The best performance of Round 5 came from Georgina, without a point so far, who outplayed the higher-rated Ian on the Black side of a Nimzo-Indian, tying down all his pieces to the defence of his king before delivering the coup de grace. Mark played either the Reti or the English against Julie (I'm a bit vague about the difference), and she left her king too long in the centre, losing a rook. Her counterplay soon proved insufficent. Tony played a weak line of the French against me, but I soon dissipated all my advantage, learning a few strategic lessons in the process. John got nothing against Rudy's Petroff but tried a sacrificial attack anyway, leaving him with even less.
At the end of Round 5, the scores were: Mark Talbot 4½/5, Rudy van Kemenade 3½/4, Matthew Francis 3/5, Julie van Kemenade 2½/4, Tony Geraghty 2/5, Georgina Gray, John Basterfield 1/4, Ian Finlay ½/5.
Ian Finlay - Georgina Gray 0-1
Mark Talbot - Julie van Kemenade 1-0
Matthew Francis - Tony Geraghty ½-½
John Basterfield - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1
John suffered his second quick defeat in a row, allowing his kingside pawns to be shattered and then losing a rook to a queen fork against my Sicilian. That allowed us more time to watch Tony's game against Rudy, which was proving sensational. Rudy had walked into a tactical storm against a player rated 700 points lower. Just when he seemed certain to lose, he found a cunning resource which Tony understandably didn't anticipate, and turned the tables with a rook sac. Julie's game against Ian was another thriller, a Sicilian in which Ian seemed to be ahead most of the time but Julie had dangerous counterplay. Eventually they settled on a draw. Mark, whose opening play this tournament had been nothing if not enterprising, tried the Polish Opening against Georgina and soon overwhelmed her with pawns, queening two of them on the way to the win.
At the end of Round 6, the scores were: Mark Talbot 5½/6, Rudy van Kemenade 4½/5, Matthew Francis 4/6, Julie van Kemenade 3/5, Tony Geraghty 2/6, Georgina Gray, John Basterfield 1/5, Ian Finlay 1/6.
John Basterfield - Matthew Francis 0-1
Tony Geraghty - Rudy van Kemenade 0-1
Julie van Kemenade - Ian Finlay ½-½
Mark Talbot - Georgina Gray 1-0
The result of the championship was determined by Rudy's and Mark's games in this round. Rudy played Bird's Opening against me and a double-edged position resulted. His king seemed the more vulnerable, and, although I misplayed my attack, he missed the only defence. I had mate in two but couldn't find it because my mind had gone blank - all I could think about was that I was beating Rudy. For a while I wondered if I was going to keep on looking for the winning move till my clock ran down, but in the end I found an alternative and the game was won. That meant Mark needed at least a draw against Ian to win the championship. He won a solid positional game, using a passed pawn on the queenside to win material. Tony also had a comfortable win in his game against Georgina, winning a pawn with a well-known trap in the French Advance Variation, and never losing control thereafter. John's game against Julie was another outing for her Philidor, and a quiet draw
At the end of Round 7, with two games still to be played, the scores were: Mark Talbot 6½/7, Matthew Francis 5/7, Rudy van Kemenade 4½/6, Julie van Kemenade 3½/6, Tony Geraghty 3/7, John Basterfield 1½/6, Georgina Gray 1/6, Ian Finlay 1/7. A report on the final two games, and final summing-up of this year's championship, will follow shortly.
Rudy van Kemenade - Matthew Francis 0-1
Ian Finlay - Mark Talbot 0-1
Georgina Gray - Tony Geraghty 0-1
John Basterfield - Julie van Kemenade ½-½