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Historic Hastings (07.01.2012.)

The World’s oldest regular event is the Hastings Congress which started in 1895 and is now held annually in the post-Christmas period. The top section this year has 108 players, and is held on a 9-round Swiss system. At the time of going to print, just before the start of the final round, the sole leader on 7/8 was Yue Wang (China), half a point ahead of Baku Lilath and Sunda Shyam, both of India.

With 15 of the competitors coming from India, the wise men of the East have certainly arrived in force, but they are not bearing gifts, as they are likely to be taking back with them most of the top prizes.

With a round to go, Jack Rudd (Barnstaple) was having a good tournament on 5/8, Keith Arkell (Paignton) was on 50% while Paul Helbig (Bristol) was on 3.

Two of these westcountry players met in round 7 and produced this cracking game.

White: Jack Rudd (2290). Black: Paul Helbig (2128).

Alekhine’s Defence -[B03].

1.e4 Nf6 This was Alekhine’s idea to tempt White’s pawns forward to an extent where they become overstretched and vulnerable to attack. 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4 All fairly standard so far, but White is determined to bolster his pawn centre at the cost of exposing his King. 5…dxe5 6.fxe5 Nc6 7.Be3 Bf5 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Qd2 Bb4 11.a3 Bxc3 12.bxc3 0–0 13.Bd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 White now has several open lines to the enemy King and will exploit them to the full. 14…f6 15.exf6 Qxf6 16.0–0–0 Na5 Threatening Nb3+ forking the queen. 17.Qa2 c5 18.Rhg1 cxd4 The position is critically balanced, with both sides bent on attack. The difference is that the knights are restricted to the edge of the board while the bishops have much scope to either defend or attack. 19.Bxd4 e5 20.c5+ Kh8 21.Be3 Qxf3 22.Rg3 Qd5 23.c4 Nbxc4 White’s pieces are now beautifully poised for a crushing attack. 24.Bxh7 Qc6 Unclear is  24…Nxe3 25.Rxd5 Rf1+ 26.Kd2 Rf2+ 27.Kxe3 Rxa2 28.Rh3 Nc4+ 29.Ke4 Rxa3 30.Rxa3 Nxa3 31.Bf5 for example, would leave Black 2 pawns up. 25.Bd3 Qa4 26.Rh3+ Kg8 27.Bh7+ Kf7 28.Rf3+ Ke6 29.Rd6+! The “defending” knight is, of course, pinned. 29…Ke7 30.Bg5+ Rf6 31.Bxf6+ gxf6 32.Qg2 Rf8 If 32…Nxd6 33.Qg7+ Nf7 34.Qxf6+ Kd7 35.Bf5+ Ke8 36.Be6 attacking f7 and preventing Qc4+. 33.Rdxf6 Rxf6 34.Qg7+ Kd8 35.Qxf6+ Kc7 36.Bc2 White cannot afford to ignore his defences. 36…Qb5 37.Qf7+ Qd7 38.Ba4 Nb3+ If 38…Qxf7 39.Rxf7+ and the king must get pegged to the back rank while the h-pawn will be difficult to stop. 39.Bxb3 1–0

The regular venue for the West of England Congress for the past 12 years, the Royal Beacon Hotel, Exmouth, went into receivership over the Christmas period, but the interim management put in by the Nat West Bank, has confirmed that it will honour all existing bookings, so this year’s event over the Easter weekend is safe.

This position arose in the very first Hastings congress of 1895, in a game between Tarrasch (W) and Walbrodt. Can you calculate White’s winning continuation?

White to play and win.

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