The last round of any Swiss is always somewhat artificial, but here there were few bloodless draws. Instead we had the unusual statistic of several Bf5 Caro Kan games on the top boards. But White went down different routes in each case.
Sundar Shyam (6½) v Yue Wang (7) – the young Indian needed a draw for his GM norm. Perhaps Wang took advantage of this, taking some liberties with knight manoeuvres in the middlegame, assuming he could always bail out with a draw offer if things went wrong. But White wasn’t having any shenanigans.
Thus three members of the Indian youth team secured norms as N Krithika Pon gained a WIM norm on a lower board. This probably means we can expect an invasion next year as well.
Yuri Vovk (6) v Babu Lalith 6½) – in this case the Indian had already secured his GM norm irrespective of the result of the last round game. 15 Ng6 looks sparkling, but only leads to equality. It was disappointing that a draw was agreed just as the position began to look exciting. It is quite common that a player has a let-down after securing a norm, especially the final one. Otherwise, why not play on with the black pieces? Surely the value of winning the Hastings Masters outweighs the risk of losing some money? Anyway, this meant Yue Wang had secured a well-deserved first place outright. He led from start to finish and never looked in serious trouble.
Gudmundur Kjartansson (6) v Andrei Istratescu (6) – the Icelandic player needed to win to secure a GM norm. Perhaps this affected his objectivity. There is no doubt he stood significantly better, but got his pawns on the wrong squares and lost trying to win.
Deep Sengupta (5½) v David Haydon (5½) – there was considerable interest in the Commentary Room as David needed only a draw for his first IM norm. Fritz preferred 20…f6. I wouldn’t even have thought of that, creating a weakness on g6. White always had nagging pressure, but 31…e5 or Kf7 would have been better than the text Kh7. As Chris pointed out, getting all his pieces in a line on the h file did not help Black’s cause. Even so, it seems 40…Kg6 would have been fine. After 40…Nxh5 41 Ne6 White was winning. But it wasn’t time trouble. Black jut didn’t think long enough at critical moments.
All in all it was a disappointing event for the English players. We only won two prizes. Gorak Rajesh scored 3½/9 and won the Best Improvement Prize. That is usually easier to do if you are 10 years old. His rating went from 1400 to 1485.8. He clearly became a stronger player in the course of the tournament. Simon Williams v Sam Franklin won the Best Game Prize. Simon won, but Sam had a winning position at one time and it was decided to split this prize.
But everybody was a winner, having spent 9 days in Hastings playing chess. The players clearly enjoyed themselves. We have a high expectancy that the event will be able to tale place next year. So make a note in your diaries for 28 December 2012 to 5 January 2013 and join us in Hastings, or on the web for another veritable feast of chess.