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Adams In The Driving Seat (06.08.2016.)

At the time of going to press, after 9 of the scheduled 11 rounds of the British Championship, the eleven Grandmasters occupied most of the leading  places, as surely as cream rises to the top, though there was still time for an upset or two. Top seed Michael Adams was in the clear lead with 8/9 pts, followed by the 2014 champion, David Howell on 7, with Gormally, Nick Pert and New Zealander Justin Tan level on 6½. There was a whole raft of players on 6/9 pts, namely Mark Hebden, Chris Ward, John Emms, Richard Palliser, Keith Arkell, Martin Brown and Jovanka Houska, who will almost certainly become Ladies Champion. At this stage in the proceedings, it’s difficult to see how Adams can fail to become clear winner, as he has already played most of the top opponents.

The prizegiving takes place this morning at 10 a.m. and the full prizelists for all the many different sections may be found on the event website.

Next year it will be held in Aberystwyth and will be squeezed into 1 week instead of the traditional fortnight in the hope this might attract more players.

This was deemed Rd. 8’s Game of the Day between two very attacking players.

Black: Danny Gormally (245). Black: Chris Ward (240).

Sicilian Defence – Accelerated Dragon [B50]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.Bc4 d6 5.0–0 Nf6 6.d3 White decides to keep the centre closed for the time being; it looks slow, but has a latent sting. 6…0–0 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.h3 Restricting the scope of Black’s white-square bishop 8…Rb8 9.Re1 b5 It’s thematic in the Sicilian that Black should counter any White kingside attack with a thrust on the other wing. 10.Nbd2 a5 11.Nf1 b4 12.Be3 Nd7 13.d4 Now White decides to open up the centre, due to Black’s growing pressure on c3. 13…Ba6 14.N1h2 This looks a slow manoeuvre, but it’s eyeing up the attacking potential if and when the knight can get to g5. 14…bxc3 15.bxc3 cxd4 16.cxd4 Nf6? Inviting e5 and the start of a central attack. Much better was 16…Nb4 when Black may get the knight established on d3. If, for example, 17.Re2 then 17…Nb2 attacking both queen & rook. 17.e5! Suddenly the game has changed as White seizes the initiative. 17…Ne8 18.Ng4 d5 19.Qd2 Nc7 20.Rac1 Nb4 21.Rxc7!? A very brave exchange sacrifice. 21…Qxc7 22.Bh6 Bxh6 23.Qxh6 Threatening Ng5. 23…f6 24.exf6 exf6 25.Re6 Black is still the exchange up, but is fast running out of time and has only 30 seconds per move left, too little to calculate all the necessary defensive moves required. 25…Qg7 26.Qe3 h5 27.Re7 hxg4 If 27…Qh8 28.Qe6+ Rf7 29.Qxf7# 28.Rxg7+ Kxg7 29.hxg4 Bc4 30.g5 Rbe8 31.gxf6+ Kxf6 At this point Black’s allotted time ran out. 1–0

In the 2 days since going to press, everything was resolved, and, unable to wait till next Saturday, here is what happened, based on the report given on the event website by the ECF Publicity Officer, Mark Jordan.

Michael Adams, the long-time highest rated English player on the FIDE rating list, won the British Chess Championships, to add to his 4 previous British titles. His score of 10/11 equalled the record set by Julian Hodgson in 1992 and, given that future championships are planned to be run over 9 rounds, this was probably the last opportunity for the record to be equalled or exceeded.

At the start of the final round there was a remote chance that there could be a play-off as, had Adams lost and David Howell won, they would have both been on 9/11 necessitating a play-off. Unusually for the final round of the Championships however, the leader, Adams, was playing Black against an untitled opponent, Martin Brown, over whom he had a near 500 point rating advantage. One of the reasons for such an unbalanced pairing was that Adams had already played all his main rivals with an interesting effect on the up- and down-floats; the other reason being that Brown had had a very good tournament, and now needed a draw to secure an IM norm. Since Adams also needed a draw to ensure he won the title it was always possible that an early decision could be agreed. The question was whether Adams would be tempted to offer a quick draw in order to guarantee his 1st place and the prize money involved, and allow him to wander round the playing hall at leisure, enjoying the trials and tribulations of the other players. Or would he go for the throat, with the idea of going for a record-equalling high score of 10/11pts?

In the event, he eschewed the idea of a quick draw and went for a quick win, as Brown walked in to some pretty original and devilish opening preparation in a well-known position, failed to respond accurately and was despatched in short-order. The game was over hours before any other.

Brown had the compensation that he played a great tournament, and had the opportunity to contribute what might turn out to be a theoretically important game against, arguably, Britain’s greatest ever player on Bd. 1 of the last ever British Championships run in an 11-round format. So many congratulations to Michael Adams and a big thumbs-up to Martin Brown for contributing to an historic event!

Congratulations also to Jovanka Houska who has won the British Women’s title with a score of 7/11. She defeated Lentzos in the final round but already had the Championships in the bag with a round in hand.

Other Westcountry players in the Championship scored as follows:

Keith Arkell (Paignton) 6½

Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) & Jeremy Menadue (Truro)  both 5½

Carl Bicknell (Bristol); Brian Hewson (Tiverton) both 5.

Steve Dilliegh (Bristol) 3½

All this, and much else besides, may be found on the event website, and Mark Jordan will be producing a full report in the ECF’s on-line magazine, Chessmoves.

In last week’s position, Black’s queen had no quick retreat, so could be attacked with 1.b4 after which it can no longer defend his bishop which may be taken next move.

Here is a new 2-mover by Dave Howard.

White to play and mate in 2

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