Am. Continental Rd8: Consistent unpredictability

by Albert Silver
5/23/2015 – The one thing that has held true is that no one is running away with the event. Each time a leader is declared, the next round he is challenged and the final rounds promise to be even more exciting than the first, if that is possible. Consider the game of the day by GM Flores who gave a queen for two pieces, and don't miss out on Eric Hansen's daily vlogs. A large illustrated report.

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The tournament

The tournament is an eleven-round competition played at 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment as of move one. The first round is on May 15 with rounds every day until round eleven on May 24, including a double-round on May 17. Play typically starts at 5PM.

Although there are tiebreak scoring systems in place, starting with direct encounter, Buchholz, and more, in the event of a draw at the top, the top four qualifiers will be decided by a rapid tiebreak match or tournament, depending on the number, starting at 15 minutes plus a ten-second increment.

The prizes are US$5000 for first, $3400 for second, $2400 for third with prizes all the way to 20th place. Note that as FIDE events of this caliber, all norms scored count double, thus a player who scores a norm at the end of the competition will be considered to have earned two norms, not one.

Solis Theatre

About ten minutes walk from the hotel, and just short of the Plaza Independencia, is the famous Teatro Solis. Twice a week, there is a guided tour for a measly US$2 in the language of choice, sharing its history and innards. Having grown up in a classical music household, and a sucker for history, I went with a friend.

The Solís Theater was built and opened to the public in 1856 and was privately owned until
the 1930s. Due to economic issues related to the countriy's growing passion for football, and
the arrival of motion pictures, it was eventually sold to the city of Montevideo in 1937.

The closeup is not actually about the name in large letters, but the small red cube on the top.
When the theater was the city's most prominent source of entertainment, the red cube would
light up to indicate there was a production being held there. A red beacon to say: "Come and
get it!" (Click image for high-res version)

As we entered the locale, a group of school children were also being given a tour. I asked
about the blue ties they all wore, and was told they are a sign of a public school and is their
traditional wear.

Once inside the main theater, there were several groups, all being conducted in the languages chosen

At the very top, several floors high, is a fantastic ceiling with the names of great playwrights and
composers. In the center is a huge chandelier that weighs no less than half a metric ton. In this
size reading the names will be hard, but if you click for the high-res version, you will see them all.

No, one of the visitors did not suddenly pass out. Three times during the tour, we were offered
a theatrical 'intervention' in which a couple of actors would play out a short scene from a play.

Their work was excellent and fun, and completely unexpected. It really made the tour special.

Our own tour guide, a university economics student, was also informative and friendly

This was a secondary space held for more intimate productions. The first
row is apparently called the 'row for the courageous' since actors will often
interact with those sitting there.

Ye Olde Gifte Shoppe

Round eight

If there is one consistent aspect of this event, it is its unpredictability, and hard-fought games. After the American success in the previous round, the leaders fell in the next round, making way for new ones and old. Rising to the fore are Jorge Cori, now recovered and back, followed by Canadian GM Eric Hansen, and Argentine Diego Flores.

The key game of round eight between leaders Eric Hansen and Aleksander Lenderman

Eric Hansen has been steadily working his way to the top, and culminated it with an impressive win over Aleksander Lenderman. While Hansen modestly described his win as ‘lucky’, Lenderman graciously said that the Canadian had made the most of the chances and outplayed him when it counted.

It should also be noted that Eric has been doing far more than just playing his games. Together with his partner in crime GM Robin Van Kampen, he has been hosting daily video blogs (known today as vlogs) with a preview phase in which he describes things quite frankly and openly, and then what happened after. The filming is being done by Van Kampen, while Eric shares his thoughts. They are both interesting and entertaining, and well worth checking out.


A sample video entry of round three by Eric Hansen. Be sure to check out his other entries at his YouTube
channel called "ChessBrah".

Another key game took place between the two Argentians Diego Flores and Alan Pichot. GM Flores actually came as a coach for a player, and was supposedly not playing with any ambitious goals. However, perhaps precisely because he is so relaxed and relieved of pressure, his play has also been quite inspired.

As an appetizer, see the aesthetic position that arose early in the
game. The four knights make quite the picture!

IM Rodi describes the game as such: "A wonderful game by the Argentine grandmaster Diego Flores, allowing him to join the lead in the tournament. In the exciting tactical battle the reader is about to witness, Diego was down to two minor pieces for the queen with fascinating compensation for the material."

GM Diego Flores - IM Alan Pichot (annotated by IM Luis Rodi)

[Event "Continental"] [Site "Montevideo"] [Date "2015.05.21"] [Round "8"] [White "Flores, Diego"] [Black "Pichot, Alan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E62"] [WhiteElo "2567"] [BlackElo "2504"] [Annotator "Rodi,Luis"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2015.05.22"] [EventCountry "URU"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 {In other moments, Flores was ever faithful to the English, but here he opts for the Fianchetto variation of the King's Indian.} Nc6 7. O-O Bf5 $5 {While 7...a6 is the common continuation in the mainline of the Panno variation, the text move is also popular and was the subject of an article by Max Illingworth.} 8. b3 {The most popular move here is 8. d5, while the compatriot of the protagonists, GM Damian Lemos, recommends 8. Ne1. The choice by White, isn't considered critical by Illingworth, however this game may easily lead to new investigations.} Ne4 9. Nd5 {Illingworth considers this leap the critical move. } ({He also cites} 9. Bb2 Nxc3 10. Bxc3 Be4 11. Rc1 d5 12. e3 a5 13. Qe2 e6 14. Rfd1 a4 15. Bf1 axb3 16. axb3 {(Najdorf - Spassky, Gotenburg izt 1955) and now} Re8 17. Nd2 Ra2 18. Ra1 Rc2 {with counterplay.}) 9... Bd7 10. Bb2 e6 11. Nf4 Re8 $146 {A new move, and the top choice by the engine Komodo 9.} (11... f5 12. e3 Qe7 13. Nd2 Nf6 14. Qc2 $14 {Swiercz - Can, Golden Sands 2012}) ({Komodo 9 64-bit:} 11... Re8 12. Qc2 {0.50/22}) 12. Qc2 f5 13. Rad1 e5 14. Nd5 exd4 15. Nxd4 Ne5 {White can claim the famous "opening advantage" thanks to his better piece coordination.} 16. Nc3 Nc5 17. b4 Ne6 18. Bxb7 Nxd4 (18... Rb8 19. Bd5 c6 20. Bxe6+ Bxe6 21. Nxe6 Rxe6 22. Qb3 $14 {White is simply a pawn up.}) 19. Rxd4 Rb8 20. Bd5+ Kh8 21. b5 $1 {Fasten your seatbelts! The vicious complications, the favoarble for White, require nerves of purest steel and a superb feel for the position's characteristics.} Nf3+ {In theory this move is a mistake, but one can hardly blame Pichot, who has played a great tournament thus far, for choosing the continuation he found the most interesting.} (21... Qc8 22. Rh4 $14) 22. exf3 Bxd4 23. Ne4 $1 $18 {A very nice shot, exploiting the dark squares, which will become weak after the trade of the bishops.} Bg7 24. Bxg7+ Kxg7 25. Qc3+ Kh6 26. Nf6 Rf8 27. Qe3+ {Pure fantasy.} ({White had a decisive advantage after} 27. Nxd7 Qxd7 28. Qe3+ f4 29. Qxa7 $18 {The bishop is very strong, and controls the a8 square for a future promotion. Objectively, the text move is not as strong and leads to a balanced position, however tempting it was to play it.}) 27... f4 28. Qxf4+ Kg7 29. Nxd7 {The key to White's idea initiated on move 27, is now obligatory to continue the game, and involves giving up the queen.} Rxf4 30. Nxb8 Rf8 $2 {Natural, preserving the material advantage, though not the strongest.} (30... Qxb8 31. gxf4 {would lead to a picturesque position. The chances are about equal after} Qe8 $1 $13) 31. Nc6 Qf6 (31... Qe8 {deserved attention, preventing the white rook from taking control of the center file. White's chances would still be somewhat better after} 32. a4 $14) 32. Re1 Qb2 ({Time trouble was rearing its ugly head by now. Black's best chance here was} 32... h5 {even if the position after} 33. Re7+ Kh8 34. h4 {was better for White.}) 33. Re7+ Kh8 34. a4 Qa1+ (34... Qa3 35. Kg2 $18) 35. Kg2 Qxa4 {The queen leaves the king's defense, fatally so. White has only two minor pieces for the queen, but the initiative based on threates to the king will decide it. The difference in king safety on both sides is striking.} 36. Nd4 $18 {Planning Ne6-g5 and Rxh7. Pichot decides to remove the weed by its roots.} h6 37. Ne6 Rf6 38. Nxc7 Qa5 39. h4 $5 Qb6 {This piece tries to return to the other side of the board to help in the defense.} (39... Rf5 {was answered by} 40. Rd7 Re5 41. Ne6 Rxd5 42. cxd5 Qxb5 43. Rxd6 $18) 40. Be4 Qd4 41. Nd5 Rf5 (41... Rf8 42. h5 $18) 42. Bxf5 gxf5 43. Rc7 $1 Qa1 (43... Kg8 44. Ne7+ {winning.}) 44. h5 Qd4 45. Ne7 Qd3 46. Rxa7 {the free pawn decides it now. An extraordinary game.} 1-0

Brazilian GM Felipe El Debs had a solid start with 5.5/8 (Click image for high-res version)

In spite of a rather surprising start with two draws in the first three rounds,
Anton Kovalyov, now playing under the Canadian flag, seems to have recovered
his mojo and is now on the main stage.

GM Gregory Kaidanov played a tough defense a pawn down in a rook
endgame against IM Molina, but his experience prevailed and he drew

WFM Maria Diaz hails from Aruba

Argentinian IM Carolina Lujan

WIM Floréncia Fernandez

WIM Fernandez chats with the good-spirited Eduardo Moccero who was the women's team
captain at the Tromso Olympiad. He is also the head of the Marcel Duchamp Foundation in
Argentina, which helps sponsor many chess events.

Brazilian IM Yago Santiago was the surprise leader after four rounds,
and is still on the hunt for a GM norm

Colombian Henry Alberto Perera has had a solid event so far

GM Ruben Felgaer from Argentina was not intimidated

Standings after eight rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB rtg+/-
1 8 GM Cori Jorge PER 2609 6.5 43.5 12.8
2 11 GM Hansen Eric CAN 2580 6.5 40.0 9.3
3 13 GM Flores Diego ARG 2567 6.5 37.5 6.2
4 21 GM Shabalov Alexander USA 2523 6.0 44.0 18.3
5 4 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2636 6.0 43.5 -3.6
6 2 GM Quesada Perez Yuniesky CUB 2645 6.0 40.0 -4.2
7 20 GM Matamoros Franco Carlos S. ECU 2525 6.0 39.0 15.3
8 23 IM Di Berardino Diego Rafael BRA 2489 6.0 38.5 11.3
9 18 GM Yermolinsky Alex USA 2531 6.0 38.5 1.8
10 10 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2581 6.0 38.0 3.1
11 7 GM Kovalyov Anton CAN 2613 6.0 37.5 -3.6
12 15 GM Gonzalez Vidal Yuri CUB 2550 6.0 37.0 -4.7
13 3 GM Bachmann Axel PAR 2636 5.5 42.5 -2.6
14 22 IM Pichot Alan ARG 2504 5.5 42.5 14.3
15 1 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E PER 2650 5.5 41.0 -8.2
16 17 GM Perez Ponsa Federico ARG 2533 5.5 41.0 5.3
17 32 IM Supi Luis Paulo BRA 2416 5.5 39.5 12.5
18 16 GM Hevia Alejano Carlos Antonio CUB 2535 5.5 39.5 1.6
19 29 IM Molina Roberto Junio Brito BRA 2455 5.5 39.5 4.5
20 19 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce BRA 2527 5.5 39.0 5.2

Click for complete standings

The top eight boards of the event can be followed live at both the official site and on Playchess.

All photos by Albert Silver


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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KOTLD KOTLD 5/24/2015 10:20
Gee, Florencia Fernandez is pretty.
Great photography all round.
Wastrel Wastrel 5/24/2015 02:53
Diego Flores - Alan Pichot is indeed an extraordinary game. 22.Ne4 is mind-boggling.
snooper snooper 5/23/2015 05:12
Great set of articles. Appreciate the art round up too, and ofcourse the games analysis. thanks!