Hastings: Howell caught by Edouard, Shyam and Prasanna

1/3/2011 – Round 5 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters saw a thoroughly bloodthirsty day's play, including an absolute thriller in which David Howell won his fifth game in succession. In the sixth round, however, the young Brit played a feeble Benoni and lost to rating top seed Romain Edouard. Both players now share the top of the score table with two Indian IMs. Report by Steve Giddins.

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Media frenzy, or who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 6

2010 was been an interesting year for your correspondent, not least on the technology front. Never having been of a technical bent of mind, I should by rights be suffering more than most in this technologically-enhanced world. Being only weeks away from the nightmare of my 50th birthday, I have recently even taken to dressing in waistcoats, on the grounds that since I am officially about to become an old codger, I may as well start dressing like one. But I am afraid it is really all a bit of a sham, because as far as technology goes, the past twelve months have seen me advance by a century or two, and beneath the crusty Victor Meldrew exterior there now hides something of a techological whizzkid. The pocket of my waistcoat, for example, conceals not a Hunter pocket watch, complete with gold chain, but instead a Blackberry, that mobile phone and e-mail device, without which no modern-day man is complete.

The problem is that, earlier this year, I became editor of The British Chess Magazine, which necessitated the rather rapid acquisition of some computer skills. The first problem was to learn the mysteries of typesetting and desktop publishing, which are essential to the production of the magazine. Then, at the British Championships in August, Tom Rendle expressed his shock that I was not on Facebook, and asked how I could edit a chess magazine without a Facebook account. I was not quite sure of the connection, I must admit, but trusting in authority as I do, I went straight home and set up a Facebook account anyway Tom was right, of course – 90% of the chess world's gossip now circulates via Facebook, so having an account there is fairly useful. Then I decided that I needed a BCM blog, and duly set one up. That proved to be very useful, as within a couple of weeks, it had served to secure me an interview with none other than Anatoly Karpov! You can find that, and other bloggings, here.

The latest technological advance came yesterday. Here at Hastings, our tournament has seen a massive increase in technology in recent years, thanks to our two IT experts, Dave Clayton and Jonathan Tuck This year, we are broadcasting 20 games live every day, and we also have a live webcam in the tournament hall. Dave also harbours ambitions to broadcast via webcam Chris Ward's excellent live game commentaries. Thus far, he has been thwarted by the inadequacy of the available wireless network in the commentary room, but Dave is a determined chap, and is still working on it, so watch this space! The official website carries the usual results, games and these reports, but we have also this year added an online game replay facility, which allows you to play through on screen any of the games from the Masters section. Finally, with effect from yesterday, I started broadcasting updates throughout the afternoon on Twitter! You can find the new BCM Twitter account and each afternoon, I will be tweeting away like a Trojan (yes, mixed metaphor, I know...).


British GM David Howell

Yesterday's Round 5 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters certainly contained plenty about which to tweet, and saw a thoroughly bloodthirsty day's play. Black had an especially good day, winning four of the top five games. The board one encounter between Rendle and Howell was an absolute thriller. Rendle obtained a dangerous-looking attack, and although the ever-sceptical computer claims that Black was doing well for most of it, the position looked anything but that clear during the game. Rendle admitted afterwards that he was probably a bit too optimistic about his chances, but he deserves every credit for an imaginative attempt to topple the tournament leader. The climax came in a fierce mutual time-scramble, in the course of which White had a remarkable, fleeting draw chance:

Rendle,Thomas (2391) - Howell,David (2616) [B13]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (5.1), 01.01.2011
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 Qc8 8.Nd2 e6 9.Ngf3 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Ne5 Nxe5 [11...Bh5 is more usual] 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.Qc2 g6 14.h3 Bf5 15.Bxf5 gxf5 16.Nf3 Kh8 17.Ng5. A slower build-up with 17.Rad1 may be stronger, as it allows less counterplay. 17...Qc4 18.Qd2 Nc5 19.Rad1 Rac8 20.b3 Qa6 21.c4. Commencing a very interesting and dangerous-looking idea, although the computer is not convinced. 21...dxc4 22.Qe2. The point. The white queen joins the attack on the kingside. 22...Bxg5 23.Bxg5 Ne4 24.Qh5 Rg8 25.Bh4 Rg6 26.f3 Qxa2. Objectively, it seems that Blck is winning, but both players were short of time by now, and the position is still very complicated. 27.g4 Nc3 28.Rf2 Qxb3 29.Rd7 Rf8 30.Be7 Qb5 31.Rfd2 fxg4 32.Bxf8 gxf3+? This actually allows an amazing draw, but one can hardly expect the players to see the variations involved. Instead, 32...Qb6+ 33.Kh2 Ne2! is winning, e.g. 34.Rxe2 gxf3 etc. 33.Kh2 Qb6

34.R7d4? Here, the computer points out the incredible drawing line, starting 34.Bg7+!! Now both captures fail to win: The correct move, which Howell had intended, is 34...Kg8 when White has the remarkable follow-up (34...Kxg7 35.Rxf7+ Kxf7 36.Qxh7+ is perpetual; whilst 34...Rxg7? actually loses after 35.Rd8+ Rg8 36.Rxg8+ Kxg8 37.Qg5+) 35.Qxg6! hxg6 36.Bf6 threatening mate. Howell had even seen this, and thought he could escape the perpetual with 36...g5 but it turns out that he cannot, since after 37.Rd8+ Kh7 38.Rh8+ Kg6 39.Rg8+ Kf5 40.Rxg5+ Kf4 41.Rg4+ he has to acquiesce in the draw, in view of 41...Ke3?? 42.Bg5#. 34...Ne2 Now Black is winning once again. 35.Qxf3 Nxd4 36.Qe3 Nf3+ 0-1.

A little lower down, Indonesian lady player Gerhana Chkartina continued her excellent tournament, by beating Bob Eames with the black pieces. Despite being rated only 2014, Chkartina now has 3.5 points. The end of her victory over Bob was a little strange, however, and certainly a lesson in the value of knowing one's classics. After blowing a winning ending earlier in the game, Chkartina reached the following position:

Eames,Robert (2287) - Chkartina,Gerhana (2014) [B09]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (5.18), 01.01.2011
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Bd3 Na6 7.0-0 c5 8.d5 Nc7 9.Qe1 e6 10.dxe6 Bxe6 11.f5 Bd7 12.Qh4 Nh5 13.Bg5 Bf6 14.fxg6 fxg6 15.g4 Nf4 16.Kh1 Nxd3 17.cxd3 Ne6 18.Bxf6 Qxf6 19.g5 Qf4 20.Nd5 Qxh4 21.Nxh4 Kg7 22.Nf3 Nf4 23.Nf6 Bh3 24.Rf2 h6 25.e5 Nxd3 26.gxh6+ Kxh6 27.Rd2 Nxe5 28.Nxe5 dxe5 29.Ne4 b6 30.Nf2 Bf5 31.Re1 Rfe8 32.Kg2 Re7 33.Kg3 Rae8 34.Nd1 c4 35.Ne3 Bd3 36.Rf2 Kg7 37.Ng4 e4 38.Re3 Rf7 39.Rxf7+ Kxf7 40.Kf4 Ke6 41.Kg5 Rf8 42.h4 b5 43.a3 a5 44.Re1 b4 45.axb4 axb4 46.Ne3 c3 47.bxc3 b3 48.Nd1 Kd5 49.Kxg6 Kc4 50.h5 Rb8 51.Kg7 Bc2 52.Nf2 Rb7+ 53.Kg8 e3 54.Rxe3 b2 55.Ne4 Rd7 56.Re1 b1Q 57.Rxb1 Bxb1 58.Nf6 Ra7 59.h6 Kxc3 60.h7 Bxh7+ 61.Nxh7

Kd4 62.Nf6 Ke5 63.Ng4+ Ke6 64.Ne3 Rf7 65.Nd5 Rd7 66.Nf4+ Kf6 67.Nh5+ Kg5 68.Ng3 Re7 0-1

This material balance is known generally to be a draw, providing the king and knight stay close together. The classic textbook example is the old game Neumann-Steinitz, Baden-Baden, 1870, in which White lost through allowing his K+N to be separated. I confidently predicted to Jack Rudd that the present game would be a draw, since I believed that every strong player was aware of this old, oft-quoted example, but it soon became clear that this was not the case. Play continued 61...Kd4 62 Nf6 Ke5 63 Ng4+?? Committing the same error as Neumann. Now the position is lost. Instead 63. Nh7 draws. 63...Ke6 64 Ne3. Continuing the same mistaken strategy of separating K+N. In fact, 64 Nh6 does not help now, since after 64...Kf6 the knight still has to go away again, but it is another sign that White is on the wrong track altogether. 64...Rf7 65 Nd5 Rd7 66 Nf4+ Kf6 67 Nh5+ Kg5?? A terrible mistake, allowing the knight back to the safety zone. Instead, Black wins by 67...Kg6, e.g. 68 Nf4+ Kg5 69 Ne6+ Kf6 70 Nf4 Rd4 71 Nh5+ Kg6 and the knight will be cut off in no-man's land and rounded up. 68 Ng3?? Another losing blunder in return. 68 Ng7 draws. 68...Re7 0–1 The knight is irretrievably cut off, and will be lost. A surprisingly lacuna in endgame knowledge for such a strong player as Eames, and possibly another candidate for the "tragi-comedies" section of the next edition of Mark Dvoretsky's Endame Manual.


Brits Blown Away

FM Steve Giddins reports on round 6

The sixth round of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters was not a great day for the Brits. The top four boards saw four British players facing four foreign players, but despite having White in three of the games, the net British takings were just half a point. Even that came in rather controversial and disappointing fashion, as Gormally-Istratescu ended in a repetition after just eight (!) moves. On top board, David Howell's impressive run of wins came to an end, as he lost rather a feeble game against rating top seed Edouard. Howell departed from his usual 1.e4 in favour of the d-pawn, but seemed unfamiliar with the resulting Benoni position. A queenside pawn push only resulted in weaknesses and the loss of the initiative, and in time-trouble, the Black passed c-pawn was suddenly queening.

Howell,David (2616) - Edouard,Romain (2620) [A62]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (6.1), 02.01.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Bg2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.a4 b6 11.h3 Qe7 12.Re1 Ne4 13.Nxe4 Qxe4 14.Bf4 Qe7 15.e4 Ne5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.Qd2 Re8 18.Ra3 Bd7

19.b4?! This leads to a weakening of the kingside structure. 19...Bxf4 20.gxf4 Qf6 21.Rb1 cxb4 22.Rxb4 Rac8. Black already has a firm initiative, and with time-trouble already approaching, David collapses rather quickly. 23.a5 b5 24.a6 Rc4 25.Rxc4 bxc4 26.Kh2 Bb5 27.Ra5? c3 28.Qe3 c2

29.Rxb5? Qa1 0-1.


GM Mark Hebden

Hebden,Mark (2556) - Shyam,Sundar M (2414) [D00]
Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (6.3), 02.01.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 Ne4 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Ne5 0-0 8.0-0-0 Qd5 9.b3 Nc6 10.Nxc6 Qxc6 11.e3 Bg4 12.Be2 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 b5 14.f3 f5 15.Bg5 a5 16.Bxe7 Rfe8 17.Bc5 exf3 18.gxf3 Bh6 19.Rd3

Mark's favourite "Barry System" had not yielded a very impressive position, and now the Indian IM struck with the combination 19...Rxe3! 20.Rxe3 Re8 and White is already pretty much busted. Hebden tried 21.Re1 Rxe3 22.Qxe3 Bxe3+ 23.Rxe3 but could not hold the ending. 23...g5 24.Kb2 h5 25.h3 f4 26.Re5 Qxf3 27.Rxg5+ Kf7 28.h4 b4 29.Rf5+ Kg6 30.Rg5+ Kf6 31.Ba7 Qc3+ 32.Kb1 Qe1+ 33.Kb2 Qxh4 34.Rxa5 f3 35.Ra6+ Kf7 36.Bc5 f2 37.Ra8 Qh3 0-1.

To complete the British disaster, Richard Bates lost the exchange against the young Indian player Prasanna and was ground down. This leaves the 16-year-old Indian talent in joint first on 5/6. Kotronias won his third straight game to move within half a point of the leaders, whilst on board 6, young Ryan Rhys Griffiths held Neverov to a solid draw. Thomas Rendle provided some British cheer, by ending the fine run of the Indonesian lady, Chkartina.


16-year-old Indian talent IM Rao Prasanna now in joint first on 5/6

There were few publishable games at the top, and overall, yesterday's round was more characterised by blunders than brilliancies. There were certainly one or two corking examples of the former, so I will cheer you up with a bit of Monday morning schadenfreude. I will spare the players' blushes by withholding names, although my nasty streak compels to point out that you can always identifying the culprits, by searching for the positions amongst the complete round six PGN file, which is available on the official website!


11...g6?? 12.Qxf6 and 1-0.


9...b5?? 10 Bd5 Nxd5 11 Qxd5 1-0.


18 Bh3?? Bxf2+! 19 Kxf2 Nb6 0-1.


17...Raf5?? 18 g4 d5 19 Qxf5 1-0.

After two-thirds of the tournament, four players share the lead on 5/6: Edouard, Prasanna, Shyam and Howell. Thy are followed at half a point's distance by Istratescu, Rendle, Kotronias and Gormally. Amongst the 4-point group, mention should be made of Adam Ashton, Jovica Radovanovic and, especially, Gunnar Berg Hanssen of Norway, who is rated just 2218.

Ranking after six rounds

# Player Pts Nat Rtng Perf TB
1 GM EDOUARD, Romain 5.0 FRA 2636 2659 +0.24
2 GM HOWELL, David W L 5.0 ENG 2611 2717 +0.76
3 IM SHYAM, Sundar M 5.0 IND 2439 2633 +1.39
4 IM PRASANNA, Rao 5.0 IND 2400 2690 +2.15
5 GM ISTRATESCU, Andrei 4.5 ROU 2616 2595 -0.12
6 GM KOTRONIAS, Vasilios 4.5 GRE 2591 2494 -0.53
7 GM GORMALLY, Daniel W 4.5 ENG 2470 2536 +0.52
8 IM RENDLE, Thomas E 4.5 ENG 2400 2544 +1.22
9 GM HEBDEN, Mark L 4.0 ENG 2560 2408 -0.89
10 GM SENGUPTA, Deep 4.0 IND 2558 2407 -0.94
11 GM NEVEROV, Valeriy 4.0 UKR 2522 2481 -0.24
12 IM DAS Arghyadip 4.0 IND 2476 2344 -0.81
13 ANWESH, Upadhyaya 4.0 IND 2426 2366 -0.33
14 IM WOHL, Aleksandar H 4.0 AUS 2424 2509 +0.71
15 IM BATES, Richard A 4.0 ENG 2370 2512 +1.14
16 IM BELLIN, Robert 4.0 ENG 2367 2378 +0.20
17 FM ASHTON, Adam G 4.0 ENG 2330 2377 +0.43
18 FM EGGLESTON, David J 4.0 ENG 2307 2533 +1.79
19 FM RADOVANOVIC, Jovica 4.0 SRB 2276 2336 +0.43
20 GRIFFITHS, Ryan Rhys 4.0 IRL 2267 2385 +0.72
21 HANSSEN, Gunnar Berg 4.0 NOR 2218 2390 +1.17
22 SERGIENKO, Vladislav 4.0 UKR 2133 2369 +1.84

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