Rowson v Adams

Follow the match on C4 Teletext page 153 with John Henderson and with coverage by John Saunders at the 4NCL site 4NCL


ADAMS v ROWSON Challenge Match

Jonathan Rowson (Scotland's most promising young IM) and Michael Adams 
(GM, England's No 1 and World Championship Semi-Finalist). The match 
will be FIDE rated.  

This six-game match takes place 16-21 April 1998 in the Cactus 
Room of St Giles Hotel, 1 Bedford Avenue, London WC1. Play is 2pm-9pm 

The nearest underground is Tottenham Court Road (Northern Line) which 
is just 2 minutes walk.

The winner will get 3,500 pounds and the loser 1,500 - in the event 
of a tie the players will receive 2,500 each. The purse for the match 
is guaranteed and is privately sponsored. 

Entry is free, but you will have to sign in and take an ID card 
which you should keep with you.  We hope to have some commentary.

The Arbiter is David Sedgwick, BCF International Director.

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Total
M. Adams 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 5
J. Rowson 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1

Rowson,J - Adams,M

London Challenge (Game 1, 16/4/98)

Opening: Sicilian Sveshnikov 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Nd5 Nxd5 8 exd5 Nb8 9 a4 Be7 10 Be2 0-0 11 0-0 Nd7 12 f4 a6 13 Na3 b5 14 Kh1 bxa4 15 Nc4 exf4 16 Bd2 Ne5 17 Ba5 Qe8 18 Nb6 f3 19 Bxf3 Rb8 20 Be2 Bd8 21 Nxc8 Rxc8 22 Bb4 Bc7 23 Bxa6 Ra8 24 Qe2 Rb8 25 Bc3 f5 26 Rf4 Qf7 27 Qd2 Bb6 28 Be2 Rbe8 29 Rfxa4 Ng4 30 Bxg4 fxg4 31 Qd1 h5 32 Ra6?? [32 Bd4 Bxd4 33 Rxd4 Re5 34 c4 Rf5] 32...Qf2 33 Rxb6 Qxb6 34 Qd3 Qf2 35 Rg1 Qf5 36 Qd4 Rf7 37 Bb4 Re4 38 Qd2 h4 39 Bxd6 Rd7 40 Ba3 Rxd5 0-1

Game 1: Rowson was a pawn up before blundering with 32 Ra6. 32 Bd4 is better but Black looks to have plenty of play by tripling pieces on the f-file.

Jonathan recommends 24 Be2! rather than 24 Qe2 as the way to keep White's advantage, idea c3, Qc2, possible doubling on a-file.

J Henderson - Scotsman Game 1

I hate watching encounters with the "Auld Enemy". Whether it's football, rugby or chess, we always seem to have that ability to press the self-destruct button.

In London, covering the clash between Scotland's Jonathan Rowson and England's Mickey Adams, I thought I was on the verge of witnessing the chess equivalent of Wembley '67, which, unfortunately, in the space of just one move, turned into a Wembley '75 as Rowson made a horrific blunder, squandering a good position, in turn leading to a hopelessly lost game. Having won the toss and electing to take black, Mickey Adams choose to make the first surprise of the match by playing the Sicilian Sveshnikov, a razor-sharp variation that he's never played before. Wisely, Rowson decided to eschew the complications of the main-line, instead preferring a more positional line that more suits his style of play.

A timely double pawn sacrifice on move 14 by Rowson proved to be decisive as Adams was forced to return the material, compromise his position and give Rowson an extra pawn to the bargain. It all went disastrously wrong for the young Scot when he made a horrific blunder with 32 Ra6? Instead, the simple 32 Bd4!, exchanging-off black's bishop would have left Adams, who was by now in serious time-trouble, struggling for the draw.

After the slip-up Adams showed no mercy as he ruthlessly exploited his opponent's blunder, mobilised his pieces and converted his (unexpected) advantage into a quick win.

Adams,M - Rowson,J

London Challenge,(Game 2, 17/4/98)

Opening: Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Kh1 Qc7 10 g4 Be6 11 g5 Nfd7 12 Bg4 Re8 13 a4 Bf8 14 a5 Nc6 15 Be3 Nb4 16 Ra4

JBH mentions a post mortem discussion of 16...Bxg4 17 Qxg4 Nxc2 as a possibly better try for Black.

16...d5 17 Nxd5 Bxd5 18 exd5 b5 19 axb6 Nxb6 20 Bxb6 Qxb6 21 c3 Nd3 22 Qxd3 Qxb3 23 Bd7 Red8 24 Bc6 Rac8 25 Rxa6 Qxb2 26 Qe3 Bc5 27 Qxc5 Qe2 28 Rfa1 Rxc6 29 Rxc6 Qf3+ 30 Kg1 Qg4+ 31 Kf1 Qh3+ 32 Ke1 Qxh2 33 Rd1 e4 34 Rc8 1:0

Game 2: Both of Rowson's losses look unnecessary - perhaps he's overawed by playing big name player and is not playing to his usual strength.

J Henderson - Scotsman Game 2

THERE'S a well-known adage in chess that goes along the lines: You learn more from your lost games than you do from won games. There's a growing feeling in the press room that, come the end of Jonathan Rowson's six-game match with Mickey Adams, Rowson may well have learned quite a lot from the experience.

The second game of their 5,000(UK) challenge match at the St.Giles Hotel in London ended in disaster for Rowson after he choose a wrong variation, which admittedly looked tempting at the time.

Again Rowson got the better of his more experienced opponent out of the opening, his favourite Sicilian Najdorf, but, when faced with the choice of three thematic Sicilian breakthroughs, he had the miss-fortune of choosing the wrong one. His 16..d5 turned out to be a bad move, after which his position became untenable. Instead, the players, in their post-mortem analysis, felt that moves like 16..Bxg4 17 Qxg4 Nc2 or even just 16..b5 would have been better for black.

"I don't think I've psychologically prepared myself for facing such a world class opponent," admitted Rowson after his second loss. In the third game, played today (Sat) the young Scot, who now has the spectre of a whitewash looming, will be celebrating his 21st birthday and has to prevent Adams from doing so. Personally speaking, I can think of better ways of celebrating my 21st than having the daunting task of playing Adams.

Rowson,J - Adams,M

London Challenge (Game 3, 18/4/98)

Opening: Ruy Lopez

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Bc5 6 c3 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 a4 Bg4 9 h3 Bh5 10 d3 Rb8 11 Nbd2 0-0 12 Re1 b4 13 Bc4 Na5 14 Bxa6 c6 15 d4 bxc3 16 dxc5 cxd2 17 Bxd2 Nb3 18 Ra3 Nxc5 19 Bd3 Rxb2 20 Qc1 Qb8 21 Bc2 Nfxe4 22 Rxe4 Bg6 23 Nxe5 Bxe4 24 Bxe4 dxe5 25 Qxc5 Rxd2 26 a5 Qd6 27 Rc3 Qxc5 28 Rxc5 Rc8 29 Rxe5 Kf8 30 Kf1 Ra2 31 Rh5 h6 32 Rc5 Re8 33 f3 Rd8 34 Kg1 Rc8 35 h4 Ke7 36 h5 Kd6 37 Rf5 f6 38 Bd3 c5 0-1

It was a piece of cake for GM Michael Adams as he sliced open the defences of 21st birthday boy Jonathan Rowson.

It is difficult to suggest anything helpful except that most people have to endure at least a month's humiliation in the workplace to make £1,500.

Adams,M - Rowson,J

London Challenge,(Game 4, 19/4/98)

Opening: Sicilian Najdorf

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 Nf6 4 Nc3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 a6 6 Be2 e5 7 Nb3 Be7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Kh1 Qc7 10 g4 Be6 11 g5 Nfd7 12 Bg4 Re8 13 Rg1 Bf8 14 Bxe6 fxe6 15 g6 hxg6 16 Rxg6 Nf6 17 f4 Qf7 18 Rg2 Nbd7 19 fxe5 Nxe5 20 Bg5 Nh7 21 Bh4 Be7 22 Bxe7 Qxe7 23 Nd4 Rf8 24 Qh5 Rf6 25 Rag1 Raf8 26 Qh3 0.5:0.5

J Henderson - Scotsman Game 3 and 4

WORLD number 10 Mickey Adams has guaranteed himself a 3,500(UK) pay-day after just four games of his six-game challenge match in London with Scotland's Jonathan Rowson. As expected after such a bad start, there were no celebrations for Rowson in the third game played on his 21st birthday. Adams domination of the match continued with yet another win, which secured him a 3-0 lead.

Defending the black-side of the Ruy Lopez, Adams quickly secured an advantage from the opening after Rowson's 13 Bc4 and 14 Bxa6 were seen as being suspect. Going a pawn down, and also positionally bust, Rowson fell for a tactical shot (21..Nfxe4) that secured Adams the win.

The fourth game stopped the rot for the young Scot when, after the players repeated the Sicilian Najdorf variation from game two, Adams, who had slightly the worse position, offered Rowson a draw after 26-moves, which was accepted.

The draw prevented Rowson from the humiliation of a whitewash and gave the 3,500(UK) winners purse to Adams. Though the match is in effect over result wise, Adams has to score 4.5/6 in order to prevent losing valuable Elo rating points.

The young Cornishman stands on the threshold of becoming the first Briton to break the super-grandmaster 2700 barrier when the July FIDE rating list is published. On the previous list his rating was 2690, though team results from the 4NCL and the Bundisliga - which would have made his rating 2710 - hadn't been included, but will be carried over for the new list.

Rowson,J - Adams,M

London Challenge (Game 5, 20/4/98)

Opening: Sicilian Sveshnikov

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Nd5 Nxd5 8 exd5 Nb8 9 a4 Be7 10 Be2 0-0 11 0-0 Nd7 12 Be3 a6 13 Na3 f5 14 f3 f4 15 Bf2 Qe8 16 Nc4 Qh5 17 Kh1 Rf6 18 g4 fxg3 19 Bxg3 Rg6 20 f4 Qh6 21 Qe1

Rowson looks to have a promising position - nice lines for White are 21...exf4 22 Rxf4 Bg5 23 Rf1 Rf6 24 Nxd6! Rxd6 25 Bg4 Nf8 26 Qe8 Bf5 27 Qxa8 Be4+ 28 Bf3

21...Nf6 22 fxe5 Ne4

23 Ra3

If Rowson plays 23 Bf4 then 23...Bh3!! 24 Bxh6 Bg2+ 25 Kg1 Bf3+ 26 Qg3 Nxg3.

23...Rxg3 24 Rxg3 Bh4 25 Rgf3

Isn't 25 Kg1 better for White?

25...Bg4 26 R3f2 Nxf2+ 27 Rxf2 Bxf2 28 Qxf2 Rf8 29 Qe1 Qh3 0-1

Maybe I'm misassessing the tactics but this looks like another needless loss. There has been some rubbish talked about a "gulf in class" but Rowson is 2500 - Adams 2700 so its only 200 points. Do you always cuff people 200 points below - I certainly don't. The ELO system tells you its 75%-25% in favour of the higher player so Rowson should score 1.5. Conclusion: Jonathan is playing way below potential.

J Henderson - Scotsman Game 5

EXCUSE me, but is there an exorcist in the house? Spooky start but, and there is a chess connotation here, it could well have been the question Scotland's Jonathan Rowson felt like asking the spectators after his fourth loss to England's Mickey Adams in their six-game challenge match in London.

Rowson, now trailing 4.5/0.5, yet again built-up an advantageous position against his more illustrious opponent from the opening, only to see it disappear as he continues to suffer from that well-know chess affliction, "seeing ghosts." The problem usually arises when you try to calculate positions against stronger opponents - and in Mickey Adams, I don't suppose they come any stronger! - you convince yourself that they have a saving, or even winning, resource you haven't seen.

In reality, your fears are based on the strength and reputation of the opponent. It was suspected that this is what happened to Jonathan Rowson in games one and two where he cracked in critical positions where he was obviously better. In game five, this theory has been confirmed.

The critical move was the blunder 25 Rgf3? - losing. Instead, white can play 25 Kg1!, getting out of the pins. So, why didn't he play it? The answer was simple. When Jonathan analysed the position at the board he believed it lost to: 25..b5 26 Nxd6 Bxg3 27 hxg3 Qe3+. Of course, in the comfort of our own homes and no pressure of an opponent of the calibre of Adams facing you, we can see that the white king can simply escape by 28 Kg2. Unfortunately, Jonathan's problem was that he thought that the king didn't have the g2 escape square that would have made all the difference in his calculations. Meanwhile, the crucial variation that Adams was more concerned about was: 25 Kg1! Bh3 26 Rff3 Bxg3 27 hxg3 dxe5 28 Re3 Ng5 29 Nxe5 Re8 30 g4.

Adams,M - Rowson,J

London Challenge,(Game 6, 21/4/98)

Opening: Sicilian

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 g6 4 Bb5 Bg7 5 Bxc6 bxc6 6 0-0 Nh6 7 d3 0-0 8 h3 d6 9 e5 Nf5 10 Re1 Rb8 11 Rb1 Be6 12 Bf4 Bd5

"Repulsive" - Jon Speelman

13 Nxd5 cxd5 14 c3 dxe5 15 Nxe5 Rb6 16 Qa4 Bxe5 17 Bxe5 f6 18 Bh2 Qa8 19 b4 Qb7 20 Bf4 ½-½

J Henderson - Scotsman Game 6

THE final game in the six-game challenge match in London between Scotland's Jonathan Rowson and England's Mickey Adams turned out, as expected in view of the one-sided score-line, to be a bit of an anti-climax, and agreed drawn in just twenty moves.

The 5-1 result was certainly not the sort of score, or performance for that matter, I would have expected from an in-form Jonathan Rowson. True, there was a huge gulf in the gradings - and more importantly, the experience -- of the two players; Adams being 2690, Rowson 2485 - a gap of over 200 points. The expected result, based on the player's ratings, should have been 4.5-1.5.

The problem wasn't so much in the end result; it was more to do with the way and manner that Rowson played throughout. This was the fourth such match that he'd played and, unfortunately, the one with the highest profile, making it onto the world stage. It wasn't an ideal situation for someone with obvious talent in the game to run into some really bad form as he struggled throughout the match.

Rowson had ample chances to make the crucial breakthrough in games one and two that could have made the all the difference to the end result. Unfortunately, as an observer cruelly remarked: "When the chances came along he folded, just like a piece of foolscap at an Origami contest".

For Adams, it's been yet another good week at the "office". He collected 3,500(UK) for winning the match and also gained a further 5 Elo points due to the 5-1 result. The match will have given him a good workout for the forthcoming Madrid super-tournament, starting in early May. More importantly, the extra gain of Elo points could help to firmly establish the likeable Cornishman in the world top-ten.