Follow this link – http://chessexpress.blogspot.co.uk/
— from Mark Jordan, ECF Manager of Publicity
The somewhat comprehensive rout of the top seeds in the early rounds of the Masters, with top seed, Sethuraman (2647), starting his campaign with a rather startling 0.5/2, led to some very interesting pairings in the first 5 rounds, with lots of opportunities for ambitious juniors and established and often dangerous campaigners to take on the top guys. Top seeds, however, are not in the position they’re in for nothing, have rating points to lose and, therefore, rounds 3-5 saw their inexorable progress back towards the top of the table where they could breathe down the necks of the leaders. Those leaders were number 6 seed, GM Rasmussen (2502) on 4.5/5 and English GM and 8th seed, Hebden (2492) in sole second position on 4/5. These two faced each other in a crucial clash in Round 6.
Rasmussen opened with the mild 1) Nf3 and the game developed in to a closed Classical Kings Indian in which White had a spatial advantage but Black’s position was solid. Hebden tried to break out of his defensive shell with a thematic pawn expansion on the Queens-side but was perhaps overly optimistic with 18…b5 which weakened c6 on which Rasmussen was shortly able to establish a knight. The resulting position left White with a solid edge and any winning chances which were to be had, but Black still had plenty of defensive resources which Hebden utilised skilfully. Towards the time control Hebden was able to complicate the position but never had quite enough to challenge for the full point. Unfortunately, he blundered just before the time control with 39…Rb1 which led to the loss of a knight and his resignation. The result gave Rasmussen a 1-point cushion at the top of the table.
Meanwhile, leading seeds, Sethuramen, Fier (2590), Gupta (2575) and Karthikeyan (2530) all of whom were in the chasing group on 3.5/5, won their games to form a threatening quartet in equal 2nd, a point behind the leader. 3rd seed, Glendura (2584), failed to make it a quintet when he drew with Black against the impressive young Australian IM, Cheng (2446), and headed the very large group on 4/6 which now also included formerly second placed, Hebden. Other English players in the 4/6 group were GMs Gormally (2493) and Flear (2428), IMs, Ledger (2377) and Bates (2347) and FM Haria (2382).
There are several games as yet unfinished at 19.00hrs, but the top boards have completed their games and the standings are now —
1= GM AS Rasmussen (DEN), GM SP Sethuraman (IND), GM D Sengupta (IND) and GM M Karthikeyan (IND) 5.5/7
5= FM Ravi Haria (ENG), GM Bogdan Lalic (ENG), R Praggananandhaa (IND) 5/7
followed by eight players on 4.5 points – another tantalising day tomorrow …
After six rounds, GM Allan Stig Rasmussen (DEN) is in the lead with 5.5 points, followed by GM SP Sethuraman (IND), GM Aleksandr Fier (BRA), GM Deep Sengupta (IND) and GM Murali Karthikeyan (IND) all on 4.5. Sixteen players now have 4/5 points.
The 5 Round Weekend Tournament ended on Sunday evening and the results were as follows —
1 Tobias Stock (Broadstairs) 4.5; 2= James McDonnell (Streatham), Henry Cove (Weald of Kent) 4
Grading Prize= Amardip Ahluwalia (), Anantha Anilkumar (KICA Kings), Carl Gartside (Clay Cross) 3.5
1= Geoffrey Bishop (Chislehurst), Marc Bryant (Hastings & St Leonards), Lee Bullock (Hackney) 4
GP= David J.Fowler ( ), Jeremy Hudson (Hastings & St Leonards), Mason Woodhams (Hastings & St Leonards) 2.5
Weekend Under 120
1 Alan Fraser (Beckenham & Bromley) 4; 2= David Howes (CCF & South Norwood), Timothy Allen (Battersea & City), Neil Lang (Chislehurst), Paul Buswell (Hastings & St Leonards), Susan Chadwick (Brighton & Hove), William Stock (Hastings & St Leonards), Britta Brodstein () 3.5
GP U80 atrice Tournier (Hastings & St Leonards); GP 99-80= David Everitt (Haywards Heath), Keerthana Easwar (Milton Keynes)
The 4 round New Year Morning and Afternoon tournaments are now in progress. The 7th round of the Masters opens with GM Rasmussen in the lead on 5.5/7 and it will be interesting to see if the groups in second and third place are split up after today’s games. Chris Ward will be doing his usual commentary at 14.45 and this evening there will be a FIDE-rated Blitz at the White Rock Hotel, starting at 20.30hrs.
The Sussex Junior Chess Tournament took place over two days, and had a very good entry, as ever, at St. Mary Star of the Sea School. GM David Howell came to present the prizes and was joined in the line-up of presenters by Mr. Niloy Chakraborty, who is Coach of the Indian Deaf & Dumb Chess Team and a junior school coach. He has played many times in Hastings Congress and this time won his section of the Christmas tournament …