THE legendary Dunkirk Spirit prevailed for Kilmarnock's John Shaw at the recent 14th Cappelle-la-Grande tournament. Battling against the overwhelming odds of very strong opposition he scoring 6/9 and in the process gained his second International Master norm.
The little town of Cappelle-la-Grande, near Dunkirk in northern France, played host to 639 players, 89 of which were grandmasters! - easily qualifying it as venue for one of the world's toughest open tournaments. The brainchild of Michel Gouvart, the indefatigable club president whose love of the game has firmly established Cappelle as one of the biggest tournaments of its kind around.
Every year an invited Scottish delegation heads over the Channel in the elusive bid for potential norms. Headed by GM Colin McNab, from Dundee, the other members of the group this year included IM Stephen Mannion and Alan Norris, from Crowwood and Graeme Nolan, from Shettleston.
Going into the last round, John Shaw only needed to beat any opponent of 2150 for his IM norm. However, when the last round pairings were published, he found that he faced the daunting task of having to beat the highly rated Russian IM, Vladimir Lazarev, for his norm which he succeeded in doing so after a marathon encounter - undoubtedly his finest hour!
With just one more norm required, Shaw, 29, now looks certain to become Scotland's tenth titled player.
Final placings 1 GM I Glek (Rus) 7.5/9; 2-8 GM Y Kruppa (Ukr), GM S Shipov (Rus), GM A Minasian (Arm), IM S Safin (Uzb), GM I Ibragimov (Rus), GM R Slobodjan (Ger) & GM S Sulskis (Ltu) 7.
Scottish scores John Shaw 6, GM Colin McNab 5.5, IM Stephen Mannion 5.5, Alan Norris 4.5 & Graeme Nolan 4.
T Therkildsen - J Shaw, Cappelle-la-Grande (6) c3 Sicilian
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 c3 e6 4 d4 d5 5 exd5 Qxd5 6 Be3 cxd4 7 cxd4 Nf6 8 Nc3 Qd6 9 Be2 Be7 10 0-0 0-0 11 Rc1 b6 12 Nb5 Qd7 13 Ne5 Nxe5 14 Rc7 Qd8 15 dxe5 Nd5 16 Rxa7 Rxa7 17 Nxa7 Bb7 18 Qb3 Qa8 19 Bxb6 Rb8 20 Rc1 Nf4 21 Bb5 Bxg2 22 Bc6 Bxc6 23 Rxc6 Bd8 24 Qf3 Bxb6 25 Rxb6 g5 26 Nc6 Rc8 27 h4 Nd5 28 Qb3 Nxb6 29 Ne7+ Kf8 30 Nxc8 Nxc8 31 hxg5 Ne7 32 a3 Qe4 33 Qb8+ Kg7 34 Qb4 Qb1+ 35 Kg2 Nd5 36 Qd4 Qc1 37 Kg3 Qxg5+ 38 Qg4 Qxg4+ 39 Kxg4 Kg6 40 a4 h5+ 41 Kh4 Nb4 0:1
John Henderson - Scotsman 4-3-98