Kings Place, home of the Guardian, was again the venue last Saturday for England’s strongest one-day tournament. The fifth annual Kings Place festival, sponsored by the financial services provider DeMontford Bell, attracted its usual high-class field. There were six grandmasters and nine IMs in the record entry of 338 players competing for £4,000 prize money, including £1,000 for first. Novices could enter a special “My first chess tournament” section.
The GMs Luke McShane and Stephen Gordon and IM Richard Bates shared the top prizes with 5.5/6. This was a notable treble for McShane, who also tied for first at Kings Place 2015 (with GM Gawain Jones) and 2016 (with Australia’s Justin Tan).
The 33-year-old financial trader competes in few tournaments. He is often listed as the world’s strongest amateur and showed his class at Moscow 2012 when he was within one game of finishing first ahead of the global elite led by Magnus Carlsen. Gordon and Bates both had fine tournaments. Gordon won five and drew with McShane while Bates beat the top seeded England No2, David Howell, as shown in this week’s puzzle.
Outside the winners, John Merriman was the star performer in the Open. The Kent expert defied his modest 2188 rating to defeat two GMs, draw with an IM and lose only to McShane.
The festival offers extra prizes for women and juniors. Three under-10s were close behind the winners in the Minor with 4.5/6. The Guardian’s feature writer Stephen Moss played in the tournament and gave away the prizes, including signed copies of his acclaimed chess autobiography The Rookie, which has just been released as a paperback at £8.99.
One of the fastest wins was by IM Ameet Ghasi, who finished with 5/6 and lost only to GM Gordon. White opened with the King’s Indian Attack, an old Bobby Fischer favourite, and when Black fatally weakened his pawn structure by 12…f6? Ghasi immediately pounced on the light squares. A further error 15…Bc8? led to a winning tactic, and Black resigned faced with 18 Rxe7 or 18 Bxd5+ while Qd6 is met by 18 Qb7.
Ameet Ghasi v Michael Healey
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 b5 3 Bg2 Bb7 4 d3 e6 5 e4 c5 6 0-0 b5 7 Nbd2 Be7 8 Re1 0-0 9 e5 Nfd7 10 h4 Qb6 11 Ng5 h6 12 Nh3 f6? 13 exf6 Rxf6 14 Nf4 Nf8 15 Qg4! Bc8? 16 Nxd5! exd5 17 Qxc8 1-0.
The Geneva leg of the Fide Grand Prix, which qualifies two GMs for the 2018 candidates and a possible shot at Magnus Carlsen’s world crown, has its final round on Saturday (2pm start for online viewers). But a more significant event for the future may be the Danzhou, China, GM event where Wei Yi, 18, led on 4/5 with four rounds left. The teenager has just jumped to world No14 in the live rankings and at his current rate of progress could become Carlsen’s main rival as early as 2020.
3503 1 Bxg7 Kxg7 2 Nxe5! Nxe5 3 Qd4 Qc7 4 f4 won a key pawn which soon decided the game.