There always seem to be a large number of no-shows in Hastings in the first round. This can be due to ill-health, as with Nick Pert, who hopes to be well enough to play round 3; travel problems; visa problems. Sadly Simon Williams had to withdraw due to a family health problem – not his own. We have not yet established the reason why Luka Paichadze hasn’t come. But losing 3 GMs out of 12 is very disappointing.
As usual with Accelerated Pairings there were some tough encounters in round 1. We prefer this to the virtual whitewash of a seeded Swiss. It came as no surprise that the experienced English IM, Simon Knott, drew quite comfortably on board 1. He is very solid. Indeed, some thought he should have been more ambitious. The encounter between Khenkin and Mu was an engrossing one, full of chess.
Qun Ma paid scant regard to the rules about development early in the game. Don’t try this in your own home, or teach it to your chess pupils. The chess-boxer, Carl Strugnell, was doing fine until 35 Nd5 which was a losing blunder. The commentator, Chris Ward, felt this deserved a double question mark. I am less ‘generous’ with my criticisms and think one was fairer.
Nicholas Croad self-immolated his bishop on a3 against Mark Hebden.
25 Nb5 seems a star move in the game between Jonathan Hawkins and Neil Stewart.
The game between Marcus Harvey and Stephen Gordon was entertaining. 12 Bc3 followed shortly by 15 Ba1 seemed to lack resolve. Black clearly stood better, but few could have foreseen Stephen’s knight’s tour that ended in mate.
The young Romanian Veronica Foisor drew steadily with the black pieces against the Russian GM Alexander Cherniaev, although White tried his best for over 70 moves.
Until very late in the game long-term English resident Jovica Radovanovic seemed fine against the young Uzbek, Jahongir Vakhidov, whose father is a GM. Then, after move 40, the pressure must have gotten to him.
That was all I had time to see in Round 1. What gems have I missed? But they are all there waiting to be studied, alongside the dross. Why can’t we have chessbase symbols to guide us?