The Ponds is a short walk from the train station and is a huge complex. The main chess events were held in a giant sports hall, that was well ventilated and nice and light. Lets take a look inside.
The games are played in normal tournament style i.e. rows of tables with several boards side by side. There was plenty of space between the tables and each player had enough room to record their moves and store drinks etc. At the front of the hall were the 6 top boards. Boards 1-4 also included a wide screen monitor displaying the moves as they were played.
I went down to the event on day five which was Friday 29th July.
Board 1 Was Nigel Short V David Howell. I was a little star struck when Nigel came in. Nigel is such a big name in chess, remember the world championships in the early 90s in London? Nigel chatted to a few people before the round started and posed for a couple of pictures with youngsters. Below Nigel waits for the start of the round.
Board 2 was Michael "Mickey" Adams V Garwain Jones.
Board 4 Peter Wells V Jovanka Houska. I was pleased to see Jovanka on the top boards, as she will be a great inspiration to the girls at our club. Below a picture of me watching the games (stripy top), with Peter and Jovanka getting in the way. I suppose they are the stars!
There I am again!
Board 5 Griffiths V Pert no picture.
Board 6 Jonathan "The Hawk" Hawkins V Jack Rudd.
Johnny's game wasn't on a monitor, so I tried to get as close as I could to watch without being intrusive, as there was a clear space between the audience and the top boards. I will have a look at this game later.
Play started at 14:15 and from 15:00 Andy Martin hosted an entertaining analysis sessions, where he discussed the top games as they happened.
Andy attempted to explain the players thinking, possible continuations and provided his assessments of the games. When a game reached an interesting position he would hold a guess the next move competition, where a book could be won. For example can you find Black's next move in the following?
Hawkins, J V Rudd,J
Johnny is a hero in the North East. His improvement from young major player to international master is astounding, but a testament to the two pillars of success, hard work and talent.
1.Nf3 Richard Palliser writes in his "beating unusual chess openings", 'For the club player 1.Nf3 usually heralds either a King's Indian Attack (KIA) or a Reti,but things are somewhat different at higher-rated levels. There fiendish White players often employ 1.Nf3 with the aim of transposing to certain d4 openings while avoiding others.'
So far Johnny has opened 1.e4, 1.d4 and here 1.Nf3. At the very highest level the top players need a broad repertoire otherwise players will prepare vigorously for their pet lines.
1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.d4 As predicted we have a d4 opening, a Queen's Indian.
Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 These type of moves look like a wast of time, but Black would argue that White's bishop is not well placed on d2.
7.Nc3 0-0 8.0-0 c5 9.d5 White plays to open the centre and use tactics on the long diagonal to reposition his pieces. 9...exd5 10.Nh4 Re811.Nf5 now White has a well placed knight eyeing Black's bishop and his bishop on g2 exerts pressure right along the h1-a8 diagonal. Note although a pawn down, I'm sure White is more than able to regain the pawn on d5.
Bf8 12.Bg5 h6 - Things are looking tricky.
13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.Bxd5 Nc6 Now White heads towards an ending after inflicting some structural damage to Black's pawns.15.Bxc6 dxc6 16.Qxd8 Raxd8 17.Nxh6+ gxh6 18.Bxf6Rd6 19.Bc3 Rxe2 Does White have enough to win here? I would asses this as a small plus for White, but with plenty to do. Johnny shows that to be a top player its not all just opening prep, but excellent endgame skill is also required.
20.Rfe1 Rc2 21.Re8 b5 22.cxb5 cxb5 23.Rc8 Rb6 - Probably a mistake, as the plan Re6-Re2 would see Black having doubled rooks on the second rank, which is often enough to make a draw. 24.Rd1 Black's bishop is in mortal danger. Black stares defeat squarely in the eye. Can you find a move?
24...Rxc3 What else is there? White has numerous ways to win the bishop otherwise. Unfortunately for Black I would say he is dead lost here, but fights on for a few moves to make sure.25.bxc3 Kg7 26.Rc7 a527.Rdd7 Rf6 28.Ra7 b4 29.c4 1-0
Remember Jack Rudd is a strong player himself with an IM title.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the British. You can reply, or download all the games at http://britishchess2011.com/pgn_games.htm and also check out Andy Martin's excellent game of the day at http://britishchess2011.com/videos.htm
Guess the move