Tuesday 9th August: Danny Baker tweets it like it is
What were you doing last Friday around 5pm? As this was back when it was possible to venture out of doors in the late afternoon/early evening without having to calculate the chances of being looted, set ablaze or generally pillaged I suppose there are any number of things you might have been up to. What I was doing, let me tell you, was packing my cozzie and a towel into a bag and thinking, "I'll just watch the end of the last round then I'll head down to the pool." As it turned out, though, I never made it for my swim. Five hours on I was still glued to my computer, totally captivated by a game of chess that seemed like it might never end.
It was a remarkable evening. Of the top four boards Wells-Hawkins was the first to finish ...
... followed by Gordon - Short ...
... and Adams - Zhou ...
... these last two finishing within five minutes of each other around about a quarter past seven. Jones - Pert, though, that went on and on and on before, after 144 moves and very nearly eight hours at the board, they finally called it quits.
It was a truly epic evening of chess. There might not have been a single decisive result on the top four boards, but nevertheless the last round was entirely in keeping with the fighting chess that we saw, with rare exceptions, throughout the tournament.
Needless to say, Sheffield's last round would have been enthralling in any circumstances, but it was made all the sweeter by the fact that the latest issue of CHESS features the Rustam Kasmidzhanov 'open letter' and three pages of utter cobblers from John Foley on the subject draws. They are dull, they are bad for chess and they should be eliminated from the game to the greatest extent possible, apparently. Not just short 'grandmaster' or 'struggle free' draws, mind. All draws.
We've seen a lot since last Friday. OK, it hasn't quite been attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, but neither has the torching of furniture stores in Croydon and party shops in Clapham been much of a joke.
LIF.EG.O.ES.ON, though, and we mustn't let what was important to us before the unrest began be completely replaced in our minds by images of destruction and violence. It is for precisely that reason that while I am busy joining the line of people for Danny Baker, I will also make time to contact editorATchess.co.uk to ask if John Foley and Rustam Kasmidzhanov could join the queue for me.
Danny Baker photograph from news.bbc.co.uk