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Hastings 1998-9 Round by round by Stewart Reuben

Take the games in pgn format


ROUND 1 29/12/1998

1 Ponomariov Plaskett  10	1-0	
2 Speelman   Shipov	9	0-1	
3 Miles      Sadler     8	0.5
4 Fressinet  Saltaev    7	0.5
5 Sokolov    Emms	6	1-0
The number 1-10 is the pairing number.

Once a round robin tournament is off and running, it is no longer necessary to worry about the pairings. Prior to the start of play,it is a perpetual worry that a player will simply fail to arrive. This year Ruslan Ponomariov was the one who kept me up at night. First of all it was difficult to contact him and then to come to turns. Then he decided to travel with his father from France on 26 December. Only if you are English can you realise the problems this can cause. We take Christmas extremely seriously and the 26th is called Boxing Day. It is a holiday, there is little public transport and taxis charge double. Then today, he still hadn't appeared at the board at 2.20pm, despite having arrived at the hotel three days ago. When he finally decided to return to the hotel, he still didn't come to the playing hall, but returned to his room. I still don't know why this was so, although strictly speaking it was against the rules. He speaks no English and his game against Jim Plaskett lasted so long, there was no time to set up a conversation with a Russian interpreter. The night before, at the Drawing of Lots Ceremony, the players decided they preferred 40/2,20/1 and all in 30 minutes, rather than 40/100, 20/50, all in 10, but every time a move was made from move 1,30 seconds would be added to the clock. I have no problem with the players' rules, OK. However it means it is still possible for me to be placed in a position where I might have to decide the result of a game. Truth to tell, when I first introduced quickplay finishes to the world, I used to like the power this brought. Now I prefer the arbiter not to interfere. Today I was hard-pressed to monitor four time scrambles. With the cumulative (so-called Fischer) mode, there would have been none. Tony Miles and Matthew Sadler came in for some criticism for their rapid draw. These are not the two players to complain about. They normally provide excellent number of moves per game value. The position was a fair enough draw. As David Bronstein would have said, "you should applaud Matthew for securing such an easy draw with Black". Ivan Sokolov won the game of the round against John Emms. It is of the type that will haunt John for a time as it will be widely published. Laurent Fressinet was probably pleased to draw with Mihail Saltaev. One should not be playing in a round robin if the limit of one's ambition is to draw. However, being relatively inexperienced, it must have been good to get the points started. The moves just before the first time control were rather random. This delights the spectators, but there aren't many at the actual tournament. However, now there are large numbers on the internet, what do they want? Jon Speelman simply lost his way against Sergei Shipov. He says he is always somewhat brain-dead after Christmas for the first round of Hastings. The clock dominated the match of the Ps. Ruslan obtained a substantial advantage with bishop and knight against rook and two pawns imbalance. Commentator Chris Ward frequently warned against exchanging a pair of rooks. Ruslan didn't listened (just as well really -otherwise I would have had to forfeit him) and reached what must have been a drawn endgame where he had bishop and knight for rook and pawn. Then Jim made an appalling blunder on move 40.

The Challengers is a Swiss and thus the non-appearance of a couple of players or a few late entries is not vital. Unfortunately this year two foreign gms and one foreign im withdrew. It is true this saves the congress money, but it will make the pairings much harder. For title norms it will be essential for players to meet an adequate number of non-English opponents. The suprise of the round was that the three Ledger brothers all won. This included Dave Ledger taking the scalp of strong im Danny Gormally. The number of competitors has been drifting down for some years. This is because of greater competition elsewhere, a strong pound and the relatively mediocre playing conditions in Hastings, except in the Premier. Entries for the World Amateur are also down. This is a crying shame because it is a unique international event, being restricted to players without FIDE Ratings. The drop is partly caused by FIDE imposing a new 20 entry fee on the players. This would have been reasonable in the days when FIDE was poor, but that is no longer the case. This is the only event where FIDE do anything for the weaker player. I would have thought they would want to encourage the event, not try to make a few pounds from it.


Shipov		1	Miles		0
Plaskett	0.5	Emms		0.5
Saltaev		0.5	Sokolov		0.5
Ponomariov	0.5	Speelman	0.5
Sadler		1	Fressinet	0

The game of the round was unquestionably that of Sergei Shipov against Tony Miles. The Russian comprehensively outplayed the 'veteran' Englishman who never seemed to get the ball into play. Jim Plaskett had a fairly tepid draw with John Emms. After their poor start, both were probably content to get their scores started. Hedgehog systems always have the problem, if White is not too ambitious, the game often peters out to an early bath. Similarly nobody seemed in too much danger in Ponomariov v Speelman and Saltaev v Sokolov. Matthew Sadler contrived to get into serious time trouble twice against the young Frenchman. Black stood much better, but then seriously under-estimated White's chances on the kingside. A scrappy game, much enjoyed by the spectators but one which isn't going to make the anthologies.

CHALLENGERS The use of Accelerated Pairings means that the players get closer together earlier in the tournament. Thus, after only two rounds, only seven players have reached 2/2. 4 are gms and one an im. There are already some casualties among leading players. Keith Arkell was beaten and Danny Gormally only drew, having already lost in round 1. A curious feature of Accelerated Pairings is that, in the early rounds, a high rated player may meet the same opponent irrespective of whether he drew or lost.


Fressinet	(0.5) 0	 	Shipov		(2)	1
Sokolov		(1.5) 0.5	Sadler		(1.5)	0.5
Miles		(0.5) 0.5	Ponomariov	(1.5)	0.5
Emms		(0.5) 0.5	Saltaev		(1)	0.5
Speelman	(0.5) 1		Plaskett	(0.5)	0

Five games, five results, who would want to end the year on a losing note? We having praised Tony Miles' fighting spirit, he came away from his swift draw today saying he was trying to play the least number of moves in the tournament. However he did kindly, briefly act as a demo board operator in his game. That man knows how to give value for money. Ivan Sokolov and Matthew Sadler had a harder fought draw. But what did Ivan expect from a game in which he played an ideas of Andersson's, see d5 on move 11. John Emms and Mihail Saltaev had an extremely hard fought, well=played game. In fact, possibly this was the game of the round in terms of accuracy. It was interesting kibbitzing the post mortem of Jon Speelman v Jim Plaskett. Both players were much more optimistic about their opponent's position than they themselves. Jim went badly wrong towards the end, when Jon's rooks penetrated the whole position. Laurent was gradually ground down in a long encounter where the result wasn't in doubt for some time. Thus Sergei Shipov finished the year wih a bang, with 3/3.


Shipov		(3)	0  	Sokolov		(2)	1
Sadler		(2)	0.5	Emms		(1)	0.5
Ponomariov	(2)	0.5	Fressinet	(0.5)	0.5
Speelman	(1.5)	0.5	Miles		(1)	0.5
Plaskett	(0.5)	0.5	Saltaev		(1.5)	0.5

You may think you understand the controllers's problems. Nah! Today it was the flags. Only three out of ten were correct. Somebody had been shifting them around,no doubt with the best of intentions. This meant that the flags of Sokolov (Bosnia) and Saltaev (Uzbekistan) and had become transposed. That wasn't the half of it. Throughout the tournament, the English have been shown playing under the Union Flag (actually placed the correct way up here, I do know some of my onions). But they play as England, not the United Kingdom. Th reason we used to have them play under the combined flag was presumably because it annoyed the Scots. Now they no longer seem to mind, David Sedgwick has become International Director and I am Chairman of the BCF, we have used the correct English flag - the St George's Cross. Mind you, that all pales into significance by comparison with Malcom Pein's faux pas in The Daily Telegraph some weeks ago. He wrote about the British results of the teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. How come there was no outcry, Malcolm? [" Malcolm replies: The Ireland team has for a long time been an All Ireland team and contains players from both sides of the border. This point is always mentioned several times in my articles during Olympiads and the European Team Champs although for obvious reasons of space, this is not mentioned each day. The only time Ireland made the headlines at Elista, at least in the Daily Telegraph was when IM Bryan Kelly, from Belfast, and therefore a British citizen, played a superb game to defeat Krasenkow. Regular readers would know that I always try to list the top results and then the British results and by including Ireland in the British results I can save a couple of lines of text which might mean the difference between getting more women's results or another game in. I could of course use a few column inches explaining the finer points of the team composition every day but instead I prefer to just to state " The Irish team is an All Ireland team " a few times during the event so that regular readers will understand I do not get an outcry because: 1) I have been doing it this way for about 8 years and readers might be getting used to it 2) Nobody actually reads the column apart from Stewart. 3) The DT, being somewhat to the right of centre in British politics is not the automatic choice for Irish nationalists ! I am seriously impressed that Stuart was able to follow the column each day from Kalmykia, our distribution manager will be amazed, or perhaps, dare I say it, when he left for Elista he forgot to cancel the papers . I would like to take this opportunity to thank Stewart for his contributions to TWIC, please keep them coming. Malcolm Pein "] Jim Plaskett played a star move with 9 Nf5. surely he must have stood better? He gained the bishop pair and the superior development. But it all fizzled out to a draw. Both players transgressed the rules. Jim came up to me during the game and said, after his ninth, "if I'm going to come bottom, I'm at least going to enjoy myself". Tut, discussing the games in progress. Mihail offered a draw move 11 and did not record it on his scoresheet. Well... I wrote the rule and forget it. Jon Speelman was perhaps 'lucky' to draw with rival Tony Miles. 29...Rc8 instead of a5 might well have won. Everything went wrong for the tournament leader, Sergei Shipov today against Ivan Sokolov. The latter's outside passed a pawn, coupled with the difficulty of activating White's black squared bishop provided insuperable problems. Thus the tournament has been thrown wide open. Matthew Sadler perhaps got a tiny something against John Emms. He nursed this throughout the game to stalemate. Fortunately in chess, stalemate results in a draw, unlike Losing Chess. The titanic tussle of the tinies resulted in a draw between Ruslan Ponomariov and Laurent Fressinet. They may both be smaller than me. Surely the French youngster must have had a winning position somewhere along the way?


Is this becoming a fight to the death between English youngsters and Armenian super-star organisers? Ezra Lutton drew in round 5 with Vanik Zakarian, but Gaguik Oganeesssian beat Lorin D'Costa. Now the two Armenians have 4/5 and play Sunday 3 January, while 10 players follow close behind on 3.5.


Bischoff (Germany)	(3.5) 0.5 Lalic B.	(Croatia)  (3.5)
Hebden	 (England)	(3)   1-0 Wall		(England)  (3)
van Laatum (NDL)	      0-1 Kyriakov	(Russia)
Miezis	 (Latvia)	      1-0 Aumann	(Germany)
Chtivelband (Russia)	      0-1 Iuldahev 	(UZB)
Arkell	 (England)	      0-1 Duncan	(England)
Summerscale (England)	      1-0 Brustkern	(Germany)
Sowray	 (England)	      0.5 Ledger A	(England)


The weather continues to be mild in Hastings. German players Klaud Bischoff and Ingrid Lauterbach had the following interesting comment to make about the congress. "People are always making the same comment about Hastings. "you must be mad to play there". In fact the conditions in the Challengers are no worse than most open events in Germany, indeed play is less cramped than most there. Of course the weather is cold at this time of year. The YMCA is rather shabby, but so what? Conditions for the Premier are very good indeed. Yet people continually decry Hastings and,of course, this causes people to choose not to play."


Sokolov	  3	1-0 Ponomariov	2.5
Emms	  1.5	1-0 Shipov	3
Saltaev   2	0-1 Sadler	2.5
Fressinet 1	0.5 Speelman	2
Miles	  1.5	0.5 Plaskett	1

Another hard fought round with a great deal of blood spilt. Both the drawn games were fair enough tough encounters. Perhaps Sergei Shipov hadn't recovered from his mauling yesterday. Anyway at the conclusion of the game, John Emms owned virtually the whole board. Matthew Sadler's win against the Uzbekistani took a long time, but the result was never in doubt for much of the game. Ivan Sokolov always stood better against the youngster, but he held a firm advantage. At the end of the game, both players were shattered. Ruslan could hardly keep his eyes open. Perhaps it was past a 15 year old's bed-time?


Play takes place in the morning in this event. Nobody was surprised that the two Armenians took a draw on board 1. After all, they were the main organisers of the 1996 0lympiads. Other results went this way and that, but the English juniors seem to be running out of steam.

Zakarian	4	0.5 Oganessian		4
D'Costa		3.5	0.5 Vang		4
Lock		3.5	0.5 Lutton, Ezra	4
thurman		3.5	0-1 Mercs		3.5
Kelly		3.5	1-0 Elwin		3.5
Jempson		3.5	0-1 Scamardella		3.5

   Round 7 Pairings

Mercs		4.5	Zakarian	4.5
Vang		4.5	Kelly		4.5
Scamardella	4.5	Lutton		4.5
Oganessian	4.5	Walden-Jones	4
Waddington	4	D'Costa		4

There seems little doubt this event was stronger the last two years. This is a great pity. It is a wonderful event and I regret that I have a FIDE Rating so that I am unable to play in it.


As you'll see,this was a bad day for the English.

Marusenko Peter	UKR	4	1-0 Hebden Mark	      ENG 4
Lalic Bogdan	CRO	4	0.5 Miezis Normunds   EST 4
Dunan Chris	ENG	4	0-1 Bischoff Klaus    GER 4
Kiriakov Petr   RUS	4       1-0 Summerscale Aaron ENG 4


Bischoff	5	Marusenko	5
Miezis		4.5	Kiriakov	5
Ledger Andrew	4.5	Lalic B		4.5
Cherniaev	4.5	Iuldashev	4.5

It seems unlikely that many people will gain title norms. Peter Maruschenko has to be the best bet for an im norm, despite taking a bye in Round 1. Andrew Ledger and Alexander Cherniaev really haven't played a good enough field for a gm norm.


The committee has decided that the Millennium will not make a great difference to the General Congress. Thus the various open tournaments, including the Challengers and Amateur will take place starting Wednesday 29 December and conclude Thurday 6 January. A weekend tournament will take place Friday 7 to Sunday 9 January. The problem with the Premier is that the Cinques Ports Hotel don't want us there over the Millennium New Year. Thus its format has not been decided. It may start the 29th elsewhere or start after 2 January. Anyway, make a note in your diary. Personally I am a Johnny-come-lately and have only spent each New Year here in Hastings since 1986-7. After Hastings this year, the following Monday some of us are off to Trindidad. There is an open master tournament with $4000 first prize. It takes place 12 to 18 January. Grandmasters Stuart Conquest and Chris Ward, BCF International Director David Sedgwick and I are all playing. It is not too late for you to enter and, to tell the truth, it will be warmer than in Hastings or Wijk an Zee.


Speelman	2.5	0.5 Sokolov	4
Plaskett	1.5	1-0 Sadler	3.5
Shipov		3	1-0 Saltaev	2
Ponomariov	2.5	0.5 Emms	2.5
Miles		2	0.5 Fressinet	1.5

The players obviously intended to provide work for me today and none of the games finished in less than 3.5 hours. Matthew Sadler was really very disappointed in his game with Jim Plaskett. The local lad should not be allowed to get into open, aggressive positions. These are his strongpoint. Watch out for 20 Nf5,a star move and the second time in this event Jim has played sacrificially in this manner. Jon Speelman had a substantial plus against the tournament leader. He was unable to put it away and was unperturbed. "If I didn't deserve it, that was fair enough". Sergei Shipov admirably stopped the rot, having lost two games in a row. Most people would have been content with a quick draw - even with White. Time will tell whether our Uzbeck friend is made of such stern material. Tony Miles pressed Laurent all the way, but never had much of an advantage. John Emms achieved a plus against the young star, but it wasn't enough. The commentary room audience were entranced by the idea that White could have won rook for bishop and pawn early on, with 18 e5, but Black would have had more than enough compensation. The different way in which the players dress deserves a mention. Jon Speelman is more or less in 1960s hippy style. He dresses comfortably to his own liking. In my experience, if you want him in a suit, you have only to ask. The rest of the English crew also dress to their own taste. Players from the old Eastern block are much more likely to be found in jackets. The really young, like Ruslan wear a suit. Eugene Bacrot does the same. It has been suggested to me this is because they want to look more grown up. Of course, it has the reverse effect. Luke McShane is typically English and thus a maverick. It is not difficult as an arbiter to be objective and wish everybody well. What I hate to see is players losing by unforced errors, mainly dramatic blunders. These turn my stomach over. As an organiser, one is looking for enterprising, competitive chess. This has abounded in this tournament so far.


Bischoff	5	0.5	Marusenko	5
Miezis		4.5	0.5	Kiriakov	5
Ledger Andrew	4.5	0.5	Lalic Bogdan	4.5
Cherniaev	4.5	0.5	Iuldachev	4.5

Nobody it seems is able to break away and win a game once in the leading group. It looks like there will be a big tie for the top two places. Then who will play in next year's Premier will be decided by a spurious tie-break system. All such systems are absurd.


Mercs		4.5	1-0	Zakarian	4.5
Vang		4.5	1-0	Kelly		4.5
Scamardella	4.5	1-0	Lutton Ezra	4.5
Oganessian	4.5	1-0	Walden-Jones	4

A good day for the White pieces, but not so good for the young English.


Oganessian	5.5		Vang		5.5
Scamardella	5.5		Mercs		5.5
Kaiumov Sergei	5		Elwin		4.5
Zakarian	4.5		Waddington	4.5
D'Costa		4.5		Thurman		4.5
Lutton		4.5		Erichsen	4.5
Kelly		4.5		Jones		4


Sokolov		4.5	1-0	Miles		2.5
Sadler		3.5	0.5	Shipov		4
Emms		3	0.5	Speelman	3
Saltaev		2	0-1	Ponomariov	3
Fressinet	2	1-0	Plaskett	2.5

A bloodthirsty round by contrast with the top of the Challengers. The two draws seemed fair enough. John Emms was even getting into slight time trouble when a draw was agreed. The hapless Tony Miles seemed to have adequate compensation for a pawn. But after Ivan consolidated he was able to conclude with a fierce attack. With a clear point lead it is likely he will now coast into first place. A pity, but that's the nature of a round robin. Had FIDE agreed to the World Tour, a type of Grand Prix, there would have been bonus points for outstanding victories, but they wanted too much money from the potential sponsors. Mihail Saltaev also seems to be unable to stop the rot and the young Ukrainian was winning the endgame for a long time. Jim Plaskett seemed extremely puzzled as to why he was in trouble from a mating attack. But Laurent had more space and the initiative and he capitalised on this with considerable energy. He has already done enough to ensure he will not be thought of as the tournament bunny when the congress comes to the end.


Kiriakov	5.5	0.5	Marusenko	5.5
Kaiumov		5	0.5	Bischoff	5.5
Gormally	5	1-0	Hebden		5
Lalic		5	1-0	Summerscale	5
Lentze		5	0-1	Miezis		5
Iuldachev	5	1-0	Ledger, Andrew	5
Williams	4.5	1-0	Cherniaev	5

Thus seven people share the lead with two rounds to spare. Peter Marusenko is awaiting a 2400 rating to become an im. All the other leaders are already ims or gms. It would be rather unjust if Danny Gormally were to win after his abysmal start, but the young Londoner certainly gained a notable scalp this round. TITLE NORM CHANCES Many players are attracted to the opens because of the opportunity to gain title results. Of recent years there have not been all that many title aspirants in our tournaments as the middle ground of 2300 is missing. Herewith details of players' chances with two rounds to go. PETER MARUSCHENKO had a bye in round 1 and requires 2/2 from his 5.5/7 score for a gm norm. This would give him a rating performance over 2600, albeit against a rather weak field. Allthe others are looking for im norms CHRIS DUNCAN has 5/8 and needs to win in round 9, or score 1.5/2 provided he plays an opponent at least 2435 in round 10. INGO LENTZE has 5/8 and needs 2/2 provided he meets an opponent 2485 or higher in the last round. GOZEWIJN VAN LAATUM has 5/8 and needs to win in round 9, or score 1.5/2 provided he plays an opponent at least 2385 in round 10. RICHARD PERT has 5/8 and is rather unlikely to secure a norm. He needs to score 2/2 and win against Mark Hebden in the last round. Of course, Nicholas, hist win,was awarded the im title for winning the European Under 18 Championship. PETER SOWRAY has 5/8 and needs to win in round 9, or score 1.5/2 provided he plays an opponent at least 2555 in round 10. The fact is, there will be very few norms. From next July, FIDE will be allowing performance norms for the im and wim title. They do this already for the gm and wgm title. This will make it significantly easier to secure such results.


Oganessian	5.5	1-0	Vang		5.5
Scamardella	5.5	0.5	Mercs		5.5
Kaiumov		5	1-0	Elwin		4.5


Scarmadella	6		Oganessian	6.5
Mercs		6		Kaiumov		6
D'Costa		5.5		Zakarian	5.5
Vang		5.5		Erichsen	5.5

Thus it seems likely the Armenian Organiser is likely to win the title. May I permit myself to show a small bias towards a fellow administrator? The young English girl Jessie Gilbert holds a slender lead in the World Women's Amateur Championship with 4/8 over Ingrid Voigt with 3.5.


Fressinet	3	0.5	Sokolov		5.5
Plaskett	2.5	1-0	Shipov		4.5
Ponomariov	4	0.5	Sadler		4
Miles		2.5	0.5	Emms		3.5
Speelman	3.5	1-0	Saltaev		2

As expected, Ivan coasted in with a draw. He chose an opening where he thought it unlikely his 18 year old opponent would be able to make much of a small technical plus. Thus, when the smoke had cleared later in the round, he had won the tournament outright. Sometimes it is an advantage not knowing too much opening theory. Had Ponomariov and Sadler played quickly, I would have believed they were breaking new ground. In fact, g5 is a well-known variation. Jim Plaskett demonstrated his well-known propensity for surprising us. He conducted a vigorous mating attack after Sergei opened up his position with f5. Apparently he hadn't realised the force of Jim's Ng5. Is the local lad going to finish the tournament off by beating Sokolov tomorrow? Jon Speelman helda tiny edge against Mihail Saltaev. No doubt the Uzbek is dispirited and eventually got ground down in a king and pawn endgame. Had he blocked the queenside with a5, the position would have been drawn. axb5 instead gave Jon an entry square for his king on a5. All the draw offers back and forth in the game between Tony Miles and John Emms seemed to confuse both players. Tony refused a draw on move 33 and promptly blundered. His then offering a draw with 35 Qe2 was a bit cheeky. 39...Rxb3 would have won.


Scamardella	6	0.5	Oganessian	6.5
Mercs		6	0.5	Kaiumov		6
D'Costa		5.5	1-0	Zakarian	5.5
Vang		5.5	0-1	Erichsen	5.5


Oganessian	7		Mercs		6.5
Kaiumov		6.5		D'Costa		6.5
Erichsen	6.5		Scamardella	6.5

Since nobody else has more than 5.5, these six have neatly separated themselves from the field. The title is extremely valuable. Thus it is likely the wily Armenian organiser will try to coast into first with a draw. Despite having the black pieces, Peter Mercs is more-or-less forced to go for it. Only the most professional players can maintain objectivity under such circumstances.


Marusenko	6	0-1	Lalic B		6
Bischoff	6	0.5	Iuldachev	6
Miezis		6	0.5	Gormally	6
Arkell		5.5	1-0	Kiriakov	6

The only news of title norms so far is that Peter Marusenko failed to achieve a gm norm, he needed 2/2. He does not need any im norms as he is just awaiting reaching 2400. Peter Sowray achieved his first im norm at the age of 39 by beating Tim Wall with the White pieces. Increasing the norm to 10 rounds tomorrow would be technically advantageous, but he probably needs to win.


         By Stewart Reuben 7.1.1999

Sokolov		6	1-0	Plaskett	3.5
Sadler		4.5	0.5	Speelman	4.5
Shipov		4.5	0.5	Ponomariov	4.5
Emms		4	1-0	Fressinet	3.5
Saltaev		2	0.5	Miles		3


   place	score	prize	rating change  rating performance
Sokolov	   1st.	  7	2000	+18		2786
Emms	   2-6	  5	620	+3		2612
Ponomariov 	  		+3		2612
Sadler				-8		2604
Shipov				-4		2607
Speelman			+1		2611
Fressinet  7-9	  3.5	150	+5		2504
Miles				-13		2489
Plaskett			+5		2504
Saltaev	   10	  2.5	50	-15		2410

Many events arrange the last round to start in the morning and the organisers are probably then surprised that the games are of poor quality. This is probably a hang-over from the days of adjournments and no quickplay finishes when the conclusion of the round could not be defined. It seems ridiculous to organise a top-level tournament and then to falter in this fashion. True it may save marginally on the final night's hotel bill, but what penny-pinching. It came as no surprise that Sergei Saltaev and Tony Miles took an instant draw. The Uzbek had just lost four games in a row and Tony could hardly have been inspired by his own performance. That Sergei Shipov made no effort to win against the young Ruslan Ponomariov is more puzzling. To agree a draw in the opening in such a situation is unfair to the organisers and spectators, whether actually present or on the web. Matthew Sadler and Jon Speelman slugged it out to a drawn rook and pawn endgame, Matthew's third of the tournament. Ivan Sokolov completely creamed Jim Plaskett. Since he had already won the event, he was under no pressure and two points clear victory in 9 rounds will remain in people's minds for a long time. John Emms won a long queen and pawn endgame, despite actually standing worse at one point.


Oganessian	7	0.5	Mercs		6.5
Kaiumov		6.5	0.5	D'Costa		6.5
Erichsen	6.5	1-0	Scamardella	6.5

Thus Gaguik Oganessian and Dan Erichsen tied for first place in the fourth World Amateur Championship. The Armenian organiser won the title on tie-break, together with the Gold Medal, the FIDE Master title and a 2200 rating. This was his third attempt at the title. The Dane received the silver medal and a 2100 rating. The bronze went to an Englishman, Peter Mercs, who thus now has a rating of 2050. The Women's World Amateur Championship proved to be a real cliff-hanger. Jessica Gilbert of Croydon High School led much of the way, but faltered in round 8 and was overtaken by Ingrid Voigt of Germany, who led with 4.5/9 over Jessie's 4 going into the last round. Jessie was faced by the Albin Counter Gambit in the last game but found herself a pawn down after only 7 moves! Grinding away, she made her way back into the game to come to a clearly won position - which she eventually managed to clinch. Meanwhile Ingrid had a totally lost game against Todor Dimitrov. He went terribly wrong in time trouble and lost his extra piece. The game ended in a draw and Jessica won the title on tie-break. Thus Jessie Gilbert at 11 became the youngest ever winner of an adult World chess title, the Women's Amateur World Chess Championship. She took the prize money, the gold medal, a rating of 2050 and the title of woman fide master. We wonder if she is the youngest-ever winner of an adult world title in any sport. What about swimming? If you have any knowledge, or can do any research, please let us know. Thus this is a fourth wonderful result for English girls in 18 months. Harriet Hunt became World Girls Under 20 Champion, then Rosemary Kieran won the Women' Amateur Championship at this time last year, Jovanka Houska secured the bronze in the European Girls' Under 18 Championship and Ruth Sheldon became World Girls' Under 18 Champion. Considering the tiny budget available for this area of chess, it is nothing short of miraculous. Can I now please play a rated match with Jessie? I must admit, at 2050, I reckon I would gain rating points against her from my rating of 2230.


Lalic, Bogdan		7	0.5	Arkell, Keith	  6.5
Gormally, Daniel	6.5	0-1	Bischoff, Klaus	  6.5
Kaiumov, Dmitry		6.5	0.5	Miezis, Normunds  6.5
Iuldachev, Saidali	6.5	1-0	Maruschenko,Peter 6

Thus Lalic (Croatia), Bischoff (Germany) and Iuldachev (Uzbekistan) shared first place with 7.5/10. The first two qualified for next year's Premier on sum of progressive scores. Chris Duncan and Peter Sowray drew with each other on a lower board. Their scores of 6 and 6.5 respectively were im norms and also qualified both of them for the Smith & Williamson British Chess Championship which starts 1 August in Scarborough. Peter has never played in that event. We were wondering who is the oldest British player ever to become an im. Peter is already 39 and we find it hard to believe he will become an im this millennium as he rarely plays in tournaments. Can anybody help? Note, the congress isn't over. In fact,if you hare it down to Hastings, you can still play in the weekend tournament which starts Friday evening. Further details from Con Power and the entry form is on the BCF website.