David Howell and Gawain Jones experience contrasting chess fortunes
The two exciting English grandmasters had different results at strong European opens this week
guardian.co.uk, Friday 20 July 2012 07.34 EDT
England’s two youngest grandmasters have been in action in strong European opens this week, with their different results highlighting how prize money in international chess is heavily geared to the final rounds.
David Howell, 21, won first prize at Leiden, in the Netherlands, scoring an unbeaten 7.5/9 for his best international result yet. Howell, the No5 seed, got an important break in the penultimate round when his marathon endgame against Parimarjan Negi looked a sure draw until the Indian overreached in an attempt to take the tournament lead. In the final round the Cardiff University student was under pressure from Bosnia’s Predrag Nikolic but defended coolly for the draw needed for outright first, half a point ahead of Negi. Howell earned €1,750 (£1,350).
Gawain Jones, 24, was No3 seed at the Benasque Open in the Spanish Pyrenees and also seemed poised for success when he was tied for second after the penultimate round with a chance for first. But the final round went wrong for the Yorkshireman, who dropped a pawn to Israel’s Dan Zoler and lost an endgame marathon in 89 moves. Zoler won first prize, €4,000; Jones finished ninth, taking €400.
Realistically, though, Leiden and Benasque, are just the start of a summer campaign that gives Jones and Howell the opportunity to advance still further towards the top of English chess. They are the top two seeds in the annual British championship, which starts at North Shields on Monday with a fortnight’s play and £5,000 for the winner.
Then they will be boards two (Jones) and four (Howell) in the England side that will compete in the biennial world team Olympiad in Istanbul, starting on 27 August.