Kings Place Rapidplay! Strong rapidplay in London...

IM Trendle

Last Saturday Kings Place near Kings Cross played host to probably the strongest one day event London has held in decades. The format was a 6 round swiss with 30 minutes each to complete the game. 187 players took part, 67 in the top section including 21 players with FIDE Ratings above 2300. 

The top two seeds were GMs David Howell and Gawain Jones, both over 2600 and formidable rapid players. In total there were 6 GMs and 12 IMs all competing for the first prize of £1000. For spectators there was the added bonus of live commentary on the top 5 boards from GM Julian Hodgson and IM Lawrence Trent.

I was also playing, not being able to resist such a fantastic tournament only a short tube ride away from home. I got off to a good start winning my first two games comfortably, including a quick win against FM Simon Buckley, a rival from my youth who sadly doesn't play so much tournament chess these days. Unfortunately my tournament chances took a severe knock in round 3 when I overpressed and lost a promising endgame against IM Gediminas Sarakauskas:

Meanwhile one of the favourites, Gawain Jones, also struggled in round 3. After achieving good chances from the opening he ended up needing to swindle a draw against IM Simon Ansell:

Elsewhere David Howell was cutting through the field impressively. Here is his round two win over IM John-Paul Wallace.

David moved on to 5/5 with wins over IMs Richard Pert, Yang-Fang Zhou and Gediminas Saurakauskas but Gawain Jones kept in touch with wins over GMs Peter Wells and Mark Hebden.

This left us with the final round that everyone wanted to see: David Howell leading with 5/5 with White against Gawain Jones in clear second with 4.5/5. Gawain decided to try a Pirc/Modern hybrid, favoured by Kramnik whenever he needs to play for a win as Black. It turned out well as Gawain equalised and obtained a time advantage...

With this final round win Gawain took clear 1st with 5.5/6 ahead of David on 5 and Belgian GM Alex Dgebuadze who beat GM Bogdan Lalic in the last round.

I recovered to share 4th= on 4.5/6 with GM Mark Hebden and IM Alexey Slavin and I'm pretty pleased with my play overall.

This was a fantastic tournament and I'd like to thank Adam Raoof for organising it and Kings Place for hosting. I hope something similiar can be arranged soon!

Full results viewable at: although the TPRs are a little bit off.

Photos (thanks to Brendan O'Gorman):

(edit) and more from John Upham: