Vakhidov seizes the lead going into Round 6!

— from Mark Jordan

Oleg RomanishinNew Year’s Day dawned on a dry but rather colder Hastings as the Congress moved in to the fifth day with some exciting chess in prospect. A few travel problems meant that one or two players had to withdraw which was very unfortunate for them but, New Year’s Eve out of the way, most participants, hopefully not nursing hangovers, were ready to play at the allotted time.

The White Rock Hotel hosted a Games Evening on New Year’s Eve which proved a great success with visitors to the Congress and other hotel guests who hope can be repeated next Congress.

The five day Christmas tournaments ended on Friday and results of the Morning Tournaments can be found below the account of action in the Masters.

Round 5 saw rather less decisive games on the upper boards than in round 4, attributable to the fact that the pairings were much more evenly weighted with the higher rated players settling inexorably at the top of the table. The top board clash, GM Mista 2567 – GM Vakhidov 2546, proved dramatic with the latter claiming an advantage and Mista hanging on to preserve his 100% record or at least to ensure a share of first position. In the end Vakhidov triumphed and is now in sole lead of the tournament with Mista knocked back to joint second. Boards 2-4 saw hard fought draws with GM Berkes 2650- GM Arkell 2490 particularly intriguing. Arkell ceded the exchange for a pawn early on in return for pressure and a very unbalanced position which was always on a knife-edge. Berkes, faced with Arkell’s inventive play, was unable to make his small material advantage tell and a draw was a very fair result after a complex struggle.

Board 5 saw GM Fodor 2492, with the Black pieces, defeat IM Eggleston 2396 and the upset of the round was IM Krishna’s 2367 win over GM Hebden 2469. I say upset, but Krishna is having a good tournament whilst Hebden does not seem to be on the best of form so far.

Legendary GM, Oleg Romanishin 2462 (pictured above by Brendan O’Gorman) joins the chasing group with his win over FM Radovanovic 2321. The GM achieved a strategically won game out of the opening and was saved further work when his opponent, under considerable pressure, cracked and blundered a knight.

So after Round 5 the top of the pecking order reads —
1 GM Vakhidov 2546 4.5/5
2-7 GM Berkes 2650, GM Mista 2567, GM Fodor 2492 GM Arkell 2490, GM Romanishin 2462 IM Krishna 2367 4/ 5

Christmas Morning A    

1= Jim Burnett (Doncaster) 4/5; Matt Chapman (Fareham); Farshad Ai (Eccleshall)
Grading Prize was shared between – Paul Stokes (Battersea) and Martin Lichte (GER)  3/5

 Christmas Morning B

1 Phil Foley (Beckenham) 4/5
2=  Ian Deswarte (Guildford); Mark Potter (Salisbury); Marc Bryant (Hastings) 3.5/5
Grading Prize won by Connor Boswell 3/5

Christmas Morning C

1 Hugh Tassell (Tunbridge Wells) 4.5/5
2= Adrian Waldock (Walton-on-Thames); J. Fleischer (Croydon); A. Cload (Hastings & St.Leonards) 3.5/5
Grading prize won by Geoffrey Naldrett (Gerrards Cross)

Christmas Morning D

1= Alan Fraser (Orpington); Caroline Robson 4/5
2= Chris Fraser (Beckenham); Mason Woodhams (Hastings); Andrew De Santos (Preston) 3.5/5
Grading prize shared between – Chas. Chapman 3/5 (Fareham); George Jellis (Hastings & St.Leonards)

This is one of the busiest days during the Congress with the 35th Weekend Congress starting last night and ending on Sunday afternoon. The commentary room is well attended every day and the games on-line are being keenly watched. Tomorrow sees Round 6 of the Masters and Round 2 and 3 of the Weekend congress taking place. The Chess and Bridge Bookstall is now here and can be found in the analysis room.

(13) Rudd,Jack (2255) – Golding,James (1882) [D34]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (5.19), 01.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Bg5 c4 10.b3 Qa5 11.Qc1!? This was a new move for my opponent. 11…Be6 [11…Ba3 12.Qc2 Bb4 would have taken play back into lines he was familiar with.] 12.bxc4 dxc4 13.e4!? Seizing the centre. If it works, I’ll get a very good position, but there may be tactical problems in my way. 13…Bb4 14.Bd2 Bg4 15.a3 15…Qh5 [15…Bxf3 16.axb4 Qh5 17.e5 Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Nd7 19.Be3 is approximately equal, according to Fritz. In practice, I’d have been fairly happy with it.] 16.Nh4 Ba5 17.h3 Nxd4? [17…Bxh3! 18.Bxh3 Nxd4 19.Qb2 Rad8 gives black two pawns and some well-placed pieces for his piece. In fact, it looks difficult for white to hold onto said piece.] 18.hxg4 Bxc3?? [18…Nxg4 still keeps things in the balance.] 19.gxh5 Ne2+ 20.Kh1 Nxc1 21.Bxc3 I’m now a piece up for very little. 21…Nb3 22.Rad1 Nxh5 23.Bf3 Nf6 24.e5 1-0

(14) Singh,Vishnu (2180) – Oyama,Akito (2005) [B26]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (5.27), 01.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.d3 Bg7 5.Be3 d6 6.Qd2 Rb8 7.Bg2 e6 8.Nf3 Nd4? 9.0-0? [9.Bxd4 cxd4 10.Nb5 wins a pawn. Black has some compensation in the form of the two bishops, but not enough.] 9…Ne7 10.Bh6 10…Bxh6? A reckless pawn-grab. [10…0-0 is approximately equal.] 11.Qxh6 Nxc2 12.Rac1 Nb4 13.Rfd1 Ng8 14.Qe3 e5 15.d4!Bashing open the centre while the black king remains there. 15…cxd4 16.Nxd4 a6 Attempting to stop a white knight landing on b5, but… 17.Ndb5! …it goes there anyway. 17…axb5 18.Nxb5 Bd7 19.Nxd6+ Kf8 20.Qa3? [20.Qb3 Nh6 21.Qxb4 Kg7 22.Nc4 would be more convincing. White is a clear pawn up, and the attack is still raging.]20…Nc6 21.Nxb7+ Qe7 22.Rxd7 Qxa3 23.bxa3 White is now two pawns up, but his attack has fizzled out, and black can at least develop his pieces. It should still be winning, but it is easier to go wrong now. 23…Nf6 24.Rc7?! [24.Nc5! is slightly more accurate. 24…Nd4 25.Rxd4 exd4 26.e5 Ng4 27.h3 Nxe5 28.f4] 24…Nd4 25.Bf1 Ne8 26.Rd7 Nf6 27.Rd6? Giving up most of white’s advantage. [27.Nc5 is still very strong.] 27…Nxe4 28.Rb6 Kg7 29.a4 Rhc8 30.Rxc8 Rxc8 Black’s active knights and rook now provide sufficient compensation to get the draw. 31.Nd6 Nxd6 32.Rxd6 Rc2 33.a3 Nf3+ 34.Kg2 Ne1+ 35.Kg1 Nf3+ 36.Kg2 1/2-1/2

(15) Tarhon,Brian (2139) – Taylor,Adam C (2282) [C67]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (5.17), 01.01.2016
[Rudd, Jack]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 The notorious “Berlin Wall” variation, much played at the recent London Chess Classic. 9.b3 Be7 10.Bb2 Be6 11.Nc3 11…b6 The other two games I have in my database both involve the king’s going back to e8 fairly quickly. Taylor wants to retain the option of redeploying it to b7 via c8, which seems logical enough. 12.g4 Nh4 13.Nxh4 Bxh4 14.h3 h5 15.Rad1+ Ke8 [15…Kc8 16.f4 hxg4 17.f5 Bd7 18.hxg4 gives white a nice position, because the black bishop is somewhat misplaced on d7.] 16.f3 a5 17.Kg2 Rd8 18.Ne2 hxg4 19.hxg4 Bg5 20.Rxd8+ Kxd8 21.Kg3 c5 22.Bc1 22…Bxc1 It’s difficult to say, but this may be the source of black’s later difficulties. With only one black bishop on the board, it’s much easier to advance the white kingside pawns without adverse consequences. 23.Rxc1 Ke7 24.Rd1 a4 25.Nc3 axb3 26.axb3 Ra8 27.Nb5 A paradoxical idea, exchanging queenside pawns and thereby rendering black’s majority there mobile, but white feels exchanging off the minor pieces is more important. He may be right. 27…Ra2 28.Nxc7 Rxc2 29.Nxe6 Kxe6 30.Kf4 b5 31.Rd6+ Ke7 32.Rb6 b4 33.Rb7+ Ke6 34.Rb6+ Kd7 Trying to avoid the repetition of position. 35.g5 Kc7 36.g6! Taking play into a pawn-up rook ending. 36…fxg6 37.Rxg6 c4 38.bxc4 b3 39.Rxg7+ Kc6 40.Rg1 Rxc4+ 41.Kf5 We are now in the dizzying heights of seven-man tablebase endings. This position so far is a draw… 41…b2 42.Rb1 Rb4??But it isn’t now! [42…Rc2! maintains the draw. From c2, the rook can attack the white pawns from behind, which is crucial for black’s drawing chances.] 43.Ke6 Kc5 44.f4 Rb6+ [44…Rxf4 45.Rxb2 leads to the Lucena position, which is a known win.] 45.Kf7 Rb7+ 46.Kf6 Rb8 47.e6 Rf8+ [47…Kd6 48.Rd1+ Kc5 49.e7] 48.Ke5 Rb8 49.e7 Kc4 50.Ke6 The pawns have now advanced far enough that they can make their way home without any need of the rook. 50…Kb3 51.Kf7 Rb7 52.Kf8 Rb4 53.e8Q Rxf4+ 54.Kg7 Rb4 55.Qe6+ Kc2 56.Qf5+ Kb3 57.Rf1 Ka4 58.Qc2+ Ka3 59.Rf3+ Ka2 60.Rf7 Rb3 61.Ra7+ Ra3 62.Rxa3+ Kxa3 63.Qb1 1-0