England’s elite grandmasters, silver medallists behind Russian gold in the 2019 World Teams, stayed on top at the weekend as the traditional Hastings New Year tournament celebrated its centenary. The £7,000, 12-player, online invitation event was backed by Caplin, the specialist providers of desktop etrading.

David Howell won the £1,200 first prize with an unbeaten 9/11 after the Sussex GM, 30, scored convincing wins against two of his major rivals. Howell’s endgame finesses against the seven-time British champion Michael Adams provided the most cultured game of the event, while his calm refutation of Luke McShane’s speculative attack made a tricky defence look easy.

McShane scored 7.5, Adams 7, and Gawain Jones 6.5, while the youngest and lowest ranked player, the Cambridge economics student Matthew Wadsworth, 20, totalled a promising 5/11.

If Covid-19 induces Hastings to go online again in 2021-22, it would be interesting if all six of the nation’s top players could take part, that is the four winners at the weekend plus the former world title challenger Nigel Short and 2694-rated Matthew Sadler. 

Another approach would be to reserve three or four of the 12 places to under-20 juniors, providing an incentive to scarce young talents to raise their game to international standards.

Puzzle 2402

Al Horowitz v Alex Kevitz, New York 1931. How did White (to play) win in style?

Click here for solution

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