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Hastings Chess Congress 2009-10 (8)

Hastings Round 8 Report

Steve Giddins reports on the Hastings Chess Congress Round 8.

De pilo pendet

I wandered into the Congress Office yesterday around mid-morning, and stood chatting briefly with Pam Thomas, the Congress Publicity Officer, when suddenly, from the next room, there emerged the dulcet East Ham tones of IM Andrew Martin. I found him surrounded by a couple of boxes full of booklets, each of which he was signing. I mentioned in my first round report that Andrew plays very little tournament chess these days, concentrating instead on his career as a writer and trainer. He is certainly one of the country's busiest junior trainers, and has been heavily involved in the ECF's "Chess Sets for Schools" project. This is a project, which started some 18 months ago, when a company called Holloid Plastics approached the ECF, with a proposal to manufacture and distribute up to 250,000 free chess sets, to be allocated amongst every school in the country. Such a massive boost in school chess activity represents a unique opportunity for English chess.

Unfortunately, the management of the project has not exactly been a model of efficiency or effectiveness, and it has attracted a great deal of criticism.  However, it now appears that things are finally on the move. With a newly-constituted ECF Management Board firmly behind the project, many thousands of sets are currently in the process of being delivered to the approximately 9,000 schools which have applied for them. Alongside the delivery of sets themselves, the ECF has developed a Certificate of Merit scheme, which involves a multi-level online test, which pupils can take, to improve their chess skill. Andrew has been heavily involved in developing material for this scheme, and the booklets he was signing are part of it. They complement an excellent DVD, which has been produced by Andrew, in cooperation with Chessbase, the world's leading supplier of chess software. Together, the materials add up to a first-rate beginners' course, and it is hoped that as many pupils as possible will sign up to the Certificate of Merit scheme. Ex nihilo, nihil fit, as they say - by working now to develop a whole generation of children, who are familiar with the game, and enjoy playing it, we can build a foundation for Britain's chess future, as well as transforming the ailing finances of the ECF itself.

IM Jack Rudd, modelling the latest in ECF-approved chess education literature

But now ad rem. Yesterday's penultimate round of the 2009/10 Hastings Masters saw two of the leading group win, and thereby assure themselves a half point lead over the field, going into today's final round. Mark Hebden won the longest game of the day against Christophe Philipe of France, whilst Andrei Istratescu beat Simon Ansell in a model positional game. The latter's Kalashnikov Sicilian soon led to a galloping case of what Hans Kmoch, in his classic book Pawn Power in Chess, described as "leucopenia" (that's what you and I call "weak white squares"), after which the Roumanian GM sucked the blood from Black's position, with an efficiency that would have done credit to his mythical Transylvanian countryman:

Istratescu,Andrei ROU (2624) - Ansell,Simon T (2387) [B32]

Hastings Masters (8), 04.01.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.N1c3 a6 7.Na3 b5 8.Nd5 Nf6 9.c4 b4 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.Qd5 Bd7 12.Nc2 Rb8 13.Be2 Qd8 14.h3 Qc8 15.b3 Be7 16.Bg4 Be6 17.Qd1 0-0 18.0-0 Bxg4 19.Qxg4 a5 20.Rd1 Nd8 21.Ne3 Qxg4 22.hxg4

22...Nb7 23.Nd5 Bd8 24.Be3 h6 25.g3 Re8 26.Kg2 Rc8 27.a3 bxa3 28.Rxa3 Nc5 29.Nc3 Re6 30.f3 Kf8 31.Rd5 Bb6 32.Kf2 Rb8 33.Ke2 Ke8 34.Nb5 Kd7 35.Bxc5 Bxc5 36.Rxa5 Rc8 37.Ra4 Ke7 38.b4 Bb6 39.Ra6 Rb8 40.Rxd6 Rxd6 41.Nxd6 Kxd6 42.Rxb6+ 1-0

Meanwhile, those following the live broadcasts had the unaccustomed experience of seeing a novelty on move 2 of the Sicilian! Well, maybe it is not technically a novelty, but I for one have not seen the move 2.Be2 played in a master game before. Despite its exceptionally modest appearance, it yielded Greet a decent position, but he had used too much time on the clock and lost the thread of the position completely between moves 19-25:

Greet,Andrew N (2423) - Gormally,Daniel W (2479) [B21]

Hastings Masters (8), 04.01.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Be2 Nc6 3.f4 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d3 Bg4 6.0-0 e6 7.Nbd2 Be7 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Nxf3 0-0 10.Be3 c4 11.Qd2 cxd3 12.cxd3 e5 13.Rac1 Rc8 14.a3 a6 15.b4 exf4 16.Bxf4 d5 17.e5 Nh5 18.Bh2 g6

19.Bd1 Ng7 20.Bb3 a5 21.Qa2 axb4 22.a4 Nf5 23.Bxd5 Ne3 24.Bxc6 Nxf1 25.Rxf1 bxc6 26.e6 Qd5 27.exf7+ Rxf7 28.Qxd5 cxd5 29.Rb1 Rc3 30.Ne5 Bc5+ 0-1

Bates and Hawkins both had dubious-looking positions from the opening, but survived and eventually made draws (in Hawkins' case, after pressing for the win). Martin Mitchell has had a great tournament, and virtually wrapped up an IM norm, by winning an extraordinary game against John Anderson, in which the black king was chased from pillar to post, but somehow escaped the mates, and eventually decided the game by helping himself to a whole rook in broad daylight:

Anderson,John (2209) - Mitchell,Martin (2195) [B06]

Hastings Masters (8.12), 04.01.2010

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.Be2 a6 5.c4 Bg4 6.Ng1 h5 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.h3 Bxe2 9.Ngxe2 e5 10.Be3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bxd4 13.Qxd4 Qf6 14.Qe3 Ne7 15.0-0-0 0-0-0 16.Qa7 Nc6 17.Qa8+ Kd7 18.Qxb7 Qxf2 19.Nd5 Qa7

20.Nf6+ Ke6 21.Qxc6 Kxf6 22.Rhf1+ Kg7 23.Rf3 Rhe8 24.Qd5 Rd7 25.Rdf1 Ree7 26.g4 hxg4 27.hxg4 Qc5 28.Qd3 Qg5+ 29.Rf4 Re5 30.Qd2 Rde7 31.Rh1 Re8 32.Qh2 f5 33.gxf5 Rxe4 34.f6+ Kf7 35.Qh7+ Ke6 36.Qh3+ Ke5

37.Qc3+ Kxf4 0-1

Another untitled player who has had an excellent tournament is Bob Eames, and he served up a game which will warm the cockles of every King's Gambiteer's heart. Whatever the objective risks of the opening, there is no doubt that when it works, it really works. The young Icelander, Gudmundur Kjartansson, has shown repeatedly over the past couple of years that he is a very strong player indeed, but he was caught out with his theory yesterday, and the result was brutal:

Eames,Robert S (2276) - Kjartansson,Gudmundur (2391) [C34]

Hastings Masters (8.10), 04.01.2010

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.d4 d6 5.h4 g4 6.Ng1 Bh6 7.Nc3 c6 8.Nge2 Qf6 9.g3 fxg3 10.Nxg3 Bxc1 11.Rxc1 h5 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nce4 Qe7 14.Bc4 f5

15.0-0 Nh6 16.dxe5 fxe4 17.Nxe4 Nd7 18.e6 Kd8 19.Qd4 Re8 20.exd7 Bxd7 21.Nc5 Kc7 22.Rcd1 Rad8 23.Rfe1 Qf8 24.Rxe8 Qxe8 25.Qd6+ Kc8

26.Ne6 1-0

So today's final round sees the following leading pairings:

Hebden (6.5) - Istratescu (6.5)

Gormally (6) - Drozdovskij (6)

Hracek (6) - Howell (6)

Ansell (5.5) -- Edouard (6)

Logic would suggest that the players on boards 2-4 need to play for a win, so hopefully some fighting chess should be guaranteed. My message to the players is: come on lads, remember what the Romans used to say - sic itur ad astra!

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