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Adams Wins Again…. but it wasn’t easy!

The final 3 rounds of the British Championship finished with the result most people would have expected, but not without a few twists and turns along the way. In Rd. 7 Adams beat the defending champion, Gawain Jones and thereafter, maybe thinking “job done”, played steadily to get draws against Nick Pert and Danny Gormally. Meanwhile, Luke McShane drew against Hebden in Rd. 7 but finished strongly to beat Fodor and, perhaps surprisingly, former champion David Howell, leaving Adams and McShane tied on 7/9 pts, necessitating a Rapidplay play-off.

Adams won the first game (see this week’s position) and only needed another steady draw to clinch the title. But no; McShane hit back to inflict Adams’ only loss in all the games he’s played in this event since 1989. So, at 1-1 this meant 2 further play-off games had to be played at an even quicker pace – Blitz games, so fast that the computerised board and internet couldn’t keep up with transmitting the moves on screen, but not too fast for Michael who won them both.

This was Michael’s 6th title, having first been champion in 1989 in Plymouth, – the greatest number since Jonathan Penrose won his 10th in 1966. Here is his solitary loss, played at the speed of 20 minutes for all moves, plus an extra 10 seconds per move, which for this game is an average of 18 seconds per move.

White: L. McShane (2669). Black: M. Adams. (2706).

Guioco Pianissimo [C50]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 Also called the Italian Game. 4.d3 This constitutes the quietest form of this opening. Nf6 5.0–0 0–0 6.h3 h6 7.c3 d6 8.Re1 a6 9.Bb3 Re8 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.Nf1 Bxb3 12.axb3 d5 13.Qe2 Qd7 14.b4 Bf8 15.Ng3 Rad8 16.Kf1 g6 17.Qc2 Re6 18.Qa4 dxe4 19.dxe4 Qd3+ 20.Kg1 Red6 21.Be3 Qc4 22.Rac1 Kh7 23.b3 Qe6 24.c4 R6d7 25.c5 Rd3 26.Rc4 Na7 27.Bc1 Nd7 28.Qa2 Nb8 29.Bd2 Nbc6 30.Nf1 Nb5 31.Ne3 Nbd4 32.Nxd4 Nxd4 33.Bc3 Nb5 34.Bb2 c6 35.Ba1 h5 36.Rc2 Bh6 37.Nc4 Nd4 38.Bxd4 R8xd4 39.Qb2 h4 40.Rce2 Bf4 41.Qc2 Kg7 42.Rf1 Kg8 43.Ree1 Qd7 44.Nd6 Rd2 45.Qc3 R2d3 46.Qc2 Rd2 47.Qb1 Rxb4 48.Nc4 Rd4 49.Rd1 Rb5 50.b4 a5 51.Rxd4 Qxd4 52.Nd6 Trapping Black’s rook. 52…Qxb4 53.Nxb5 Qxc5 54.Nc7 White is now a rook up, but if his 3 connected passed pawns can get moving there may yet be a chance, especially at this speed.  54…b5 55.Rd1 a4 56.Qd3 Bg5 57.Qd7 Qc4 58.Qe8+ Kh7 59.Qxe5 Qc2 60.Rf1 Qd2 61.Ne8 Bh6 62.Nf6+ Kg7 63.Ng4+ Kh7 64.Qf6 Bg7 65.Qxh4+ Kg8 66.Nf6+ Bxf6 67.Qxf6 a3 68.e5 Qc3 Black defends his c-pawn at the expense of allowing the rook to grab the d-file. 69.Rd1 Kh7 70.Rd8 and Black can’t avoid mate on h8. 1–0

In last week’s position, Adams (B) was let off the hook by playing 1…g5+ 2.PxP would lose his queen, so he must play 2…Kh5, but then Black has 2…Qxh3 mate.

Here is the final position from the 1st play-off game against McShane. Adams (W) to move and seal the win.

Progress in the British (04.08.2018.) 997

The draw for Rd. 1 of the British Championship will keep the Grandmasters apart, as they should be meeting in the later rounds, which gives them an easier chance to get warmed up. However, one player they might not wish to meet in those circumstances is Jack Rudd of Bideford, whose sharp and mercurial style is guaranteed to unsettle and test any of them, as in this game.

White: Ameet Ghasi (2494). Black: Jack Rudd (2244).

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 An unusual early move, but the open b-file later becomes the scene of decisive action. 3.Bg2 Bb7 4.d3 e6 5.0–0 Be7 6.c4 bxc4 7.dxc4 0–0 8.Qc2 White makes a number of move sequences that are easily repulsed and seem to do little to help his overall development. 8…Be4 9.Qd2 c6 10.Nc3 d5 11.Nxe4 Nxe4 12.Qc2 Bf6 13.Nd2 Nxd2 14.Bxd2 Qb6 15.Rab1 Nd7 16.b3 g6 17.e4 Rac8 18.Be3 This bishop continues to flit all over the board to no great effect. 18…d4 19.Bd2 a5 20.Qd1 Be7 21.h4 Bb4 22.Bg5 Rfe8 23.Kh1 f6 24.Bh6 Ne5 25.Bf4 Rcd8 26.Bc1 Its 7th move finds him back on its original square. 26…h5 27.Bh3 d3 28.Be3 Bc5 29.Bxc5 Qxc5 30.f4 Nf7 31.Qd2 Rd4 32.Rbe1 Nd6 33.Bg2 f5 34.e5 Ne4 35.Bxe4 fxe4 Black now has a menacing pair of central passed pawns as opposed to White’s immobile pawns. 36.Re3 Black now needs to break up White’s Q-side pawns. 36…a4 37.Rfe1 axb3 38.axb3 Rb8 39.Rxe4 Rxb3 40.Rxd4 Qxd4 41.f5 Qc3 Black would like to exchange queens, freeing up his advanced pawn. 42.Qf2? Rb2 43.Qe3? Qc2 Resigns, in view of 44.Qg1 Qxc4 45.Qf1 Qd5+ 46.Kg1 gxf5 and Black is totally dominant 0–1.

After 6 of the scheduled 9 rounds the leading pack consisted mostly of the usual suspects, namely 1st= Michael Adams & Gawain Jones 5/6. 3rd= David Howell; Tomas Fodor; David Eggleston; Luke McShane & Mark Hebden. With, at the time of going to press, 3 rounds still to play, and these leaders due to fight it out among themselves, and every likelihood of a play-ff, it’s a question of who can best hold their nerve, but most money will be on either Adams or Jones.

In last week’s position, White won a piece, and with it the game, after 1.Rd7!  when Black can’t take it because of 2.Ra8+. He can only defend his rook by 1…Bb6 but then there’s 2.RxR+ BxR and 3.Ra8 pins the bishop which can be taken at leisure next move.

As I wrote last week, Samuel Boden was one of Hull’s master players in the 19th century, and he had a maxim which ran “He who strives to win a drawn game, will invariably lose”. An example of this arose on Tuesday evening at the end of the Rd. 3 game on Bd. 1 between Tomas Fodor (W) and Michael Adams. After being on the back foot for much of the first half of the game, Fodor recovered and himself started pressing, winning a pawn before playing 61.Qe5 to reach this week’s position, probably harbouring thoughts of a win against the top seed, possibly after exchanging queens and utilising his extra pawn. But Boden was right, he had striven too much and resigned next move. Why?

Michael Adams (Black) to win immediately.