Gloucestershire beat Devon recently for the first time in years, probably due to a combination of Devon missing several of their top players for this match and the fact that Gloucestershire is starting to draw more on players from the north Bristol League area. Details as follows:- (Devon names 2nd in each pairing).
1.M. Townsend (203) ½-½ J. Stephens (196) 2.J. Stewart (200) 1-0 J. Underwood (186). 3.I. Robson (199) 1-0 L. Hartmann (190). 4.M. Ashworth (190) ½-½ T. Paulden (185). 5.J. Jenkins (185) ½-½ S. Martin (184). 6.N. Hosken (184) 1-0 D. Regis (180). 7.P. Masters (182) ½-½ C. (179). 8.P. Kirby (181) ½-½ B. Hewson (176). 9.C. Jones (180) ½-½ J. F. Wheeler (177). 10.P. Meade (169) ½-½ P. Sivrev (172). 11.P. Dodwell (14 9) ½-½ O. Wensley (170). 12.R. Ashworth (145) ½-½ T. Thynne (167). 13.P. Baker (141) ½-½ G. Body (163) 14.C. Haynes (138) ½-½ W. Ingham (158). 15.B. Whitelaw(137) ½-½ P. Brooks (158). 16.A. Richards (125) 0-1 N. Butland (155).
Another feature of the match was the high percentage of draws (75%).
This is also the case in the London Chess Classic, with only 3 wins from the first 20 games. They are using a different scoring system, sometimes referred to as “Bilbao Rules”, players earning 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and none for a loss. “Sofia Rules” also apply, whereby players cannot agree a draw without the arbiter’s permission, and then only granted when there is deemed to be no purposeful play left in the position. There is also the added incentive of best game prizes.
Yet the preponderance of draws continues. Most of the games have been well-contested, but almost inevitably, when the world’s top players are involved, things will gravitate towards a draw as irresistible attack meets immovable defence. Striving too hard for wins will certainly invite the danger of losses, handing 3 pts to an opponent. Early on, sharp attacking openings like the Sicilian Defence have been largely absent, in favour of the more solid and safer, Ruy Lopez. The event finishes today.
Here’s a rare win from the early stages.
White: V. Topalov. Black: A. Giri.
Grünfeld Defence [D71]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 d5 5.Qa4 Nfd7 6.cxd5 Nb6 7.Qd1 cxd5 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.e3 Bg7 10.Nge2 0–0 11.0-0 Re8 12.b3 e5 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.h3 Bf5 15.Nd4 Bd3 16.Re1 Ba6 17.Qd2 Nd3 18.Rd1 Bxd4 19.exd4 Qf6 20.a4!? Qxd4!? 21.a5 Nd7 22.Ra4 Qe5 23.Nxd5 Nxc1?! 24.Rxc1 Nf6 25.Nc7 Rad8 26.Qf4 g5 27.Qb4 Qb2 28.Raa1 Re2 29.Qc5 h6 30.Nxa6 bxa6 31.Rab1 Qd2 32.Bf3 Ne4! 33.Qxa7?? Nxf2! 34.Bxe2 Nxh3+ 35.Kf1 Qd5! 36.Bh5 Qh1+ 37.Ke2 Qg2+ 38.Ke1 Re8+ 39.Kd1 Nf2+ 40.Kc2 Ne4+ 0-1 After 41.Kd3 Qd2+ 42.Kc4 Rc8+ it’s mate next move.
In last week’s position, Anand lost to the queen sacrifice 1.QxP+! forcing 1…RxQ 2.Ng6+ Kg8 3.Rh8 mate. Here’s a Topolov loss from some years ago. White to play and win.