British On-Line Championship 2021, Round 9
The 9th and final round of the 2021 on-line British Chess Championships was eventually played a day late, on 08/08/2021.
The “issues” which had needed to be resolved (see previous report) appear primarily to have revolved around suspicion of cheating, presumably as determined by the monitoring software on the chess.com playing platform being used.
The games played by the person reported as leader immediately after the end of round 8, Gerasimos Giachos, have now all been scored as wins to his opponents, and he has been excluded from the final-round pairings.
It appears to be a rule of the event that if you are so judged to have been cheating then you are treated in this way. Some players who have similarly been ejected from other tournaments have protested their innocence, and it is obviously hard on an individual who is unjustly accused. However, human nature being as it is, there will inevitably be those who will cheat, given the chance, so such cheating-detection systems are sadly necessary, even if they are not perfect.
A number of other players are also omitted from the pairings, though retaining their scores (and so presumably not being accused of cheating!). These may have simply got some pre-existing commitments on Sunday evening, but one wonders if some are upset by the turn of events and are dropping out in disgust or protest.
This sorry episode is of course disappointing both for the players and the organisers.
Top pairings for round 9 were:
(6½) Keith C Arkell v Mohammed Aayan Ismail (6)
(5) Frederick Gordon v Michael Adams (6)
(5) Yichen Han v Bogdan Lalić (6)
Arkell, Ismail and Han had all been credited with the extra point after losing to Gerasimos Giachos and whatever assistance he may or may not have been using.
Meanwhile, on the English Chess Forum (https://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=10634&start=180#p270114), Keith Arkell recorded that he had requested arbiters to be physically present at his and his final-round opponent’s houses, to eliminate any chance of accusations of cheating in the game most likely to determine the championship. Accordingly, it seems he got agreement from ECF Chief Arbiter, Shohreh Bayat, to invigilate at Ismail’s home, and ECF Arbiter John Ariss to invigilate at Arkell’s home. In the event this was seemingly not to be, for whatever reason, but instead, second cameras giving a wider view were apparently to be used.
Play duly commenced.
The first of the top three boards to finish was Han v Lalić. 14-year-old Yichen Han sacrificed a minor piece in the opening to trap his opponent’s king in the centre, but did not find a winning method, and the game was agreed drawn in a position where Yichen had Q + B + 5P versus Q + R + 2P, and his opponent’s was somewhat exposed in the open spaces of the queen’s side. Lalić thus ended on 6½ out of 9, while Han ended on 5½ out of 9. (Click here to play through the game Yichen Han ½-½ Bogdan Lalić.)
Next of the top three boards to finish was Gordon v Adams. Adams as Black sacrificed two pawns to develop pressure on White’s king, but as often happens, the positional advantage gained by the sacrifice merely led to recovery of the sacrificed material. As material was swapped off, Adams went a pawn up, but in an opposite-coloured bishop ending, which was predictably drawn. This left Adams on 6½ and Gordon on 5½. (Click here to play through Frederick Gordon ½-½ Michael Adams.)
Finally, Keith C Arkell v Mohammed Aayan Ismail ended in a win for Arkell, who eventually won a pawn and won the ending. Thus Arkell finished on 7½ while Ismail ended on 6. (Click here to play through Keith C Arkell v Mohammed Aayan Ismail.)
Robert Starley of Leeds University turned a win on board 8, which meant he finished on 5 out of 9. (Click here to play through the game Robert Starley 1-0 Verma Shlok.)
Top scores at the end were:
Robert Starley finished 13th-16th on 5.