• Gawain Jones becomes the first player in the British KO Quarter-Finals to pull ahead with a smooth victory in Game 1 over IM Alan Merry.
• England No. 1 Mickey Adams is held to a draw by Simon Williams in a sharp Queen’s Gambit.
• David Howell barely escapes defeat at the hands of IM Ravi Haria after disastrously weakening his kingside defences and being forced to give up the exchange.
• Live coverage on the London Chess Classic website continues today in Game 2 of each of the Quarter-Final classical play matches, followed by rapid playoffs and an Armageddon game if necessary.
After a first round in which GMs John Nunn and Matthew Turner were knocked out, more surprises were in store for the top seeds in the British Knockout on Sunday as Mickey Adams was held to a draw by Simon Williams, while David Howell was lucky to survive a lost position against Ravi Haria.
Simon Williams (aka the ‘Ginger GM’) lived up to his reputation as a fearless aggressive player, trying a bold thrust 8. g4 in a Queen’s Gambit Declined. Despite Adams striking back immediately in the centre, Williams was able to steer play into a slightly favourable endgame in which Adams was forced to defend accurately a pawn down to hold the draw.
David Howell looked to be cruising to victory two pawns up in a theoretical Catalan, but then blundered, opening up his king in a position where opposite-coloured bishops were a factor. He was forced to give up the exchange, and then ran his king to the queenside in a desperate bid to save the game. After a queen exchange, both sides promoted pawns, and with time running short, Haria checked Howell’s king all the way up the board but was unable to find a way to finish the game. Howell managed to escape into a drawn endgame, thanks to his active king.
Gawain Jones became the first player to go ahead in the Quarter-Finals, outplaying Alan Merry in a Modern Benoni and forcing the win of queen for rook and knight, while Jonathan Hawkins held a solid draw against Luke McShane in a Scotch Four Knights.
Quarter Finals, Classical Game 2 (Sunday Dec. 9):
1 Mickey Adams (0.5) v Simon Williams (0.5)
2 Ravi Haria (0.5) v David Howell (0.5)
3 Alan Merry (0) v Gawain Jones (1)
4 Luke McShane (0.5) v Jonathan Hawkins (0.5)
Game 1: 11:00 – 15:00; Game 2: 16:00 – 20:00; Playoffs: 2030 – 2200.
Time limits: Classical games: 90 mins plus 30 secs per move increment throughout.
Playoffs (2 games): 10 mins plus 5 secs per move increment throughout. If still undecided, Armageddon game 5 mins v 4 mins, with 2 secs increment per move from move 61.
The London Chess Classic is the UK’s largest chess tournament and the concluding leg of the Grand Chess Tour, an international circuit of world-class chess events inspired by legendary World Champion Garry Kasparov. It is the flagship event of Chess in Schools and Communities and includes a range of amateur and age-grade competitions for 1,000s of children from the charity initiative nationwide.
By Tim Wall