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Hastings Chess Congress 2010-11 (8)

Hastings Round 8 Report

Steven Giddins reports on the Hastings Masters where Romain Edouard is close to victory after David Howell couldn't quite get over the line against Danny Gormally.

On the brink

Another Hastings Congress is drawing to a close! Once again, we have had a great week and a half of chess here on the Sussex coast, and as we head into today's final round, it remains all to play for in the Masters section. Yesterday's 8th round saw some fierce clashes at the top, but nothing has yet been resolved. The top board encounter between Edouard and Istratescu started with a sideline of the super-sharp Botvinnik Anti-Meran, but ended in a 21-move perpetual check, all of which has been seen several times before at GM level. The all-Indian clash between Anmesh and Shyam also ended fairly briefly and peacefully, but the other top games were all long and hard fights. Howell-Gormally was the centre of most attention, and certainly proved to be a fascinating battle. Black always had reasonable play, and although Gormally seemed to weaken in the run-up to the first time-control, his exchange sacrifice led to a position where it was always going to be very hard for White to make progress. Hampered by his exposed king, Howell was unable to avoid an eventual exchange of queens, but Black held the ending easily enough:

Howell,David (2616) - Gormally,Daniel (2480) [B90]

Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (8.2), 04.01.2011

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 h3 g6 7 g4 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 Nfd7 10 a4 Nc6 11 Nde2 Rb8 12 Bg5 h6 13 Be3 b5 14 Rb1 b4 15 Nd5 e6 16 Ndf4 b3 17 Nd3 bxc2 18 Qxc2 Bb7 19 b4 Nce5 20 Nxe5 Nxe5 21 Qb3 Rc8 22 Rbc1 Rxc1 23 Rxc1 Qa8 24 f4

24...Bxe4 25 Bxe4 Qxe4 26 fxe5 Qf3 27 exd6 Qxe2 28 Bf2 Rd8 29 Rd1 Bc3 30 b5 axb5 31 axb5 Qf3 32 Qc2 Be5 33 Rd3 Qb7 34 Qc5 Bf4 35 b6 Ra8 36 Qd4 Bg5 37 d7 Bd8 38 Kh2 Ra5 39 Qe3 Ra2 40 Rd2 Ra1 41 Kg3 Qh1 42 Qf3

42...Rg1+ 43 Bxg1 Qxg1+ 44 Qg2 Qxb6 45 Qf2 Qc6 46 Qf3 Qc7+ 47 Kg2 Kg7 48 Qa8 Bh4 49 Qa1+ Kh7 50 Qf1 Kg7 51 Qd3 Qc6+ 52 Qf3 Qc7 53 Qd3 Qc6+ 54 Kh2 Bd8 55 Qd4+ Kh7 56 Qd6 Qf3 57 Qg3 Qc6 58 h4 Qc1 59 Rf2 Kg8 60 Qb8 Qc7+ 61 Qxc7 Bxc7+ 62 Kg2 Kf8 63 Rc2 Bd8 64 Ra2 Ke7 65 Ra7 Kd6

66 h5 gxh5 67 gxh5 f5 68 Kf3 Bg5 69 Ke2 Bd8 70 Kd3 Bg5 71 Kc4 Bd8 72 Kb5 Bg5 73 Kc4 Bd8 74 Kb5 Bg5 75 Kc4 ½-½

Once again, the Indian contingent showed their strength, with Sengupta, Das and Prasanna all winning on boards 4-6, at the expense of Griffiths, Bates and Rendle respectively. Despite this setback, Ryan Rhys Griffiths can still make an IM norm, if he wins today, although has has a tough task, with Black against Bates. Swapnil and Ramnath completed an outstanding day for the Indian players. Notable performers among the home contingent include Adam Ashton, who survived a busted position against Kotronias, and even came close to winning in the ending, and Radovanovic, who should have beaten Hebden with Black. The talented Yang-Fan Zhou moved up with a crushing win against David Spence:

Zhou,Yang Fan (2348) - Spence,David (2244) [C06]

Hastings Masters Hastings/UK (8.14), 04.01.2011

1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nd2 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 Bd3 c5 6 c3 Nc6 7 Ngf3 g6 This fianchetto looks very strange in the French, but is a respectable idea in this variation. Black aims to blunt the white bishop on d3. 8 0-0 Bg7 9 Re1 cxd4 10 cxd4 0-0 11 Nb3

11...Nb6? [But this is the start of a treatment that is too passive. In this line, Black needs to break with 11 ..f6 in order to activate his pieces and create pressure on White's centre.] 12 h4 Bd7 13 Bg5 Qc7 14 Rc1 Rae8 15 h5 Qb8 16 Qd2 Bc8 17 Nc5 Black has been reduced to complete passivity, and it is only a matter of time before White infiltrates decisively on the kingside dark squares. 17 ..Qc7 18 Bf6 Bxf6 19 exf6 Qd8 20 Qf4 Nd7 21 Nxd7 Bxd7 22 Ne5 Nxe5 23 dxe5 Kh8

24 Qh6 1-0

So, heading into the last round, the situation at the top shows Edouard with 6.5, a half point lead over seven players with 6 points - Sengupta, Istratescu, Howell, Shyam, Das, Gormally and Prasanna, whilst Neverov, Anwesh and Swapnil have 5.5. The draw pairs Sengupta with White against Edouard, whilst the other 6-pointers all meet amongst themselves. I have made the mistake before, of predicting a fierce last-round battle, only to be disappointed by a package deal of quick draws between the leaders, but I will stick my head out once again, and suggest that today's last round should see some real fighting chess at the top.

As well as the main prizes, there are also precious title norms to play for. Shyam needs a win against fellow Indian player Rao for a GM norm, whilst Prasanna needs only a draw against Gormally for the same result. Three players are in with a chance of an IM norm. As well as Griffiths, mentioned above, Anwesh needs a win as Black against Neverov, whilst Adam Ashton can secure an IM norm if he beats Russian veteran, Boris Furman.

Before finally leaving the subject of round 8, however, some amusement from lower down the field. One of the players who is a regular here at Hastings, is Alan Barton. I is fair to say that Alan is reluctant to agree draws, until every resource in the position has been exhausted, and a jolly good thing to. But this does make for some rather long games on occasions, and over recent years, if one measures it by moves played, per pound of entry fee paid, he has probably had more value for money than just about any other player in the congress. It was therefore with some trepidation that your Control Team observed the early stages of the game Messam-Sparkes - Barton yesterday.

Messam-Sparks,Lateefah (1917) - Barton,R Alan (2103) [D10]

Hastings Masters (8.34), 04.01.2011

1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 e3 Nf6 4 Nc3 a6 5 a3 b5 6 c5 a5 7 Bd2 a4 8 Bd3 g6 9 Nge2 Bg7 10 Ng3 h5 11 h4 Nbd7 12 f4 e6 13 Nge2 Ng4 14 Ng1 f5

The position has assumed an extremely petrified character. Many players would now be tempted by the prospect of an early handshake, but that is not Alan's style. 15 Nf3 Ba6 16 Qe2 Qc8 17 Nd1 Ndf6 18 Bb4 Bf8 19 Nf2 Kf7 20 g3 Kg7 21 Ng5 Be7 22 Nfh3 Re8 23 0-0 Bd8 24 Qd2 Qd7 25 Rfe1 Bc7 26 Nf3 Bb7 27 Re2 Qd8 28 Ne1 Ne4 29 Bxe4 dxe4 30 Nc2 Qd5 31 Bc3 Kh6 32 Nb4 Qd7 33 Ng5 Nf6 34 Qc2 Nd5 35 Be1 Kg7 36 Nh3 Qd8 37 Nxd5 exd5 38 Bb4 Ba5 39 Qc3 Bc7 40 Kg2 Qd7 41 Rf1 Bd8 42 Qe1 Bc8 43 Rh1 Qa7 44 Qc3 Re7

Still awake out there, are you? As you may be able to appreciate, when keying this game in, I was struggling a little bit to keep my eyes open. Indeed, with all due respect to the players, I could not help feeling that the game had a positively Churchillian character to it - never in the field of chessboard conflict has so much arid manoeuvering been carried out, for so long, by so few...But now it becomes apparent that the players both have a sense of humour, and the same devious idea now occurred to them both. Play continued:

45 Ree1 Qa6 46 Ra1 Ba5 47 Ra2 Rea7 48 Rha1

...and lo and behold, they had managed to bring about one of the Holy Grails of chessboard curiosity collectors, the completely-occupied file! Having thus ensured that the game will forever find a place in future anthologies of such curiosities, they decided that honour was satisfied, and soon retired to their evening's entertainments.

Qb7 49 Ng1 Bd8 50 Qe1 Bf6 51 Rd1 ½-½

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