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Chess Festival in Benidorm – where a new genre is born

12/21/2007 – The Sixth International Chess Festival in Benidorm, Spain, attracted hundreds of players from all over the world. Aleksander Delchev of Bulgaria won the Open Master, World Champion Vishy Anand gave a very strong simul on 35 boards. But the show was stolen by the smallest event, an Advanced Chess Tournament, where the participants were allowed to use computer assistance.
 

A New Chess Tournament Genre is Born

By Nelson Hernandez

The small Spanish seaside town of Benidorm, a few miles up the road from Alicante, hosted its 6th International Chess Festival earlier this month. The festival consisted of seven open tournaments designed for different skill levels, ages and time controls. Hundreds of players representing dozens of countries competed, many of them participating in multiple tournaments.

The highlight of the festival was a one-day visit by World Champion Viswanathan Anand, during which he simultaneously played the white pieces against 35 worthy opponents, scoring 29 wins against one loss to Franz Josef Becking (2049) of Belgium.


World Champion Viswanathan Anand giving a simultaneous exhibition


A bird's eyeview of Anand in the simul


Anand working 35 boards and conceding five draws and one loss vs 29 wins (23 players were over 1900, ten players over 2000, four over 2100, with the highest-rated opponent weighing in at 2173)


Aarón Bendayan Claros (age 14, rated 1922) pays careful attention to Anand’s advice after holding the World Champion to a draw.


The IV Open Master

The strongest open tournament was the 4th Open Master, in which 84 players competed. GM Aleksander Delchev (2613) of Bulgaria took top honors with 9/11, followed by GM Alexei Dreev (2607) of Russia also with 9/11 but a slightly lower tie-break score.


GM Aleksander Delchev (2613, left), winner of the 4th Open Master, plays IM Carlos Garcia (2375)

The 3rd Tournament of the Stars was won by Russian GM Vladimir Malakhov (2690) with an 8.5/10 outcome, outpacing Georgian GM Baadur Jobava (2644) with 8/10. Also participating were GMs Vladislav Tkachiev (2661) and Sergey Fedorchuk (2645).


GM Vladimir Malakhov (2690), winner of The Third Tournament of the Stars


First Advanced Chess Tournament

By general agreement the show was nonetheless stolen by the smallest open tournament, billed as the "First Advanced Chess Tournament". What made this 90 minute, no time increment tournament unique was that it was the first of its kind in chess history. 31 players of varying skill hauled private arrays of laptop and desktop computers to the tournament site and engaged in an eight-round live cyborg free-for-all spanning nine days.

It should be pointed out that this tournament wasn’t actually “Advanced Chess”, which is more suited for high-level match play similar to the recent Anand-Kramnik two-game exhibition. Generally speaking, Advanced Chess requires opponents to have equal hardware, and only allows computer consultation during play. The tournament in Benidorm was actually a live Freestyle tournament, wherein pretty much anything and everything was allowed. There were no limitations on hardware and a climate of loose informality reigned, spectators (and opponents!) at times getting within a few inches of the players as they performed their computer analysis.

ChessBase has hosted seven PAL/CSS Freestyle tournaments on its chess server over the past two-plus years, but never to our knowledge has a full-fledged Freestyle tournament been played between face-to-face opponents until now. The logistics, costs and risks of moving extensive hardware over long distances combined with relatively modest prize funds tend to discourage participating in such a complex endeavor on a lark. However this pioneering tournament proved it can be done, and we expect this demonstration of “live Freestyle” may spawn similar tournaments between aficionados in the future.

As it happens, Anson Williams, the captain of the “Ibermax” team that won the 7th Freestyle Tournament in September, flew to Spain from his home in London with two quad-core computers in tow and won five games en route to a 6.5/8 and first place finish. Among those he defeated were the second and third place finishers.


Anson Williams on his way to winning the "First Advanced Chess Tournament" in Benidorm

Williams started off the tournament with two hard-fought wins against players who subsequently finished somewhat down in the crosstable.

Garcia Domingo,Jose Antonio (1987) - Williams,Anson [B90]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (1), 01.12.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 h5 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.Be2 Be7 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.exd5 Bf5 13.0–0 0–0 14.f4 exf4 15.Bxf4 Bg6 16.Bd3 Bxd3 17.Qxd3 Bf6 18.c3 Re8 19.Qf5 g6 20.Qc2 Qc7 21.Rae1 Rxe1 22.Rxe1 Be5 23.Bxe5 Nxe5 24.Nd4 Qc5 25.Qb3 Rb8 26.h3 Nc4 27.Re7 Qxd5 28.a3 b5 29.Qc2 Qg5 30.Re2 Ne5 31.Qe4 Re8 32.Qb7 Kh7 33.a4 bxa4 34.Qxa6 Re7 35.Re1 Qd2 36.Re2 Qc1+ 37.Kh2 h4 38.Re4 Qg5 39.Qb5 Kg7 40.Kh1 Qc1+ 41.Kh2 f5 42.Re2 Qf1 43.Qd5 g5 44.Qxd6 Nf3+ 45.gxf3 Rxe2+ 46.Nxe2 Qf2+ 47.Kh1 Qxf3+ 48.Kg1 Qxe2 49.Qb8 Qe3+ 50.Kg2 Qg3+ 51.Qxg3 hxg3 52.Kxg3 Kf6 53.h4 gxh4+ 54.Kxh4 Ke5 55.Kg3 Ke4 56.Kf2 Kd3 0–1. [Click to replay]

Williams,Anson - Palacios Perez,Jose Luis (1969) [C99]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (2), 02.12.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.a3 Bd7 15.d5 Na5 16.Nf1 Rfc8 17.Ne3 Qb6 18.b3 g6 19.Bd2 Bf8 20.Bd3 Nh5 21.Bf1 Nf4 22.a4 b4 23.Rb1 Bh6 24.Nc4 Nxc4 25.bxc4 Qc7 26.g3 Nxh3+ 27.Bxh3 Bxd2 28.Bxd7 Bxe1 29.Bxc8 Bxf2+ 30.Kxf2 Rxc8 31.Nd2 a5 32.Qb3 Qd7 33.Rf1 Rc7 34.Kg2 Rc8 35.Qf3 h5 36.Rf2 Qc7 37.Qf6 Re8 38.c5 dxc5 39.Nb3 Rf8 40.d6 Qc6 41.Qxe5 Re8 42.Nxa5 Qa8 43.Qd5 Qxd5 1–0. [Click to replay]

The most exciting game of the tournament came in the third round, when Spanish master Manuel Fenollar Jorda (2261) faced Williams with comparable hardware, an enormous advantage in over-the-board experience and white pieces. The players followed a highly theoretical Sicilian Najdorf line and in due course had the board locked in a pawn blockade, tactically shuffling pieces. Williams found himself running low on time and unable to break through. At almost any point Fenollar could have forced a draw, but evidently his aim was to win on time, a common anti-computer strategy. Williams, sizing up the situation, abruptly abandoned his normal playing technique and began banging out a long succession of computer moves so rapidly that Fenollar suddenly realized that he could not keep up the pace: the hunter had become the hunted. Rattled by the turnabout, yet still determined to win rather than settle for the draw that was still within reach, Fenollar apparently decided to abandon computer analysis and promptly made a very human blunder on the 96th move. Williams immediately halted his rapid playing rhythm, double-checked the position, and then slowly shook his head at his opponent with grim surmise. The coup de grace came after a marathon 111 moves. The story of this game was a source of mirth among several titled Spanish players gathered at dinner that evening.

Fenollar Jorda,Manuel (2261) - Williams,Anson [B90]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (3), 03.12.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.f3 Be7 9.Qd2 h5 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 Bc8 12.Bd3 0–0 13.Na5 b6 14.Nc4 Nd7 15.a4 a5 16.0–0 Ba6 17.Ra3 Qc7 18.Rb3 Rfb8 19.Rf2 Qd8 20.Na3 Bc8 21.Rc3 Nc5 22.Bb5 Bb7 23.Rf1 h4 24.h3 f5 25.Re1 Qc7 26.Rc4 f4 27.Bf2 Bf6 28.Nb1 Rf8 29.Nc3 Qf7 30.b3 Bc8 31.Bc6 Ra6 32.Nb5 Rd8 33.Rd1 Kh8 34.Qe2 Be7 35.Qe1 Qf6 36.Nc7 Ra7 37.Ne6 Rg8 38.Bxc5 bxc5 39.Re4 Bd8 40.Qf2 Bb6 41.Kh2 Ba6 42.Bb5 Bb7 43.Qd2 Rb8 44.Rde1 Raa8 45.Bc4 Kg8 46.R4e2 Ra7 47.Qd3 Bc8 48.Rd1 Rba8 49.Qc3 Rf7 50.Bd3 Qh6 51.Qc4 Ba6 52.Qe4 Bc8 53.Red2 Rf6 54.Qc4 Bd7 55.c3 Kh8 56.Be4 Qh5 57.Qe2 Rb8 58.Bd3 Be8 59.Qe1 Ba7 60.Qe4 Bd7 61.Bb5 Bc8 62.Kh1 Bb7 63.Qc4 Bb6 64.Ba6 Ba8 65.Qb5 Qe8 66.Qd3 Qg6 67.Qe2 Qg3 68.Rf1 Rh6 69.Qd1 Qg6 70.Bd3 Qf7 71.Bc4 Rg6 72.Re1 Bb7 73.Qc2 Rg3 74.Qe4 Qg6 75.Qe2 Qf7 76.Qd3 Qg6 77.Qf1 Qf6 78.Qf2 Qf5 79.Rb2 Bc8 80.Qe2 Kg8 81.Rd2 Qf6 82.Bb5 Rg6 83.Ba6 Bd7 84.Qe4 Ba7 85.Bb5 Bc8 86.Rdd1 Rh6 87.Re2 Bb7 88.Qd3 Qg6 89.Re4 Bc8 90.Qc2 Bb7 91.Bc4 Bb6 92.Qd2 Qh5 93.b4 Bc8 94.bxc5 Bxc5 95.Nxc5 Bxh3 96.Kh2 Bf5 97.Rg1 Qg5 98.Rge1 h3 99.Kg1 hxg2 100.Qxg2 Qh4 101.Bf1 Rg6 102.R4e2 Rxg2+ 103.Bxg2 dxc5 104.Ra1 Bd3 105.Rf2 Qd8 106.d6 Qxd6 107.Rd2 e4 108.fxe4 f3 109.Bxf3 Qg3+ 110.Bg2 Qe3+ 111.Rf2 Rb2 0–1. [Click to replay]

The very next round was one of the quickest wins of the tournament, coming against the competitor that eventually finished in second place. To Williams’ surprise, after analysis that had already used up over an hour of the clock Molina concluded that there was no point in continuing the contest after the 10th move and congratulated his opponent for his novelty. Williams was grateful for the swift win but privately did not think that victory was assured, nor did he see the line as a particularly commendable novelty. In fact Williams’ last book move was 7.Qb3, which was first attained in Voelzke-Schmidt, 1988, a win for black, and later duplicated in Fekete-Kormos, 1997, which was quickly drawn.

Williams,Anson - Molina Cabaleiro,Juan Jose (1840) [A07]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (4), 04.12.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 Bf5 4.c4 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.0–0 Be7 7.Qb3 Nbd7 8.Qxb7 Nc5 9.Qb4 0–0 10.Qa5 1–0. [Click to replay]

Having won the first four games and taken command of the leaderboard after being seeded dead last, Williams demonstrated that his live playing technique wasn’t quite flawless in the fifth round, in some respects his most impressive game of the tournament. On the second move against David Pardo Simon (2173) he moved the wrong knight on the physical chessboard separating the players (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nf6? 3.e5 Ng8) and immediately put himself a further two tempi down with the black pieces. Fighting back from a seemingly insurmountable development disadvantage, he managed to trade off pieces and forced a draw. One observant spectator noted that Williams paid almost no attention to the physical board and was entirely engrossed with his computers, which amounted to a totally different way of thinking about chess.

Pardo Simon,David (2173) - Williams,Anson [B23]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (5), 06.12.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e5 Ng8 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0–0 Nh6 7.Bd3 g6 8.b4 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 cxb4 10.Nd5 Bg7 11.Qf4 0–0 12.Qxb4 Re8 13.Ba3 Bxe5 14.Nxe7+ Rxe7 15.Qxe7 Qxe7 16.Bxe7 Bxa1 17.Rxa1 d5 18.Rb1 b6 19.Bf6 Bf5 20.Ba6 Ng4 21.Bc3 Re8 22.f3 Ne5 23.Rb5 d4 24.Bxd4 Nc6 25.Bc3 Nb8 26.Bb7 Bxc2 27.Kf2 Bf5 28.Re5 Be6 29.Re3 Rd8 30.a3 Rd7 31.Bc8 Rd6 32.f4 Nc6 33.Ba6 f5 34.Ke2 Kf7 35.Rh3 Kg8 36.a4 Rd8 37.Ke1 Bd5 38.Kf2 Ba2 39.Bb5 Ne7 40.Rd3 Rxd3 41.Bxd3 Kf7 42.a5 bxa5 43.Bxa5 Ke6 44.Bc2 Kd5 45.Ba4 Kc4 ½–½. [Click to replay]

Williams saved the best aesthetics for late in the tournament with a pretty positional win over Rodriguez in a Neo-Gruenfeld. Note the final position, with Williams’ bishops dominating the board and black’s queen bottled up.

Williams,Anson - Rodriguez Marcos,Jose Ramon [D77]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (6), 07.12.2007
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.0–0 0–0 5.d4 d5 6.c4 dxc4 7.Na3 Nc6 8.Nxc4 Be6 9.Nce5 Bd5 10.Bg5 a5 11.Rc1 Ra6 12.Re1 a4 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.Qc2 Qd5 15.Qb1 Rb6 16.Bf4 Qe4 17.Rc2 Qe6 18.Ng5 Qd7 19.e4 e6 20.Rd2 Nh5 21.Be3 Rb5 22.Nf3 Qe7 23.Qc2 Ra8 24.a3 Rba5 25.Rdd1 Rc8 26.Bd2 Raa8 27.Bb4 Qe8 28.Qc1 Ra6 29.d5 Bd7 30.dxe6 Bxe6 31.e5 c5 32.Bc3 Qe7 33.h3 Bf8 34.g4 Ng7 35.Ng5 b5 36.Rd6 Ra7 37.Qf4 Bc4 38.Ne4 Qh4 39.e6 Bxe6 40.Rb6 Ne8 41.Nf6+ 1–0. [Click to replay]

For the seventh round Williams once again got the white pieces, breaking the alternating pattern of previous rounds. The players opted for a transposed Slav Defense which led to a tenaciously-fought draw. Contreras thus became the only player to avoid losing with the black pieces against the Englishman.

Williams,Anson - Contreras Poblete,Juan Antonio (1883) [D11]
I Torneo Tecnológico Bali Benidorm ESP (7), 08.12.2007
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.0–0 Bf5 5.c4 e6 6.d4 Nbd7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Nh4 Be6 9.Nc3 Bd6 10.Qd3 0–0 11.Nf5 Bc7 12.Rd1 Re8 13.Qf3 h6 14.Bd2 Nb6 15.b3 Nc8 16.Qd3 Qd7 17.Ne3 Ne7 18.Rac1 Bd6 19.Na4 b6 20.Bf3 Rac8 21.Qa6 Nh7 22.a3 Ng5 23.Bb4 Bb8 24.Bg2 Bh3 25.Qd3 Nf5 26.Bd2 Bxg2 27.Qxf5 Qxf5 28.Nxf5 Bh3 29.Bxg5 hxg5 30.Ne3 Bd6 31.b4 f5 32.Rd2 f4 33.Nc2 Bf5 34.Ne1 g4 35.Nb2 g5 36.Nbd3 Re4 37.Rdc2 Kf7 38.gxf4 gxf4 39.f3 Rxd4 40.Rxc6 Rxc6 41.Rxc6 Ke7 42.Rc1 g3 43.hxg3 fxg3 44.Rd1 Ke6 45.Kg2 Rh4 46.Kg1 Rc4 47.Kg2 a5 48.f4 axb4 49.axb4 Bxd3 50.Nxd3 Bxf4 51.b5 Bc7 52.Rh1 Kf6 53.Rh7 Bd6 54.Rh6+ Ke7 55.Rh7+ Ke6 56.Rh6+ Kd7 57.Rh7+ Kc8 58.Rh8+ Kb7 59.Rh7+ Bc7 60.Rg7 Ra4 61.Rg5 Re4 62.Kf3 Rd4 63.Rg7 Kb8 64.Rg8+ Ka7 65.Rg5 Bd6 ½–½. [Click to replay]

The eighth and final game nearly did not take place as Williams fell ill with food poisoning a few hours before the round was scheduled to begin. For a time a no-show loss seemed the probable outcome. This would have led to a tense situation on the crosstable as Williams was one full point ahead: if he had defaulted the final round he might well have lost the tournament win on tiebreaks. Somehow the shaken Williams dragged himself and his equipment to the playing floor. By coincidence his very young opponent turned up 30 minutes late, and after making only three moves offered a draw, having no idea that Williams was only pretending to be in his usual fighting form. Williams immediately and gratefully accepted, never in his life more relieved to surrender a half-point!

With this latest tournament victory, combined with his 7th PAL/CSS Freestyle win and consistent finalist placement in prior tournaments, Williams has emerged as one of the leading Freestylers in the world, all the more remarkable because neither he nor any of his teammates are rated players; they are all pure computer chess specialists. Yet against top-flight computer-assisted competition Williams has scored 23 wins against only one defeat in the last four significant Freestyle tournaments, spanning 51 games. We can only wonder if the unconventional Anson and this Benidorm tournament are portents of things to come!


Anson Williams meets World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand as an autograph seeker

Results by Anson Williams

  • 1st Advanced Chess Tournament, VI Chess Festival, Benidorm, Spain, 5 wins, 3 draws, no losses, 1st place
  • 7th Freestyle Tournament 6 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, 1st place
  • 6th Freestyle Qualifier 4 wins, 4 draws, no losses, 6th Freestyle Final 2 wins, 7 draws, no losses, 2nd place (tie)
  • 5th Freestyle Qualifier 3 wins, 5 draws, no losses, 5th Freestyle Final 3 wins, 6 draws, no losses, 2nd place
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