WHEN I first started playing weekend chess congresses, I was so enthralled by the concept that I looked forward to owning a camper van, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about howI would get to them, or where I would stay when I did.
Back then, I lived almost entirely formy five-game chess “fix” (one on Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday) and felt that my camper van, stocked with chess books and rice pudding, with would give me all I needed to get from one fix to another.
Thankfully I didn’t act out this youthful fantasy, and I rarely play “weekenders” these days, partly because the prize money is not as attractive as it used to be, and partly because many of the best weekenders are nowFIDE rated, which, due to the relatively low average rating and busy playing schedule, makes losing rating points quite likely.
This may sound plaintive and timorous, but losing rating points very directly affects a professional’s chances of being invited to play in foreign leagues and tournaments.
However, the rating risk didn’t deter IMJacobAagaard from taking part in the Edinburgh Congress recently at Herriot Watt School in Edinburgh. Jacob is still hunting the GM title and therefore should care about rating more than most, and indeed the following Friday night upset, equivalent in football terms to Celtic losing to a good amateur team, will probably set back his title quest a month or two. Hugh Brechin – Jacob Aagaard Edinburgh Premier Rd 1 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 This system of development is known as The London System for obscure historical reasons, but a modern explanation is that it is favoured by those who are very busy or very lazy, or a curious mixture of the two. 3...b6 4.e3 Bb7 5.Nbd2You should play the moves you have to play before the moves you want to play, so I would prefer Bd3 and 0–0 and then see what is going on, in case I want to play c4 and Nc3, which I probably would against the system chosen by Black. 5...Be7 6.h3 0–0 7.Bd3 d6 8.0–0 c5 9.c3 Nc6 10.a4 Re8 11.Nc4 Bf8 12.Bh2 cxd4 13.exd4 Rc8 14.Re1 Rc7!? I like this idea – a novel way of increasing the activity of the pieces. 15.Qe2 Rd7 16.Rad1 Qa8 17.Ncd2! A purposeful move, aiming to exchange black’s main kingside defender. 17...Rdd8 18.Ne4 Nxe4 19.Bxe4?! 19.Qxe4 g6 20.Ng5! intending Qh4, or Qf4 and Ne4, looks more dangerous. 19...h6 20.Qc2?! Rc8 21.Qb1Na5 22.Bxb7 Qxb7 23.Nd2 Qd5 Black is very comfortable, but the knight on a5, a long way from the king, has yet to make sense of himself. 24.Ne4 Red8 25.Bf4 Qf5 26.Qc1 d5 26...Nb3!? 27.Qe3 d5 28.Nd2 Qc2! 27.g4 Qg6 28.Ng3 Rc4?! Playable, but not practical. 29.Be5! Rxa4 30.f4! Fritz tells me white’s attack is not objectively strong, but it looks scary, especially on a Friday night. 30...Nc4 31.f5 exf5? A nervy move. Perhaps Jacob forgot to have his Weetabix in the morning. 31...Qg5 was much stronger. 32.Nxf5 According to Kasparov, a knight on f5 (or f4 for Black) is usually worth a pawn. 32...Nxe5 33.Rxe5 b5 34.Rde1 Qc6? 34...Kh7“Talk to your pieces” – the king is much happier here. 35.Qf4 Black is outnumbered in the relevant sector. 35…Ra2?! 36.Re7! Rxb2?! 37.Rxf7! Crashing through. 37...Kh8 37...Kxf7 38.Nxh6+ Kg6 39.Qf5+ Kxh6 40.Qh5mate! 38.Nh4? Almost spoiling an impressive attack. It was time to kill with 38.Nxg7! 38...Bd6? 38...Kg8 gives survival chances, but nowWhite finishes in style. 39.Ng6+ Kg8 40.Ne7+ Bxe7 41.Rxg7+! Kh8 42.Rh7+! Kxh7 43.Rxe7+ Kh8 44.Qe5+ Kg8 45.Qg7# 1–0
Several spectators remarked on howimpressed they were by Hugh’s composure in attack, and by Jacob’s equanimity in defeat.