Daniele Vocaturo was very much under the weather in rounds 4 and 5, but nevertheless succeeded in becoming the lone leader with 4½/5. Gawain Jones developed considerable counter-play in the Accelerated Dragon in compensation for the sacrifice of a pawn. He ran very short of time, otherwise he would surely have seen 30…Bxb4! which leads to a forced mate. Many in Chris Ward’s Commentary Room spotted this. Instead he had to win all over again. Thus a fascinating, albeit highly flawed, game.
Andrey Sumets must have gone slightly wrong in the opening, but the game shortly settled down into a bishops of opposite colour endgame against Daniel Alsina Leal. They could have agreed a draw long before 62 moves.
The game between Sarunas Sulskis and the younger Icelandic player, Gudmundur Kjartasson was rather odd. Black played without any regard for his pawns, blithely giving up one after another for nebulous compensation. Then the popular Scottish Captain returned most of them. Wait a moment, I can hear you thinking, isn’t Sarunas Lithuanian? Indeed he is, but he was captain/coach for ChessScotland in the Olympiad. Anyway, one extra pawn eventually sufficed when Black weakened his kingside quite dramatically.
Board 4 was another fascinating game, this time between the young Chinese player Rui Gao and Vladimir Hamitevici of Moldova. Most of us would have been unable to bring ourselves to allow 27…Qc7 with a dangerous kingside initiative. It looked as if White was going for repetition on move 31, but no, he was just gaining a little extra time on the clock. This was to come up a couple of times more during the game. Perhaps White had everything firmly under control throughout the long encounter.
The all-English derby, between Simon Knott and Nicholas Pert had some interesting points. But it quickly fizzled out into a draw. I get the impression that the older player doesn’t play much chess and gets less rusty as the tournament progresses.
The game between the strong, young Icelandic player Hjorvar Gretarsson and the even younger Indonesian girl, Chelsie Monica Sihite was well-contested. The much higher rated player seemed somewhat indecisive at times. Clearly she is a good candidate for a WGM, or even IM, norm.
The lower rated English player, Ezra Kirk took the fight to our leading GM Candidate, Jonathan Hawkins. But the outcome was seldom in doubt. So Jonathan is back in with a chance at a norm with 4½/6. But he has only met one grandmaster.
Although there were still a lot of pieces on the board in the game between IM Firman Syah Farid INA and Jason McKenna ENG, there were few available breaks. A good result for the much lower rated Englishman.
Jack Rudd no doubt played at his usual breakneck speed with the black pieces against Stephen Burns-Mannion. He got his pieces into a bit of a muddle in the early middlegame. This was yet another game well worth a look.