Four share first at the end of R7 …

— by Mark Jordan with additional material from Pam Thomas and Alex McFarlane | games annotated by IM Jack Rudd | photos by Brendan O’Gorman

The weather was not helpful on Sunday and there were a few transport problems but the chess continues and the weekend congress finished of which you can find details below.

Ferenc Berkes 2 Tamas Fodor Aleksander Mista 2 Jahongir Vakhidov

There were lots of players in with a chance of a prize or a norm as we went into the seventh day of the masters. At the start of round 7 there were three players sharing first place on 5/6, GMs Berkes 2650, Mista 2567 and Fodor 2492, with a group of five just behind on 4.5/6 meaning that no-one had so far stamped their authority on the tournament by speeding ahead of the pack. Lots of candidates for the prizes! Under these circumstances the chess fan might hope for lots of aggressive play in Round 7 with the players intent on out-pacing their rivals. However professional players sometimes have other priorities and that seems to have been the case to an extent here.

On Board 1, the tournament favourite Berkes was playing White against Fodor. One might have expected a real battle as there was a lot to play for but, in the event, the players agreed to share the point just out of the opening when there seemed to be plenty of play in the position. From the outsider’s point of view this seems a puzzling decision on the part of Berkes as he had the White pieces, will lose a few Elo points as a result and remains firmly within rather than ahead of the leading pack for the prizes! GMs sometimes move in mysterious way!

The third leader at the end of Round 6, Mista, also drew but after a bit more of a battle. Playing White against GM Sulskis 2535, he found a well-prepared opponent who was well able to maintain the balance and the two GMs played each other to a standstill. A draw was an appropriate result.

Meanwhile GM Vakhidov 2546, who had briefly been sole leader but was now trailing by a ½ point, had the Black pieces against IM Bagi 2440 who has maintained a high position through-out the tournament. It was something of a battle but the GM eventually triumphed and thus joins the leaders on 5.5/7.

On Board 4 GM Romanishin 2462 faced English GM, Glenn Flear 2459 and a competitive battle it was. Flear held the draw however and both players maintain their positions just behind the leaders to be joined by others including GM Hebden 2469 and FM Peter Batchelor 2307 who defeated GM Arkell 2490.

So, going into Round 8, it can be seen that there are still plenty of players with a possibility of a top prize and quite a few Norms within reach. All to play for then!

The commentary has been going well and attracting a good audience which reached 1200 yesterday. Much thanks is due to GM Chris Ward the excellent and entertaining commentator, and also to Chess 24 who have been relaying the games with their usual efficiency and expertise.

The Weekend Congress finished on Sunday and here are the results!

Weekend Major

1 Tomas Tamosiunas (LTU) 4.5/5
2=David Sedgwick (Croydon); Carl Gartside (Buxton) 4
Grading prize shared – Joshua Cavendish (London) 3.5; Guy Batchelor (London)

Weekend Minor

1 Chris Rogal (Hendon, Hastings)  4.5
2 Omar Jebari (Hove) 4
Grading Prize shared – Richard Newton (Winchester);  Jeremy Hudson (Bexhill); Gary Willson (Hastings) 3

Weekend Under 120

1= Mark Johnson (Colchester); Charlie Metcalfe; Mason Woodhams (Hastings); Steve Oakman (St. Leonards) 4
Grading Prize shared – George Jelliss (St. Leonards) 3; Patrice Tournier (St. Leonards) 2

Three games from the Maters annotated by IM Jack Rudd —

(19) Krishna C R G (2367) – Pap,Gyula (2551) [A87]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (7.6), 03.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.Nf3 f5 2.b3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Bb2 0-0 7.0-0 a5 8.Nbd2 c6 9.c4 a4 10.Qc2 axb3 11.axb3 Rxa1 12.Rxa1 Na6 13.Bc3 Qb6 14.Qb1

14…Ne4? An attempt at an attack that ends up backfiring. 15.Nxe4 fxe4 16.Ba5 [16.Qxe4? Qxb3] 16…Qa7 17.Qxe4 Nb4 18.Qb1 Bxd4 [18…Rxf3 19.e3! is a nice way to show just how overstretched black’s pieces are.] 19.Nxd4 Qxd4 20.Bxb4 Rxf2 [20…Qxf2+ 21.Kh1 Qxe2 22.Ra2 and black has no way of carrying on the attack. There might be drawing chances in practice, though.] 21.Ra8 Rxe2+ 22.Kh1 Qg4

23.Qd1! Overloading the queen and ending black’s resistance. 1-0

(20) Bates,Richard A (2331) – Kett,Tim (2192) [D30]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (7.17), 03.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.e3 c6 5.Bd3 Nbd7 6.0-0 dxc4?! This line may not be so good with the white knight not committed to c3 yet – there is no idea of …b4 attacking the knight to give it any sting. 7.Bxc4 Bd6 8.Nbd2 0-0 9.Be2 c5 10.Nc4 Bc7 11.b3

11…b5?! Consistent, but weakening. 12.Nce5 a6 13.Nxd7 Nxd7 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Ba3 Bd6 16.Qd4 Nb7 17.Bb2 f6 18.Rac1 Qe7 19.Rfd1 e5 20.Qb6 Bc5 21.Qc6 Bg4?

[21…Be6 22.Bd3 Rfc8 23.Qe4 g6 and black at least is in the game.] 22.Nxe5 Rfc8 [22…Bxe2 23.Rd7; 22…fxe5 23.Bxg4; 22…Rac8! is the toughest defence, although black is still a pawn down for nothing. 23.Qe4 Be6 24.Nc6 Qf7 25.Bf3] 23.Qe4 Bxe2 [23…Be6 again leaves black a pawn down with a shattered position: 24.Bf3 fxe5 25.Qxb7] 24.Rd7 Qe6 25.Qxb7 fxe5 26.Rxg7+ Kf8 27.Rxc5 Rxc5 28.Ba3 Rac8 29.Rxh7 There is no way to guard g7 without losing guard of the rook on c8. 1-0

(21) Atako,Chino C (2050) – Rudd,Jack (2255) [A65]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (7.21), 03.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 I was feeling ill and wanted to play something I knew well. Unfortunately, the response to 1.d4 I know best is the Benoni, which just cannot be played on autopilot. 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bf4

7…a6 [7…Bg7 8.Qa4+ might be awkward to deal with.] 8.a4 Bg7 9.Bd3 0-0 10.Nf3 Bg4 White has not played h3, so I will happily take the opportunity to exchange my usually awkward c8 bishop for his knight. Of course, I won’t actually make the exchange until he plays h3. 11.0-0 Nh5 12.Be3 Nd7 13.Be2 Re8 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Nhf6 16.Qc2 Rc8 17.a5

17…Qe7 [17…c4 would be met by 18.Ra4! , the tactical justification for which is 18…Nc5?? 19.Rxc4 Qxa5 20.b4] 18.Rfe1 h6 19.g3 Nh7 20.Bg2 h5!? Trying to stir things up on the kingside, mostly because I want the e5 square. 21.f4 h4 22.g4 g5 23.fxg5!? [23.f5 Bd4 is fine for black – there is no way for white to get any play.] 23…Ne5 24.Kh1 Nxg5

25.Qf2!? Giving up the exchange for an attack. I didn’t think this was all that good at the time, but it proves to be much more dangerous than I expected. 25…Nd3 26.Qxh4 Nxe1 27.Rxe1 [27.Bxg5 f6 28.Bd2 Nd3] 27…Bf6? [27…Bxc3! 28.bxc3 (28.Bxg5? Bxe1) 28…Nxe4 looks a bit hairy, but white doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a follow-up.] 28.Qh6 Nh7 29.e5 Bxe5 30.Be4 f6? [30…Nf8 is apparently best. 31.Bf5 Bxc3 32.bxc3 Qe5 33.Bxc8 Qxc3 leaves black with a material advantage, but I was in no fit state to calculate this.] 31.Bf5 Rcd8 32.Be6+ Kh8 33.Rf1 Qg7 34.Qh5

34…Rxe6 Trying to blunt the white attack by giving the exchange back. It manifestly fails to do this. 35.dxe6 Qe7 36.g5 Somehow I’d overlooked this. I’m lucky I don’t just lose a piece for nothing on the spot. 36…Qxe6 37.g6 Rd7 38.Rf3 d5 39.Bxc5? [39.Na4! brings the knight into play on c5, and is likely to end up leaving me a piece down for not very much.] 39…d4 40.Nd1 [40.Ne4 Bc7 41.Nxf6 Qe2 42.g7+ Rxg7 43.Qe8+ Qxe8 44.Nxe8 and the ending favours white.] 40…Qc6 41.b4 Qe4? [41…Rg7! exploits the pin on the rook nicely. 42.gxh7 Rg3] 42.Qf5?

[42.Nf2 still gives white the upper hand.] 42…Qe2! Threatening mate. White has to give a piece to stop it. 43.Rf2 Qxd1+ 44.Rf1 Qe2 45.Rf2 Qe1+ 46.Rf1 Qe2 [46…Qg3! actually wins here; 47.Rf2 Rg7 48.Rg2 Qe1+ 49.Rg1 Qd2! (the idea I’d missed – covering the vital h6 square) 50.Qc8+ Nf8! 51.Rg2 Qc1+ 52.Rg1 Qf4 53.Rg2 Bd6 and I retain my extra piece.] 47.Rf2 Qb5 48.Rg2 Qc6 49.Kg1 Rg7 50.h4 Qd7 51.Qh5 Qd5 Threatening …Bh2+, thus leaving white no time to play Bf8. 52.Qg4 f5 53.Qh5 Qe4 54.Re2

54…Qf4?? [54…Rxg6+! 55.Qxg6 Qxe2 56.Qe8+ Kg7 57.Qd7+ Kh6 and the checks soon come to an end.] 55.Bf8?? [55.Bd6! Rxg6+(55…Bxd6?? 56.Re8+ Rg8 57.Qxh7#) 56.Qxg6 Bxd6 57.Rg2 and black has nothing better than to give perpetual.] 55…Qg3+ 56.Kf1 Rxg6 With mate to follow shortly – it’s now the white king that is far too exposed. 57.Rxe5 Qh3+ 58.Ke1 Rg1+ 59.Kd2 Rg2+[59…Qc3+ is slightly faster: 60.Ke2 Qc2+ 61.Kf3 Qg2+ 62.Kf4 Rf1+ 63.Qf3 Rxf3#] 60.Re2 Qc3+ 0-1