83rd Brazilian Ch. Rd3-5: Three draws!

by Albert Silver
2/10/2017 – That might sound like the title of a dull round, a plaintive complaint of lack of fighting spirit, but the contrary is true here. Three is actually the grand total of non-decisive games after five rounds in a tournament with twelve players. The win rate is absolutely unprecedented, and one player has been the greatest beneficiary: Everaldo Matsuura with 5.0/5. Illustrated report with master analysis.

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All photos by Albert Silver

(photos are all high-resolution)

Running from February 6 – 14, 2017, the 83rd Brazilian Championship is underway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It brings twelve players including four grandmasters, who will fight a round robin at the rate of 90 minutes for the game plus a 30-second increment.


No Ti. Name Rtg
12 GM Fier Alexandr 2581
2 GM Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag 2561
9 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce 2523
6 IM Quintiliano Pinto Renato R. 2491
10 GM Matsuura Everaldo 2480
4 CM Carneiro Vitor Roberto Castro 2426
8 FM Reis Paulo F. Jatoba De Olivei 2397
11 IM Macedo Maximo Iack 2366
3 FM De Paula Rafael Figueiredo 2322
1 FM Nogueira Ivan Kuhlmann 2308
5   Souza Neves Andrey M. 2218
7 FM Pinto Carlos Henrique Lopes 2121

Round three of the competition seemed to suggest that thing would return to a more normal rate of play, in which two draws took place out of the six games. It was the first double-round of the event and in the morning the two largest bulls in the arena locked horns: GM Krikor Mekhitarian and Alexandr Fier.

Alexandre Fier has survived more than his share of scares so far, but has emerged unscathed until now, and is in close second place with 4.5/5. He has been enjoying a return tour of his native Brazil, and this marks his third and final event here before returning to his wife and child in Georgia.

Understandably, it was the main attraction of the day, representing not only the first clash between grandmasters in the championship, but also the two highest rated players.

FM Ricardo Teixeira once more brings his fine eye to the game, and while it may seem unusual to choose one of the only three draws, despite being such strong players, it should be noted that the Alekhine Defense played has been the cornerstone of his repertoire throughout his career, and none can claim to know it better.

Krikor Mekhitarian vs Alexandr Fier (annotated by FM Ricardo Teixeira)

[Event "LXXXIII Brazilian Championship"] [Site "Rio de Janeiro, Brazil"] [Date "2017.02.08"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Mekhitarian, Krikor Sevag"] [Black "Fier, Alexandr"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B04"] [WhiteElo "2561"] [BlackElo "2581"] [Annotator "Teixeira, Ricardo"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2017.02.06"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "BRA"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 g6 {This move characterizes the line in the Alekhine Defense idealized by the Russian / American GM Lev Alburt. Thanks to some very sharp lines, this whole system has been placed in the background for soemtime, not only by the theoreticians, but also by most of the people who play this defense. But as fashion is something very relative, where things come and go ... With the fiancheto the king's bishop, Black follows the path that defines the general idea of the Alekhine Defense, which is to give up some space but at the same time lure White's pawns forward to later counter-attack them and thus undermine the opponent's entire center.} 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 Bg7 7. O-O {White plays conservatively and solid, avoiding, for example, one of the sharpest and most analyzed lines in this position, starting with} (7. a4 a5 8. Ng5 e6 9. f4 dxe5 10. fxe5 c5 11. O-O O-O 12. c3 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nf3 f6 15. Nc3 fxe5 16. Bg5 Qd7 17. dxe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Rxf1+ 19. Qxf1 Qd4+ 20. Kh1 Qxe5 21. Bd8 $13) 7... O-O 8. h3 Nc6 9. Qe2 Na5 10. Nc3 Nxb3 (10... h6 $5 11. Ne4 Nxb3 12. axb3 f6 (12... f5 13. Ng3) 13. c4 fxe5 14. dxe5 Nd7 15. Bd2 b6 16. e6 Nf6 17. Nxf6+ Rxf6 18. Nd4 Bb7 (18... c5 19. Qe4 ) 19. Bc3 a6 20. f4 $13 {Kveinys - Speelman, Moscow OL 1994}) 11. axb3 a5 $5 $146 {A novelty according to Mega 2017. In this position, the most common move is 11...Bf5, as played in Kapengut - Barkovsky, Minsk 1984 for example.} (11... Bf5 12. Bf4 f6 13. exd6 exd6 14. d5 $1 $16) 12. Re1 h6 13. Be3 Bf5 14. Nh4 Bd7 15. f4 e6 16. Nf3 Bc6 17. Bf2 Nd5 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. c4 Bc6 20. Rad1 Bxf3 21. Qxf3 d5 22. cxd5 Qxd5 23. Qxd5 exd5 24. Ra1 $14 {After a series of exchnages, Black releases the pressure and compensates his lack of space with a solid position, albeit one in which he still has a few problems to solve.} c6 25. Rec1 Ra6 26. g4 f5 $5 {An interesting decision, which attempts to stop White's expansion on the kingside by draconian means. Black lets White gain a protected passed pawn on e5, but in return the pawn and its supporters are placed on the dark squares, severely restricting his own bishop.} 27. gxf5 ({ It might have been more interesting to keep the kingside situation undefined for a bit longer with} 27. Be3) 27... gxf5 $5 ({Following the suggestion of our modern Oracles, in this case "Grandmaster" Komodo 10, another move that warranted attention was} 27... Rxf5 28. b4 a4 29. Be3 Bf8 30. Bd2 Kf7 31. b5 cxb5 32. Rc7+ Ke6 33. Rxb7 b4 $11) 28. b4 Rfa8 29. b5 Rb6 30. bxc6 bxc6 31. Ra4 Raa6 32. Be1 Rxb2 33. Rxa5 Rxa5 34. Bxa5 Rb5 35. Be1 Rb6 36. Ba5 Rb5 37. Be1 Rb6 38. Ra1 Bf8 39. Ra8 Kg7 40. Bh4 c5 {The cherry on top of Black's plan, crowning the defensive plan he started with ...f5} 41. dxc5 Bxc5+ 42. Kg2 Rb2+ 43. Kf3 Rb3+ 44. Kg2 Rb2+ 45. Kf3 Rb3+ 46. Kg2 1/2-1/2

Round four could be summed up in five words we all know so well: "White to play and win". The reason as you may have guessed is because all six games ended in decisive results in favor of white! Obviously such dramatic results cannot all be the result of smooth sailing, and surely they weren't. The games have had a generous number of blunders and breathtaking turnarounds, and one such was between FM Nogueira and Carneiro. After suffering terribly and permanently facing an imminent loss, Ivan Nogueira saw his opponent finally crack under the pressure of an opponent who refused to give up, and this situation arose:

Ivan Nogueira - Vitor Carneiro


Round five was far less lopsided, and while it too saw a staggering six wins in six games, Black enjoyed a bit of that winnng mojo as well.

Before the fifth round starts, the players enjoy a bit of friendly banter

Everaldo Matsuura greets his opponent Carlos Pinto

As the lowest rated player in the field, Carlos Pinto has been having a rough time of it, but his good humor and ready smiles belie the pleasure he has of being in the final and having the chance to face off against the country's best.

Everaldo Matsuura, hailing from the state of Paraná, has had a perfect run so far with 5.0/5. However, he has yet to meet the three other grandmasters in the field.

It was a dramatic game between Rafael de Paula and Alexandr Fier. Fier, covering his face in the foreground, was probably wondering how he had gone so wrong, and was dead lost after 30 moves. However, things turned around, and a few key slips cost White the game, and a possible heroic result.

Hypnotized by chess

GM Felipe El Debs suffered a nasty setback in round two, when he lost a won game against Andrey Souza Neves, but has since played at his standard and won his games well. He is now at 4.0/5.

While Paulo Reis (2397 FIDE) has had more losses than wins so far, he has also faced some of the stiffest competition, including GMs Fier and El Debs.

Although Andrey Souza Neves may be a longshot for a big result, nothing can take away his win over GM Felipe EL Debs in the second round. He had a chance for another win in round four, but was surprised by a tactical oversight (see above)

Standings after five rounds

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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