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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Hebden’

British Championship Surpises. (05.08.2017.) 945

Of the 103 competitors in the British Championships, which reaches its climax tomorrow in the final round, 13 are Grandmasters. These tend to sail through the early rounds as they are drawn against players from the lower reaches, but their games get progressively tougher as their opponents will have the same score. Approaching the half-way mark at Llandudno, most of the GMs had avoided mishaps, with one or two exceptions.

In this game the veteran and 7th seed Mark Hebden (60 next year) took on a strong player (41st seed) who is not quite a household name in chess circles, and the outcome was probably the biggest upset of the opening 4 rounds.

White: John Merriman (210). Black: GM Mark Hebden (242).

King’s Indian Defence – Sämisch Variation [E81]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 c6 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Nge2 e5 10.d5 cxd5 11.cxd5 White’s pawns will take some shifting, and prove to be the key to the game. 11…b5 12.0–0 Nc5 13.Bc2 a5 14.a3 a4 15.Nc1 Bd7 16.Nd3 Qb6 17.Be3 Nh5 18.Ne2 Rac8 19.Rac1 f5 20.Nxc5 dxc5 Freeing up Black’s backward pawn, but also White’s advanced d-pawn. 21.Bd3 Qd6 22.g3 f4 23.gxf4 exf4 24.Bf2 c4 25.Bb1 25…Bh3 Attacking White’s rook, which normally one would expect to be moved, but White makes the decision to ignore that threat and pursue his own agenda – i.e. exploiting his 2 central pawns. 26.Nd4 Bxf1 27.Kxf1 Qd7 28.Ne6 Rfe8 29.Nxg7 Qh3+ 30.Kg1 The best place to attack a pawn chain is at its base, but Black must deal with the knight first. 30…Kxg7 31.Qc3+ defending his f-pawn – White can’t afford to be too generous with his defensive pieces. 31…Kg8 32.e5 Best to push the central pawns quickly, while knight + queen are stuck on the rim. 32…Rcd8 33.d6 Ng3 34.Re1 Nf5 35.Be4 Ng7 36.Bc6 Ne6 Now it’s Black’s turn to ignore an attack on a rook. 37.Bxb5 White doesn’t wish to simplify the position by exchanging pieces as he’s still the exchange down – better to maintain his grip on the position. 37…Ng5 38.Bc6 holding the vital f-pawn. 38…Kg7 39.Bb6 Kh6 40.Bxd8 Rxd8 41.Kh1 Rb8 42.d7 Rb3 43.Qd2 Rd3 44.Qxf4 1-0. With the knight pinned and the bishop still holding the f-pawn, the e-pawn is free to storm ahead. Play might have continued…. 44…Qf5 45.Qxf5 gxf5 46.e6 Nxe6 47.Rxe6+ Kg5 48.Re8 etc.

In last week’s position, White could simply take the rook because when its protective bishop retakes, White’s rook mates on the back rank.

Going in to the 6th of 9 rounds, the joint leaders are former child prodigies Luke McShane and David Howell on 4½/5, with no less than 11 players just a half point behind. When it finished tomorrow, it’s likely that a series of tie-break games will be needed.

This position arose in a game played at Walsall 20 years ago. Black is attacking both queen and c-pawn, so what is White’s best response?

White to play and win by force.

British Championship 2014 Rd. 3 Ward vs Hebden.

At the British Championship in Aberystwyth, the anticipated late rush of entries from the better players did not materialise as several of them were preparing for the forthcoming Olympiad. This left defending champion David Howell as the clear favourite, ahead of a small number of talented aspirants, eager to snatch the crown, given half a chance and a following wind.

The Round 3 draw on Monday paired up two of the seven competing Grandmasters, the 1996 champion, Chris Ward (46) against Mark Hebden (56). Hebden is currently the stronger of the two, and has always featured in the ultimate destination of the title, without actually winning it himself.

White: C. G. Ward (2422). Black: M. L. Hebden (2554).

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 White makes a positive bid for the centre ground. 4…d6 5.Nge2 0–0 6.Ng3 c5 Black has transposed into a Sicilian Defence with an early fianchetto, an opening on which Ward is an expert. 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Taking towards the centre files is the correct thing to do, and now Black is stuck with an immobile backward pawn. 9…Na6 10.0–0 Nc7 11.a4 Na6 12.Bg5 h6 13.Be3 Re8 14.Qd2 h5 15.Bg5 Now the bishop can return to its intended spot. 15…Qc7 16.f4 White commits another pawn to the centre.  16…Nh7 17.Bh4 Bh6 18.Bc4 Nb4 19.Rae1 All White’s pieces are now beautifully placed, and he is almost spoiled for choice as to how best to continue. 19…Bd7 20.Qf2 Unpinning his f-pawn. 20…a6 21.e5 Bxa4 22.exd6 If 22.Nxa4 b5 winning the piece back and netting a pawn. 22…Qa5 If 22…Qxd6 23.Nge4 and Black has several ways of losing material – e.g. 23…Qxf4 24.Qxf4 Bxf4 25.Rxf4. 23.Ra1 There now follows a very finely balanced series of threats and counter-threats. 23…b5 Attacking the bishop, countered by 24.d7 Red8 25.Qxc5 Now the Black queen is unguarded, preventing PxB. 25…Bf8 26.d6 Rxd7 27.Rxa4 Bxd6 If 27…Qd8. 28.Qxd6 bxa4 29.Qxg6+! The “defending” pawn is actually pinned. The end is near. 29…Kh8 30.Bf6+ Nxf6 31.Qxf6+ Kh7 32.Nf5 1–0. Black resigned in view of White’s several mating combinations, which can be worked out from here.

At the end of Round 3, Ward was one of only three of the 58 players still on a maximum score, the others being Justin Tan (17) and Jonathan Hawkins (31), but there’s a long way to go yet, with 8 more gruelling games ahead.

In last week’s position, White won a piece with 1.QxN QXQ 2.Nxe6+ forking the queen, after which the win should be routine.

In this position from a game earlier this year, how did Black launch a stinging attack?

Black to play and win significant material.

British Championship – Torquay – Day 2

Tuesday, 28 July 2009
1.30: Review of Round 1:

The draw for the first round of a big tournament like this is usually done by listing every player in grade order, from highest to lowest, cutting the list in half and moving the lower half up to a point where each player has an opponent. This way, the top GMs will find they are paired against someone from the top of the lower half, and in theory they should have a fairly gentle ride. Chess being what it is, however, it’s rarely that simple.

Take last year’s top two players, for instance; after 11 rounds Stuart Conquest and Keith Arkell were tied 1st=, and only a play-off could split them. This year, Stuart, as defending champion was on Bd. 1 with the black pieces facing 21 year-old David Eggleston. After a few words of welcome Cllr. Hodge, the Chairman of Torbay Council, took the traditional photo-opportunity of making the first move on top board, in this case for Eggleston. This was duly done, but the Chairman must have a magic touch for Eggleston went on to win and Conquest fell at the first fence. Why was that? Let us scroll back and examine the photographic evidence.

In Picture 1, the Councillor can clearly be seen saying to Eggleston, “He’s the champ – would you like some help?” Stuart cannot believe his ears.

Below: Eggleston readily agrees to the offer and the Councillor looks to Conquest asking if that’s all right with him. Stuart is now incredulous, and bearded Congress Manager Dave Welch can’t quite believe what he’s seeing either.

Above: But Mr. Hodge presses on while Conquest looks resigned to his fate.

Or perhaps there’s another interpretation to these pictures – who knows?

Not only that, but Keith Arkell lost as well, in a position where he couldn’t avoid mate. This kind of thing wasn’t in the scripts of either GM, but it’s early days yet and much can still happen – and it probably will. At Millfield, for example, the then defending champion, Julian Hodgson had a mere half point after two rounds, yet still went on to retain the title.

On the other hand, Lara Barnes, Co-Controller of the Championship, is delighted at the results because she coached both Eggleston and Hawkins when they were wee lads in the North East, so it’s an ill wind ….. etc

Andrew Martin’s Best Game prize: At 13.45 Andrew Martin came in to tell me to be in the main hall at 14.10 when he was due to announce his Best Game award. Last year, at Liverpool, the John Moores University had made a special donation of £1,100 for this very purpose – and Andrew handed out a cheque for £100 each day to the worthy winner. This year no money had been set aside, merely the honourable mention from the stage awaited the winner. I said this was unfortunate as the cash certainly gave an edge to the proceedings last year, and even if £20 could be dredged up from somewhere it would be something. He immediately sped off to see Dave Welch and came back within minutes having negotiated a £30 daily prize – he even had the first cheque in his hand.
And so it was that, minutes before the start of the round, a whole raft of prize money was organised.
The first winner was Mark Hebden, for his fine win against Chris Briscoe.

Above: GM Mark Hebden in receipt of his Best Game prize for Rd. 1…

Below: … followed by the serious business of playing the top seed, David Howell.


Finally for today a bit of event trivia: John Littlewood and his son Paul are both playing in the British Championship this year. Who were the last father & son combination to play in the same year? Answer tomorrow.