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Hastings Chess Congress 2010-11 (5)

Hastings Round 5 Report

Steven Giddens reports on New Year's Day's Round 5.

Media frenzy, or who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

2010 was been an interesting year for your correspondent, not least on the technology front. Never having been of a technical bent of mind, I should by rights be suffering more than most in this technologically-enhanced world. Being only weeks away from the nightmare of my 50th birthday, I have recently even taken to dressing in waistcoats, on the grounds that since I am officially about to become an old codger, I may as well start dressing like one. But I am afraid it is really all a bit of a sham, because as far as technology goes, the past twelve months have seen me advance by a century or two, and beneath the crusty Victor Meldrew exterior there now hides something of a techological whizzkid.  The pocket of my waistcoat, for example, conceals not a Hunter pocket watch, complete with gold chain, but instead a Blackberry, that mobile phone and e-mail device, without which no modern-day man is complete.

The problem is that, earlier this year, I became editor of The British Chess Magazine, which necessitated the rather rapid acquisition of some computer skills. The first problem was to learn the mysteries of typesetting and desktop publishing, which are essential to the production of the magazine. Then, at the British Championships in August, Tom Rendle expressed his shock that I was not on Facebook, and asked how I could edit a chess magazine without a Facebook account. I was not quite sure of the connection, I must admit, but trusting in authority as I do, I went straight home and set up a Facebook account anyway Tom was right, of course - 90% of the chess world's gossip now circulates via Facebook, so having an account there is fairly useful. Then I decided that I needed a BCM blog, and duly set one up. That proved to be very useful, as within a couple of weeks, it had served to secure me an interview with none other than Anatoly Karpov! You can find that, and other bloggings, at http://stevegiddins.blogspot.com/

The latest technological advance came yesterday. Here at Hastings, our tournament has seen a massive increase in technology in recent years, thanks to our two IT experts, Dave Clayton and Jonathan Tuck This year, we are broadcasting 20 games live every day, and we also have a live webcam in the tournament hall. Dave also harbours ambitions to broadcast via webcam Chris Ward's excellent live game commentaries. Thus far, he has been thwarted by the inadequacy of the available wireless network in the commentary room, but Dave is a determined chap, and is still working on it, so watch this space! The official website carries the usual results, games and these reports, but we have also this year added an online game replay facility, which allows you to play through on screen any of the games from the Masters section. Finally, with effect from yesterday, I started broadcasting updates throughout the afternoon on Twitter! You can find the new BCM Twitter account at www.twitter.com/@BCMCHESS and each afternoon, I will be tweeting away like a Trojan (yes, mixed metaphor, I know...).

Yesterday's Round 5 of the 2010/11 Hastings Masters certainly contained plenty about which to tweet, and saw a thoroughly bloodthirsty day's play. Black had an especially good day, winning four of the top five games. The board one encounter between Rendle and Howell was an absolute thriller. Rendle obtained a dangerous-looking attack, and although the ever-sceptical computer claims that Black was doing well for most of it, the position looked anything but that clear during the game. Rendle admitted afterwards that he was probably a bit too optimistic about his chances, but he deserves every credit for an imaginative attempt to topple the tournament leader. The climax came in a fierce mutual time-scramble, in the course of which White had a remarkable, fleeting draw chance:

Rendle,Thomas (2391) - Howell,David (2616) [B13]

Hastings Masters (5.1), 01.01.2011

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 Bd3 Nc6 5 c3 Nf6 6 Bf4 Bg4 7 Qb3 Qc8 8 Nd2 e6 9 Ngf3 Be7 10 0-0 0-0 11 Ne5 Nxe5 11...Bh5 is more usual. 12 dxe5 Nd7 13 Qc2 g6 14 h3 Bf5 15 Bxf5 gxf5 16 Nf3 Kh8 17 Ng5 A slower build-up with 17 Rad1 may be stronger, as it allows less counterplay. 17...Qc4 18 Qd2 Nc5 19 Rad1 Rac8 20 b3 Qa6

21 c4 Commencing a very interesting and dangerous-looking idea, although the computer is not convinced. 21...dxc4 22 Qe2 The point. The white queen joins the attack on the kingside. 22 ..Bxg5 23 Bxg5 Ne4 24 Qh5 Rg8 25 Bh4 Rg6 26 f3 Qxa2

Objectively, it seems that Back is winning, but both players were short of time by now, and the position is still very complicated. 27 g4 Nc3 28 Rf2 Qxb3 29 Rd7 Rf8 30 Be7 Qb5 31 Rfd2 fxg4 32 Bxf8 gxf3+? This actually allows an amazing draw, but one can hardly expect the players to see the variations involved. As Nigel Short once commented, "In such positions, Rybka makes fools of us all!". Instead, 32...Qb6+ 33 Kh2 Ne2! is winning, eg. 34 Rxe2 gxf3 etc  33 Kh2 Qb6

34 R7d4? Here, the computer points out the incredible drawing line, starting 34 Bg7+!! Now both captures fail to win: 34...Kxg7 35 Rxf7+ Kxf7 36 Qxh7+ is perpetual; whilst 34 ..Rxg7? actually loses after 35 Rd8+ Rg8 36 Rxg8+ Kxg8 37 Qg5+. The correct move, which Howell had intended, is 34 ..Kg8 when White has the remarkable follow-up: 35 Qxg6! hxg6 36 Bf6 threatening mate. Despite his hanging flag, Howell had even seen this, and thought he could escape the perpetual with 36...g5, but it turns out that he cannot, since after 37 Rd8+ Kh7 38 Rh8+ Kg6 39 Rg8+ Kf5 40 Rxg5+ Kf4 41 Rg4+ he has to acquiesce in the draw, in view of 41...Ke3?? 42 Bg5#.  34...Ne2 Now Black is winning once again. 35 Qxf3 Nxd4 36 Qe3 Nf3+ 0-1

It was a very good day for the seeds in general. There were wins for Edouard and Istratescu, whilst Mark Hebden won his fourth straight game, beating Alex Wohl with the black pieces. The young Indian player, Rao Prasanna, continued his excellent tournament, by beating his more experienced compariot Sengupta with Black.

Another English player who advanced was Gormally, who found a way to break the Gordian Knot:

Gormally,Daniel (2480) - Ramondino,Renzo (2289) [D03]

Hastings Masters (5.7), 01.01.2011

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 Bg5 Bg7 4 Nbd2 0-0 5 c3 d5 6 Bxf6 exf6 7 g3 Re8 8 Bg2 Be6 9 0-0 f5 10 e3 Nd7 11 Ne1 c6 12 Nd3 f6 13 Rc1 Bf7 14 b3 Bf8 15 c4 Nb6 16 c5 Nd7 17 b4 Qc7 18 b5 a6 19 a4 Bh6 20 b6 Qd8 21 Nb3 Nf8 22 Na5 Qd7 23 Nb4 Ne6 24 f4 Nd8 25 Qd3 Bf8 26 Rfe1 Kg7 27 Bf1 Re7 28 Ra1 Qe8 29 Kf2 Be6

Having established a crushing space advantage, Gormally now broke through with 30 Nxb7! Nxb7 31 a5! White will pick up the a6-pawn next move, and then push his queenside passed pawns. 31...Bc8 32 Nxa6 This is one of those positions where the computer takes a little time to appreciate the strength of White's position. Against quiet moves by Black, such as 32...Qd8 ,White continues 33 Qc3 followed by Nb4 and a6. Instead, Ramondino panics and returns some material, but this does not solve the problems of the passed a- and b-pawns, and Gormally duly mops up. 32...Rxa6? 33 Qxa6 Nxc5 34 Qa8 Ne4+ 35 Kg2 Nd2 36 a6 Rxe3 37 Rxe3 Qxe3 38 b7 Qe4+ 38 ..Qf3+ 39 Kg1 Qe3+ 40 Kh1 evades the checks. 39 Kh3 Nf3 40 Bd3 Ng5+ 41 fxg5 Qe3 42 Bf1 Qe4 1-0

A little lower down, Indonesian lady player Gerhana Chkartina continued her excellent tournament, by beating Bob Eames with the black pieces. Despite being rated only 2014, Chkartina now has 3.5 points. The end of her victory over Bob was a little strange, however, and certainly a lesson in the value of knowing one's classics. After blowing a winning ending earlier in the game, Chkartina reached the following position:

This material balance is known generally to be a draw, providing the king and knight stay close together. The classic textbook example is the old game Neumann-Steinitz, Baden-Baden, 1870, in which White lost through allowing his K+N to be separated. I confidently predicted to Jack Rudd that the present game would be a draw, since I believed that every strong player was aware of this old, oft-quoted example, but it soon became clear that this was not the case. Play continued 61...Kd4 62 Nf6 Ke5 63 Ng4+?? Committing the same error as Neumann. Now the position is lost. Instead 63. Nh7 draws. 63...Ke6 64 Ne3 Continuing the same mistaken strategy of separating K+N. In fact, 64 Nh6 does not help now, since after 64...Kf6 the knight still has to go away again, but it is another sign that White is on the wrong track altogether. 64...Rf7 65 Nd5 Rd7 66 Nf4+ Kf6 67 Nh5+ Kg5?? A terrible mistake, allowing the knight back to the safety zone. Instead, Black wins by 67...Kg6, eg. 68 Nf4+ Kg5 69 Ne6+ Kf6 70 Nf4 Rd4 71 Nh5+ Kg6 and the knight will be cut off in no-man's land and rounded up. 68 Ng3?? Another losing blunder in return. 68 Ng7 draws. 68...Re7 0-1 The knight is irretrievably cut off, and will be lost. A surprisingly lacuna in endgame knowledge for such a strong player as Eames, and possibly another candidate for the "tragi-comedies" section of the next edition of Mark Dvoretsky's Endame Manual.

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