Gawain Jones puts experience of London Classic to good use at Hastings
- The Guardian,
Gawain Jones finished last against the world elite at the recent London Classic, but the 25-year-old British champion benefited from the experience and bounced back at Hastings to capture the £2,000 first prize unbeaten with 7.5/10.
It was close, though. Eight players were half a point behind, and Jones, the No1 seed, had to overcome some early draws and a golden missed chance in the puzzle diagram below. He showed his quality especially in a bruising ninth-round game where both players attacked zestfully before Jones triumphed in a marathon 88-move ending with king and rook against king and pawn.
There were two significant results among the second-placed octet. Jonathan Hawkins, 29, who was self-taught from computers, lives in Durham far from major chess centres and was just an average club player as a teenager, continued his remorseless rise towards the top of UK chess and is on the verge of the grandmaster title. Last year Wang Hao became China’s first winner at Hastings and this year the little-known Gao Rui went within a whisker of emulating his compatriot, emphasising that China is indeed the rising global power in chess.
The stand-out performance among the also-rans was the continued rapid improvement of Matthew Wadsworth. The Berkshire 12-year-old had his best result yet, totalling an excellent 5.5/10 in high-class company, scoring a win and a draw against international masters, and playing well above his own official rating in a calm and assured style.
Hastings often seems to attract a winter bug, and this year’s was worse than usual, causing several players to take half-point byes or agree short draws. Still, enthusiasm remains high at the world’s longest running tournament that is supported, despite budget cuts, by its Borough Council and also by a dedicated team of volunteer organisers.