Stewart Reuben provided a daily commentary on the 78th
Premier Round 9 5. 1. 2003
½ Nielsen (5½)
Karjakin (4½) ½ Barsov (4½)
Harikrishna (4½) 1-0 Flear (4)
Kosteniuk (2) 1-0 McShane (4½)
Sasikiran (4) ½ Tseshkovsky (1½)
Keith showed a total lack of ambition in the last round,
despite having the white pieces. This will hardly endear him to
future organisers. It was virtually certain he had a draw in hand.
The Dane was unlikely to refuse a draw offer, which gave him first
place outright. Instead Keith chose a totally insipid variation
which offers little hope of an advantage.
It seemed to me Karjakin and Barsov agreed a draw in a totally
engrossing position. The audience were looking forward to more
Glenn said his game was rather one-sided. The younger Indian
must be delighted to have outscored his board 1 in a close
tournament. Luke basically made a bad miscalculation and lost huge
quantities of material. Sasikiran gained a pawn and this led to a
rook and 4 versus rook and 3 endgame with all the pawns on the
same side. This is a familiar situation. I started writing this
before they finished. In the end, it finished as it should. They
Nielsen 6 - 1.2
Arkell 5½ +17.2
Harikrishna 5½ +10.9
Barsov, 5 + 2.3
Karjakin 5 + 3.2
McShane, 4½ +16.2
Sasikiran 4½- 8.1
Flear 4 - 5.0
Kosteniuk 3 - 7.8
Tseshkovsky 2 - 27.7
Premier Round 8 4. 1. 2003
Nielsen (4½) 1-0 Harikrishna (4½)
Barsov (4) ½ Arkell (4½)
McShane (3½) 1-0 Sasikiran (4)
Tseshkovsky (1½) 0-1 Karjakin (3½)
Flear (3) 1-0 Kosteniuk (2)
A lot of blood was spilt on the carpet today. 4 wins from 5
games is a large number for such an event as this. There was also
the manner of the carnage.
Alexandra Kosteniuk was a whole rook down before the game
commentary began. Was this really a prepared variation? This seems
hardly credible. Yet Black had already drifted into an awful
position before losing material. As usual she fought bravely but,
as so often in this event, to no avail. Her opening preparation
has let her down sadly here.
Barsov and Arkell by contrast had an accurate reasonable draw.
This is the type of chess often thought of as boring by the
spectators. However it is technically precise and brilliant in its
Luke McShane tore Sasikiran apart in a way that is unfamiliar
to us. Usually Krishnan is extremely precise and tries to play
essentially risk-free chess. Hastings 2002-3 has not been his
Peter Nielsen expressed surprise that, despite losing two games
in a row, he was able to regain the sole lead. So far he has only
drawn one game in 8 rounds.
Tseshkovsky – Karjakin confused the spectators. However Chris
Ward felt Black’s central pawn mass outweighed White’s
kingside initiative. This indeed proved the case and eventually
the Russian blundered, allowing the youngster a simple
Alexandra Kosteniuk has been totally unable to stem the tide of
disaster. After a good start, she has lost 4 games in a row. That
is the problem of being the lowest rated player in a round robin.
You may be mugged day after day.
It is interesting that the 8 players other than Kosteniuk and
Tseshkovsky all have 50% or better. It has been an extremely
closely fought 8-player tournament. Going into the last round,
only Keith Arkell remains unbeaten. Who would have predicted that
on 27 December?
Premier Round 7 3. 1. 2003
Harikrishna (3½) 1-0 Barsov (4)
Arkell (4) ½ Karjakin (3)
Sasikiran (3½) ½ Flear (2½)
Kosteniuk (2) 0-1 Nielsen (3½)
McShane (3) Tseshkovsky (1)
It came as no surprise that Keith Arkell was happy to have an
early draw with the young Ukrainian. It was his second game of the
day and he was probably still weak after yesterday’s stomach
problems. Store it up in your memory for a trivial pursuits
question. In which Hastings Premier did Keith Arkell score 1½
points in one day?
Sasikiran and Flear made valiant attempts to gain the
advantage. They played on to the bitter end and afforded me the
opportunity to fulfil a long-held ambition. I stepped in before
they had shaken hands and declared the game drawn. As one does,
when there are only two kings left on the board.
Alexei Barsov often gets into time-trouble and fights his way
out of it. This was not to be today and the younger Indian notched
up the full point in a carefully executed endgame.
After losing two games in row, many players would welcome a
quick draw with the Black pieces. I do not know what Alexandra’s
thoughts were on this subject, but the Dane eventually ground down
the young Russian in a Queen and Pawn endgame. Thus Peter showed
considerable resilience to recover from two disastrous losses.
One must admire Tseshkovsky’s spirit in undertaking two games
in one day. However, one must question the wisdom of his actions.
He and Luke had a ding-dong battle which first went one way and
then the other. At the end of the game White had such chances as
Premier Round 6 2. 1. 2003
Nielsen (3½) 0-1 Sasikiran (2½)
Barsov (3) 1-0 Kosteniuk (2)
Karjakin (2½) ½ Harikrishna (3)
Flear (2) ½ McShane (2½)
Tseshkovsky (1) Arkell (3) postponed 0-1 eventually.
Sadly the big news of the day is that Keith Arkell was too ill
to play. This is ironic as he has never previously had problems
here. For that matter, he has had no real problems in any of the
many tournaments in which he played. Tseshkovsky kindly agreed to
play Friday morning. Personally I would not have agreed to two
games the same day. Had he stuck to his guns, Keith said he would
have played rather than default. They are playing all the moves in
2 hours in order to avoid the problem of having to adjourn after 4
hours play. It is interesting that we used to be experienced in
organizing adjourned games. Now they only occur when players fall
sick or in local league games on weekday evenings.
Keith won the game in the end. The Russian had a winning
position and blundered becoming confused that his rook on d3 was
masking the mate on h7.
Two rounds ago it looked as if Peter Nielsen had already locked
up first place. He has not had a good start to 2003. Thus
Sasikiran sprung to life after five rather unexciting games where
he took no chances.
Alexei Barsov won, thus taking the lead, jointly with Keith.
Luke managed to win a pawn against the older Englishman, but it
was not enough to win.
Premier Round 5 1. 1. 2003
Poker players always want to win their first hand of he year.
This can be advantageous when playing. Anything which causes an
illogical impulse in poker by one’s opponent can be
However I have never notice any such irrational syndrome among
chessplayers. But New Year’s Day has definitely led to some odd
Danny Gormally and
Nick Pert with 4/4 had an instant draw in their game on top board
in the Challengers. Danny felt rather pensive about this as he
felt he was on a roll. However, the same can be said of his
The game of the round in the
Challengers had to be the encounter between the experienced Peter
Wells and the 18 year old Canadian, Eric Lawton, rated 2230. Peter
got into his habitual time trouble and really left himself so
short of time that it was impossible to make the moves in time.
Now the youngster has 4½/5.
McShane (1½) 1-0 Nielsen (3½)
Harikrishna (2½) ½ Arkell (2½)
Sasikiran (2) ½ Barsov (2½)
Kosteniuk (2) 0-1 Karjakin (1½)
Flear (1) 1-0 Tseshkovsky (1)
Luke was delighted with his 20 move win today which has opened
up the tournament. Really the Danish player did not play well and
his position was in tatters when he resigned.
Krishnan had another draw, but the
game was most double-edged with an odd pawn structure.
Glenn Flear gained an enormous
advantage just out of the opening and the result never looked in
In the match of the media stars,
Alexandra sacrificed material for inadequate compensation and the
Ukrainian boy won handily enough.
The game between Harikrishna and
Arkell puzzled everybody mightily. Basically Keith agreed a draw
in a won position. He could have played Kh6 and then White cannot
force perpetual check. In one line Keith could give up his queen
and be a rook down but win with his central pawns. Keith said
apart from that hiccup the game was a typical one where both
players made errors and the advantage swung back and forth.
Thus it was an odd day’s play, perhaps occasioned by the New
Premier Round 4 31. 12. 2002
Nielsen (2½) 1-0 Flear (1)
Arkell (2) ½ Kosteniuk (1½)
Tseshkovsky (½) ½ Harikrishna (2)
Barsov (1½) 1-0 McShane (1½)
Karjakin (1) ½ Sasikiran (1½)
It seemed to me the veteran Russian played without ambition in
this game. Having lost two in a row, he was content to draw.
Keith offered Alexandra a draw. This
she turned down, but it preyed on her mind. A couple of moves
later, she offered a draw and Keith gratefully accepted. It seems
she could have won a pawn a few moves on.
The young Ukrainian had a fair enough draw with the
pre-tournament favourite. Krishnan has made little impression on
the event so far. His solid, no risk chess can sometimes have this
type of effect.
The young Dane seems to be heading for the title of Great Dane.
He won rather readily against Glenn Flear.
Luke said his play against the Uzbek left a great deal to be
desired. Well, in truth, he expressed it more strongly than that.
Not a good way for the World Junior Silver Medallist to finish the
Premier Round 3 30. 12. 2002
Nielsen (1½) 1-0 Tseshkovsky (½)
Sasikiran (1) ½ Arkell (1½)
Kosteniuk (1½) 0 Harikrishna (1)
McShane (½) 1 Karjakin (1)
Flear (½) ½ Barsov (1)
For the third time, Tseshkovsky had difficulty in handling his
clock. As in the last round, he was completely lost by the end of
the time scramble. This time he actually lost on time. Thus the
young Dane took the sole lead with 2½/3.
It was satisfying to me that I understood the crux moment of
truth for the Flear – Barsov game. Glenn had a little
combination with Bd5 that netted a pawn. However this left him a
little weak on the white squares. Although the Uzbek was very
short of time, this provided him with adequate compensation to
Sasikiran and Arkell had a fairly risk-free game. Keith said
they agreed a draw at the point where the young Indian feared he
was drifting into a marginally inferior position.
It is now becoming commonplace for Luke McShane to play
opponents younger than himself. For the past 20 years I have
seldom met opponents older than myself. This has changed
dramatically since I started to compete in senior tournaments.
Luke gained the upper hand and converted this into an exchange
advantage where the result was never in doubt.
Alexandra survived her poor opening play yesterday and, indeed,
emerged victorious. She found the very young Indian a tougher nut
So far we are receiving value for money. The games are long and
hard-fought. It is quite normal for a 12 year old to play rapidly.
Today’s game against Luke was no exception. However, this was
probably also his best chance as his only real hope was that Luke
Premier Round 2 29. 12. 2002
Arkell (½) 1-0 McShane (½)
Harikrishna (½) ½ Sasikiran (½)
Tseshkovsky (½) 0-1 Kosteniuk (½)
Karjakin (0) 1-0 Flear (½)
Barsov (½) ½ Nielsen (1)
The five games started off placidly enough. It seemed likely
they would all be wars of attrition. Indeed the two Indians had a
boring, rather technical draw. I am sure they play real chess
against each other, but with the greatest respect. Alexei Barsov
and Peter Nielsen agreed the draw in a tense situation where,
under other circumstances, either might have played riskily in
order to try to win.
Vitaly Tseshkovsky had much the better of the opening against
the Russian girl. Again he ran short of time. Move 40 was reached
and his flag fell. He then muttered something to Alexandra and she
had won. Apparently, he went to give up because of the flag fall,
but Alexandra told him they had made 40 moves. All this took about
10 seconds so that I was unable to intervene. The senior Russian
then congratulated the teenager. Alexandra felt he resigned
somewhat prematurely because he was so disappointed. If so, that
is something a professional should not do. You should never act
prematurely after a time scramble. There is no doubt Alexandra
stands better in the final position. The White knight is trapped,
but he does not have to lose it.
Glenn said his position was lost for some time. It is the
longest game he has ever had where he lost. The young Ukrainian
played so rapidly that the whole encounter was over before the
game between the two Englishmen. Once upon a time, you could
assume children would be lacking in technique. Gone are those
days. In case you are wondering, Glenn resigned because he was
about to transpose in to a lost king and pawn endgame. Where White
has the opposition and the pawn is on the fifth, the position is
Keith played his patent ‘Speckled Egg’ against the King’s
Indian. He has no faith in the variation with an early b4.
However, he has won five games against strong grandmasters with it
this year. So why change? To most of us Black got much the better
of the opening. Keith’s white’s squared bishop was
particularly lamentable. Luke lost his way and a pawn in time
trouble. Keith complained that he was renowned for playing boring
rook and pawn endgames. This game was fascinating. But the
spectators only showed an interest in the game of the 12 year old.
Premier Round 1 28. 12. 2002
They’re off and running. But it was touch and go. Visas had
only been obtained for Sergey Karjakin and his coach Vladislav
Borovikov on Monday 23 December. Had there been any hold up at
all, it would have been impossible to make a special approach
during the Christmas period. Krishnan Sasikiran was due to leave
Delhi late on 26 December. The weather was extremely bad and the
flight did not take off until 3am local time on the 28th. I was
just about to announce at the beginning of the game that the young
Indian was delayed, when I noticed he had slipped in to his seat.
To my mind, professional players are extremely foolish not to give
themselves time to acclimatise after long-haul flights. They think
it is jut a matter of whether they feel tired. The reality is that
your judgement is deficient due to jetlag.
Keith Arkell has been trying to get into the Premier for many
years. Prior to the game he displayed a rather slapdash attitude
towards the experience. He failed to turn up to the Drawing of
Lots ceremony on the evening of the 27th and did not find out even
what colour he had until just before the first game. He even
missed the photo-call on the morning of the 28th. I suspect this
showed nerves rather than insouciance.
Peter Nielsen won rapidly against the 12 year old Sergey
Karjakin. He caught him with an innovation in a sharp line of the
Queen’s Gambit Accepted. Thus effectively the game was decided
on the computer at the Cinque Ports Hotel the night before. It
took me a few moments to realise why Black had resigned. The final
combination that would have occurred, 1…Qb6 2 Rb1, is unusual.
Bent Larsen has said that the players should not resign until all
the spectators understand why. People have told me they feel the
games are sometimes concluded halfway through, from their
viewpoint. Socially we are not used to the players continuing
until the bitter end. Perhaps, when chess is played as a spectator
sport, there should be a different attitude.
The other four games were all drawn. Many people seem to this
must mean the encounters were turgid. This would have been
absolute nonsense for this round. Keith Arkell and Glenn Flear had
a fair, hard fought draw that ended in repetition. Luke McShane
gained an edge against Pentala Harikrishna. He won a pawn and they
battled it out there was no mating material left. Alexei Barsov
and Vitaly Tseshkovsky ran ridiculously short of time. The
Uzbekistani had an unclear edge when they decided to stop gambling
and agree a draw. Krishnan Sasikiran had a structurally unusual
double-edged position against the young Russian female star.
Alexandra Kosteniuk clung on determinedly and the final rook and
pawn endgame left him with no hope of securing the full point.
Challengers Round 1 28. 12. 2002-12-29
Of course in a Swiss the highest rated players do not meet in
the first round. In this tournament Accelerated Pairings are used.
Thus the grandmasters had to face quite tough opposition, their
opponents being as high rated as 2300. Vladislav Borovikov is much
the highest rated player in the tournament. He had to defend all
the way against Wolfgang Koch and managed to hold on for a draw a
pawn down in a rook and pawn endgame. Principal among the upsets
was the loss by the Russian Alexander Cherniaev against Ralf
Christ. Alexander has been coming to this event for umpteen years.
He is looking for his final gm norm. This certainly was not an
auspicious start to his search for that particular Holy Grail. It
is very difficult in a Swiss to recover from a first round loss,
as the ratings of the next opponents are inevitably very