ACP Masters starts in Ashdod, Israel

by Yochanan Afek
12/9/2015 – It is described as the strongest event ever held in Israel, and the twelve-player rapid event in Ashdod has not disappointed. With star power such as Gelfand, Ivanchuk, Nepomniachtchi, as well as names such as Bacrot and Sevian, there were all the ingredients to a thrilling event. The players were split into two groups with four qualifiers, with plenty of fun chess.

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The ACP Masters was opened on Monday, December 7th, in the Kivoonim Cultural Centre in the city of Ashdod, Israel. The players were welcomed by Moshe Slav, chairman of the Israeli Chess Federation and chief organizer, who said that it is in fact the strongest invitational tournament ever to be held in Israel, and that it would be transmitted to the entire world with the new Israeli technology ‘Chess Vision’.

The lovely city of Ashdod is the sixth largest city in Israel, on the coast of the Mediterranean

He thanked the mayor, Dr. Yechiel Lasri, for the town hall’s continuous support, mentioning that no fewer than 3500 children were enjoying chess education in 30 chess centres throughout the city. He awarded the special stamp that had been issued for the 80th anniversary of Israeli chess to the next distinguished speaker: Oded Forer, member of the Israeli parliament (Israel Beitenu party). Dr. Lasri added that Israel is a chess power and the government should do a lot more to develop chess and support Israeli participation in official events worldwide.

The opening ceremony

Ian Nepomniachtchi is invited on stage for the drawing of lots

The mayor also stressed the importance of sports in general and chess in particular for the city, praising the remarkable achievements of the municipal chess club since its foundation in 2003, especially the top team that has won five national championship titles and five times the cup games and the ladies team that has won nine national titles to date.

The tournament venue

Following the speeches and the refreshments the qualification games started in both preliminary groups. Three rounds were held in each group, which played at separate times.

Following two days of short, fierce and close battles the preliminary groups of the ACP Masters in Ashdod, played at 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment, reached a clear conclusion with no need for further tie-breakers.

Among the guests was Samuel Sevian who scored 2.0/5 in his group

Nepomniachtchi was too much to handle here, and won the game. The again, what do you
expect from the silver medal winner at the World Rapid Championship two months ago?

Both Georgiev and Jakovenko actually played a Berlin in their group, a flogging offense in
most civilized countries... or should be

Boris Gefand qualified from his group with exciting chess to the delight of the fans

Guseinov - Gelfand

[Event "ACP Masters GpA 2015"] [Site "Ashdod ISR"] [Date "2015.12.07"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Guseinov, Gadir"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B30"] [WhiteElo "2649"] [BlackElo "2731"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2015.12.07"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 Be7 5. d3 Nf6 6. Ng5 O-O 7. O-O h6 8. f4 { The move is not new, not even by top GMs, though essayed few times. Black has never had the temerity to take the knight. Rightfully so.} exf4 ({For those curious, after} 8... hxg5 9. fxg5 Ng4 {White continues} 10. g6 $1 (10. Qxg4 d5 $1 $11) 10... d5 11. gxf7+ Rxf7 12. Bxd5 Nf6 13. Bxf7+ Kxf7 $14) 9. Nf3 Bd6 10. Nh4 Bb8 11. Ng6 d5 $1 12. exd5 Bg4 $2 {Objectively a mistake, but in rapid expecting perfection is unrealistic.} 13. Qd2 $2 (13. dxc6 $1 {was the best continuation, leaving the queen hanging, but good luck working out all the lines.} b5 (13... Bxd1 14. cxb7 Qd4+ 15. Kh1 Bc7 16. bxa8=Q Rxa8 17. Bxf4 Bxf4 18. Rxf4 Qd6 19. Rxd1 Kh7 20. Bxf7 Qc7 21. Rxf6 gxf6 22. Bd5) 14. Qd2 bxc4 15. Nxf8 Qxf8 16. dxc4 Be5 17. Rxf4 {This is the sort of computer line that just has one muttering "are you serious??"}) 13... Nd4 14. Nxf8 {[#]} f3 $1 { Grabbing the bull by the horns!} 15. Qf2 Qxf8 16. Be3 {While the engines claim White has a small advantage here, in practical play, White is the one who needs to find all the right moves to not go under quickly.} Be5 17. Kh1 Bh5 18. Bxd4 Bxd4 19. Qg3 fxg2+ 20. Qxg2 Re8 21. Rf4 {Not losing by any means, but it allows Black a lot of play, an ill-advised idea.} ({The less ambitious} 21. Rae1 $1 {seems more logical, neutralizing Black's rook and much of his attacking potential.}) 21... Re5 $1 {Gelfand used to be the epitome of the classical positional player, but one of the changes he has made over the years is to incorporate some seriously aggressive play in some of his decisions.} 22. Raf1 Rg5 23. Qd2 Qe7 24. Qe1 Re5 $6 {Not best.} (24... Qd7 {was the strongest, intending ...Qh3}) 25. Qg3 Rg5 26. Qe1 Re5 27. Qg3 Rg5 28. Qe1 {The repetition was to gain time with the increments since both players were desperately short on the clock.} Qd7 $1 {Gelfand sees it now.} 29. Qh4 Be3 30. Rxf6 $4 {Granted the exchange was going down, but why not let Black give up his bishop rather than exchange it off for the much less dangerous knight?} gxf6 31. h3 f5 32. Nd1 Bd4 33. Qf4 Qe8 34. Qd2 Qe5 35. Qf4 Qe2 0-1

Final standings of Group A

Emil Sutovsky certainly brought it, but overall was unable to shine. Ivanchuk on the other
hand was his world-class self and had not trouble qualifying.

Final standings of Group B

Photos by official site and Moshe Slav


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Yochanan was born (1952) and grew up in Tel-Aviv, and now lives in Amsterdam. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of chess, both as a professional and a volunteer, for the last 48 years, and remains an active player, composer, writer, organizer, trainer and commentator. He is an International Master and International Arbiter for chess as well as International Grandmaster for chess composition.
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