Short and Adams draw - Jones crushes Howell

Showdowns between Michael Adams and Nigel Short have often ended in quick draws, but in yesterday’s 8th round of the British Championship they got into a real fight, with Short coming close to taking the full point. They still lead on 6.5/8, while Gawain Jones moved to within half a point after a fine win against David Howell. Read on for his comments on that game.

With three rounds to go at the British Championship favourites Adams and Short continue to lead after their draw yesterday. Short played the Giuco Piano with the white pieces, but it was far from a quiet game. Adams pushed his pawns on the queenside, but arguably only created weaknesses for himself, while on move 30 Nigel Short's kingside attack reached the critical stage with 30.g5:

Here it looks as though 30.Qb7 might actually have been the more effective approach. After queens are exchanged the c4-pawn will almost inevitably fall (f7 is also weak), giving White excellent winning chances.

In the game, Short did win the c4-pawn anyway, but queens were still on the board and White’s kingside pawns in tatters. The final position, with Black to move, offered no winning chances, so the players agreed a draw:

The game of the round, however, was played by Gawain Jones, who beat David Howell with the white pieces. He introduced the game at his blog:

After my loss yesterday [to Nigel Short - more here] I was keen to bounce back in round eight. I was paired against David Howell, a young talent who has matured from being simply a chess prodigy to a well-rounded strong player and number four in England. I had the White pieces and decided to try repeating what worked so well against Gupta in the last round of the Commonwealth Championships [that game won Jones the title ahead of Short]. He deviated early on but the arising structure wasn’t so different.

Jones demonstrated the win during the live video commentary hosted by IM Andrew Martin. You can still watch his analysis, from which I’ve taken many of the notes below, at about 2:59:10 on the archived video.  

GM Gawain Jones – GM David Howell, British Championship, Rd 8

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 The Scotch Gambit.

4…Bc5 5. c3 Nf6 6. e5 Jones noted White had solid lines that often end in a repetition here, but: “I tried e5 instead, which I'd looked at briefly this morning. It hasn’t really accumulated much theory”.

6…d5 7. Bb5 Ne4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Be3 “And then he went into a long think here, taking over half an hour to come up with a plan. It's quite an interesting position. Black probably has good counterplay against the d4-pawn”.

10…Ne7 11. Bd3 Bf5 “My first think of the game. I was having fun looking at a move like g4.” Ideas included taking on h7, but Black has counterplay with …f5 and White’s king is stuck in the centre.

12. O-O Nxc3 13. bxc3 Rc8 14. Nh4 Bxd3 15. Qxd3 “Here I think …c5 might be close to a losing move, because it gives away control of d6. Maybe 15…Qd7 is better.”

15…c5?! 16. Bg5 Qd7 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Nf5 Qd7 “Maybe Qd7’s an error. He should probably play Qe6, though I have Nd6”.

19. Qf3 Qe6

20. c4! “A move I enjoyed playing. He said he’d missed Nh6+ was possible as well as Nd6. I had about 50 minutes more than him: 1:10 - 0:20. If 20…Rfd8 there’s 21.cxd5 Rxd5 22. Qxd5 Qxd5 23. Ne7+.”

20…g6 21.Nh6+ Kg7 22. cxd5 Qd7 23. Ng4 Qf5 24. Qxf5 gxf5 “This pawn and rook endgame is hopeless for him. His pawns are so scattered and my pawns are so strong.”

25. Ne3 Kg6 26. Nc4 cxd4 27.Nxb6 axb6 28. Rfd1 f4 29. Rxd4 Kf5 30. Re1 Rfe8

31. g3! “This is a nice tactic… I'd just analysed to g3 and thought - this position must be clearly winning. He can't take on e5 because of Rxf4+”.

31…fxg3 32. hxg3 “I had a think about which pawn to capture with - I'd seen to the end of the game here.”

32…Rc5 33.g4+ Kg5 34. d6 h5 35. e6 fxe6

36. Rxe6 “This is a bit unnecessary. I could just play 36.d7 first with exactly the same thing”.

36…Rd8 37. d7 Rc7 38. Re5+ Kg6 39. Rd6+ Kg7 40. Rg5+ 1-0

In Round 9 Jones has White against IM Jonathan Hawkins, with the young player needing a win for a GM norm. Adams and Short have a chance to increase their lead against players rated significantly below them. Games start at 14:15 UK time (15:15 CET):

Live games
Video commentary
Full results and pairings