Yorkshire Post Article 5 – British Rapidplay 2015


This is an extended version of the column published in The Yorkshire Post on 14th November 2015

A packed playing hall in the Grand Hall of Leeds Beckett University

A packed playing hall in the Grand Hall of Leeds Beckett University

The British Rapidplay Championships have been an annual fixture on the chess calendar since 1986. Many of Britain’s top players have won in the past including Nigel Short, Michael Adams, Jon Speelman, John Nunn and in more recent times David Howell and Gawain Jones. However none have been as prolific as Mark Hebden who has won the event on six previous occasions and was the top seed for this year’s event. His closest challengers included Ameet Ghasi who famously became the youngest winner of the event in 2000 aged just 13! Two other IMs featured in this year’s competition, Simon Ansell and Daniel Fernandez. The pack behind the big four featured lots of experience campaigners and some youngsters who were going to be no pushovers.

The tournament introduced a new time control this year of 20 minutes + 10 seconds per move. This meant fewer time scrambles and fewer people playing on simply to win on the clock. As in previous years, everybody had to play a gruelling eleven rounds over two days with six games on Saturday and five on Sunday.

Open Section

The first two rounds saw a couple of surprises as Andrew Bak and Mike Bramson held Ansell and Fernandez respectively to draws. This meant that only the top two seeds were on 2/2 going into round 3 and had to face each other. Ghasi was white and had a slight advantage for most of the middlegame but had Hebden squarely on the ropes going into the endgame and Ghasi could have landed a knockout blow on move 40, can you see what white should have played?

As it was, Ghasi failed to play the correct continuation and had to settle for a draw, meaning there was an eight-way tie on 2.5. In fact all the remaining games between the top four seeds were draws apart from the final match-up in round 7. At the end of day 1, Mark Hebden led on his own on 5/6, half a point ahead of Ghasi, Fernandez and Ansell, but Hebden’s charge to the tile took a stumble on Sunday morning in round 7. Hebden had let a promising position slip and he made a couple of critical mistakes against Simon Ansell, you can see this in the game viewer below.

This result put Ansell in the sole lead on 5.5, half a point ahead of Hebden, Ghasi and Fernandez. As these four had all faced each other, the remaining four rounds were about who could score best against the rest of the opposition. Ansell couldn’t hold his lead as he drew his next two games against Steven Jones and Joseph McPhillips and finished on 8.5. Fernandez dropped a crucial half point against Andrew Bak in round 10 to join Ansell on 8.5. Incidentally this was Bak’s second draw against IMs in the competition.

The two former winners Hebden and Ghasi didn’t fluff their lines and won all four of their remaining games to finish on 9/11, sharing the British Rapidplay Championships. This was Hebden’s seventh win and Ghasi’s second.

Other Sections

Jacob Yoon and Dhruv Easwar won the U11 English Trials event.

Jacob Yoon and Dhruv Easwar won the U11 English Trials event.

Alongside the Open, there were three other grade-limited sections and three junior tournaments that took place.

Pawel Golimowski was the sole winner of the Major. Kevin Winter (Bradford) and Mick Connor shared 1st place in the Intermediate while former Bradford player Gonzalo Shoobridge and Juju Samworth-Calver came 1st= in the Minor.

The U11 British trials were won by Jacob David Yoon and Dhruv Easwar. James Lee became the U16 British Rapidplay Champion and Weiming Xu won the U12 prize.


The next column will appear in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday 21st November

The editorial team at Yorkshire Chess compile a weekly column for The Yorkshire Post every Saturday, with the online version published on Sunday. If you have any feedback or suggestions for the column, please click on "Contact Us" at the top of the page.


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