Raymond Keene

Holy Grail

Holy Grail
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Gawain Jones has fought his way to the no. 1 position on the UK ranking list by a series of recent successes in the world team championship, the Reykjavik Open, and now by scoring first prize in the Sigeman closed invitational tournament in Malmo, Sweden. Gawain’s live rating is now 2,709, ahead of Howell and Sadler on 2,692, Adams 2,690 and McShane 2,688. Leading scores in Malmo (out of 7) were: Jones 5, Harikrishna 4½ and Grandelius 4.

Hillarp Persson-Jones: Sigeman & Co, Malmo 2019

1 c4 c5 2 Nc3 g6 3 g3 Bg7 4 Bg2 Nc6 5 Nf3 d6 6 0-0 e6 7 a3 Nge7 8 Rb1 0-0 9 b4 White has chosen a fairly sedate version of the English Opening where he hopes to gain a slight initiative on the queen’s flank. Black’s next move shores up his defences in that sector. 9 ... b6 10 e3 Black does not fear 10 b5 Na5 since White has no effective discovery against the black rook on a8 by moving the king’s knight. 10 ... Bb7 11 Qb3 Rb8 12 Bb2 Qd7 13 d3 h6 14 Rfe1 14 Rfd1 has been seen before. It is likely that even in that case the British grandmaster would have continued in the same aggressive vein as in the game continuation. 14 ... g5 (see diagram 1)

A bold advance quite in Jones’s aggressive style. 15 Ne2 e5 Black avoids the exchange of bishops which would have weakened his own king’s defences. 16 Rbd1 Ng6 17 d4 The time-honoured reaction to a wing attack, White counters in the centre. 17 ... g4 18 Nd2 exd4 19 exd4 cxd4 20 Ne4 (see diagram 2)

Without having done anything seriously wrong White has gradually drifted into a dangerous situation. In particular he has lost a lot of time with the gyrations of his knights. Although it is complicated, 20 f4 is the best chance to stay in contention. As played, White succumbs to a long forcing variation. 20 ... Rbe8 21 Nxd4 Nxd4 22 Bxd4 Bxd4 23 Rxd4 f5 24 Rxd6 (see diagram 3)

Black now sacrifices his queen to come to grips with the white king. 24 ... Qxd6 25 Nxd6 Rxe1+ 26 Bf1 Ne5 27 c5+ Kh7 28 f4 After 28 Nxb7 Nf3+ 29 Kg2 Black has a clever win — see today’s puzzle. 28 ... Nf3+ 29 Kf2 Rxf1+ 30 Ke3 If 30 Kxf1 Nd2+ wins. 30 ... Re1+ 31 Kf2 Re2+ White resigns An elegant repetition of the theme of forking White’s king and queen. After 32 Kxe2 Nd4+ wins.