GM Hawkins Wins Final Round For British Championship

GM Hawkins Wins Final Round For British Championship

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

You don't always have to share. GM Jonathan Hawkins outlasted the 10 other grandmasters at the 2015 British Championship Friday in Coventry, England to win his second-straight national championship with 8.5/11 and £5,000. In 2014, he shared the title with GM David Howell (who in turn had his own two-straight title streak snapped). This time, Hawkins' last-round win edged top-seeded Howell by a half point. (photo right courtesy Arnold Lutton)

Perhaps "outlasted" doesn't describe his effort in the 11-round Swiss. He went through the other grandmasters, playing seven of them in the final nine rounds (and scoring five points from those games).

Going into the final game Friday, Hawkins was tied with Howell, GM Nicholas Pert, and GM Danny Gormally, the only man he'd lost to in the event. All had 7.5/10. Howell was paired with GM Mark Hebden, who was in a lower score group, but could only draw.

Nicholas Pert was paired with his twin brother, IM Richard Pert, who essentially denied his other half the title. The two had drawn every game they'd played in tournament chess, and this one was no different, though the 31 moves at least represented a real game (last year the brothers shook hands after 1. e4 e5).

The path was thus open for Hawkins, who stepped onto the top of the podium by beating GM Keith Arkell after a horrible blunder made the winner's life much easier. This was the second time this summer he beat Arkell -- in June he narrowly edged him in the English Chess Federation's Play of the Year Award!

GM Jonathan Hawkins -- two British Championships in two years (photo courtesy Carl Portman).

Arkell posted this on Facebook: "Anyway, really well played to Jonathan Hawkins. I played the Sicilian defence to guarantee a full bloodied scrap and he outplayed me, and consequently is the new British Chess Champion."

Hawkins may have helped himself by playing relatively short games. Over the course of 11 games, four of his games were won before move 27 and two of his draws were 17 and 15 moves (versus top-seeded Howell in round eight).

You can contrast this with Howell, whose games often went past move 40. His final two games went past 60, and in round three his draw with Gormally went twice as long, a draw on move 120.

Here's another one of those quick wins for Hawkins. In round five, his pawns occupied checkers squares en route to a "GM-miniature."

And here's a few of the aforementioned Howell games. First, we show his long draw with Gormally. It sure seemed like the "good knight versus bad bishop" would net a full point, but Gormally's late king activity led to a geometric series of checks and a half-point.

GM David Howell, the chess player! His world ranking is 36, much better than David Howell, the golfer, who is 86th! (photo courtesy John Upham)

Howell's final-round attempt to keep pace with Hawkins came up short, but not for a lack of effort. He played a Romantic-era gambit, then played a rook ending, a queen ending, and a king-and-pawn ending in the same game! Despite the effort, he couldn't quite engineer a win.

Just as in 2014, many big names did not attend this year. English 2600s and 2700s including Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Luke McShane, Matthew Sadler and Gawain Jones skipped the event. A few Welsh players attended but none from Scotland or most of the other British Territories.

2015 British Championship | Final Standings (Top 15 and Ties)

Rk. Name Rtg Pts.
1 GM Hawkins Jonathan 2554 8.5
2 GM Howell David W L 2698 8
2 GM Pert Nicholas 2562 8
2 GM Gormally Daniel W 2484 8
5 GM Hebden Mark L 2500 7.5
5 IM Pert Richard G 2440 7.5
5 GM Williams Simon K 2426 7.5
5 GM Ward Chris G 2423 7.5
5 GM Summerscale Aaron P 2416 7.5
10 GM Arkell Keith C 2502 7
10 FM Jackson James P 2343 7
10 FM Batchelor Peter J 2304 7
10 Wadsworth Matthew J 2160 7
10 Jones Steven A 2126 7
15 GM Emms John M 2460 6.5
15 GM Flear Glenn C 2450 6.5
15 FM Lewis Andrew P 2295 6.5
15 Weaving Richard 2257 6.5
15 IM Rudd Jack 2247 6.5
15 FM Storey Charles H 2245 6.5
15 Hackner Oskar A 2162 6.5
15 Burrows Martin P 2148 6.5
15 Mason Donald J 2145 6.5
15 Kalaiyalahan Akshaya 1999 6.5

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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