All change at Hastings

— from Mark Jordan

Where there was one, now there are three! GM Vakhidov 2546, who had usurped the previous leader GM Mista 2567 on the previous day, was only able to hold his sole first place for a single night before facing tournament favourite, GM Berkes 2650, who efficiently defeated him with the White pieces. Mista. Making up for his loss on the previous day, relieved Arkell 2490 of his position at the top of the English contingent and joined Berkes on 5/6. Meanwhile, GM Fodor 2492 [below, left], with White, beat IM Krishna 2367 in a game in which, although hard fought, he always maintained the upper hand. So we now have 3 players sharing first on 5/6 with the prospect of an exciting tussle in the final rounds.

Tamas Fodor Glenn Flear

The leading English participant is now GM Glenn Flear 2459 [above, right] who won himself a place in the chasing pack on 4.5/6 by defeating his compatriot GM Gormally 2506. Flear got off to the worst possible start in this tournament, being the victim of an upset in round 1 when he lost to FM Robin Cunningham 2205, so his rise through the rankings is a tribute to his determination. Gormally meanwhile, as he bemoans on his Twitter account, suddenly finds himself the lowest ranking English GM on 3.5/6 which shows what a slippery pole a Swiss system event can be. He will no doubt seek to remedy that unfortunate situation in the final rounds.

(16) Williams,Simon K (2439) – Anderson,John (2247) [D90]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (6.10), 02.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.c4 g6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7

5.h4!? Simon Williams’s signature move. It’s particularly effective against Grnfeld setups, overloading the knight on f6 as it does.5…c6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.h5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bd2 Qd5 11.Rh4!? An unusual way to get the e2-e4 advance in, but it seems to work. 11…e5 12.e4 Qd6 13.Qb3 a5 14.a4 Bf6 15.Rh1 Qe7 16.Bc4

16…0-0? A classic case of “castling into it”. Williams now whips up a ferocious attack. 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Rh6 Kg7 19.0-0-0 b5 20.axb5 cxb5 21.Bd5 Rb8 22.Rdh1 b4

23.Ng5! Bxg5? [23…bxc3 is the only move to give some hope of survival, although it’s still going to leave black with a worse ending: 24.Qxc3 exd4 25.Ne6+ fxe6 26.Rh7+ Kg8 27.Rxe7 dxc3 28.Bxe6+ Rf7 29.Rxf7 cxd2+ 30.Kxd2 Nc5 31.Rb7+ Bxe6 32.Rxb8+]24.Rh7+ Kf6 25.Bxg5+ Kxg5 26.c4! A lovely little quiet move, bringing the queen into the attack. Black has no defence. 26…Qd8 27.Qg3+ Kf6 28.Qh4+ g5 29.Qh6+ Ke7 30.Qe6# 1-0

(17) Rudd,Jack (2255) – Eggleston,David J (2396) [E25]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (6.11), 02.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qd3 0-0 9.e4 Ne7 10.Be3 Qa5 11.Qd2 [11.Kf2 f5 is unclear, but I didn’t like the look of it.] 11…Rd8 12.Bd3 Nbc6 13.Ne2 b6

14.Ra2!? My signature move is here for purely defensive purposes: I need to be able to defend d2 so I can castle. 14…Ba6 15.Bxa6[15.0-0? cxd4 16.cxd4 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 Nb4] 15…Qxa6 16.0-0 Rd7 I didn’t like the look of this position; black was going to invade on c4 with a queen or a knight, and a queenside pawn was almost certainly going to drop off. Time to make vague threats on the kingside and hope they do something. 17.Qe1 Qc4 18.Rd2 Rad8 19.Qg3 Kh8 20.Rfd1 Qb3 21.Kf2 Qxa3 22.h4!? Na5

23.dxc5 Before …Nc4 renders my position horrible to play. 23…Rxd2 24.Rxd2 Rxd2 25.Qb8+ Ng8 26.Bxd2 Qxc5+ 27.Be3 Qe7 I have some minor compensation. But a pawn is a pawn! 28.g3 e5 29.Qc8 Qe6 30.Qa6 Nc6 31.c4 f5 32.exf5 Qxf5 33.Qb5 [33.Qb7 Nge7 34.c5 is a possibility. I may be able to exchange off enough pawns to draw this.] 33…Nge7 34.c5 e4 35.f4 Qh5 The position has turned in black’s favour over the last few moves; the invasion on f3 will be very powerful. 36.Ke1 h6 37.Qc4 Qf3 38.Bg1 e3 39.cxb6 axb6 40.Qe6??

40…Qxe2+! Ouch. The resulting piece-down ending is almost certainly lost, although there are some drawn positions I can try for.41.Kxe2 Nd4+ 42.Kxe3 Nxe6 43.Ke4 Nc5+ 44.Ke5 Kg8 45.f5 Kf7 46.g4 Nc8 47.g5

47…h5! Making sure I can’t exchange off all the pawns. 48.g6+ Ke7 49.Kf4 Nd7 50.Bd4 Nf6 51.Ke5 Nd6 52.Bc3 Nc4+ 53.Kd4 b5 54.Bb4+ Ke8 55.Bc3

55…Ne3! 56.Ke5 [56.Kxe3 Nd5+ 57.Kd4 Nxc3 58.Kxc3 Ke7 is a trivially winning pawn ending for black.] 56…Ned5 0-1

(18) Spanton,Tim R (1936) – Burrows,Martin P (2145) [D01]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (6.24), 02.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 The Veresov is not seen very often at this level, for reasons that will become clear later on. 2…d5 3.Bg5 c5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Be2 cxd4 6.exd4 Bf5 7.a3 e6 8.Nf3 h6 9.Bh4 Rc8 The weakness of the white pawns on b2, c2 and d4 is already obvious. 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Bd3? Allowing black a free shot at the d-pawn, which he has no hesitation in taking. 11…Bg4 12.Be2 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 Qb6 14.Bxf6 gxf6

15.Bxd5!? Looks speculative, but anything else just allows black to win a pawn with a good game. This tricky sacrifice requires careful handling by both sides. 15…exd5 16.Re1+? [16.Qg4 may be best, not allowing the king an immediate escape route to the kingside. 16…f5 17.Rfe1+ Ne7 18.Qg7 Kd7 19.Qxf7 Rcf8 is unclear, although in practice I’d rather have black.] 16…Kf8 17.Qg4[17.Nxd5 also seems inadequate: 17…Qxd4 18.Qh5 Be5] 17…Rd8 18.Rad1 Ne7 19.Qf3 Rg8 Taking advantage of the indirect defence of the f-pawn to bring the rook into play. 20.g3 f5 21.Kh1 Rg6 22.h4 Qc6 All black’s weak pawns are now defended, and the rest is easy. 23.Rd3 Rg4 24.h5 Re4 25.Rdd1 Rxe1+ 26.Rxe1 Bc7 27.Nd1 Qxc2 28.Nc3 Qd2 29.Re2 Qg5 30.Nb5 Bb6 31.Re5 a6 32.Nc3 Bxd4 0-1