British Rapidplay Champion!

After the mad dash following the European Championships and then 4ncl, I took it fairly easy. I made my debut for Wood Green in the London League on Wednesday, defeating Tiruchirapalli Venkataraman in a long battle that went down to mutual time trouble. The team didn’t have as much trouble and we’re currently 11-0 up with 1 adjournment!

On Friday Sue and I travelled up to Leeds for the British Rapidplay. A pleasant meal at the Arts Café Bar (, highly recommended by the way, and then a fairly early night before the gruelling marathon that is 11 rapid games (30 minutes each with no increment). The tournament was played at the Leeds Metropolitan University, a new venue and a welcome return to Leeds.

We were rather surprised on arrival, to see that only four GMs were registered, Pete Wells, Matthew Turner, Nigel Davies and myself. Clashing with the Bundesliga meant reigning champion David Howell and Stephen Gordon were away there while strong IM Richard Palliser was playing the Finnish league. The Saturday saw a race develop between me and Matthew Turner. We drew our round four encounter, a fluctuating battle where he sacrificed a piece for an attack and I returned it to regain the initiative. However I missed a tactic and ended up in a rook and pawn endgame a pawn down but drew comfortably.

I finished off the Saturday with a victory against Nigel Davies using the Classical Dutch even if my opening went a bit wrong. White Rose captain, Rupert Jones, is a local and he recommended a nearby Thai restaurant. Unfortunately it was fully booked when we arrived but we made a late night booking for 10pm and adjourned to a nearby bar to sample the local beer! The beer and meal were excellent although the lack of taxis meant it was around midnight when we finally got back to the hotel.

Slept, packed and breakfasted, the tournament restarted at 9.30am on the Sunday morning. I managed to convert my round 7 and 8 games but Matthew kept up with me and we both had 7.5/8 with three games to go. However in round nine he had to face Nigel Davies with black and had a pretty quick draw and I managed to overtake him defeating Mike Surtees (the inventor of Revolutionary Opening Theory or R.O.T.). The last couple of rounds are a real test of stamina but I managed to win both games and finished with 10.5/11, a point and a half ahead of Turner who drew his last two rounds. The only IM in the field, Stephen Mannion-Burns, came third with 8/11. Sue played a tough field but managed 50% with a last round win and was not unhappy with her performance. You can find a full crosstable here (

Thanks should go to Brent Kitson and the other organisers and arbiters who ran the tournament smoothly and to the University for a pleasant venue. I hope they manage to keep it in Leeds as I much preferred playing here than Halifax the previous year. If I’m not busy I’ll return next year to defend my title and hopefully lots of other strong players can join me!

Below I’ve added a selection of my games. My strategy for the tournament was to keep ahead on time and hopefully not make too many mistakes. This meant my play was perhaps not of the highest quality but I succeeded in never dropping below around five minutes, without any increment this is rather important. Good friend Pete Wells played some great chess but unfortunately just took too long about it and twice had to agree draws in winning positions while also blundered a rook in terrible time trouble in another.

My next rapid tournament will be in Warsaw for the European Rapid and Blitz in December. I played it last year but was really exhausted as it was straight after the London Classic Open but this time around I have at least a couple of days to recover.

Games – Deciding which games to put up I notice I’ve chosen my last four rounds; by then I’d managed to get in the swing of things a bit.

Parson-Jones, I was rather pleased with this game. A curious situation where we hadn’t exchanged any pawns when he resigned but my attack down the h file will be too strong.
###pgn###[Event “25th British Rapidplay”] [Site “Leeds ENG”] [Date “2011.11.19”] [Round “2”] [White “Parsons, Matthew”] [Black “Jones, Gawain”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “A45”] [BlackElo “2635”] [PlyCount “58”] [EventDate “2011.11.19”] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. e3 Bg7 4. Nf3 c5 5. c3 b6 6. Be2 Bb7 7. O-O O-O 8. Nbd2 d6 9. h3 Nbd7 10. a4 a6 11. Bh2 Qc8 12. Qb1 Re8 13. Re1 Qc6 14. Bf1 b5 15. e4 e5 16. d5 Qb6 17. a5 Qd8 18. b4 c4 19. Be2 Nh5 20. Bd1 Nf4 21. Bc2 Bc8 22. Bxf4 exf4 23. Nd4 Ne5 24. Qd1 h5 25. N2f3 Nxf3+ 26. Qxf3 Qg5 27. Rad1 Bd7 28. Kh1 Be5 29. Bb1 Bg4 0-1%%%pgn%%%

Mannion-Burns – Jones, a smooth positional win from a Bb5+ Sicilian that soon resembled a Ruy Lopez.
###pgn###[Event “25th British Rapidplay”] [Site “Leeds ENG”] [Date “2011.11.20”] [Round “8”] [White “Burns-Mannion, Stephen”] [Black “Jones, Gawain”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “B51”] [WhiteElo “2351”] [BlackElo “2635”] [PlyCount “98”] [EventDate “2011.11.19”] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. O-O Bd7 5. c3 Nf6 6. Re1 a6 7. Ba4 b5 8. Bc2 e5 9. d3 g6 10. Nbd2 Bg7 11. Nf1 O-O 12. a4 Rb8 13. axb5 axb5 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bd2 Be6 16. Ng3 Qc7 17. h3 Ra8 18. Qe2 Qb7 19. Nh2 b4 20. Ba4 Ra6 21. Bxc6 Rxc6 22. Ng4 h5 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. c4 Ra8 25. Nf1 Rca6 26. Rxa6 Qxa6 27. Ne3 Qa2 28. Bc1 Bg5 29. Nd5 Bxc1 30. Rxc1 Bxd5 31. exd5 Qb3 32. f3 Ra2 33. Rb1 Qa4 34. Kf2 Kf8 35. Qd2 Ra1 36. Rxa1 Qxa1 37. Qc2 Kg7 38. Qd2 Qb1 39. Qe2 Qc1 40. g3 h4 41. gxh4 Qh1 42. Ke3 Qxh3 43. Qf2 Qh1 44. Kd2 Qb1 45. Ke3 Qc1+ 46. Qd2 Qxd2+ 47. Kxd2 Kh6 48. Ke3 Kh5 49. f4 f6 0-1%%%pgn%%%

Jones-Surtees. Here Mike’s creative play in the opening never really paid off and I soon had an overwhelming position.
###pgn###[Event “25th British Rapidplay”] [Site “Leeds ENG”] [Date “2011.11.20”] [Round “9”] [White “Jones, Gawain”] [Black “Surtees, Mike”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “B10”] [WhiteElo “2635”] [BlackElo “2113”] [PlyCount “59”] [EventDate “2011.11.19”] 1. Nf3 c6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 Bg4 5. h3 Bxf3 6. Qxf3 e6 7. Be3 Nf6 8. a3 b5 9. Bd3 b4 10. axb4 Bxb4 11. e5 Nfd7 12. Qg3 g6 13. h4 Qe7 14. h5 Qf8 15. Kf1 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Kd8 17. Qh4+ Kc7 18. hxg6 fxg6 19. Bxg6 c5 20. Bh5 Nc6 21. Qg4 Nd8 22. dxc5 Rg8 23. Bh6 Rxg4 24. Bxf8 Rc4 25. Bd6+ Kc8 26. Be2 Rxc3 27. Bxa6+ Rxa6 28. Rxa6 Nxc5 29. Bxc5 Rxc5 30. Ra8+ 1-0%%%pgn%%%

Shaw-Jones Return of the Benko Gambit!
###pgn###[Event “25th British Rapidplay”] [Site “Leeds ENG”] [Date “2011.11.20”] [Round “10”] [White “Shaw, Peter”] [Black “Jones, Gawain”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “A58”] [WhiteElo “2180”] [BlackElo “2635”] [PlyCount “78”] [EventDate “2011.11.19”] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 d6 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. h3 Bg7 11. Kg1 O-O 12. Kh2 Qa5 13. Re1 Rfb8 14. Re2 Ne8 15. Rc2 Nc7 16. Bd2 Qa6 17. a3 Rb3 18. Qf1 Qb7 19. Ra2 Nb6 20. Bg5 Bxc3 21. bxc3 f6 22. Bc1 Na4 23. c4 e5 24. Nd2 Rb6 25. Qe2 Ne8 26. Nf1 Rb3 27. Qg4 Qc8 28. Qxc8 Rxc8 29. Nd2 Rb7 30. Kg1 Rcb8 31. Kf1 f5 32. f3 Nf6 33. Ke2 fxe4 34. fxe4 Nh5 35. Nf1 Rb3 36. Bd2 Nf6 37. Kf2 Nxe4+ 38. Kg1 Rb1 39. Bh6 Nac3 0-1%%%pgn%%%

Jones-Burnett. My last round encounter was a little nerve wracking as I knew a draw would get me the title but I wanted to match David Howell’s winning score from last year.
###pgn###[Event “25th British Rapidplay”] [Site “Leeds ENG”] [Date “2011.11.20”] [Round “11”] [White “Jones, Gawain”] [Black “Burnett, Jim”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “C07”] [WhiteElo “2635”] [BlackElo “2137”] [PlyCount “61”] [EventDate “2011.11.19”] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 cxd4 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bc4 Qd6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bb3 Nc6 9. Nc4 Qd8 10. Nce5 Nxe5 11. Nxe5 a6 12. Qf3 Qa5 13. Nc4 Qc5 14. c3 Be7 15. cxd4 Qb5 16. a4 Qc6 17. Qg3 O-O 18. Bh6 Ne8 19. a5 Kh8 20. Be3 Nd6 21. Rfc1 Nxc4 22. Bxc4 Bd6 23. Qh4 Qe8 24. Bd3 f5 25. Bf4 Be7 26. Qg3 Bd7 27. Be5 Rf7 28. Rc7 Bc6 29. Be2 Kg8 30. Bh5 g6 31. Bxg6 1-0%%%pgn%%%