Adams repeats as British Champion

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Adams repeats as British ChampionMichael Adams won the 2011 British Championship on Saturday. The 39-year-old grandmaster defeated Nigel Short 1.5-0.5 in a rapid play-off match after the two had finished shared first with 8.5/11. Macauley Peterson reports from Sheffield, England.

General info

The 98th British Championships took place July 26-August 5 in Ponds Forge, Sheffield. The rate of play was 100 minutes for 40 moves followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes to finish the game, plus 30 seconds increment move one. Alongside the Championship there were several side events including weekenders and rapid tournaments.

Report by Macauley Peterson

On the train ride up from Birmingham to Sheffield, you pass picturesque rolling hills, wheat fields and grazing cattle. Low-lying clouds lent a mysterious darkness to the landscape.

Sheffield itself has a bustling centre which somehow manages to be simultaneously both quaint and modern. The tournament was held at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, a large complex sporting an Olympic size swimming pool, fitness center, and a convention hall where the Championship was staged.

When I arrived for the penultimate round, just before the end of the first time control, the last of the top boards was just finishing. I'd passed Nigel Short on his way out, having won his game to move back to equal first along side top seed Michael Adams, with Gawain Jones and IM Jonathan Hawkins trailing by only a half point.

In the last round both Short and Adams, who had already played their immediate pursuers in the 11-round Swiss, were paired with players in the 6.5 score group. Mickey was the odds-on favourite, with white against FM Yang-Fan Zhao, rated just 2444, while Short had to face GM Stephen Gordon "with the black bits" as Stevie would say in The Full English Breakfast. Short went for the ultra-unorthodox 1.d4 Nc6!? but Gordon avoided a main line Chigorin and quickly obtained the upper hand in a queenless middlegame.

Gordon vs Short at the British Championship

Gordon and Short shaking hands before their game



As the round progressed, and all four top boards continued deep into the second time control, there were moments when it looked like we might see a four-way tie! IM Hawkins, who scored his second GM norm in the event, was pressing against GM Peter Wells, and Jones seemed to have an edge with queen and knights against queen and bishops in a closed game versus GM Nick Pert. But Wells held on, and Jones' game ultimately ran to a 144 move draw after an eight hour slog.

Short meanwhile defended a cramped position until Gordon finally conceded a draw, by which time Adams was in a drawish rook ending.

British Championship 2011 | Final Standings (top 30)

Rk Name Ti Fed Rtg Pts TPR
1 Adams, Michael GM ENG 2715 8.5 2713
2 Short, Nigel D GM ENG 2687 8.5 2726
3 Jones, Gawain C B GM ENG 2606 8.0 2658
4 Hawkins, Jonathan IM ENG 2457 8.0 2613
5 Howell, David W L GM ENG 2625 7.5 2612
6 Pert, Nicholas GM ENG 2555 7.5 2539
7 Gormally, Daniel W GM ENG 2519 7.5 2441
8 Gordon, Stephen J GM ENG 2533 7.0 2536
9 Hebden, Mark L GM ENG 2533 7.0 2385
10 Conquest, Stuart C GM ENG 2519 7.0 2477
11 Wells, Peter K GM ENG 2489 7.0 2479
12 Palliser, Richard J D IM ENG 2454 7.0 2372
13 Zhou, Yang-Fan IM ENG 2444 7.0 2369
14 Houska, Jovanka IM ENG 2418 7.0 2450
15 Buckley, Graeme N IM ENG 2380 7.0 2393
16 Bates, Richard A IM ENG 2373 7.0 2454
17 Williams, Simon K GM ENG 2528 6.5 2377
18 Summerscale, Aaron P GM ENG 2415 6.5 2450
19 Rendle, Thomas E IM ENG 2386 6.5 2391
20 Eggleston, David J FM ENG 2318 6.5 2288
21 Griffiths, Ryan Rhys FM IRL 2301 6.5 2350
22 Adair, James R ENG 2212 6.5 2408
23 Lalic, Peter D ENG 1978 6.5 2313
24 Hunt, Adam C IM ENG 2436 6.0 2352
25 Ledger, Andrew J IM ENG 2435 6.0 2346
26 Ansell, Simon T IM ENG 2410 6.0 2376
27 Kolbus, Dietmar IM GER 2335 6.0 2276
28 Webb, Laurence E FM ENG 2306 6.0 2194
29 Rudd, Jack IM ENG 2278 6.0 2264
30 Lalic, Susan K IM ENG 2277 6.0 2297



So the two rating favourites shared first place and had to contest a two-game rapid play-off, bright and early at 10:00 on Saturday morning -- not the favourite time of day for many players. Short later commented on Facebook, "when you have been performing (well) at 14.15 every day for 11 rounds and then you are suddenly asked to play under a different time-control at 10.00 am, you have to hit form instantly. I didn't. I slept very badly (in fact hardly at all)."

Adams vs Short at the British Championship

British chess icons Adams and Short faced each other in a play-off final



Adams, stoic as ever at the board, easily held with black in the first game, and won the second, to take the British title. Afterwards he summed up the fortnight thusly:

"The whole tournament was just really hard work actually, I mean nothing went smoothly really. It's funny because last year I was just winning game after game in like three hours barely...this year it was over seven hours to win this first game with white and just every game it was long, like five or six hours."

Adams noted that he was close to losing against Jones, and Howell, and also worse against Short. "It sort of looked not too bad, because I had this 7.5/9 -- it looks really pretty, but I had to work hard basically." Adams concedes that Short was having the better tournament, and that a rapid tie-break is a bit of a silly way to decide the Championship.

Third seed David Howell, the vanguard of the next generation, tripped up in round ten with a loss to Hawkins, and finished in 5th place.

David Howell at the British Championship

David Howell finished 5th



Gawain Jones at the British Championship

Gawain Jones: shared 3rd behind Adams and Short



IM Jovanka Houska, who was the rating favourite among the women by a wide margin, easily defended her title, finishing on seven points.

Look for more on the British Championship in the forthcoming episode of The Full English Breakfast at TheFEB.com and Facebook.com/TheFEB.

Selection of games



Game viewer by ChessTempo


Photos & report © Macauley Peterson



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