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Hastings Chess Congress 2009-10 (3)

Hastings Round 3 Report

Steve Giddins reports on Round 3 of the Hastings Congress 2009-10.

Hodie mihi, cras tibi

In all walks of life, the relentless march of youth is inevitable, and each generation must eventually give way to its successors. Nowhere is this more so than in chess, with the average age of the top grandmasters having dropped by 10-15 years, over recent times. Fischer's grandmaster title at age 15 was a sensation in 1958, whereas now, anyone who is not a GM by about 12 or 13 is already in danger of missing the boat.

It seems particularly appropriate to be reflecting on such matters today, as this morning we have seen the publication of the new FIDE rating list. This shows Magnus Carlsen at the no.1 spot, aged just 19, the youngest world no.1 ever. But there was further confirmation of the triumph of youth in yesterday's 3rd round of the Hastings Masters. Several young players found themselves facing GMs, and despite large rating disparities, they acquitted themselves well. David Howell, himself still a teenager, took the sole lead, by beating the much lower-rated Martin Mitchell, although it was not a vintage performance by the British Champion. Amongst those who reached 2.5 points was the top seed, Yuri Drozdovskij, who found himself playing 13-year old Peter Williams, rated no fewer than 613 points below him! However, the youngster showed no sign of being over-awed, and held his powerful opponent at bay for much of the session:

Williams,Peter A (2012) - Drozdovskij,Yuri (2625) [A03]

Hastings Masters (3), 30.12.2009

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.b4

This rather bizarre-looking set-up was a favourite of the great Dane, Bent Larsen, amongst whose victims in the line is no less a player than Boris Spassky. Despite Larsen's successes with it, however, the line has never caught on. The underlying logic is to fianchetto the queen's bishop, without allowing Black to shut the bishop out by playing c5 and d4.

4...Bg7 5.Bb2 0-0 6.Be2 c6 7.0-0 Bg4 8.a4 Nbd7 9.Na3 a5 10.b5 c5 11.c4 Nb6 12.Rc1 dxc4 13.Nxc4 Nxc4 14.Rxc4 Rc8 15.Ng5 Bxe2 16.Qxe2 h6 17.Nf3 Nd5 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.f5 e6 20.fxg6 fxg6 21.Ne5 Rf5 22.Rxf5 exf5 23.Qf3 Qd6 24.d4 Re8

25.g4? Hitherto, White has played excellently, and held his much stronger opponent very well. 25.Rc1 cxd4 26.exd4 would leave Black only a small advantage, but after the text, White suffers fatal material loss. 25...cxd4 26.exd4 Nb6 27.Qxb7+ Re7 28.Qc6 Nxc4 29.Qxc4 fxg4 30.Qc3 h5 31.Nc6 Re2 32.Ne5 Re4 33.Nc6 h4 34.b6 Re2 35.Ne5 Qxb6 36.Kf1 Rxh2 37.Qd3 Qf6+ 0-1

Another young player to score an excellent result was 15-year old Samuel Franklin, who defeated an out-of-form Simon Williams. Franklin recently scored an excellent second place at the Guernsey International winning a fine attacking game against the experienced IM, Robert Bellin, in the process. Franklin's reward for beating Williams is a board 4 pairing today against French GM, Romain Edouard, who was held to a draw by Jonathan Hawkins.

Anyone looking at trends in international chess nowadays would have to conclude that being Norwegian is a significant benefit. Following in the footsteps of Magnus Carlsen, Norway is undergoing the biggest chess boom in its history, and other young Norwegian players are starting to make an impact. The FIDE Open section at the London Classic in December was won by Jon Ludvig Hammer, and here at Hastings we have several Norwegian players present. One of them is Elias Demac, who moved onto 2.5 points, by beating Laurence Webb. For the latter, it was the second day in succession that he had fought out the longest game of the day, and come up short in a rook ending. Another of the day's marathons saw Dennis Breder overcome Bob Eames' resistance, in an ending of Q v R+B, but Danny Gormally will have been disappointed at failing to do the same against Dieter Kolbus.

Sam Collins bounced back from the previous day's opening disaster, to win the shortest game of the tournament so far - just 13 moves, and 30 minutes' play!

Collins,Sam E (2431) - Spanton,Tim R (2026) [C67]

Hastings Masters (3.16), 30.12.2009

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Nxe5 7.Rxe5+ Be7 8.Nc3 Nxb5?

Walking into a trap of Methuselaic antiquity.

 9.Nd5! 0-0 10.Nxe7+ Kh8 11.Qh5 g6 12.Qh6 Re8

 13.Rh5 1-0

Of course, had the black player been familiar with that splendid volume, 101 Chess Opening Traps, this disaster would not have happened to him - another example of the value of being a doctus cum libro...

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