[Apologies to anyone wondering about the answer to Tom's question yesterday, please pop back for the answer tomorrow when all will be revealed]
We're entering the home straight of the British Championship but before I get on with the main event let me open with a little teaser.
Q. Who is the only person in the whole British Championship Congress - approaching 1000 entries in total I gather - to have taken part in both weeks and won every game they've played at this year's event?
Answer at the foot of the post. For now, let us move on to the Championship itself.
David Howell and Gawain Jones are still locked together on 6/7 but S&BC favourite* Simon Williams is just behind on 5.5/7 and a whole pack - Gormally, Gordon, Conquest, Palliser, Rendle, Eggleston and Littlewood - only a half-point further back.
Williams - Howell certainly looks a very enticing board 1 for this afternoon and I doubt Palliser - Jones will be dull either.
In the meantime, even though I got in a bit of a pickle when I did this before (see post and comments box here and originally here) I want to have a quick revisit of the concept of deserving leader.
Howell and Jones drew their fourth round game and they've also both played Lawrence Trent and Stephen Gordon. If we ignore the opponents they have in common lets have a look at their tournaments after today's game.
Howell has played:-
GM Williams (2527, currently, 5.5/7)
GM Gormally (2490, 5/7)
IM Littlewood (2358, 5/7)
GM Wells (2498, 4.5/7)
GM Hebden (2468, 4.5/7)
Jones has played:-
IM Palliser, (2413, 5/7)
FM Eggleston (2341, 5/7)
GM Summerscale (2454, 4.5/7)
IM Greet (2443, 4/7)
FM Sowray (2341, 4/7)
Now Jonesy is clearly not being paired with muppets (Eggleston, for one, started off with back-to-back wins against Grand Masters - defending champion Stuart Conquest and then Danny Gormally) but Howell's opposition has been much higher rated (average 2468 to 2398), has scored more points thus far (24.5 to 22.5) and is four times more likely to be a GM!
Ah well. Thems the breaks I suppose ... but perhaps they shouldn't be. As I'm about to put myself and this post to bed I find a thread over on the EC Forum that suggests this discrepancy is due to the pairing system in use at the Championship. Is it? Frankly I haven't a clue. Opinions welcome in the comments box.
PS: What's the betting Howell gets Conquest in round 8 tomorrow?
A. Yes my friends it's germ-warfare resistant Angus French who returned to active duty yesterday, notching up his third consecutive victory in the Major Open.
* Our other favourites, Arkell and Rudd, both drew yesterday.