Tuesday, July 31, 2012

British Championships Round 7

David Howell (5.5/7) drew with Gawain Jones (6/7) today and Arkell (4.5/7) lost to Stephen Gordon (6/7).

On the top board it looked like Jones was playing for a win, but he found it difficult to create clear chances against White's solid play. Gordon impressively outplayed Arkell in an endgame, but appears to have blundered badly with 36...Nxa4? as 37.Be4+ Kh8 38.Rf7 Rg5 39.Qf1 was clearly winning for White.

Stephen Gordon has won 6 of his 7 games, losing only to Jones, but has faced weaker opposition (on average). In the next round he has to face Howell, whereas Jones has played (and beaten most of) the top scoring players. The only GMs left for him to play are Gormally (5/7) and Conquest (4.5/7). In fact, Jones has the higher-scoring IM Hawkins (5/7) next round. Hawkins lost to Howell in round 3, but otherwise has faced untitled opposition. Any result (except a loss!) against Jones tomorrow would certainly shake things up.

On 6 points: Jones (TPR 2726) and Gordon (TPR 2621)
On 5.5 points: Howell (TPR 2627) and Hawkins (TPR 2480)
On 5 points: Turner (2480), Gormally (2418), Hanley (2354) and Rudd (2272)

Rudd's (unintentional, I'm sure) Swiss Gambit has paid off as he has followed his two initial losses with five straight wins. Rudd has been playing some exciting chess, as has Hawkins. We can only hope that these two will play each other in a future round.

Turner played a rather old-fashioned continuation (8. Ne5) in a KID / English and appeared to choose an inferior move (13. Bg5 instead of 13. Ndxc5) but nevertheless achieved a clean win in good positional style. Walker should probably have played 13...Ne6

Also deserving of a mention is Charlie Storey, who avoided using his patented Sniper (with Black today) and instead went in for a Sicilian against GM Danny Gormally. His move 9...d5 seemed slightly dubious, leading to a French-style position with a knight offside on b6. However, this was all theory and presumably followed Storey's preparation. Gormally deviated with 11.Ne2 (taking the square e2 away from his queen).

After 11...Bd7 12.Nf4 Storey reacted with 12...h5?! and continued to play aggressive moves, showing no fear as he followed up with ...g5, ...g4 and ...f6 (a move that no-one in Andrew Martin's analysis room predicted). Gormally sacrificed a pawn in an attempt to catch Black's king in the centre. Black gave the pawn back and sacced another, bravely castling kingside. Sadly the lack of pawn cover proved too much of a liability and Gormally found a sequence of accurate moves to create a mating attack.