Richard Jones wins Geof Tyrrell Best Game Prize 2017

In this the eighth year of the competition in memory of Geof, the judges, Stuart Hutchings, Dave James and Howard Williams, looked at 24 games which met our basic criteria.  In short, these are wins or draws by Welsh players against foreign opposition rated both 2250 or over and 150 points or more above the Welsh player. The number of games which met these criteria was well down on the 2016 total (24 as against 42), but that was still rather more than the 2015 total.  It’s also probably worth noting that 2016  was an Olympiad year and also featured two Welsh teams in the European Club Cup (no Welsh entrants in 2017). These events generated 11 qualifying games in 2016.

The 24 games consisted of five wins and 19 draws. The largest single contributions to the list were made by Tim Kett with five games followed by Alex Bullen with three.   Among the 19 draws, a number are interesting but the one which stood out was John Cooper’s against Matthew Turner where John with Black outplayed his GM opponent but just failed to clinch the win (not for the first time in his life).  We added this game to four of the wins to make a short list of five.

East Glamorgan stalwart, Peter Davies, supplied the game which was the dark horse of the competition. This was played in the Prague Summer Open against the young Czech FM Petr Hollan, rated 307 points above him.  Hollan failed to come to terms with Peter’s unusual antidote to the Sicilian Defence, decentralising his pieces.  Peter established  an advanced central pawn wedge and coolly developed a winning attack.  In the Calvia Open Alex Bullen calmly refuted his Spanish FM opponent’s sacrifices in a game where he could easily have been bamboozled.  And in the 4NCL Tim Kett outplayed his FM, the Armenian David Zakarian, from an unbalanced, difficult position.

In the two remaining games, the strength of the opposition moved up a gear.  John Cooper’s game mentioned above could easily have taken the prize in another year but it was up against Richard Jones’s win against the Romanian Grandmaster, Boris Chatalbashev, in last year’s South Wales International, won outright by the latter with 8½/10.  This was a very entertaining and hard fought game featuring one queen sacrifice by Boris and three (!) more by Richard.  It illustrates how GM opponents rarely come quietly and how accurately Richard had to play over nearly 60 moves to seal victory.

So the judges were unanimous in awarding the 2017 trophy to Richard Jones.  He becomes the first person to have won the trophy twice, having also won the inaugural competition in 2010. This game, and the four others short-listed, can be found in Chessbase format here.

We are already collecting games for the 2018 competition but there is no certainty that we will net all those qualifying from published on-line sources – six of the 2017 qualifying games were not included in our initial trawl but were subsequently contributed by the players.  There is also no need to wait until the year end before sending to me ( those that meet the eligibility rules. These rules are summarised above and available in full here.   Annotated games are as usual most welcome.