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Terafinal 2014 by Marcus Harvey

 

 

   

This year’s Terafinal was probably the most open it has ever been, as there were 7 players graded above 185! I was the reigning champion and was also the top seed – but by only 3 ECF points.

 

Round 1: I was paired white against an 8 year old, Adithya Pramod Paleri with a grade of 130. He played very well for his age and surprisingly knew quite a lot of the theory in a grünfeld where I played 3.f3, until he blundered a piece on move 10.

 

Round 2: I was black against Aditya Verma, a talented 10 year old with an ECF grade of 154. I played extremely aggressively and forced him to defend from very early on. Just when it looked like his king would escape, I found a really nice queen sacrifice that lead to a cool checkmate!

 

Round 3: I played Maria Wang (170) with the white pieces. We have played numerous times, so I decided to finally play vs the Kings Indian. Surprisingly, she slightly confused her move order which I exploited and ended up with a pleasant advantage. There were holes all over her position and it didn’t take long for her position to completely collapse into a lost ending.

 

Round 4: This is always the round that throws the favourites at each other and this year was no exception, as I was paired black against my friend Jamie Horton (190). He played well in the opening and kept his slight advantage throughout the middlegame. Unfortunately for Jamie, he used too much time and only just made the first time control. With only 15 minutes left for him to use (no increment), he had to defend an equal endgame, where I kept it complicated and slowly improved my pieces. Eventually, I forced a breakthrough and had 2 connected passed pawns that were far more threatening than his passed a and h pawns, this proved too much and he resigned with 15 seconds left on his clock!

 

 
   

Round 5: Only 3 players were on the maximum points; therefore this round was critical. I was paired white against Akshaya Kalaiyalahan (194), and William Claridge-Hansen got the downfloat to the second seed Joseph McPhillips. I played 4.e3 against the slav hoping to outplay her in the middlegame. This did not happen, as despite my decent opening, I played a series of poor moves which actually gave her the initiative! However, she failed to keep the advantage as she strangely let me retain my two bishops, which helped me wriggle out. After finding some clever resources, I achieved a crushing position where the bishops controlled too many squares – this resulted in a resignation, much to my relief! Joe managed to beat William and so going into the last round I was the sole leader, with Joe and Adam A Taylor just behind.

 

Round 6: I was black against the second seed Joseph McPhillips (221). The first tiebreak used was sum of progressive scores, so I only needed a draw to win the tournament outright, even though Adam A Taylor could finish on the same score. From a neutral’s point of view, this was the perfect pairing as an exciting, tense battle should commence, between the pre-tournament favourites. How wrong they were! The opening was aggressive from both sides and soon after I was attacking on the queenside and white was attacking on the kingside. I managed to get the queens off the board fairly early and so both attacks lost a lot of venom. Knowing that he had to win, Joe still carried on attacking with an unsound pawn sacrifice that looked scary, but actually did not work as I had some nice defensive resources! After realising that he was a pawn down for very little compensation, he offered me a draw! Most people would probably have accepted, but I saw a line to go into an ending where I couldn’t lose.

 

About ten moves later, I was two pawns up in a rook endgame which was completely winning, this prompted Joe to resign and hand me the title! Adam A Taylor drew his last round and so I finished one win ahead of William Foo, who was clear second. So for the second year in a row, I won the £2000 and got the title of UK Chess Challenge STRAT 2014!

 

Marcus Harvey

August 2014

 

 

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