Hastings Chess Congress 2009-10 (4)
Hastings Round 4 Report
FM Steve Giddins - Friday 1st January 2010
Steve Giddins reports on Round 4 from the Hastings Chess Congress 2009-10
So, we've done it. Another year has come and gone at Hastings, and Steve Giddins once again faces the annual problem of finding something original to say about New Year's Eve. Actually, this one proved more pleasant than usual, as, despite emerging from the Horntye only at something after 9.30pm, your control team went on to enjoy an excellent final meal of 2009, at a Thai restaurant in nearby St Leonards. We then adjourned to the White Rock Hotel, one of the sponsors of our tournament, to see in the New Year over a pint or two of most excellent, locally-brewed, real ale. If it means spending the rest of 2010 consuming pints of Dark Star "Expresso" bitter, I shall be quite happy to accept the truth of the old adage, that whatever one does on the first day of the year, one will do for the remainder of it.
But before any of this entertainment could be enjoyed, there was the small matter of the fourth round of the 2009-10 Hastings Masters. The last 100% score disappeared, after David Howell drew a fascinating see-saw battle against French IM, Christophe Philippe:
Philippe,Christophe (2430) - Howell,David W L (2597) [C55]
Hastings Masters (4), 31.12.2009
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.Re1 d6 7.a4 Kh8 8.h3 Ng8 9.Nc3 f5 10.Nd5 fxe4 11.dxe4 Nf6
12.Ng5!? Initiating a fascinating bout of tactical complications.
12...Nxd5 13.Nxh7 Rf4! Of course, not 13...Kxh7 14.Qh5+, followed by 15.Bxd5+. As your chess engine will confirm, both players find their way accurately through the complications, although it cost them considerable amounts of time on the clock, especially David. 14.g3 Qe8! 15.Qxd5 Nd4 16.Bxf4 c6 17.Qf7 Qxf7 18.Bxf7 exf4 19.Red1 Nf3+ 20.Kg2 Ne5 21.Bh5 Kxh7 22.gxf4 Nd7 The smoke clears, to reveal an ending with White having rook and two pawns for two minor pieces, in which chances are about equal. 23.Bg4 Nf6 24.f3 g6 25.c4 a5 26.Rd3 Nd7 27.Rad1 Nc5
28.Rxd6?! Ambitious, but probably over-optimistic. Bxd6 29.Rxd6 Bxg4 30.hxg4 Re8 The computer's preference 30...Ra6 looks good here. Black's knight does a great job of defending his queenside pawns against the entry of the enemy rook, and once the black rook rook reaches b6, White will be unable to hold his own queenside together. Even after the text, Black looks to stand better, but he makes no further progress, and towards the end, it even looked as though might be in trouble himself. 31.f5 gxf5 32.exf5 Re7 33.g5 Re5 34.Rf6 Kg7 35.f4 Re3 36.Rh6 Nd3 37.f6+ Kg8 38.f5 Nf4+ 39.Kf2 Rh3 40.Rxh3 Nxh3+ 41.Ke3 Nxg5 42.Kd4 Kf7 43.Kc5 Ne4+ 44.Kb6 Nd2 45.c5 Nc4+ 46.Kxb7 Nxb2 47.Kxc6 Nxa4 48.Kb5 Nxc5 49.Kxa5 Â½-Â½
This allowed four other players to join Howell in the lead on 3.5 points. Istratescu won one of the day's longest games, against Breder, whilst Edouard won in impressive positional style against Sam Franklin. Drozdovskij capitalised on the white pieces, against the young Norwegian, Elias Demac, whilst Mark Hebden wielded one of his favourite opening lines, to score a crushing win against yet another talented junior, David Grant:
Hebden,Mark L (2522) - Grant,David J (2020) [D30]
Hastings Masters (4), 31.12.2009
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 dxc4 5.Qa4+
Mark has always been fond of this move-order, delaying the development of the queen's knight, which changes somewhat the contours of the main lines of the Vienna and Semi-Slav variations. Despite the fact that the database contains plenty of Mark's games in this line, it appears to have been terra incognita to Grant, because he started using a lot of time from this point on, and was soon the better part of an hour behind on the clock.
5...Nbd7 6.e4 Be7 7.Nbd2 0-0 8.Bxc4 c5 9.e5 Nd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.Bxd5 exd5 12.0-0 cxd4 13.Qxd4
White already has a very pleasant position, with the isolated d5-pawn as a target.
13...Nb6 14.Rfe1 Be6 15.Nf1 Rac8 16.b3 Qc5 17.Qh4 a6?!
The sort of move that the late Gerald Abrahams was wont to describe as "provincial", and although I have not the slightest idea what he means, it sounds like a good description! Black should probably think of challenging with 17...f6, or bringing the knight closer to the kingside with 17...Nd7.
18.Nd4 Rfe8 19.Ng3 Nd7 20.Rad1 h6?!
This probably warrants the same adjective as 17...a6. 20...Nf8 was better, when 21.f4? is strongly met by 21...Ng6. Now White has a free hand to roll on the kingside, and the rest is painful to watch.
21.f4 Nf8 22.f5 Bd7 23.Qf4 Re7 24.Nh5 Rce8
25.Qg3 g5 26.Nf6+ Kh8 27.Qh3 Kg7 28.Ng4! Even better than taking the rook. 1-0 A typically impressive Hebden crush.
Hracek, Gormally and Greet were amongst others who won, to reach 3 points, as did young Peter Williams, whose play so far has been highly impressive. Another young player on 3/4 is Gudmundur Kjartansson from Iceland, who did so well here last year. Today he crushed Jason McKenna, in double-quick time:
Kjartansson,Gudmundur (2391) - McKenna,Jason P (2147) [B07]
Hastings Masters (4.12), 31.12.2009
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 Nf6 6.f3 b5 7.a4 b4 8.Nd1 a5 9.Nf2 Ba6 10.Bxa6 Nxa6 11.Ne2 Nd7 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 e5 14.0-0 Qe7 15.c3 Rb8 16.c4 c5 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Rad1 Nc7 19.Ng4 Ne6 20.f4 exf4 21.Nxf4 Nxf4 22.Rxf4 Rb6 23.e5 Re6 24.Re4 f5 25.exf6 Nxf6 26.Nxf6+ Qxf6
And with that, we say farewell to the year that has passed. All that remains for me is to wish you every happiness and success for 2763, anno urbis conditae!