— from Mark Jordan (games annotated by IM Jack Rudd)
Round four saw decisive results on the top 18 boards with wins for Black on the top four boards! This is rather unusual at this level, even in a Swiss system event where, unlike in all-play-alls where lots of draws and a couple of wins can equal a good or even excellent result, the pressure is always on to win to get a sniff at that prize money! The explanation can be found in the fact that 17 of the top pairings were notable for the substantial rating difference between the winner and loser. Round 4 was the round where those lower rated players who had had the temerity to secure a plus score in the first three rounds found themselves faced with the highest rated players in the tournament and, whilst all these games went with rating, there were many hard fought games and the GMs often had to sweat to secure their wins.
The top board, GM Gormally 2506 –GM Mista 2567 was the most evenly matched of the high boards, even more so than the ratings suggest as Gormally has been rated substantially higher in the past and his present rating does not really reflect his talent. It seemed for much of the game that Gormally had at least a draw, was probably slightly better for much of the time and Mista’s 100% record was in jeopardy. Getting down to a very technical ending where Gormally’s Bishop faced Mista’s Knight this observer, at least, thought White had at least a draw in the bag. Mista had other ideas, however, out-played his opponent and achieved a very unusual win to maintain his perfect score and his lead in the tournament. GMs Berkes 2650, Vakhidov 2546 and Arkell 2490 share second on 3.5/4 with 11 players, including most of the GMs, just behind on 3 /4. Khenkin 2605, having started poorly, is now on 2.5/4 where he is joined by Gormally after his loss to Mista.
The top board pairings for round 5 are Mista-Vakhidov and Berkes-Arkell.
Three games from Round 4 annotated by IM Jack Rudd —
(10) Longson,Alexander (2320) – Arkell,Keith C (2490) [B06]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (4.4), 31.12.2015
1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 a6 4.Be3 b5 Keith goes for his second Hippo formation of the tournament. 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Nf3 Nd7 7.a4 b4 8.Ne2 c5 9.c3 Ngf6 10.Ng3 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bg7 [11…a5 is also a possibility, preventing white’s next. ] 12.a5 0-0 13.0-0 Qb8 14.Qa4 Bc8 15.Rac1 [15.h3 is Fritz’s recommendation, and it proclaims white to have a winning advantage. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, but it’s certainly not trivial for black to unravel.] 15…e5 16.dxe5? This allows black to free his pieces, and end up with an advantage as a result. 16…Ng4 17.Bg5 Nc5 18.Rxc5 dxc5 19.Be7 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 Qxe5 21.Bxf8 Bxf8 The dust has settled, and it is now clear that black is the one with the play: the queenside majority is reasonably mobile, and the two bishops could be important. 22.Bc4 Be6 23.Bxe6 Qxe6 24.Rd1 c4 25.f3 Rc8 26.Ne2 Qe5 27.Rd2? [27.Qa2 is perhaps the best defence, although it’s clear that white is in big trouble now.] 27…Bh6 28.f4 Qxe4 29.Qxb4 Bxf4 30.Nxf4 Qe1# 0-1
(11) Fodor,Tamas Jr (2492) – Rudd,Jack (2255) [A41]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (4.7), 31.12.2015
1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.g3 Qd7 Getting both players out of book very early. 4.Bg2 Bh3 5.0-0 Bxg2 6.Kxg2 Nf6 7.c4 c5 8.d5 g6 [8…e6 9.Nc3 exd5 aims for a Benoni setup, but it’s too slow: 10.cxd5 g6 11.e4 Bg7 12.e5] 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.e4 0-0 The next few moves feature absolutely standard Benoni-type plans: white plays for e5, black for b5. 11.Bf4 Na6 12.Qd2 Rfe8 13.Rae1 Nc7 14.e5 Getting his thematic advance in first. 14…Nh5 15.Ne4 f5 16.Nc3 [16.e6? looks tempting, but it gives away white’s advantage: 16…Qa4 17.b3 Qb4 18.Qxb4 cxb4 19.Ned2 Nxf4+ 20.gxf4 b5] 16…b5!? 17.cxb5 Nxf4+ 18.Qxf4 dxe5 [18…Nxb5 19.Nxb5 Qxb5 20.exd6 exd6 21.Qxd6 Bxb2 22.Rxe8+ Rxe8 23.Rb1 looked very unpleasant to me.] 19.Nxe5 Qd6 20.Nc6 Qxf4 21.gxf4 Bxc3 22.bxc3 Nxd5 23.c4! Keeping the important queenside majority. 23…Nxf4+ 24.Kf3 Nd3 25.Rxe7 Rxe7 26.Nxe7+ Kf7 27.Nc6 Re8? My attempt at activity rebounds on me. 28.Nxa7?! [28.Rd1! Nb2 29.Rd7+ Kf6 30.Rxh7 Nxc4 31.Rxa7 is much better for white.] 28…Ne5+ 29.Kg2 Ra8 30.Nc6 Nxc4 31.Rc1 Nb6 32.Rxc5 Rxa2 33.Nd4 33…Rd2? I didn’t see the danger lurking in the position when I played this. 34.Rc7+! Ke8 [34…Kf6? 35.Rc6+ Ke7 36.Nxf5+ gxf5 37.Rxb6] 35.Ne6 Rd7 36.Rc6 Nd5? [36…Rb7 37.Nc5 Rb8 is ugly, but I might be able to survive.] 37.Nc5 Ra7 38.b6 The pawn is coming home. I have only swindles left to play for. 38…Ra3 39.h4 [39.b7?? Nf4+ 40.Kf1 Ra1#] 39…Nxb6 40.Rxb6 I could resign this here, but there remained some drawing chances with all the pawns on the same side, and I thought I’d see how he finished me off. 40…Rc3 41.Ne6 Rc4 42.Kg3 h6 43.Rb7 Re4 44.Ng7+ Kf8 45.h5 Breaking up my pawns will lead to an easy win with his f-pawn. 45…Rg4+ 46.Kf3 g5 47.Ne6+ Kg8 48.Rg7+ Kh8 49.Rg6 Kh7 50.Nf8+ Kh8 51.Nd7 1-0
(12) Khenkin,Igor (2605) – ter Steeg,Marcus (2036) [E14]
Tradewise Hastings Masters 15-16 Hastings, England (4.16), 31.12.2015
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.e3 Declining the invitation to go into a Benoni. Or so black is meant to believe… 4…b6 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.d5! The point is that …Bb7 is actually actively unhelpful in a Benoni, and so white’s loss of a tempo with e3 and then e4 is going to be inconsequential. 6…exd5 7.cxd5 d6 8.e4 g6? [8…a6 is probably best, preventing a check on e5.] 9.e5! The thematic Benoni advance causes black all kinds of problems here. 9…dxe5 10.Bb5+ Nfd7 [10…Nbd7 11.Nxe5 Qe7 12.0-0 0-0-0 13.Nc6] 11.Nxe5 a6 12.Bxd7+ Nxd7 13.Nc6 Bxc6 14.dxc6 Qe7+ 15.Be3 Nf6 16.0-0 Bg7 17.Bf4! Forcing black to give up a pawn in order to castle. 17…Rd8 18.Qb3 0-0 19.Qxb6 Nh5 20.Rfe1 Qf6 21.Be5 Qg5 22.c7 With an extra passed pawn on the seventh, white would be winning this even if he weren’t picking up the exchange by force soon. 22…Rc8 23.Bd6 23…Nf4 [23…Bxc3 is the only other try, but that also fails: 24.bxc3 Nf4 25.g3 Nd3 26.Bxf8 Nxe1 27.Rxe1 Kxf8 28.Rd1] 24.Bxf4 Qxf4 25.Nd5 Qh4 26.Ne7+ Kh8 27.Nxc8 Bd4 28.Re2 Rxc8 29.Qb8 Qg4 30.Re8+ 1-0