There were about 108 viewers for the Chris Ward show. That doesn’t seem like very many – and it isn’t. There is a great deal of competition for these spectators at this time of year.
That Keith Arkell (European 50+ Champion) and Jonathan Hawkins (British Champion) would have a quick draw came as no surprise. They have previous. They are very good friends and even sharing a room in Hastings. The fear was that this might have a domino effect on the rest of the games, a fear that in due course proved groundless.
In the game Zhao v Vakhidov, both players seemed to flout the basic opening principles. Don’t try this at home. White played Nc3. Nb5, Na3, Nc4. Ne5 by move 9. Black played Qxd5, Qd6, Qb6, Qc7, Qa5 and then 16..Qd8. Why move it at all then?
23 Nxf7 set the board alight. But why not 23…Rxf7? What a crunch this turned out to be. Thus the Chinese player has 7½/8. Even if he loses in the last round, he will still come first equal.
Board 2 saw the Battle of the Young French players, Edouard and Lagarde. Romain became very short of time and had to make 13 moves with just the increment. Why didn’t he win the pawn in a more straightforward fashion? The bishops of opposite colour endgame made a draw very likely and indeed this was soon agreed.
Alexandr Fier – Mark Hebden became a Benk Gambit type of game. Mark has been playing that for many years. But I didn’t at all understand why Black gave up the exchange with 43…Rxf4. Chris was adamant that Mark should not exchange a pair of rooks.
Hunt v Mista was very odd. Why not 39 Nxe6 or even a little later?
Gormally – Bogner was a straightforward draw. But no doubt they used up a great deal of energy.
Kjartasson v Kheit suddenly erupted with 24…Nxf2. Was it necessary, good or sound? I liked the little joke of 36…h1=R. But it was no laughing matter for the Israeli.
Gledura v Olsarova was the Battle of the Norm Seekers. White sacrificed a piece with 21 fxe5 because of Black’s great difficulty in developing her queenside. So Black returned the material, but the resulting position still had many difficulties. The young Hungarian will need a win in Round 9 in order to ahieve a GM norm. Olsarova now needs a win to achieve a WGM norm. It would be a great pity if she comes away with nothing. At least three of her games were candidates for the CHESS.COM Best Game Prizes.
The round 8 CHESS.COM prize goes to Theodore Slade for his win against Ian Wallis.