Chess24 Jan Gustafsson on Alpha Zero

Hastings Chess Congress 2010-11 (2)

Hastings Round 2 Report

FM Steve Giddins reports on Round 2 of the Hastings Masters.


When it comes to entertainment, I have always been a great fan of the radio comedy show, I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue. This wonderfully silly, self-styled "antidote to panel games", involves various comedians, coming up with funny lines, in various contexts. One of the rounds which often appears on the show is Tradesman's Film Club, in which the panel have to come up with film titles, that might appeal to an audience of, say, motor mechanics, or lawyers, etc. The former, for example, once yielded such offerings as Fiddler on the Roof Rack, The Hatchback of Notre Dame, and, my personal favourite, Bring Me the Head Gasket of Alfredo Garcia. It occurs to me that, amongst the many professions that the team, has covered in this round (not to mention its two closely related variants, Tradesman's Songbook and Tradesman's Book Club), they have never yet had a round called Chessplayer's Film Club. I feel this omission should be rectified, so I am hereby inviting contributions from my readers, for film, book or song titles, that you think might appeal to an audience of chessplayers. To start you off, I will contribute The Pelikan Brief, Short Encounter, Thoroughly Hypermodern Girl, and The Pawn Count of Monte Cristo (all these films, no doubt, distributed by the Back Rank Organisation...). You get the picture - suggestions to me at please.

Whilst you are thinking about that, I have to say that round 2 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters saw some of the most entertaining chess one could ever wish for. Both of the top two boards ended in fairly short draws, but the next five boards all yielded decisive results. David Howell reached 2/2, after outplaying Swapnil in some tactical complications:

Howell,David (2616) - Swapnil,S Dhopade (2426) [B22]

Hastings Masters (2.3), 29.12.2010

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Bd3 Nc6 9 0-0 0-0 10 Re1 Nf6 11 a3 b6 12 Be3 Bb7 13 Qe2 Nd5 14 Rad1 Bf6 15 Ne4 Nce7 16 Ne5 Ng6 17 Qh5 Bxe5 18 dxe5 Nxe3

Now instead of the obvious recapture, Howell played 19 Ng5!? h6 20 Nxf7 Qh4? Fritz offers as the best defence 20 ..Nf4 21 Nxh6+ gxh6 22 Qxh6 Nf5 23 Bxf5 Rxf5 24 Rxd8+ Rxd8 when White has Q+3Ps v R+N+B, whilst the exposed position of the black king gives White some advantage. 21 Qxg6 Rxf7 22 fxe3 Qg5 23 Qxg5 hxg5 and White went on to win. 24 Bg6 Re7 25 Rd6 Rf8 26 Red1 Bd5 27 Rd4 Rc7 28 h3 Rc1+ 29 Kh2 Rc5 30 Rg4 Rb5 31 b4 Bb3 32 Rxg5 a5 33 bxa5 Rxa5 34 Rd7 Rxa3 35 Rh5 Rc8 36 Bf7+ 1-0

I mentioned in yesterday's report that this year's Hastings Masters has a powerful contingent of Indian IMs, and it is to one of them, Rao Prasanna, to whom pride of place goes. He crushed the strong Greek/Cypriot GM, Kotronias, in splendid style. The GM left his king in the centre, in favour of actions on both flanks, but it soon fell under a winning atack:

Prasanna,Rao (2400) - Kotronias,Vasilios (2582) [B43]

Hastings Masters (2.4), 29.12.2010

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 a6 5 Nc3 Qc7 6 Be2 b5 7 0-0 Bb7 8 Re1 Nc6 9 Nxc6 dxc6 10 e5 Rd8 11 Bd3 c5 12 Qe2 Ne7 13 Bg5 h6 14 Bh4 g5 15 Bg3 h5

16 h3 c4 17 Be4 Nc6 18 Rad1 Bc5 19 Qf3 Rh6 20 h4 g4 21 Qf4 Rh8 22 Rd6! Rf8 23 Qh6 b4

24 Rxe6+! Ne7 Or 24 ..fxe6 25 Qxe6+ Qe7 26 Bg6+ Rf7 27 Bxf7+ Kf8 28 Ne4 winning. 25 Rxe7+! Qxe7 25 ..Bxe7 No better is 26 e6 Qc8 27 exf7+ Rxf7 28 Qh8+ Kd7 29 Rd1+ and mate will soon be forced. 26 Bxb7 Qxb7 27 Ne4 Qb6 28 e6 Bd4 29 Nf6+ Ke7 30 exf7+ Kxf7 31 Qxh5+ 1-0

However, the Indian masters did not have things entirely their own way. Richard Bates put up a first-rate show, with a controlled victory over Deep Sengupta. In a typical Modern Benoni pawn structure, Bates' central pawn majority came crashing through the centre, and the resulting passed d-pawn eventually netted a piece:

Bates,Richard (2382) - Sengupta,Deep (2527) [E10]

Hastings Masters (2.5), 29.12.2010

1 d4 e6 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 c5 4 d5 b5 5 Bf4 exd5 6 cxd5 d6 7 e4 a6 8 Nbd2 Nbd7 9 a4 Rb8 10 axb5 axb5 11 Bd3 Ng4 12 0-0 Nge5 13 Qe2 Qb6 14 b4 Nxd3 15 Qxd3 Be7

16 e5 0-0 17 Ne4 c4 18 Qc3 dxe5 19 Nxe5 Nxe5 20 Qxe5 Rb7 21 d6 Bd8 22 Ra8 Rb8 23 Be3 Qb7 24 Ra7 Qc6

25 d7 Bb6 26 dxc8Q Rfxc8 27 Bxb6 Rxb6 28 Re7 h6 29 Nc3 Qa8 30 Re1 Rg6 31 g3 Qa3 32 Nxb5 Qxb4 33 Nc3 Qb2 34 Re8+ Rxe8 35 Qxe8+ Kh7 36 Qe3 Rf6 37 Re2 Qb3 38 Qe4+ g6 39 Qd4 Rf5 40 Re8 1-0

Finally, I have to add for your entertainment the splendidly chaotic game Pert-Ledger. I recall some years ago, at the Gibraltar tournament, witnessing a similarly cranky game, also in a Trompowsky,  between McShane and Kotronias. After a dozen moves or so, Luke had hardly moved a single piece, and the position looked like one arising between two complete tyros, who had just learned the moves. I pointed out the position to Russian GM, Sergey Tiviakov, and asked him what he thought of this fine example of the English School of Chess. He grinned, and then said "In the Soviet Union, if you had played like that, the coaches would have cut off your hands!". This threat notwithstanding, Luke went on to win a fine game that day, as did Pert yesterday. As to what was really going on in tis game, I can only say that "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue", although a brief, computer-aided examination suggests that Pert was always winning. Whatever the truth, it certainly drew a crowd:

Pert,Richard G (2460) - Ledger,David (2233) [A45]

Hastings Masters (2.9), 29.12.2010

1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 Ne4 3 Bf4 c5 4 f3 Qa5+ 5 c3 Nf6 6 d5 Qb6 7 e4 Qxb2 8 Nd2 Qxc3 9 Bc7

Believe it or not, this position is hot theory in the Tromp these days! White is playing to embarrass the enemy queen.

9...b6 10 Rc1 Qe3+ 11 Ne2 d6 12 Nc4 Qh6 13 Qa4+ Bd7 14 Qa3 a6 15 Nxb6 Ra7 16 Bxb8 Rb7

17 Na8 e6 18 Nc7+ Kd8 19 Nxa6 exd5 20 e5 dxe5 21 Qa5+ Kc8 22 Bxe5 Ra7 23 Nf4 Qg5 24 Qc3 Bc6 25 Nb4 d4

26 Bxd4 Qxf4 27 Nxc6 Rxa2 28 Be5 Qa4 29 Nb4 Ra3 30 Ba6+ Kd7 31 Qd2+ Ke6 32 Bc8+ Kxe5 33 f4+ Ke4 34 Rc4#

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