7th Howard Staunton Memorial (9)
Staunton sensation: dinner cancelled!
FM Steve Giddins - Monday 17th August 2009
Huge win for England in the penultimate round.
Staunton sensation: dinner cancelled!
|Round 9 (August 16, 2009) UK 4 Netherlands 1|
|Short, Nigel D||- L'Ami, Erwin||1-0||41||B11||Caro Kann Two Knights|
|Jones, Gawain C B||- Smeets, Jan||1-0||30||C45||Scotch Game|
|Adams, Michael||- Sokolov, Ivan||½-½||59||C63||Ruy Lopez Schliemann|
|Howell, David W L||- Van Wely, Loek||1-0||34||B22||Sicilian Alapin|
|McShane, Luke J||- Werle, Jan||½-½||38||C54||Giuoco Piano|
Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring - I'm only joking! The closing dinner hasn't really been cancelled. But let's be honest, now - that is not a headline you ever thought you'd read, is it? For reasons which are quite beyond my comprehension, we at the Staunton do seem to have a certain reputation on the gourmandising front, and not solely amongst the termite community, either. Actually, "headlines you never thought you'd read" is a topic that sounds like the sort of thing you would encounter on the cult radio programme, I'm sorry, I haven't a clue. For the benefit of any foreign readers, and others who may not have come across this staple of British culture, "Clue" is a cult BBC radio programme, in which a panel of comedians is given various silly things to do, such as singing the lyrics of one song, to the tune of another. Word plays are another favourite, and the panel are frequently asked to invent new definitions of existing words, such as "asbestos - a Greek anti-social behaviour order", or "scar tissue - a problem connecting your DVD player". Inventing unlikely newspaper headlines is another example of the sort of silliness that "Clue" often features. "Daily Mail to sponsor Turner Prize", might be a candidate. "Premiership soccer star- 'I'm not worth that kind of money'" is another. Closer to home, on the chess front, I doubt that we will ever see a headline that reads "Topa's Toiletgate tears - 'My Elista shame'", whilst "FIDE championship rules not changed" seems even less likely.
Those of us who have followed the Staunton Memorial in recent years, and witnessed the rather one-sided victories achieved by our Dutch visitors in the team event, may be forgiven for thinking that we would never see a headline that reads "Chess challenge triumph - Brits on the brink". However, after yesterday's ninth and penultimate round of the 2009 event, that is just the headline that might be gracing today's back pages of the nation's tabloids, were chess to occupy its rightful place at the head of the country's sporting interests. The England team scored three wins and two draws, to take an imposing three-point lead in the match, heading into Monday's final round. The first to register the full point was Gawain Jones, who against Jan Smeets demonstrated a nice example of "move-ordering" the opponent in the opening. The game begun 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3!? As we have seen earlier in the tournament, Smeets is a considerable expert on the Petroff, and would have answered 2.Nf3 with 2...Nf6. Now, however, he has a small problem. 3...Nf6 would return to the Petroff, but to a position usually reached after 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4, whereas all top players, Smeets included, tend to prefer 3...Nxe4 in this line. Perhaps the most critical alternative is 3...Bb4+, but Smeets instead chose the simple 3...Nc6, transposing into a normal Scotch Game, the opening Jones was aiming for. All in all, it was a bad day for Smeets, as he soon missed what appears to be an extremely powerful tactical shot:
GM Jones,G 2554 - GM Smeets,J 2632
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.g3 g6 9.c4 Ba6 10.b3 Bg7 11.Bb2 0-0 12.Nd2 d6 13.Qe4?
Jones has mixed up his theory and now the computer points out the blow 13...Bxe5!, with a large advantage for Black, eg. 14.cxd5 (14.Bxe5 f5 wins) cxd5 15.Qe3 Bxb2 16.Qxe7 Rae8, etc. Instead, Smeets continued
13...Nb4?14.a3 d5 15.cxd5 Bxf1 16.Kxf1 Nxd5 17.Kg2 f6 18.exf6 Bxf6 19.Qxe7 Bxe7
when White's superior structure should give him a clear edge. Jones failed to make much of this, and the game was heading for a draw, when Smeets suddenly had a blackout
20.Rhe1 Rfd8 21.Nc4 a5 22.Rad1 Bf8 23.Kg1 a4 24.b4 c5 25.bxc5 Bxc5 26.Re5 c6 27.Re6 Nb6 28.Rc1 Nxc4 29.Rxc4
29...Bxf2+?? 30.Kxf2 1-0
Of course, 30...Rd2+ is met by 31.Re2.
Shortly after this game ended, a smiling Nigel Short emerged from the playing room. And he had plenty of reason to smile, as he has been in wonderful form at this year's event, and had just raised his personal score to a remarkable 7/9. I am not a lover of ratings and similar modern damnations (as the late David Bronstein commented bitterly, "I am more than just a number!"), but I am told that yesterday's win will raise Nigel over the elite 2700 FIDE rating barrier.
GM Short,N 2684 - GM L'Ami,E 2593
In his two previous black encounters with Nigel, Erwin L'Ami has played 1...e5 but been heavily defeated both times, including a fearful thrashing back in January at the Corus tournament. It was therefore not so hard to predict that he would switch to the Caro-Kann this time.
2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 Nf6 6.Be2
Plans with d3 and g3 are more common.
6...d4 would be an attempt to keep things closed, but I suspect Nigel intended 7.e5.
7.Nxe4 Nxe4 8.Qxe4 Qd5 9.Qg4 Nd7 10.0-0 Nf6 11.Qa4 Qe4 12.Qxe4 Nxe4 13.Re1
This may look pretty harmless for Black, but in reality, he has not equalized. White has the bishop pair and better development, and the latter will secure him a space advantage.
13...g6 14.d4 Bg7 15.Bf3 Nf6 16.c4 Rd8 17.Be3 0-0 18.Rad1 e6 19.g4!
The classic strategy in such positions, gaining space on the kingside.
19...h6 20.h4 Rfe8 21.Kg2 Nd7
This allows a central breakthrough, but in the long run, this is hard to prevent anyway.
The opening of the centre will unleash the power of White's bishops, with the two black pawns on the queenside being under especially strong fire.
22...Ne5 23.dxc6 Nxf3 24.Kxf3 bxc6 25.b3
L'Ami has managed to eliminate one of the bishops, but now he has serious problems with his a-pawn, and once it moves, there will be a threat of Bb6, driving his rook from the open d-file. Black's position is extremely difficult.
25...a5 26.g5 hxg5 27.hxg5
Now Black must also consider possible penetration down the h-file, should his king stray too far towards the centre.
27...Ra8 28.Rd7 Bf8 29.Red1 a4 30.Rc7 axb3 31.axb3 Rec8 32.Rdd7 Rxc7 33.Rxc7 Rb8 34.Rxc6 Rxb3 35.Rc8
Now the passed c-pawn decides the issue.
35...f5 36.gxf6 Kf7 37.Ke4 Rb7 38.Bd4 g5 39.c5 Rb1 40.c6 Rc1 41.Be3 1-0
One of those games where the loser can legitimately ask "Where did I go wrong?". Nigel's response afterwards was to point out that in the Nimzoindian, White frequently expends tempi playing Qc2 and a3, in order to secure the bishop pair, and frequently stands slightly better as a result. Here, he has acquired the bishops at a cheaper cost in terms of tempi. "Bishops are better than knights! Why should White not be better in this line?"
This already made it a pretty good day for England, but more was to come. David Howell and Loek van Wely had a rather strange-looking position, which arose from a theoretical line of the 2.c3 Sicilian. However, obscure though it was, the position was also probably just better for White, and van Wely was unable to hold things together.
GM Howell,D 2614 - GM Van Wely,L 2655 [B22]
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bc4 Nb6 6.Bb3 c4 7.Bc2 Qc7 8.Qe2 g5 9.h3 Bg7 10.0-0 Nxe5 11.Nxg5 h6 12.Nf3 d5 13.a4 0-0 14.Re1 Nbd7 15.Na3 a6 16.b3 Rd8 17.Rb1 Nxf3+ 18.Qxf3 Ne5 19.Qg3 Qd6 20.bxc4 dxc4 21.Re3
Loek van Wely
21...Be6 22.Rxb7 Bd5 23.Rb4 Rac8 24.Qh4 Rc6 25.Rg3 Kf8 26.Qh5 Qc7 27.Bh7 Rf6 28.Nc2 Ba8 29.Ne3 Qc5 30.Qh4
(30.Rxc4! Nf3+ 31.Qxf3 wins more quickly, but Howell's move is good enough.)
30...Bc6 31.Ba3 a5?
Loek van Wely
32.Rb8 Qxa3 33.Rxd8+ Be8 34.Nf5 1-0
The day's other two games, Adams-Sokolov and McShane-Werle both ended in draws, thus giving England a thumping 4-1 win on the day. In the all-play-all group, Timman beat Trent with Black, thus taking a half point lead over Cherniaev, who halved out with Wells. Hendricks beat Chapman, and Korchnoi played another 76 moves, to grind down Simon Williams.
The last word goes to our sponsor, Jan Mol. He came into the bar late in the afternoon, with his Dutch boys already 3-0 down. "It's a complete disaster!", he declared. "Cancel the dinner tomorrow night! I'm a baaaaad loser!".
And then he grinned. So he was obviously joking. At least, I think he was joking...
|7th Staunton Memorial Scheveningen London (ENG), 8-17 viii 2009
Round 9 Standings
|3||Howell,David W L||2614|||||||||||4.5/9|
|5||Jones,Gawain C B||2554|||||||||||||||||3.5/9|
|7th Staunton Memorial GM London (ENG), 8-17 viii 2009||cat. IX (2463)|
|1.||Timman, Jan H||g||NED||2569||*||½||0||.||½||1||1||1||1||1||6||2638|
|4.||Davies, Nigel R||g||ENG||2493||.||½||½||*||0||½||½||1||1||1||5||2540|
|5.||Wells, Peter K||g||ENG||2498||½||½||.||1||*||0||0||½||½||1||4||2445|
|6.||Williams, Simon K||g||ENG||2527||0||0||0||½||1||*||½||1||.||1||4||2453|
|10.||Chapman, Terry P D||ENG||2232||0||.||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||*||1||2173|
|Round 8 (August 16, 2009)|
|Cherniaev, Alexander||- Wells, Peter K||½-½||10||B22||Sicilian Alapin|
|Korchnoi, Viktor||- Williams, Simon K||1-0||76||E81||King's Indian Saemisch|
|Davies, Nigel R||- Wiersma, Eelke||½-½||20||B20||Sicilian Wing Gambit|
|Hendriks, Willy||- Chapman, Terry P D||1-0||24||B07||Pirc Defence|
|Trent, Lawrence||- Timman, Jan H||0-1||72||C17||French Winawer|
Report by Steve Giddins. Official site: http://howardstaunton.com/hsmt2009/Home.html