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Hastings 2009-10 (2)

Hastings Round 2 Report

Steve Giddins reports on day 2 from Hastings.

Non Carborundum

Chessplayers tend to be like the fans of other sports, in that they mainly like to see spectacular play, regardless of correctness. Soccer fans are always delighted to see a 4-4 thriller between two top Premiership teams, rather than a dry and correct 0-0 draw, regardless of Alan Hansen's apoplexy over the defensive errors in the former. Most cricket fans would rather watch Kevin Pietersen smash a quickfire 30 and then hole out in the deep, than watch a finely-crafted, technically flawless century by Boycott, just as snooker supporters tend to prefer the sub-four minute centuries of Ronnie O'Sullivan to the 40-minute safety battles of Cliff Thorburn. Chess is no exception, and it is gambit play and sacrificial attacks, which tend to catch the eye, rather than long endgame grinds. But the hard reality of the professional game is that spectacular attacks and sacrifices are very much the exception, rather than the rule. As darts commentators are fond of declaring, with all the solemnity one associates with their breed, "180s for show, doubles for dough!".

Labor omnia vincit, as the Roman poet Virgil observed. It is hard work that wins chess tournaments. The player that wins events such as the Hastings Masters, is not usually the one who wins the highest number of spectacular attacking games, but the one who sits in the tournament hall until 9.00pm at night, squeezing out those extra half points in long endgames. And when it comes to endgame grinders, there is nobody in England to compare with Keith Arkell, the Cliff Thorburn of British chess. Keith's chess heroes are Ulf Andersson and Valery Salov, both players who could wear opponents down with the remorseless efficiency of water dripping on a stone. In yesterday's second round, Keith gave a perfect demonstration of his approach, playing the longest game of the day, totaling 87 moves, in overcoming the strenuous resistance of Laurence Webb. The final stages of this double rook ending were highly complex, and you may wish to solicit the assistance of your chess engine to uncover the finer points of the ending. For now, though, just enjoy the final stages:


Equal material, and everybody knows that all rook endings are drawn. So, shake hands, eh? Not a bit of it. 41.Kf2 Kf6 42.Rbe2 Rcb7 43.Re6+ Kf7 44.Rh6 Kg7 45.Rhe6 Kf8 46.Kg3 Rf5 47.Kg4 Rf7 48.R6e4 Rb5 49.Ra2 Rg7+ 50.Kf3 Rh5 51.Ke3 Rg1 52.Re2 Ra1 53.Kf3 Ra7 54.Kg4 Rb5 55.f5 Rab7 56.Rb2 Kf7 57.Rb3 Rc7 58.Rh3 Kg7 59.Rhe3 Rbb7 60.Rb3 d5 61.Rf4 Kf6 62.b5 Rc2 63.h4 Rb6 64.Ra4 h5+ 65.Kxh5 Kxf5 66.Rf3+ Ke5 67.Re3+ Kd6 68.Ra7 e6 69.Kg6 d4 70.Rg3 e5 71.h5 Kd5+ 72.Kg7 Rh2 73.Rg5 Ke4 74.Ra6 Rxb5 75.h6 d3 76.Rd6 d2 77.Kg6

77...Rb6 78.Rxb6 d1Q 79.Re6 Even after queening his pawn, the win is not easy, and accurate play is required from Black. Qc2 80.Rgxe5+ Kf4+ 81.Re4+ Kf3 82.Kg7 Qc7+ 83.Re7 Rg2+ 84.Kf6 Qd6+ 85.R7e6 Qf8+ 86.Ke5 Rg5+ 87.Kd4 Qc5+ 0-1

Bravo, Keith! Perhaps not ad captandum vulgus, but caviar to the general.

On the other top boards, events concluded more rapidly. Drozdovskij drew a short game with German IM and Playchess trainer, Dennis Breder, whilst Istratescu crushed Richard Bates' King's Indian in very short order:

Istratescu,Andrei (2624) - Bates,Richard A (2383) [E85]

Hastings Masters  (2.2), 29.12.2009

1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Qd2 Nb6 9.b3 exd4 10.Nxd4 a5 11.Be2 a4 12.0-0 Re8 13.Rad1 axb3 14.axb3 c6 15.Nc2 Nfd7 16.Bd4 Bf8 17.f4 d5 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.Bb5 dxe4 20.f5

20...Nc5?? Black's passive play has already landed him in great trouble, but this loses at once. 21.fxg6 hxg6 22.Qf2 1-0

Other favourites who won included Edouard, Howell and Hebden, but the most exciting game of the day was probably the clash between Simon Williams and the fast-improving Jonathan Hawkins.

Hawkins,Jonathan (2383) - Williams,Simon K (2550) [A40]

Hastings Masters  (2.5), 29.12.2009

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Bd3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bxd2+ 6.Nxd2 Nc6 7.Ngf3 Qf6 8.e5 Qf4 9.g3 Qh6 10.0-0 g5 11.Ne4 g4 12.Nh4 f5 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Nxf6+ Qxf6 15.Be4 0-0-0 16.Bxc6 dxc6 17.Qxg4 Rxd4 18.Qf3


Objectively, Black should probably exchange queens and take on c4, but Simon characteristically prefers to attack. His intended exchange sacrifice looks very dangerous for White, but as the computer demonstrates, Black's threats down the long diagonal are illusory. Apart from one lapse, Jonathan Hawkins' play in the rest of the game is extremely impressive, and a fine example of Corporal Jones' motto: "Don't panic!". 19.Qc3 c5 20.Nf3 Rf8 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Qa3 Rf3 23.Qxa7? This should lose to 23...Qd7!, when the threat of 24...Qc6 is decisive. 24...Qg4? Missing his chance. 24...Qh3 is a big threat, but the black king has his own problems, as the sequel shows. 24.Qa4 Kd8 25.Qd1 Qe4 26.Qd2 Kc8 Both here and later, a key point is that the apparently crushing 26...Rd3 is met by 27.f3. 27.h4 h6 28.b4 e5 29.a4 Qc6 30.b5 Qxc4 31.Qxh6 Qd5 32.Qh8+ Kd7 33.Qg7+ Kd6 34.Qg6+ Kc5 35.Kh2 Rd3 36.Rg1 Qf3 37.Qe6 Qxf2+ 38.Kh3 Rc3 39.Rab1 Qf8 40.Qxe5+ Kc4 41.Qxc7+ Qc5 42.Qxc5+ bxc5 43.Rbc1 d3 44.Rxc3+ Kxc3 45.h5 1-0

Finally, there was a shock on board  8, where the arbiters' evil intentions of eliminating the last 100% scores in the bottom half of the draw were thwarted by Martin Mitchell. His victory resulted when his IM opponent, Sam Collins, forgot Nunn's First Law of Tactics, which states that "Loose bits drop off" (no, I don't know what it is in Latin...). I presume that Collins was aware of this dictum, and had just forgotten it, although even if he had not come across it before, ignorantia legis neminem excusat, as Fred Reinfeld used to say. The punishment was swift, and after just 30 minutes' play, Collins was already lost:

Mitchell,Martin (2195) - Collins,Sam E (2431) [A40]

Hastings Masters (2.9), 29.12.2009

1.d4 e6 2.c4 b6 3.Nc3 Bb7 4.a3 f5 5.d5 Nf6 6.g3 Be7 7.Bg2 0-0 8.Nh3 a5 9.0-0

An innocuous-looking developing move, but containing a small threat...


Which Black misses...


Oops. The undefended prelate on b7 is what is known in Nunnspeak as a loose bit, and now it duly drops off.

10...Bxg2 11.dxe7 Qxe7 12.Kxg2 Qc5 13.b3 d5 14.Be3 Qc6 15.cxd5 exd5 16.Bd4 Rad8 17.Rc1 Qb7 18.Nf4 c5 19.Bxf6 d4+ 20.e4 gxf6 21.Ne6 dxc3 22.Nxd8 Qa8 23.Qf3 Qxd8 24.Rfd1 Qc8 25.Qxf5 Qxf5 26.exf5 c4 27.Rxc3 Nc5 28.Rxc4 Nxb3 29.Rc6 Rb8 30.Rdd6 1-0

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