Independent Pursuits: Chess

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AFTER 12 months of intermittently manic activity and what must be literally thousands of miles of footslog, Mark Hebden last weekend confirmed himself as the winner for the second year running, of the Onyx Grand Prix. The pounds 3,000 first prize remained in doubt right up to Sunday morning when Jim Plaskett, on 3/3 and still on course for the perfect 5/5 that would have snatched victory, was defeated by Danny Gormally; the only other contender, Keith Arkell, was playing in the Grandmaster B tournament in Oxford.

Meanwhile Hebden, who had already dropped a half-point as early as round 3, sailed to 4.5/5 to end up first equal with Bogdan Lalic half a point ahead of Plaskett, Gormally, and Charles Tippleston on 4. A total of more than 150 players were competing in four sections at Islington with about 50 in the Open; but only the winner of the Intermediate, Nick Burrows, succeeded in making a perfect 5/5.

Hebden's final score was 192.4 ahead of Arkell, 191.2, who won pounds 1,200 and Plaskett, 188.3 (pounds 700). This win brings his total of Grand Prix victories up to four, equalling Miles and Michael Adams's record. Hebden is also only the fourth grandmaster to record back-to-back victories, particularly difficult since while other high prize winners receive bonus points towards their score in the following year, the winner himself receives none.

The Onyx Grand Prix has 10 other sections, ranging from the so-called "Prixette", won by Susan Lalic, right down to the under-10 won by David Howell. A wonderful stimulus to chess activity in this country; long may it continue.

This is Hebden's final game of the season. Parker chose an opening line that I've used myself against Hebden - though I can't imagine playing 6 f4 except in a blitz game.

Hebden quickly gained the advantage of the two bishops - one very interesting aspect was his dismissal of 18... Bxf3 19 gxf3 Kf7 in favour of 18... Kf7, keeping the tension. Eventually the position opened and the bishops came into their own, though only after the blinder 57 Rc2? - White should have played 57 Ka1 - did it become clear.

White: Jonathan Parker

Black: Mark Hebden

Islington Open 1998

Queen's Pawn Game

1 d4 Nf6

2 c3 g6

3 Bg5 Bg7

4 Nd2 0-0

5 e3 d6

6 f4 c5

7 Bc4 Nc6

8 Ngf3 Qb6

9 Qb3 Qc7

10 0-0 Na5

11 Qa4 cxd4

12 exd4 Nxc4

13 Qxc4 Qxc4

14 Nxc4 Nd5

15 Rfe1 Be6

16 Ne3 f6

17 Nxd5 Bxd5

18 Bh4 Kf7

19 Nd2 Rfc8

20 Nf1 Rc7

21 Ne3 Be4

22 Nf1 d5

23 Nd2 Bf5

24 Bf2 a5

25 Rac1 Bh6

26 Be3 Bf8

27 h3 h5

28 Kf2 Ra6

29 c4 dxc4

30 Nxc4 Rd7

31 a4 Rd5

32 Red1 Bd7

33 b3 h4

34 Nd2 Rb6

35 Rc3 Rc6

36 Rxc6 Bxc6

37 Nf3 Rh5

38 Bd2 e6

39 Rb1 Bd6

40 Rc1 Ke7

41 Rb1 Kd7

42 Re1 Bd5

43 Rb1 b6

44 Ke3 Kc6

45 b4 Rf5

46 bxa5 bxa5

47 Nxh4 Rxf4

48 Nxg6 Re4+

49 Kd3 e5

50 Be3 exd4

51 Bxd4 Re6

52 Rc1+ Kd7

53 Nh4 Be4+

54 Kc3 Bb4+

55 Kb2 Bc6

56 Bc3 Re2+

57 Rc2? Ba3+

58 Kxa3 Rxc2

59 Bxf6 Bd5

60 Bb2 Rf2

61 Nf3 Rxg2 0-1

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