The 2010 Brazilian chess championship was historical with a tie for a national record held for over 50 years, and an ultimate validation of GM Giovanni Vescovi’s edge over his compatriots. It was also a slight payback to the national federation that has snubbed him repeatedly in the last months when he began politicking in favor of Karpov during the FIDE elections, while the federation itself was securely in Ilyumzhinov’s hands. His removal from the national team during the 2010 Olympiads was quite controversial, but not having the top-rated player, and reigning national champion (Vescovi was also the 2009 Brazilian champion), represent his country in the recently finished Ibero-American championship was a clear blow. As a result, he felt he had some proving to do, to show and reiterate just who the number one Brazilian player is.
GM Giovanni Vescovi facing FM Carlos Barreto Filho
Entering the championship, Vescovi had an impressive six national titles, a number that was shared by no fewer than three other players: Walter Cruz, Jaime Sunye Neto, and his contemporary Gilberto Milos whose last victory was in 1995. The actual record-holder is local legend, João de Souza Mendes, with seven titles, including the first four from 1927-31, and a last one 31 years later(!) in 1958. Mendes was the ultimate Brazilian chess fixture, and even came clear second in 1965 at the age of 73, when in the last round he beat the budding wunderkind, 13-year-old Henrique Mecking, who was crowned champion that year.
Giovanni, a player known for his dynamic play, was far more objective and there were few fireworks to really highlight. Instead he played strong forceful chess, overpowering his opponents, and even defeating his closest rival, Rafael Leitão, in an impressive display of rook endgame technique.
Vescovi,G (2622) - Leitao,R (2626) [D12]
77th ch-BRA Americana BRA (7), 04.12.2010
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Be2 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Bh5 9.Be2 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 c5 11.Qb5+ Qd7 12.dxc5 a6 13.Qxd7+ Nbxd7 14.c6 bxc6 15.Ke2 Bd6 16.Nf3 Ke7 17.b3 Rhc8 18.Bb2 Nb6 19.Nd2 Kf8 20.Nce4 Nxe4 21.Nxe4 Be7 22.Rhc1 a5 23.Bd4 Nd7 24.Nc5 Nxc5 25.Bxc5 Ke8 26.Rc4 Bxc5 27.Rxc5 Kd7 28.Rac1 Ra6 29.R1c4 Kd6
No doubt an endgame worth studying. Vescovi has an undoubted advantage, however his opponent is no slouch in endgame technique either, so he has his work cut out for him. The seven-time Brazilian champion shows the ability that brought him the title. 30.Rh5 Rh8 31.Rd4+ Ke7 32.Ra4 f5 33.e4 Kf6 34.Rh3 c5 35.Rc3 Rc8 36.Rc2 Ke5 37.h4 g6 38.Ke3 Ra7 39.f4+ Kd6
40.b4! White has made inroads by forcing black to create weaknesses in the kingside, and now gains a pawn. 40...fxe4 41.Kxe4 c4 42.bxa5 Rc5 43.Rcxc4 Raxa5 44.Rd4+ Ke7 45.Rxa5 Rxa5 46.a4 Kf6 47.g4 e5 48.g5+ Ke6 49.fxe5 Rxe5+ 50.Kd3 Ra5 51.Kc3
Black is lost and White converts smoothly. 51...Ke5 52.Rb4 Ra7 53.Rb5+ Kf4 54.Kb3 Kg4 55.Rb4+ Kf5 56.Rc4 Ke5 57.Kb4 Kd5 58.Rc5+ Kd6 59.a5 Rb7+ 60.Rb5 Rf7 61.a6 Kc6 62.Ra5 Rf4+ 63.Kc3 Rf8 64.a7 Ra8 65.Kc4 Kb6 66.Ra2 Rc8+ 67.Kd5 Ra8 68.Ke6 1-0.
[Click to replay]
With this victory, 1.5 points ahead of the rest with 8.5/11, he tied Mendes’s seven titles, and there seems little doubt he will take the tally to eight very soon. Despite no fewer than five grandmasters in the event, including the entire Brazilian national team from the Olympiads, second and third place went to IM Diego Di Berardino and IM Everaldo Matsuura, alone on 7.0/11, with a GM norm for Everaldo in the process.
IM Diego Di Berardino
IM Everaldo Matsuura
Interestingly, the tournament brilliancy prize went to GM Rafael Leitão, best-known for his tight technical play rather than his tactical prowess, who uncorked a fantastic combination against GM El Debs.
GM Rafael Leitão had an uneven tournament but moments of genius
Leitao,R (2626) - El Debs,F (2502) [D80]
77th ch-BRA Americana BRA (8), 05.12.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Bh4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 dxc4 7.e3 Be6 8.Nf3 Bg7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 c5 11.Rb1 cxd4 12.Nxd4 Bd5 13.Qc2 Qc7 14.e4 Bc6 15.Bxc4 Be5 16.h3 Re8 17.f4 Bf6
18.Bxf7+!! Leitão's brightest moment, and the combination of the tournament by far. 18...Kxf7 19.Qb3+ e6
19...Kg7 (or Kf8) 20.Ne6+ 20.f5! g5. 20...Bxh4? 21.fxe6+ Kg8 (21...Kg7 22.Rf7+) 22.e7+ Kg7 23.Qf7+ Kh6 24.Nf5+ gxf5 25.Rxf5 21.fxe6+ Kg6 22.Qc2 Qe5 23.Rxf6+! Kxf6 24.Qf2+ Kg7
25.Rxb7+!! A beautiful ending to a magnificent combination! 25...Kh8. 25...Bxb7 26.Qf7+ Kh6 (26...Kh8 27.Qxe8+ Kg7 28.Qf7+ Kh6 29.Nf5+) 27.Nf5+ 26.Bg3. It is mate with Qf6+ after the black queen moves. 1-0.
[Click to replay]
Photos by the São Paulo Chess Federation