After having been the event’s Publicity Officer for most of the last 12 years, it’s a little strange not being in the thick of it and having to try and monitor it through the website, excellent though that is.
In my additional capacity as chess columnist for the Western Morning News, I have tried to concentrate on monitoring the progress of players in the Championship with at least some local connection; Devon residents, Jack Rudd, Keith Arkle and Dominic Mackle, and Cornish ex-pats, Mickey Adams and Andrew Greet. Not a wasted policy, either, as it turned out, as the early headlines seem to have centred around these very folk.
Rudd started off like the runaway train that he always is, knocking over 2 GMs and a GM norm holder (Arkell, Williams and the new Scottish Champion, Andrew Greet), and finding himself in the joint lead with Adams. If Rudd is unpredictable, however, Adams is not, and Adams then forced Rudd’s train into the buffers, and carried on to notch up 5 straight wins without any trouble whatever. How Rudd will finish up is anyone’s guess. Last year he started with 1/4 points, then finished with 6 points from 7 games, to record his best score in this event. Will this be the reverse of that?
Followed Arkell’s game last night (FridayNight Live) as it went on and on and on. I know from experience that by 9 p.m. on most nights the playing hall is practically deserted as almost all games have finished, but this game went on until way past 10 p.m. and the number of moves crept up and up – 100; 110, 120; (the longest in a World Championship match is 124); up to 160 moves, when a draw was finally agreed. Nor was it idle woodpushing; With a rook each and bishops of opposite colours, Arkell was making gradual progress all the time and eventually had the only 2 pawns ensconced on the 6th & 7th ranks. But it proved another classic example of how the advantage of an extra pawn or two can be negated by the best defence where the bishops are on oppposite coloured squares. And so it proved once again.
Adams must be the hottest favourite for many a year and could easily reach 10/11 points (surely not more?). The reason he hasn’t entered in the past 13 years is his understandable concern for his FIDE rating points, and his attempts to keep in the topmost band of world players. Even in winning the British title, he could have actually lost rating points in the process, as many of his opponents’ grades would have been so far below his own. It may be that he has now reached a point in his career where he has less concern for that when he sees £5,000 there for the asking.