Saturday, 8 December 2018

Alan is through to the quarter-finals (just!)

Those watching the live games today must have experienced a nervous time if they were viewing Alan Merry's games against GM John Nunn.   The games swung wildly in favour of both players and ended with a crazy Armageddon game.   I'm hoping that Alan, or someone better then me, will be able to provide a better summary, but for the time going, here goes...

In the first standard-play game, Alan (Black) was a little fortunate to draw.   Nunn made a couple of weak queen moves and Alan was able to finish the game through perpetual check.

In the second standard-play game, it was John Nunn who was lucky.   Although Nunn's attack looked dangerous, it was an illusion.   Alan missed 28. Re1, which would have given him a winning advantage and after a grand exchange of pieces, the game petered out to a draw with opposite coloured bishops.

So after two draws, the match progressed to two Blitz games (10 minutes + 5 seconds increment).   Alan won the first after Nunn blundered in a drawn endgame.   In the second game Alan missed a number of saving moves and, deep in time trouble, was mated.

So the match went to the dreaded Armageddon, where White has five minutes and Black has four minutes.   There are no increments unless the game exceeds 60 moves.   But White must win, since a draw counts as a win for Black.   Alan had the Black pieces.   This is where the fun starts!   Nunn was in a winning position after 24 moves, but then inexplicably spent nearly 90 seconds on his 30th move and continued to move rather slowly for a few more moves.   When Alan tried to force home his a-pawn, Nunn, with only 9 seconds remaining, spent a further five seconds on move 34 and was unable to complete his 35th move, giving Alan the win.   At that point in the game, Stockfish gives White a forced mate in 12, an impossibility anyway in five seconds, as there were no increments.   Perhaps, at the end, age did tell.

Alan will now face third seed GM Gawain Jones in the quarter-finals tomorrow (Sunday), with the first of two standard-play games commencing at 10.00.


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