Now Simon Williams has finally arrived, the dust has settled and we have 84 players taking part, plus a few occasional fillers. There are 22 federations represented in the Masters, including 12 grandmasters.
This is the final round of the Acceleration and, after it, nobody has 3/3. Thus the event has already been fiercely competitive. If you prefer to see copious blood spilled (caused by many mismatches) then, of course, you would prefer a standard seeded Swiss.
On board 1 in an unusual variation of the Ruy, Glenn Flear had dynamic compensation for his pawn weaknesses, Then suddenly they drew by repetition.
Gretarsson v Arkell was truly weird. Both players castled kingside and then moved their kings to the queenside. What was wrong with Black trying to make a break with 21 g4 or similar? Players like these romantic marches with their kings. When it works out, legends are made of it. Frankly the most logical explanation was that this was a pre-arranged draw where they wanted to give the spectators value for money. But not all chess can be reduced to logic.
On board 3, the young Icelandic player again played the Czech Benoni, with which he had so much success in the previous round. Eventually Black won a pawn, but our chief GM candidate, ‘The Hawk’, didn’t give way and eventually drew in 108 moves.
With 17 Bh7+, Gawain Jones telegraphed his intention give up his white-coloured bishop for several pawns. Black’s position was reduced to rubble before the 30th move.
Mark Hebden uncharacteristically lost his way and a pawn in the middlegame. This is the strongest scalp the 17 year old Englishman Rufus Duff has collected. He goes to school in France and thus isn’t a typical product of the English junior chess scene.
The other giant-killing effort was made by Jason McKenna against 18 year old IM Yang-Fan Zhou. Black neglected his development in order to make an early d5 push. His king became mired in the middle in an early endgame and Black paid the penalty.
13 players now have 2½/3 including two players from the bottom half of the draw. It would be a dull tournament if every result followed the ratings.