The 54th Reggio Emilia is underway at Reggio Emilia, Italy, and runs from December 27, 2011 to January 6, 2012. The tournament is a six-player, double round-robin with ten rounds played at 50 moves for 100 minutes plus a 30-second increment per move. January 1st is a rest day. Games start at 3 PM Paris time (9 AM NY time).
Anish Giri in his last round game against Fabiano Caruana
Although there is no denying he earned it with skill, strength of character, and a nice dose of luck in the end, 17-year-old Anish Giri just scored the biggest win (and upset) of his career by winning the 54th Reggio Emilio Super-GM tournament.
The skill speaks for itself, though after two years of an amazing hot streak, his comet-like rise seemed to be cooling off a bit. His results in 2011 were solid, respectable, and he did crack the 2700 barrier, but his fans wanted more. After four rounds he had a very mediocre 1.0/4, and it seemed this was not going to be that event. The one everyone would be talking about in the years to come. At least not regarding him. In fact, it seemed as if this were Hikaru Nakamura's tournament, or Alexander Morozevich's.
Then came a run that just never seemed to end, and he scored an amazing 4.5 points in the next five rounds. It only really sank in when he beat Nakamura, the hitherto leader, in round nine, tying the group for the lead. Even so, it seemed like only a miracle would give him the gold, especially after a fairly quick draw against Caruana in the last round. With a worse tiebreak than both Morozevich and Nakamura, he actually need both of them to lose, and at the time of his peace offer, the American seemed headed toward a draw, while Morozevich looked like he was going to do some of his magic with a spectacular win over Vitiugov. Nice effort bambino, twasn't meant to be.
Morozevich has to be kicking himself after a great game went all wrong, and he was
unable to salvage so much as a draw from it.
Then the stars started to shift around in one of those alignments so rare that the newspapers tell you to go stargazing, even though the moon is about all us citydwellers ever actually see at night, and you wonder whether this will be the night you actually see the historic event. Nakamura made a strange mistake and drifted into a difficult position, exactly the kind Ivanchuk relishes. As to Morozevich, his intercontinental missile had gone astray, and possibly shocked by the sheer resourcefulness of his opponent, things were starting to look ugly. Was the unthinkable really going to happen?
Ivanchuk got revenge against Nakamura in the final round
Yes, as Ivanchuk ended his losing streak, and triangulated his way to a superb win, while Vitiugov managed to trade his way into a technically won position that he had no trouble converting. A brilliant win for Anish Giri, and a big morale booster before the upcoming Wijk aan Zee.
For Morozevich, this meant second place, but for Hikaru it had to be a very bitter third place after leading the tournament throughout, at times by as much as 1.5 points ahead of the rest. No doubt a good deal of soul-searching will go into what happened, but to quote a cliché, what doesn't kill him, will only make him stronger.
The final piece of the puzzle, tied with Nakamura and Morozevich in points, was Fabiano Caruana, fourth by tiebreak, who also staged a brilliant comeback, and has also climbed to world 15 in the live ratings.
As to Ivanchuk, finshing with a win after a difficult moment, what can one say, other than to repeat what a certain extremely prominent spectator on Playchess said: "Ivanchuk!"
Vitiugov ended last, and while it was a disastrous tournament, the 23-year-old Russian will no doubt be back, and a wiser player for the experience.
Tournament director Roberto Mongranzini with the winners Sopiko Guramishvili and
The women's tournament held all the promise for a nail-biting finale as well, since Anna Sharevich still had a chance to take first if she were to beat the leader Sopiko Guramishvili in the last round. Perhaps the volatile situation, in which she stood between a rock and a hard place, affected her decision as she drew in a mere 19 moves against the Georgian. The reason is that if she were to lose, and Marina Brunello were to win, which she did, then she could be bumped down to third. Whatever the reason, the top three spots were decided very quickly with that draw, ending an excellent tournament for Guramishvili who took the lead early on and never let go.
Anna Sharevich with co-sponsor Ezio Montalbini
The indispensable group picture
Hikaru with some lovely supporters to help him forget his woes
Some relaxed moments at the closing ceremony cocktail
Maria de Rosa and Marianna Chierici
Your photographer: WGM Martha Fierro
Pictures by Martha Fierro
The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client and get immediate access. Or you can get our latest Fritz 13 program, which includes six months free premium membership to Playchess.