Around the Christmas and New Year time, the thoughts of most British chess players turn towards the traditional Hastings event. In the past Hastings has produced some memorable tournaments, and a who's who list of winners from the greats of chess. Like many other chess festivals the tournament has a number of sections with the top section having been traditionally a round robin event. Things have changed a bit, and the top section is now a swiss event, but a pretty strong one nevertheless. There have only been 2 rounds so far, which means that the top players haven't really come into contact yet. That doesn't mean there haven't been some interesting moments.
Apparently all the World Champions from Steinitz to Karpov (except Fischer) played at Hastings over the years. I seem to remember Bent Larsen as a star attraction one year I was playing back in the 1980's. It was great as the main tournament was held in the afternoon while the other events (like the one I was playing in) happened in the morning. That meant players like me could play and then watch the top players and follow the commentary. It was a great inspiration, and I hope that one day Hastings returns to its former glory. Still, there are a fair number of Grand Masters and strong players in the tournament, and plenty of interesting games, and upsets, like Martin Schuster's (2209) first round victory over IM Joerg Wegerle (2431) in a rook ending that looked drawish to me. I'll talk about this ending, and a couple of others in a future blog post (see, I haven't lost my procrastinating skills).
I haven't looked at much of the second round yet, but a 300 point upset victory caught my eye. White just gains a bit of space, develops quickly, letting his higher rated opponent take a poisoned pawn, and then goes for it. Enjoy :)