Penultimate round news and Blitz results …

— Mark Jordan with additional material from Lara Barnes | game annotations by IM Jack Rudd

So the penultimate round of the 2015/16 Hastings Masters and there were still a very large pool of players who could win a major prize and with the added spice that a number of players have the possibility of achieving a GM or IM Norm.

On board 1 GM Mista 2567 faced GM Berkes 2650 and, given that they were sharing 1st place with two others, chess fans were hopeful of a real fight. This was not to be as the GMs decided on a risk free policy and agreed a draw after a mere 10 moves. This left the opportunity for either GM Vakhidov 2546 or GM Fodor 2492 to seize sole 1st position going into the last round should they choose to make a fight of their game and this they duly did. Fodor, with Black, attempted to launch an attack against Vakhidov’s castled King down the h-file but the threat proved illusory giving White the chance to expand in the centre and then open up Q-side with a well-calculated exchange sacrifice. A King hunt followed with the Black King pursued all the way from the Q-side to g4 at which point he abdicated rather than face the indignity of being mated. This outcome put Vakhidov in sole lead, a position he had held briefly a few rounds before, and therefore in a very strong position to win at least a share of the first prize. IM Jack Rudd’s annotations to this crucial encounter appear below in this article.

Meanwhile GM Khenkin 2605 defeated GM Romanishin 2642 on Board 3 and Sulskis 2535 won out over IM Nagy 2403 on Board 4 and GM Flear 2459 was the victor over IM Krisha 2367 on Board 6. The victors in these games now join Mista and Berkes in equal 2nd and, unfortunately for both Nagy and Krishna, who have both had an excellent tournament, these losses rule out their achieving GM Norms. There were better results for FM Batchelor 2307 and FM Cunningham 2205 whose draws, respectively, with GMs Hebden 2469 and Pap 2551 keep their chances of an IM Norm alive.

The Hastings Blitz event was also held yesterday and with GM Vakhidov and IM Gluckman finishing equal 1st on 5.5/7. English players GM Arkell and FM Longson were among the group on 5/7. All juniors in the blitz received a free Chess24 flash drive and Tom Brown won a tee-shirt for the best UK performance.

Snapshot from the blitz

Annotated games from the masters —

(22) Vakhidov,Jahongir (2546) – Fodor,Tamas Jr (2492) [D02]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (8.2), 04.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.g3 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 Bf5 4.Bg2 e6 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Nh4 Be4 7.f3 Bg6 8.Nxg6 hxg6

A double-edged position; white has the two bishops and a potential break in the centre with e4, while black has chances against the white king.9.c3 e5 10.Be3 Bd6 11.Nd2 Qd7 12.Bf2 0-0-0 13.dxe5 Nxe5 14.Qc2 Rh5 15.Rfd1 Rdh8 16.Nf1

Black has piled everything onto the h-file, but it doesn’t necessarily add up to much. The next few moves see his attack stalling while white opens up the queenside.16…g5 17.b3 Qe6 18.Rac1 Nfd7 19.Qd2 Nf6 20.Qc2 Ba3 21.Rb1 Bd6 22.c4 dxc4 23.bxc4 Qxc4?[23…Nxc4 24.Qa4 a6 looks scary for black, but there’s no obvious breakthrough.] 24.Qb2 Qa6 25.f4 Nc6

26.Rxd6! cxd6 27.Bxc6 bxc6 [Fritz recommends 27…Qxc6 , but this is tantamount to an immediate resignation. The only hope for black is to pray that white has miscalculated.] 28.Qb8+ Kd7 29.Rb7+ Ke6 30.Qc7 gxf4 [30…Kd5 31.Qxf7+ Ke4 32.Qe6#; 30…Re8 31.Ne3 gxf4 32.Qxf7+ Ke5 33.Re7+ Rxe7 34.Qxe7+ Kd4 35.Qxd6+ Kc3 36.Be1+ Kb2 37.Nd1+ Kxa2 38.Qd2+ Kb3 39.Qc3+ Ka2 40.Qb2#] 31.Qxf7+ Kf5 32.g4+ Kxg4 [32…Ke4 33.Qe6+ Re5 34.Nd2#] 33.Qe6+ 1-0

(23) Prosviriakov,Vladimir (2232) – Bagi,Mate (2440) [C86]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (8.8), 04.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.c3 0-0 8.0-0

8…d5!? This line has many similarities to the Marshall Gambit. Of course, there are some differences… 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Qxe5 Bb7 12.d4 Bd6 …such as this: the equivalent move is not really an option in the Marshall because of Rxd5, but white cannot do that here. 13.Qg5 Qd7 14.Be3 Rae8 15.Nd2 Re6 The white queen is already looking precariously placed. 16.Bc2 Rh6

17.h3? [17.Nf3 Nxc3 18.bxc3 Bxf3 and black has regained his pawn with a good game, but it’s still playable.] 17…f5 18.Bb3 Kh8 19.Bxd5 Bxd5 The queen has two moves to escape Rff6-g6, and there is no way out in that time. 20.f3 Rff6 21.c4 bxc4 22.Ne4 Rfg6Winning a queen for a rook. The rest is trivial. 23.Nc3 Bg8 24.Qxh6 gxh6 25.d5 Be5 26.f4 Bg7 27.Rad1 c6 28.Rd2 Bxd5 29.Rfd1 Qe8 30.Bc5 Bxc3 31.bxc3 Qe4 32.Bd4+ Kg8 0-1

(24) Rudd,Jack (2255) – Burrows,Martin P (2145) [E44]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (8.18), 04.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 5.Nge2 Bb7 6.a3

6…Bd6!? [6…Be7 would be the normal move. Black has an ambitious plan in mind, attacking the white kingside.] 7.f3 Nh5 8.e4 Qh4+ 9.Kd2 e5 [9…Bxh2? 10.Kc2 and the bishop has no way out.] 10.d5 c6 11.Kc2 It’s very hard for black to do anything here. I, meanwhile, will calmly sit and build on my space advantage. 11…Qe7 12.Be3 Nf6 13.Qd2 cxd5 14.cxd5 Na6 15.Rc1 Bc5 16.Kb1 Bxe3 17.Qxe3 d6 18.Ng3 g6

19.Bb5+ [19.Qh6 immediately may be best, not allowing the king to escape to the kingside.] 19…Kf8 20.Qh6+ Kg8 21.Nd1 “Talking to my pieces”; the knight wants to join in the attack, and this is the route for it to get there. 21…Qf8 22.Qg5 Qg7 23.Ne3 h6 24.Qh4 Kh7

25.Ngf5? This ends up working, but it’s based on an oversight. [25.Bc6! stretches the black pieces more than they can handle. 25…Bc8 26.Bxa8 g5 27.Nh5] 25…gxf5 26.Nxf5 Qg6 27.Nxd6 Bxd5? [27…Nc5! 28.b4 (28.Nxb7 Nxb7 29.Rc6 Kg7) 28…Ncxe4 is fine for black.] 28.Bxa6 Everything is “normal” again. I am a pawn up, and the black king is exposed. 28…Rhd8 29.Nf5 Be6 30.g4 Rd2 31.Rcg1 Nd7 [31…Qg5 32.Qxg5 hxg5 33.h4 Kg6 is still winning for white, but black may be able to survive a while.] 32.Ne7 Qf6?[32…Qg5 33.Qxg5 hxg5 is the last chance.] 33.g5 Qxe7 34.g6+ 1-0