I acted as a filler in round 9 and so have not had the benefit of David Howell’s commentary on the top games. He took over from Chris Ward just for this round.
After so many draws in the previous two rounds, I must admit that it was something of a relief that a majority of the leading games had positive results.
Jones-Leal was a fascinating opening, an even more interesting middlegame and I didn’t know what was going on in the endgame. It did show the power of White’s big centre, something that is often overlooked in the endgame. 88 moves of sheer joy; though not for the Spaniard.
Vocatura-Sulskis was another fascinating encounter.
I was surprised the Gao – Arkell game took as long as 10 moves. This gave the young Chinese player his final GM norm and he has previously been 2500+. I commented on Keith’s rapid draw yesterday. I hadn’t been told that he was yet another player who had been unwell. Had he stood down before the pairings were published, he could have had a half point bye.
In Zhou-Sumets the young English player who is taking a gap year made seven consecutive moves with the same knight in a row. Little wonder than that his pieces got into something of a mess. The higher rated Ukrainian Andre picked his way through the position efficiently.
Burns-Mannion-Vovk was level pegging for some time, but the younger Ukrainian gradually got the upper hand.
Xiaobing Gu didn’t give her much higher rated opponent Hjorvar Gretarsson many chances. This was a very fair draw and a title norm was probably her prime objective.
Jonathan Hawkins outclassed the much lower rated Luangstep Kvisla. But the Norwegian has done very well here. The final combination will find its way into the literature.
Thus Gawain is in the sole leader going into the last round and is paired with Sumets, the second highest rated player in the tournament.