Round 6 report – Stewart Reuben

I didn’t get my priorities right today and attended the Committee Meeting of the Hastings International Chess Congress. Don’t get me wrong. The meetings over the year have almost invariably been conducted efficiently and in the best of humour. But it meant I missed some of Chris Ward’s wonderful commentary.

I am surprised Mikheil offered Nick Pert a draw after only 13 moves. It seemed to me to be just a reasonable position with plenty of play left.

Again I was surprised that Qun Ma sacrificed a piece with 19 Nxh6+. Why not first play 19 Rxe8 and then consider the combination? Chris said, ‘At that standard, they don’t worry about maximising the look-ahead.’ The end draw was absolutely correct. It would have been repetition. But why did the young Chinese player go in for it?

Keith Arkell and Danny Gormally had a draw after 15 moves, but the pawn structure was symmetrical and there was very little play left in the position.

I don’t understand why Daniel Fernandez played 12 b4. What compensation was the young Singapore player expecting to get? But the game still had to be won and Igor Khenkin proceeded efficiently.

The Commentary Room audience can be very partisan – not that there’s anything wrong with that. A collective groan went off after the American, Justin Sarkar, played 33 Bf2. This was a very fine display by the younger player against the very experienced Mark Hebden.

The opening of the game between Stephen Gordon and Glenn Flear was full of interest. They came down to a rather drawish endgame, but made a valiant effort to keep the game alive.

I have to leave early to help with the FIDE Rated blitz tournament at the White Rock Hotel. Thus I saw live less than half of the game between Ke Mu and Jonathan Hawkins. First the Chinese player played extremely well and gained the upper hand. Then he had the advantage of bishop and knight against rook and pawn. Later it became rook against the two minor pieces. The game continued on and on. Eventually Ke Mu’s minor pieces seemed curiously ineffective and Jonathan outplayed him. Truly, a game of more than two halves.

Peter Sowray collected a fine scalp today; that of the Bangladeshi GM Ziaur Rahman. It was a satisfyingly complex game that is all a bit beyond me.

So 5 positive results on the top 9 boards. It is true that there were a number of disappointingly short draws. I read somewhere that only about 10% of all books published are of value. In the top half of the Hastings Masters it is a much higher percentage than that.