British OTB Championship, 2021, Round 8
Round 8, the penultimate round, was played on 09/10/2021. Rounds 8 and 9 were scheduled to start at 10 a.m. rather than the 2.30 p. m, start of the previous rounds.
In the Championship, in joint lead after 7 rounds, on 5 points out of 7, were 5 players, which is a lot for this stage in a 9-round Swiss event, namely Andrew Ledger of Sheffield, Nicholas Pert, Mark Hebden, Daniel Gormally and Marcus Harvey. The top 3 pairings, with current scores in parentheses, were as follows:
Noticeable in the pairing list is the fact that David Eggleston and Neil Bradbury, both of whom lost to Yorkshire players in round 7, are “unpaired”, which presumably means they have dropped out of the tournament for some reason. Indeed, during the progression of the tournament, 7 of the original 22 players have entered the ever-growing list of the “unpaired”.
Svetlana Sučikova and Robert Starley entered round 8 each with a score of 4 out of 7.
Andrew Ledger had White again. His and his opponent’s colour histories were identical, so the higher ranked player (Gormally) got the colour which was “due” to him, which was Black on colour equalisation. (That almost guarantees Andrew Ledger will get Black in the final round, as he has now had 5 Whites and three Blacks.) Black got boxed in by his own pawns, while White had a Queen’s side pawn majority and more space. After Black played 32. … Qe7? White took the chance to play 33. Qxa7. Black had perhaps intended 33. … Ra8 34. Qf2 Rxa4, but after 33. … Ra8 White had a win in all variations after 34. Rxd6+! The main point is that 34. … cxd6 35. Rxd6+ Qxd6 allows 36. Qf7 mate. In other variations the black c-pawn falls, and the white Queen’s side pawns are too strong.
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Svetlana Sučikova had White against Keith Arkell. One got the feeling for a long time that Black had the better game. After move 27, Black had a passed b-pawn. As Black tried to push through his b-pawn, he allowed some king’s side pawns fell of the board, leaving White with a 4-to-1 pawn majority on the King’s side, including a supportable passed h-pawn. Both players were low on time, and a draw was agreed in a position which was far from clear, and could have been losing for either side. Possibly White had slightly the better position, but playing it with little time could be difficult.
Robert Starley had Black again (having earlier had 2 Whites in a row). He was playing Peter Finn, and did not have a happy game. One feels Black needed to find something better than the understandable 16. … g6. (Both white knights piled into f5, despite the black pawn at g6!) Maybe 16. … dxe4 as better. Anyway, after 16. .. g6 things got progressively and rapidly more horrible as time went by. Better luck in the last round!
Hebden and Harvey drew, but Pert won, so going into the final round there were 2 joint leaders on 6, Andrew Ledger and Nicholas Pert, followed by 2 players on 5½, namely Harvey and Hebden. Joint leaders Ledger and Pert had of course met in round 7, meaning both would float down in the final round. However, Ledger has played both Hebden and Harvey in earlier rounds, as well as one of the 2 players on 5! So, in the final round, the top twe pairings look like being
Marcus Harvey (5½) v Nicholas Pert (6)
Hamish Olson (5) v Andrew Ledger (6)
Though at the time of writing the final round pairing had not been publish on the internet.