Howell claims Winter Classic in thrilling finish by Colin McGourty

sontu1296
sontu1296
Mar 22, 2017, 9:06 AM |
0

David Howell has taken the $5,000 first prize at the Winter Chess Classic in Saint Louis after winning an epic 129-move game in the final round. The English GM played around 90 moves of that game on the 30 seconds a move increment, knowing a draw would have left him in a 3-way playoff with Dariusz Swiercz and Vladimir Fedoseev. The B Group was won by Andrey Baryshpolets, who went on a 5-game winning streak from Rounds 2-6.

 

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Ruifeng Li and David Howell were just getting started! | photo: U.S. Chess Champs

 

You can replay all the games from the Winter Chess Classic A Group using the selector below – hover over a player’s name to see all their results:

 

 

Fedoseev falls at the last

When we last reported on the Winter Chess Classic after three tempestuous rounds David Howell was the sole leader on 2.5/3. Howell went on to draw his next five games, and things quietened down in general at the top of the table. It was only in Round 7 that Vladimir Fedoseev caught Howell by beating Jeffery Xiong in a knight and pawn ending. Then in Round 8 he withstood an assault by Sam Sevian and once against flawlessly exploited an endgame advantage to take a half point lead into the final round.

 

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Fedoseev found himself in big trouble in his final game | photo: U.S. Chess Champs

 

Everything was going the way of the 22-year-old Russian, who just last month had won the ferociously tough Aeroflot Open to qualify for this year’s Dortmund Supertournament. He was up 49 places in a month on the live rating lists and had the white pieces going into his final game against Sam Shankland. A draw would guarantee at least a place in a rapid playoff for first place, with prize money shared, while a win would give him outright victory.

Let’s take a quick interlude, though, for an answer Fedoseev gave in an interview with Evgeny Surov of Chess-News after winning Aeroflot. He was responding to a request to say something about himself e.g. if he’s married:

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I’m not married, but I’ve got a girlfriend I’ve been seeing for two and a half years. I was born in St. Petersburg and started to play chess at the age of seven. I was introduced to the game by my father, who was a chess player in his youth but then enrolled in the Physics Faculty of Leningrad State University and decided to focus on his studies and work, quitting chess. He simply showed me the game in my childhood and at seven I began to work on chess and quite soon achieved some kind of results. For example, I began to play blindfold at the same time as I began to play chess in general.

I can’t say anything more about myself that’s unusual. I’ve won a few absolute titles – I’ve won all the events in my age group in both the Russian and the European Championships. At the European Championship in Budva in 2013 I took five gold medals, while at the Russian Championship in 2011 I took three – in rapid, blitz and classical. So you could say that the desire to claim absolute victories is my creative credo, so that no-one, not even myself, can contest my results.

That maximalist approach can have its drawbacks. As Ben Finegold summed up:

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Fedoseev doesn’t really know how to play for a draw in an important game – he just plays like a lunatic in every game! That gets lots of wins and losses…

It takes two to tango, and it has to be said that Sam Shankland made his intentions to get a fighting game clear when he met 1.c4 with 1…g6. In a sharp line played by Nakamura, Svidler and Ding Liren, Fedoseev played a novelty on move 10 and soon found himself tempting his opponent to grab a pawn in murky circumstances:

 

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