Friday, September 30

Chess: Bodhana Sivanandan, seven, shines at British Championships | chess


Torquay is the most popular venue for the English Chess Federation’s annual congress and its 2022 version has attracted over 1,000 entrants. The learning company Chessable, part of the Play Magnus Group, is the sponsor.

Due to a near overlap of dates none of the five grandmasters who represented England at the Chennai Olympiad is taking part in Torquay. In their absence the defending champion GM, Nick Pert, is the top seed in a contest where many have chances.

After six of the nine rounds the old and the new generations share the lead. GM Keith Arkell, 61, and the Cambridge maths student Harry Grieve, 21, are both unbeaten on 5/6, half a point ahead of the field. Grieve won in powerful style in round six.

Before that the U16 championship sparked controversy when the leader was disqualified during the seventh and final round. Allegedly, it was a clear case of Igors Rausis syndrome (mobile phone in the toilet), and there was dissatisfaction because players and parents had complained to the arbitrators from round two onwards.

There was an eye-catching performance in the Open Rapid, the fast time limit championship. The youngest entrant Bodhana Sivanandan, seven, began with a stunning sequence of two wins against 2100s, a draw against a 2200 Candidate Master, and a win against the British U12 champion.

In round six (of seven), with 4/5, she was promoted to board two, facing Arkell, a legend of English chess, he of the World 50+ Teams double gold, the current fifth round British Championship leader, author of the acclaimed Arkell’s Endings, and the man who always scores with rook and bishop against rook.

Bodhana Sivanandan at the British Championships in Torquay. Photograph: Brendan O’Gorman/Handout

“I won only because of her inexperience,” he said. “She got a passive position defending a queen and two rooks ending, but she understood the importance of counterplay so she caused me problems by activating her queen. There was a floating moment where she could have held but she missed it and she got a lost king and pawn endgame.

The occasion evoked a memory of an encounter with another prodigy: “One day, as with Magnus [Carlsen], it will be something to brag about that I have a 1-0 score against her,” he said. Arkell v Carlsen, Gausdal 2002, at 28-move tactical skirmish where the 11-year-old Norwegian came off worse, deserves to be better known.

The eminent author and GM John Nunn is higher rated than any of the championship players but he has entered only the over-65, where he is the odds-on favourite.

Round three (Thomas Villiers v Ioanis Lentzos) featured an opening trap worth remembering: 1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 d3 dxe4 4 Ng5 exd3 5 Bxd3 Nf6? 6 Nxf7! Kxf7 7 Bg6+! hxg6 8 Qxd8 and White soon won. Then Harry Grieve, 21, reached 5/6 with a powerful attack.

England currently has several promising teenage girls, so it was an imaginative move by the ECF, when there were no qualified entrants in the championship proper, to switch the girls U18 contest to the Major Open.

The Meltwater online Tour has resumed in Miami this week with the $300,000 FTX Crypto Cup, an eight-player all-play-all with best of four games each round. Carlsen is the heavy favourite, but he faces the ambitious teenage stars Alireza Firouzja, 19, and Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 17 (5pm start, free to watch live on chess24.com).

The world champion had a rocky moment when he lost with White in the first of a four-game match against the rising US talent Hans Niemann, 19, whose post-game comment was terse: “The chess speaks for itself.” Carlsen then recovered, won the third game with 1 a3, and won the match 3-1.

After four of the seven rounds, Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa were tied for the lead on maximum points.

As a congratulation for his Olympiad gold medal for England, GM David Howell has been offered a playing spot on the October Meltwater Champions Tour, an event where he is normally the main commentator.

3829: 1…Ng4! White resigned due to 2 Qd2 Kh1+! 3 Nxh1 Kxh1+! 4 Kxh1 Qh2 mate.


www.theguardian.com

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