Sunday, August 05, 2012

They Got It Up 'Em

Don't Panic!
Gordon - Jones
Play-off (1), British Championship 2012

So it's over and congratulations are due to Gawain Jones. The Corporal: British Champion 2012.

The absence of Adams, McShane and Short or otherwise, it was a tough old tournament. In other years people have won outright with fewer than David Howell's 8.5 points, but that was only good enough for third place in North Shields. +6 =5 -0 against opposition including five GMs and two IMs and never really being in contention for first place? That tells you a lot about this year's Championship.

It was even tougher on Stephen Gordon, of course. Being a queen up in the play-off for the title and not converting is the sort of thing that can haunt you for years and his tournament is one of the 'success that feels like a failure' variety. How many chessers in the country could finish with four out of five against Arkell (GM), Howell (GM), Turner (GM), Gormally (GM) and Hawkins (GM in all but name)? How often does somebody win eight games and not go home with the trophy?

Jonesy snapped at the Staunton Memorial in 2009
(admittedly I was trying to take a picture of Viktor Korchnoi)

What of Jones, though? I doubt you'll find anybody who'll argue that the play-off system is the best of all possible worlds as far as deciding the title is concerned, but it's certainly got a shot at being the least-worst of all the options available. Anyhoo, I rather suspect that 2012 will be remembered as the year the guy won the Championship minus his queen in a rapidplay finish. If that's how it turns out, though, it will be unjust and a great shame.

Take a look at some of the other ways we could have broken the tie. The Champion comes out on top time and again.

  • Result of individual game: Jones 1 Gordon 0 (round 4).
  • Most blacks: Jones 6, Gordon 5.
  • Sum of Progressive Scores: Jones 57.5, Gordon 55.5.

I haven't worked it out, but I bet Sum of Opponents' Scores goes his way too.

Talking of which, we could also examine the strength of the opponents that Jones and Gordon faced. They had five in common (those listed earlier) and they played each other. The other half of Gordon's tournament was games against chessers averaging 2217.2 Elo and 204.2 ECF. That's not an easy ride, for sure, but neither is it quite up there with the guys that Jones played (2300.8 Elo and 213.8 ECF). You can tell that to anybody who tries to argue that Jones was lucky.

My friend and fellow blogger Phil Makepeace
might get to earn himself a few quid by offering to polish this for the next 12 months

So congratulations to the winner and deserved Chess Champion of Britain. To a Roll of Honour that includes Sultan Khan, Golombek, Wade, Barden, Penrose, Keene, Mestel, Speelman, Nunn, Miles, Short and Adams it is quite right that we add the name Gawain Christopher Jones.


Jonathan B said...

Don't let Gawain Jones winning the British Championship let you miss Martin's Streatham Strolls 2

ejh said...

I would hate people to think that Gawain lost his queen in the first game when authoritative sources state it was the second.

ejh said...

On the play-offs, and with next year's hundredth championships in mind.

Firstly, they have to take place at a given time. Not "after the prizegiving" (the time of which wasn't in the programmme anyway, as far as I could see). If you want people outside our normal circle to watch it online, then they have to know what time they'll need to access the tournament website.

Secondly, my understanding is that the games couldn't be followed by people who access the internet via their phones. This is obviously not good, and needs to change.

Anonymous said...

Regarding coverage on phones, this was in place for the final round or two. It has to be considered as under development as it didn't seem to work very well

Tom Chivers said...

I'm going to join in the injustice of collective memory. Amazing victory in that game.