SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The 97th (!) Championships of the British Isles is taking place betweem Sunday 25 July until Saturday 7 August, at the Sports Centre,University of Kent Canterbury. The tournament is an 11-round swiss system and counts as pre-tournament favourite super-GM Mickey Adams. The time contol is a rational 7 hour session: 100 minutes for 40 moves followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes for the remaining moves with 30 seconds cumulative increment for each move starting from first move.
I recommend the readers to take a look at the tournament website (link above), a model of how such tournament websites should be done: easy to find information, lots of photos and videos, live games, and much, much more.
This year’s tournament is a bit weaker than what one would normally expect from a British Championship. The Scottish internationals seem to have boycotted the event because of some grievance from the last time they played, and a number of the elite English GMs are not playing (Nigel Short , Luke McShane and David Howel come to mind instantly). Never the less, with 8 GMs and numerous IMs participating, the championship is very competitive, atleast for 2nd place.
Mickey Adams, once rated number 4 in the world, and a solid member of the plus-2700 club
The tournament is shaping up to be a decisive walk-away for Adams, who has accumulated a whopping 9 points out of the first 10 rounds! Born in 1971, his Petrosian-like play has been remarkably error free and Adams has excelled in this tournament at accumulating small advantages and slowly constricting his opponents until they break. It is the simplicity and efficiency of Adams’ play that strikes this author.
Adams’ results over the past 20 years have been remarkably consistent and it is hard for me to think of another player of his generation who has avoided the occasional disasterous result that usually accompanies a long and successful chess career. Quite simply, Adams is in a class by himself!
I present a showcase of his games from this event (so far). The attentive reader will no doubt appreciate Adams’ play.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 14th MOVE:
Adams’ first round opponent dared the romantic King’s Gambit, only to find himself out prepared and outplayed after just a dozen moves! White did not play the most dangerous line and once Adams castled Queenside the White position seemed to be on the verge of collapse. In the diagram above, not only is Black still a pawn up, but he uses this extra pawn to decisively breakup the White Kingside. The end was already in sight!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 15th MOVE:
SUMMERSCALE (GM, 2428)
An important theoretical line of the CaroKhan saw Adams achieve a slightly better ending with his opponent having absolutely no counterplay–exactly the kind of position that one should avoid when playing Mickey (as he is affectionately called in England). Adams was merciless! A typical Adams ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s‘ point.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 24th MOVE:
If White had ambitions of achieving a draw by simplification of the position, then Mr. R.Pert was rudely awoken from his day-dream with Adams’ last move (24…a5). Taking on b5 will cost the exchange after …Ba6. Mobilizing his Queenside majority, it is just a question of time before the White c-pawn gets surrounded and gobbled up for lunch. Pert took what he considered his best chance and gave up an exchange. Adams’ technique was sufficient to mop up quickly.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 17th MOVE:
Something had gone horribly wrong with Black’s opening and he has not even managed to castle! Just take a look at the Black Queen: it says it all. Adams’ punishment was swift and painful: White came crashing down the c-file. Black resigned right before Adams tripled on this file!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 22nd MOVE (22…h6):
SLAVIN (FM, 2417)
Another easy point for the English star. Getting the initiative right from the opening (…b5!) Adams kept up the pressure and broke thru in the centre. In the diagram above, should White retreat his Knight then Black takes the e-pawn leaving White helpless against the advance of the Black Kingside pawns. Slavin therefore decided to go down in flames, sacrificing his Knight on f7. White resigned shortly afterwards , a forced mate in sight!
ROUND 6: ADAMS’ FIRST DRAW!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 21st MOVE:
N.PERT (GM, 2551)
Adams’ day off! His opponent, N.Pert (brother of R.Pert) achieved a very comfortable position out of the opening and in the position above both players agreed to a draw. A result that pleased both players: Adams maintained his tournament lead and N.Pert could boast of being the only player (so far) to have nicked a half point off of the English legend.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S LOSING 29th MOVE (29Rd1??):
S. GORDON (GM, 2534)
This game is about lack of respect and/or trying too hard to beat a better player from an even position. The young and talented Stephen Gordon pressed for a Kingside attack that never materialized. He soon found himself with a slightly worse position. Probably demoralized, his last move gave Adams the opportunity that he was waiting for to put Gordon away. Do you see how to exploit White’s error? Black to play and win in 1 move!
(Courtesy of The Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog)
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 27th MOVE:
STUART CONQUEST (GM, 2523)
This round saw a tough fight! The experienced Conquest dug in deep with his CaroKhan and built up a solid ”come and get me” fortress. Adams was up to the challenge! He used the e5-square as a manoeuvring pivot for his two Knights and probed Conquest’s position time and time again. Then before Conquest knew what had happened, he lost his e6-pawn! A very instructive game and one of the best from the championship!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 28th MOVE (28.Bf2):
A solid, practical performance by White. Adams tried for a while to get something going on the Kingside, but his opponent would not sit still and sought simplification. Perhaps Adams stood a tad bit at some point, but the Rook exchange along the g-file took all of the fire out of Adams’ chances. Both players agreed to a draw when there was nothing to play for.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 20th MOVE:
S. WILLIAMS (GM, 2511)
With this clean win today Adams has secured the title with one round to spare. Congrats! Once more a modest opening on Adams part followed by precise positional manoeuvres to put Black into a passive defensive position. In the diagram above, Black’s Queenside pawns are split and vulnerable. Adams’ pieces prevent any counterplay. Even so, it is hard to believe that the game would end just 7 moves later! (Williams blundered a pawn and threw in the towel)
Opening ceremony: Amanda Cottrell opens the Championships and welcomes everyone to Kent and Canterbury. Amanda is flanked by Roger Edwards, Life Vice-President of the ECF (left), Congress Manager David Welch and Sheena Butterworth, Executive Conference Officer Kent Hospitality, University of Kent.
Amanda Cottrell has been a magistrate for 23 years, Chairman of her local Parish Council, school governor, County President of the Girl Guide movement and President of the NSPCC, Amanda was High Sheriff of Kent (2006-07) and is now Chairman of Visit Kent.
She is also a Kent Ambassador, a Trustee and Friend of Canterbury Cathedral, Trustee of the Kent Community Housing Trust and the Kent Wildlife Trust, a Vice President of the Canterbury Festival and Patron of Produced in Kent. A very distinguished guest indeed.
The very stylish and newly built Arts Centre. A stones throw from the Sports Complex where all the chess is going on.
SPECTATORS FOLLOWING THE GAMES
GORDON VS HUNT
STUART CONQUEST (RIGHT) IN DEEP CONCENTRATION
(photos courtesy of official website)
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS