Play erupted this round and Chris Ward was unable to keep pace with his analysis of the cornucopia of delights today. I felt like going into the Tournament Hall and telling the players to stop their clocks and take a ten minute break each hour!
Jonathan Hawkins against Mikheil Mchedlishvili was a particularly turbulent affair. Both players seemed somewhat to lose the plot early on. But then came 20 a3. This was not a pawn sac and seemed to give Jonathan some initiative. Then there came a relatively quiet phase. This was followed by the whole unexpected 32 Bg4 f5 33 Nxf5, giving up a knight for 2 pawns. The Englishman never seemed to be in trouble, and the wily Georgian held on for a draw. Perhaps it is not a candidate for the ‘Best Game Prize’; but perhaps for the ‘One with the Most Chess in it’.
Joerg Wegerle of Germany delighted the Commentary Room by joining in the discussion of his game shortly after he had lost. 6…cxd5 leads to a less enterprising variation of the Exchange Slav. But then, just as on Board 1, war broke out with 12 e4 Bf4 13 e5 g5. White sacrificed rook for bishop, open lines against the king and superior development. Perhaps 16…Nxg3 was unwise, opening the file for the rook f1. Could Black have gotten away from White with 32…Kd8? So Igor Khenkin joins Mikheil on 5½/7 and they must meet in round 8.
Nothing much happened in the game between Nicholas Pert and Qun Ma.
Jacek Tomczak and Peter Sowray though had a very long game of 76 moves. Peter certainly took the fight to the Pole. I was rather concerned that the Londoner seemed to have neglected his development early on, but it worked out OK. He probably had to give up rook for knight and pawn. But, as seems often to have happened in this tournament, it was difficult to handle the material imbalance.
It looked as if Danny Gormally had netted a pawn with the combination starting 25 Bxc5. But perhaps Justin Sarkar had realised the pawn could not be held with 29 d6 because it would have left the Rf6 stranded. Perhaps white should have maintained he tension by defending the c4 pawn with his queen on move 25.
What was the point of 13 Ba6 by Sophie Milliet? She only returned three moves later. But 17…a5 seemed unwise, giving White a passed pawn. Once the Frenchwoman had that advantage she was remorseless.