nc5 Kc7 22.Rcd1 Rad8 23.Rfe1 Qf8 24.Rxe8 Qxe8 25.Qd6+ Kc8

26.Ne6 1-0. [Click to replay]

So Tuesday's final round sees the following leading pairings:

  • Hebden (6.5) – Istratescu (6.5)
  • Gormally (6) – Drozdovskij (6)
  • Hracek (6) – Howell (6)
  • Ansell (5.5) – Edouard (6)

Logic would suggest that the players on boards 2-4 need to play for a win, so hopefully some fighting chess should be guaranteed. My message to the players is: come on lads, remember what the Romans used to say – sic itur ad astra!

Round nine: Nunc est bibendum

The 2009-10 Hastings Masters ended in a fourway tie for first place, between Mark Hebden of England, British Champion David Howell, Andrei Istratescu of Roumania, and Romain Edouard of France.

To nobody's great surprise, the two leaders, Hebden and Istratescu, halved out in 11 moves. This left them safely ensconced in the clubhouse on 7 points, from which they could observe the attempts of the various 6-pointers to catch them up. Gormally-Drozdovskij never looked like ending in anything other than a draw, but Romain Edouard defeated Simon Ansell with Black, to join the leaders. Finally, in the last few minutes up to the first time-control, they were joined by David Howell, whose opponent lost the thread in the time-scramble:

Hracek,Z (2624) - Howell,D (2597) [C84]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (9), 05.01.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.a4 b4 9.Nbd2 d6 10.a5 Be6 11.Nc4 Qc8 12.h3 h6 13.Be3 Rb8 14.Nfd2 Nh7 15.Ba4 Nd8 16.f4 exf4 17.Bxf4 f5 18.exf5 Bxf5 19.Qe2 Ne6 20.Be3 Kh8 21.Nb3 Bg6 22.Rxf8+ Nhxf8 23.Nd4 Nxd4 24.Bxd4 Ne6 25.Ba7 Ra8 26.Be3 Bf6 27.Bc6 Nd4 28.Bxd4 Bxd4+ 29.Kh1 Rb8 30.Rf1 Bf6 31.Qe3 Qd8 32.Qa7 b3 33.cxb3 Rxb3 34.Re1 d5 35.Ne5

35...Bxe5 36.Rxe5 Rxd3 37.Qc5 Qf6 38.Rxd5 Qf1+ 39.Qg1 Rxh3+ 40.gxh3 Qxh3+ 41.Qh2 Qf1+ 42.Qg1 Be4+ 43.Kh2 Qe2+ 44.Kh3 Bxd5 45.Bxd5 Qh5+ 46.Kg3 Qxd5 47.Qa7 Qb3+ 48.Kg4 Qc4+ 49.Kg3 Kh7 50.b4 h5 51.b5 Qxb5 52.Qxc7 Qg5+ 53.Kh2 h4 54.Qc4 Qg3+ 55.Kh1 Qf3+ 56.Kh2 h3 57.Qc2+ Kh6 58.Qc1+ Kh5 59.Qc5+ g5 60.Qc2 Qg2+ 0-1. [Click to replay]

Jonathan Hawkins won his last-round game, to secure his third IM norm and the title, on which we offer our heartiest congratulations. Sadly, Bob Eames missed out, after losing a must-win game against Natalia Zdebskaja, whose 3.5/4 finish lifted her to a share of 5-8th places. Martin Mitchell also missed a norm, when he lost to Andrew Martin, as did Elias Demac of Norway, who went down to Andrew Greet. Lower down, young Peter Williams, who has been one of the stars of this past week, capped an excellent performance, by beating the highly experienced Petr Marusenko, after a dramatic struggle.

The £100 Horntye Park best game prize goes to Simon Williams, who produced a stunningly imaginative queen sacrifice, to beat Andrew Green in the final round. In all honesty, I (the judge of the prize) have had no time in which to establish whether it is fully sound, but my reasoning is that if it is, it certainly deserves the prize, and arguably it does so, even if not!

Williams,Si1 (2550) - Green,An (2151) [E76]
85th Masters Hastings ENG (9), 05.01.2010
1.f4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.c4 d6 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nc3 0-0 6.e4 c5 7.d5 e6 8.e5 dxe5 9.fxe5 Ng4 10.Bg5 Qa5 11.Be2 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.0-0 f6 14.Bh6 Rf7 15.Ne4 Bd4+

16.Qxd4?! [Fritz 12 gives this 4.80 in favour of Black, Rybka 3 thinks Black is better by 4.0] 16...cxd4 17.Nxf6+ Kh8 18.Ne8 Rf5 19.g4 exd5? [19...Qd8 or 19...Rxf1 were definitely preferable] 20.gxf5 Bxf5 21.Bf3 dxc4 22.Bxb7 Qb5 23.Nd6 Qb6 24.Rae1 d3+ 25.Kh1 Nd7 26.Bxa8 Nf6 27.Nxf5 gxf5 28.Rxf5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Thus, another Hastings comes to an end, in many ways one of the most enjoyable I ever remember. Many thanks to everyone involved in sponsoring and running the event, and to all the players, for making it such a great 9 days of chess.

And now, as monk-copyists used to write at the end of manuscripts, Nunc scripto totum pro Christo ta mihi potum – now that I have written so much for Christ, give me a drink! In my case, it is Caissa rather than Christ, but the sentiment remains the same! Ultimum vale.

Final top ranking (after nine rounds)

# Player
1 GM Istratescu, Andrei
2 GM Edouard, Romain
3 GM Howell, David W L
4 GM Hebden, Mark L
5 GM Drozdovskij, Yuri
6 GM Gormally, Daniel W
7 IM Breder, Dennis
8 WGM Zdebskaja, Natalia
9 GM Hracek, Zbynek
10 GM Arkell, Keith C
11 IM Greet, Andrew N
12 IM Martin, Andrew D
13 FM Strunski, Andreas
14 FM Hawkins, Jonathan
15 FM Eggleston, David J
16 Snape, Ian L
17 IM Kjartansson, Gudmundur
18 IM Ansell, Simon T
19 IM Bates, Richard A
20 IM Giffard, Nicolas
21 FM Eames, Robert S
22 Grant, Alan G
23 Mitchell, Martin
24 Lock, Gavin R
25 Griffiths, Ryan Rhys
26 Grant, David J
27 Williams, Peter A

Picture Gallery from Hastings

By John Saunders

Zbynek Hracek – try pronouncing that after having a couple of
pints at Hastings' Pig in Paradise pub ... or even before

Zbrynek Hracek versus Bob Eames – White won a pawn but Black put up a gutsy defence to hold the draw

Natalia Zdebskaja is a 23-year-old WGM from Ukraine. She is married to the tournament top seed, Yuri Drozdovskij. They got married in July 2009. Natalia was a member of the silver-medal winning Ukraine women's team at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad.

French GM Romain Edouard wearing a very shiny shirt for his Hastings debut

Nicolai Getz made a name for himself (and a couple of thousand pounds) in Gibraltar last year when beating the (literally) underrated Russian IM Oleg Kozlov in the Challengers competition

Andreas Stripunski of Germany ... not to be confused with GM Alexander Stripunsky of USA.

Jude Lenier, 14, is one of England's best young players at the moment

Young French player Hugo Devoille gets close and personal with his pieces. But they didn't respond favourably, I'm afraid. Hugo was not a Victor.

Tarun Malhotra is the 2009 British Under-11 Champion and is a member of Richmond Junior Chess Club. He beat a very experienced 2000+ rated player in the recent London Festival Open at Olympia.

Ten-year-old Aryan Tari from Norway could be hot on the heels of another prodigy from his country. He is already rated 1932 and could soon be A Tari 2000 (Atari 2000 – geddit? Oh, please yourselves)...

”Beam me up, Scottie!“ It's unclear if Ezra Kirk is a relative of Star Trek's Captain Kirk.
Given that he is French, he is more likely to be related to Captain Picard...

Amy Hoare, from Sussex, is only 13 but did well to draw with...

James Jackson (2067) an opponent rated 270 points higher than Amy.


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