Ayr Chess Congress Report - 2016
Congress Report by Adam Bremner
The Ayr Congress again returned to the Mercure Hotel, with players looking to end the season on a high with precious Grand prix points and super 8 qualification on the line. There was no clear favourite in any of the sections, so it turned out to be a very exciting event!
In the Open, the first few rounds passed with relatively few surprises. The adults in the event were looking to dodge the dangerous crop of juniors that had entered, with their usual bag of tactical tricks. Max Turner pulled off a good win over Tom Donohue after a tactical oversight, and Callum Smith held the most unlikely of draws against Ian Marks. At the end of round 3 it was the ever dangerous Richard Birkett who was the only player left on 3/3, after finding a nice move as white in the following position.
11.Nxc6! and things just got worse for black as the game went on.
On Sunday the fireworks continued. Willie Rutherford found himself at the centre of them in both rounds, on both ends too! In r4, he capped off a powerful attacking game with the natural, but instructive:
27. Rxf6! And with Qe4 next, the defence was blown apart. However, in the afternoon, possibly still on autopilot
8…Nd7?? And after Nfg5! it was an early finish for both players.
Back at the top, and after having beat Richard Birkett in a time scramble in the morning, Murad Abdulla faced off against David Findlay as co-leaders for the title. Unfortunately for those watching online, after black solved his opening problems, the players agreed a draw. This left the door open for others to catch up, and Mark Orr joined them on 4/5 after an ambitious sac by Elaine Bamber didn’t quite have enough to back it up. It looked like Andrew Green would also join the winners’ circle in the last game to finish, but unfortunately knight endgames are tricky, especially when on increment, and he drew. This left Murad Abdulla, David Findlay and Mark Orr the joint winners on 4/5.
In the Major, things were also extremely tight, and James Watson as the only person on 3.5/4 decided to half out in a rook endgame to ask the question of the chasing pack. The only player to step up and join him on 4/5 was Neil Irving after he beat Ben Volland with the black pieces. Sometimes chess is a simple game, and Neil produced a series of developing moves, and the end was near after:
18…Qc6! When now the problems on the long diagonal are too much to solve
The Minor turned out to be something of a minefield for the established adults, as a new wave of juniors came hunting scalps. Jonathan McKay was just too good for the rest of the field, and finished on 4.5/5, the best score in any section. Even 2nd place was tied between two improving juniors, with Marco D’Alessio and Andrew McMilan finishing on 4/5, the latter providing possibly the most exciting game of the weekend. In the following position, Andrew was black in a game both players needed to win against the experienced Mark Smith:
Here white plays 14. Qh5? Which at first glance seems completely winning. (Bxe3 first is the win) Black replies with 14…Qg5? Returning the favour. (Amazingly 14…g6! does more than just hold, after 15. Qxg6 Nxe5 16. Qg7 N5xc4 and everything is covered, with black material up, and the importance of having the bishop on d4 is seen). However, white missed his new chance and played 15.Qxg5? and the resulting position leaves him just material down, but what did he miss? There is a mate in 2 on, but I will leave that one for you to solve!
All in all, a very exciting tournament, at a fantastic venue. The only downside was the absence of the organiser David Congalton, who hopefully is feeling better soon. Congratulations to all the winners and hopefully everyone will be back next year!