Round 4 report – Stewart Reuben

The game between Ma, Qun and Danny Gormally was utterly engrossing. The combination, starting 36…Rh1, netting a pawn and simplifying the position, was extremely elegant. The idea of 41 c4, losing another pawn, but reaching a very difficult ending, was either well-conceived, or lucky. Perhaps 41…d4 spurning the second pawn would have been easier. 80 moves packed with ideas.

I used to play the opening line in the game Mikheil v Jahongir about 55 years ago. White doesn’t get much. Black’s main problem is that it is difficult to get the knight on a5 back into the game. He lost a pawn in the attempt. After that it was a matter of technique.

Glenn handled the opening and early middlegame badly against the young Pole. After that he was struggling to maintain equality. The piece play around move 34 was intricate, but in the end it was a fair draw.

Why did Jonathan give up the bishop pair on move 11 against Daniel Fernandez? It was another fair draw, but neither player played especially vigorously.

Perhaps Neil Stewart would have done better to guard against the knight fork rather than incarcerate black’s bishop h8. The Bangladeshi GM was then able to open too many lines for his rooks after that. But did White resign prematurely?

The game between Robert Eames and Alexander Cherniaev attracted the attention of the audience in the Commentary Room. Alexander played the opening in an extremely enterprising manner. It was a fair draw. There is never enough time during the event to savour all of the goodies on display. But never mind, all the games are there on the website, to be cherished at one’s convenience.

And so to New Year’s Eve. The Hastings Congress has many traditions. I have hosted a dinner at a local restaurant most years. This time it was the Aba Turkish Barbecue in Robertson Street. Nobody had eaten there before. There was a huge choice of different dishes. Everybody seemed to be satisfied. Singing Auld Lang Syne was a bit weak.

Do all players have a New Year’s Resolution to make a better score? More effective might be to play better chess. I seldom wish people good luck. What they need is good skill.