7th Howard Staunton Memorial (6)
Slugging it out at Simpsons
FM Steve Giddins - Friday 14th August 2009
Round Six proved to be a classic, with no fewer than four decisive games. The only exception was van Wely-Adams, which saw a draw in 22 moves. Jan Smeets then put the Dutch ahead, with a convincing win over David Howell.
Slugging it out at Simpsons
|Round 6 (August 13, 2009) Netherlands 2.5 UK 2.5|
|Smeets, Jan||- Howell, David W L||1-0||31||C99||Ruy Lopez Chigorin|
|Sokolov, Ivan||- McShane, Luke J||1-0||37||E70||King's Indian Fianchetto|
|Van Wely, Loek||- Adams, Michael||½-½||22||E15||Queens Indian|
|L'Ami, Erwin||- Jones, Gawain C B||0-1||88||E94||King's Indian Classical|
|Werle, Jan||- Short, Nigel D||0-1||49||D63||Queens Gambit Main Line with 7.Rc1|
I mentioned yesterday that several world-class boxers have expressed an interest in chess. Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis is well-known as a chess fan, as are the two Ukrainian heavyweights, the Klitschko brothers. There is now even a new sport called chess-boxing, in which two fighters alternate a few rounds of boxing with a game of chess - not exactly a combination which leaps naturally to mind, but it does seem to be growing in popularity. Despite having for many years been keen on both boxing and chess (the former strictly as a spectator!), I remain to be convinced of the merits of combining them. After all, I am very keen on good red wine and on Belgian beer, but I wouldn't want to mix them in the same glass. However, we all enjoy a good slugfest, both literal and metaphorical, and the 2009 Staunton Memorial is certainly turning into that. There has been great fighting chess throughout, and over the past couple of days in particular, the English and Dutch teams have begun to resemble a couple of heavyweight sluggers, of the Billy Walker and Jack Bodell variety, standing toe to toe in the centre of the ring, trading punches mercilessly, with nobody being prepared to take a step back. And at the end of it all, they remain inseparable on the judge's scorecard.
Thursday's Round Six proved to be a classic, with no fewer than four decisive games. The only exception was van Wely-Adams, which saw a draw in 22 moves. Jan Smeets then put the Dutch ahead, with a convincing win over David Howell.
Howell's main line Chigorin Lopez had produced a typical position, in which Black is a little cramped and passive, with the awkward knight on b7, but remains quite solid. This would remain the case after 24...Nd8, but instead Howell sought activity with
24...Qc3!? 25.Qa7 Qxb3?
This is a fatal mistake. After 25...Qxd3 26.Qxb7 Nf6 it is still not clear if White has anything immediately decisive.
26.Qxb7 Nf6 27.Bf1
Now the threat of 28.Bg5 leaves Black with no time to defend his queenside. Smeets won after:
27...Qc2 28.Qxa6 Nxe4 29.Qa8+ Bc8 30.Bd3 Qxf2+ 31.Kh1 1-0
The Dutch then landed what looked like a potential knockout punch in the match, when Ivan Sokolov emerged victorious from a seesaw time scramble against McShane:
Black had been doing well from the opening, and Sokolov had already had to show some accurate play to hold his position together, with its weak pawns on c4 and e4. Now, however, with both players short of time, particularly McShane, who had barely a minute or two to reach move 40, things became fairly random.
29...Rc8 30.Bg4? e6
Now 31...h5 is a threat, whilst moving the knight just drops the e4 pawn.
Now White turns the tables. Instead, both 31...h5 ; and 31...Ba4 would leave Black on top.
Immediately putting his finger on the problem: Black's bishop is short of safe squares.
He had to try 32...Bxd5 33.exd5 Qa3
Good, but 33.Qf1! was even better.
Again, 34.Qf1 was winning.
Losing simply, but 34...Bc2 35.Rxa1 Rxa1 36.Bd4+ is also winning for White.
35.Rxd6 Kf8? 36.Nb6 Qc7 37.Bxc5 1-0
Suddenly, the Dutch had a two-point lead. However, Nigel Short has been England's big puncher in this match, and in his bout with Jan Werle, the luckless Dutchman had been trapped on the ropes since a very early stage, and was taking fearful punishment:
GM Werle,J 2575 - GM Short,N 2684
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Be7 7.e3 0-0 8.Rc1 Re8
An unusual line, which Short said he had could not remember playing for 18 years! However, it has been played a number of times by Turkish GM, Suat Atalik, who is a great friend of Nigel's - indeed, the latter was even Best Man at Atalik's wedding!
9.a3 a6 10.c5 Ne4 11.Bxe7 Qxe7 12.Be2 Nxc3 13.Rxc3 c6 14.0-0 e5
It seems that Werle was not especially familiar with Black's chosen line, and against his treatment, Short already has a very comfortable game.
15.b4 e4 16.Nd2 Nf8 17.Qc2 Bf5 18.Rb1 Qg5 19.Qd1 Re6
Round about this point, Short confessed to me that he was feeling rather hung over, and consequently, incapable of thinking too deeply. His strategy was therefore "to put some bits in front of his king, and hope that a mate turns up!".
20.a4 Bh3 21.g3 Qf5 22.Bf1 Bg4 23.Qe1 h5 24.Rcb3 h4 25.Be2
Continuing passive defence on the kingside, rather than pressing on with his counterplay on the other wing. 25.b5 is clearly the programmed move, but it is far from clear that it brings White anything concrete, and Werle may have been concerned that the black rook could penetrate on the a-file. All in all, White's position is already very difficult.
25...Rf6 26.Bxg4 Qxg4 27.Qd1 Qf5 28.Qe2 Nh7
A very radical decision, which in the end results in a fatal weakening of the white king position. However, sitting passively whilst Black brings up further reserves is also extremely unpleasant, and it is a common phenomenon for the defender to lash out in such situations.
29...Qe6 30.Kh1 Ng5 31.Rg1 Rf8 32.Rbb1 Nf3 33.Nxf3 Rxf3
Now there is no stopping f7-f5, opening the f-file.
34.Rg2 f5 35.gxf5 Qxf5 36.Rf1 h3
White has been covering up desperately, but he cannot prevent a punch getting through. Now the f2-pawn drops and the resulting rook ending is hopeless.
37.Rg3 Rxf2 38.Rxf2 Qxf2 39.Qxf2 Rxf2 40.Rxh3 Rb2 41.b5 axb5 42.axb5 cxb5 43.Rh5 b4 44.Rxd5 b3
Or 45.Rd7 Rc2 46.Rxb7 b2 and the pawn queens.
45...bxc6 46.Rd8+ Kh7 47.Rb8 Kg6 48.Rb7 Kh5 49.Kg1
49.Rxg7 Rc2 50.Rb7 b2 is the same as the previous note.
This left L'Ami and Jones fighting out the last game of the day. This had been a long manoeuvering struggle, in which L'Ami had rejected a draw at move 31, although objectively the position was fairly balanced. The Dutchman showed admirable determination, but occasionally such qualities are ill-rewarded, and the player over-presses. Such was the case here. Like George Foreman, in his famous "Rumble in the Jungle" with Muhammed Ali in 1976, L'Ami punched himself out and suddenly found himself facing defeat:
66.Kc3 Rc1+ 67.Bc2 Rxc2+ 68.Kxc2 Rxc4+ 69.Kb3 Rd4 70.a5 Nxd5 71.R3e2 c4+ 72.Ka4?
The king has to come back.
72...c3+ 73.Kb5 e3
Suddenly there is no stopping the black pawns.
74.f5 Rd2 75.Rg2 c2 76.Rc1 e2 77.Rgg1 Rd1
A most picturesque posution. There is no defence to the threat of Rxg1, followed by Nc3-d1, when the c-pawn queens.
78.a6 Rxg1 79.Rxg1 Nc3+ 80.Kb6 Bg8!
The last accurate move. From d5, the bishops stops the white a-pawn and prevents Ng2.
81.a7 Bd5 82.f6 Nd1 83.Nf5+ Kg5 84.f7 c1Q 85.f8Q Qc6+ 86.Ka5 Qc5+ 87.Ka6 Qc6+ 88.Ka5 Qc7+ 0-1
It is mate in three.
Thus, a dramatic day's play ended with a 2.5-2.5 tie, whilst the match score remains tied at 15:15.
In the all-play-all group, there were wins for Cherniaev and Davies, and also for tournament sponsor Terry Chapman, who opened his account by beating Lawrence Trent. Timman still tops the table, but his lead over Cherniaev is now down to half a point. The amazing Victor Korchnoi increased his move average yet again, by playing another 66 moves, in drawing with Wiersma.
So, that is all for now, until 2.30 tomorrow afternoon, when Arbiter David Sedgwick will declare "Seconds out, round seven!".
|7th Staunton Memorial Scheveningen London (ENG), 8-17 viii 2009
Round 6 Standings
|4||Howell,David W L||2614||||||||||||||2.5/6|
|5||Jones,Gawain C B||2554|||||||||||||||||1.5/6|
|7th Staunton Memorial GM London (ENG), 8-17 viii 2009||cat. IX (2463)|
|1.||Timman, Jan H||g||NED||2569||*||½||.||½||1||1||.||1||.||1||5||2695|
|3.||Davies, Nigel R||g||ENG||2493||.||½||*||0||.||½||½||1||1||.||3½||2545|
|4.||Wells, Peter K||g||ENG||2498||½||.||1||*||0||.||.||½||½||1||3½||2492|
|6.||Williams, Simon K||g||ENG||2527||0||0||½||.||½||*||.||1||.||1||3||2428|
|10.||Chapman, Terry P D||ENG||2232||0||.||.||0||0||0||0||.||1||*||1||2231|
|Round 6 (August 13, 2009)|
|Cherniaev, Alexander||- Williams, Simon K||1-0||44||C01||French Exchange|
|Davies, Nigel R||- Hendriks, Willy||1-0||34||B25||Sicilian Closed|
|Wells, Peter K||- Timman, Jan H||½-½||16||E34||Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2|
|Korchnoi, Viktor||- Wiersma, Eelke||½-½||66||A81||Dutch Leningrad|
|Trent, Lawrence||- Chapman, Terry P D||0-1||48||B07||Pirc Defence|
Report by Steve Giddins. Official site: http://howardstaunton.com/hsmt2009/Home.html