Well that was close.
I'm glad Hawkins won it though: nothing at all against David Howell, but last year's finish, which saw the same two players sharing the title, felt unsatisfactory given that the tradition of our event is to establish an outright winner. So as David has other titles to his credit in the past (and surely more to come in the future) I was rooting for Jonathan when it came down to the two of them towards half past six yesterday evening.
Much sympathy, though, for Nick Pert, who was carrying the appalling burden of having to play his twin brother in the final round when needing a win that he never looked likely to get. It was, more than anything, Nick beating Howell with the Black pieces which made this year's championship as exciting as it was.
Anyway, back to half-six last night, when rooting for Hawkins meant rooting for Mark Hebden in the top board game, one that looked dead-set to be a draw until Hebden unexpectedly blundered just before the time control and emerged, just after it, a pawn the worse.
I don't propose to go into what happened on the board here (since Jonathan will be discussing the end of the game on Monday). What I want to mention is that while this was a moment of high tension, it's not at all clear how long that moment of tension was.
If you look at the times given on Chess24, they suggest that Howell, pondering a wide choice which included 42. Ke2, which probably wins, and 42. Rd5, which he played but probably does not, made his selection in less than a minute.
However, people watching on Chess24, or on the championship site, in real time, experienced a gap of about half an hour between Hebden's 41st move and Howell playing his 42nd. Which makes it all the more odd that when the moves did start coming up, the gap between the two should be recorded at less than a minute.
Now it's true that David Howell has a somewhat eccentric approach to time management, and it may very well be that what appeared to happen - that for move 42, he thought for almost half an hour, until he had only two or three minutes left - is really what happened. There must have been plenty of eyewitnesses, and if any of them would like to tell us, we'd be obliged.
But in the first place, I'm not going to be convinced of that unless I do get an eyewitness account and in the second place it makes a nonsense of the Chess24 times if it did happen that way. But in the third place, given that it was a disastrous event from the point of view of live transmission, with boards freezing, or never being displayed, or finishing without the results being shown, all over the shop, the main reason I can't be sure that what I saw happening is really what happened is that by the end of the event nobody watching had any confidence in the live transmission at all.
I'm not seeking to apportion blame for this and I'm certainly not telling anybody anything they don't already know. But it's a whole bunch of no good if it's like this, because you can't be inviting friends, internet acquaintances, chess fans from elsewhere or anybody to watch our event if, at the very climax, everything stops for half an hour and you can't be sure that this is really because a player is using up his thinking time.
Of course it always used to be this way - when live internet transmissions were a novelty, and for that matter for a few years afterwards, every time I'd try and watch the last round of a tournament, everything would freeze right at the vital moment because of all the people frantically logging on to watch the finish. It used to be as if there was a power cut fifty metres from the tape every time you were watching a race at the Olympics.
But that was years ago now and everybody's expectations are a little bit higher. The IT has to be reliable or we can't invite our friends to watch. It's as simple as that.
In the mean time, congratulations once again to Jonathan Hawkins. After he won I spent a few minutes looking for his book, Amateur to GM, before it dawned on me that until recently he was only an IM - as if "only" was an appropriate term, given what he's achieved. It seems only yesterday that he was a club player like the rest of us.
How time flies.