The Hertfordshire Chess Congress took place last weekend at the County Hall, Hertford, with a total of 108 entrants across the Open, Challengers, Major and Minor sections. The venue was spacious enough and provided an excellent book stall as well as a very reasonably priced canteen.
Jon Collins (VBury St Edmunds) put in a very creditable performance to take outright second place in the Challengers section, losing only to the eventual winner, Yousuf Bin-Suhayl (Wisbech), who finished with a perfect 5/5 to collect both first place and the Glynne Jones Trophy for the best performance by a junior.
Graham Moore (Ipswich) put together a very solid performance in the Open to grab a share of third place with 3½/5 after beating me in the first round in an extremely sharp encounter. Graham had the Black pieces:
John's notes: 12...a6. We have arrived at a pretty standard position in this line of the French Tarrasch. The most popular moves for White here are 13. Bg5, Re1 and h3, however I've researched this line before and my computer prefers the move played, 13. Be3.
16. Ng5. Seemingly White has pressure however Graham decided to go with an enterprising exchange sacrifice that gives him a long-term initiative.
20. Qb3. The only move that retains any sort of advantage for White, albeit a small one.
22...Nf3! Just when it looked as though I was going to get a rook to the e-file and coordinate my forces Graham unleashes a very pretty move. If 23. gxf3 Bxf3+, 24. Kg1 Qe5 wins the White queen with the threat of mate on h2.
23...Qd7. Qf7! is best. Then if 24. gxf3 Re8 when White is forced to give up his queen to survive the mating threats.
27...Qg5? Played after a long think. When discussing the game afterwards we both agreed we had looked at this line and decided that this move couldn't be played, due to Qe6+, winning the bishop on d6 but, in a case of mutual blindness, I countered with the unfathomable:
28. Qf5?? Played far too quickly, I had thought we would repeat the position and then I'd have the option to decide if I wanted to force the draw.
32. Rc8? A losing move, both 32. Nc8 and 32. Rc3 are fairly equal. Having realised my mistake on move 28 I was quite frustrated and then failed to find the best defence.
38. Kf1. And resigns in view of 38... Bxd7 39. Rd3, Bb5.
A well fought game!
Thanks must go to the organisers for putting together a great tournament; hopefully Suffolk can send out even more support next year.