Disastrous start for Nigel Short in Montreal

7/24/2007 – The Eighth Montreal International chess tournament has started, with ten very strong GMs at the start. After four rounds of play it is Nigel Short who is making the news, with an unprecedented 0/4 score (possibly due to a dental problem). Gata Kamsky, Pavel Eljanov and the perennial Vassily Ivanchuk are in the lead with 3.0/4. Report with pictures and videos.

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The tournament with ten top grandmasters is taking place from July 19 to 29 in the Hilton Doubletree Hotel, 505 Sherbrooke Street East in Montréal, Canada. The participants include Vassily Ivanchuk, Gata Kamsky and Nigel Short. Rounds start at 17:00h local time, with a free day on July 21.

After four rounds there are three players in the lead, with 3.0/4 points. However, the big news is the 0/4 scored thus far by Nigel Short, which represents the possibly most disastrous start in an international tournament by a Super-GM in recent times. Nigel has lost his white games to Harikrishna and Ivanchuk, and his black games to Miton and Tiviakov. He has dental problems and during one of his games had to be escorted to his hotel room to take pain medication, and he visited a dentist on the free day.


Struggling with his teeth, his form and the presence of Gata Kamsky

Nigel has also given a very outspoken interview to the chess festival blog, in which he looks back with great bitterness at his PCA world championship candidates match against Gata Kamsky in Linares 1994. With regard to his 1993 match against Garry Kasparov in 1993 he says:

"Kasparov was a stronger player than I was. Nothing really compares with that match because, first of all, it was a match for the world championship, and it was such a high profile event. Followed all over the world. I worked very hard for it, and it was perhaps a closer match than the score suggests. I was up against a much stronger force. Anyway, Kasparov is playing a different sort of chess game these days, against Mr. Putin. I think it is a game that Garry will find much more difficult. At any time Putin can put some extra pieces on the board, whenever he feels his position isn’t strong enough."

Round one saw a great win by Pentala Harikrishna, India's third highest ranked grandmaster (after you-know-who and Krishnan Sasikiran).


Indian chess star Pentala Harikrishna

Harikrishna,P (2664) - Sutovsky,E (2656) [D87]
8th It Montreal CAN (1), 19.07.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.Be3 0-0 10.0-0 Na5 11.Bd3 b6 12.Rc1 e5 13.dxc5 Be6 14.c4 bxc5 15.Bxc5 Bh6 16.f4 Re8 17.f5 Qc7 18.Bf2 Bxc4 19.Bxc4 Nxc4 20.Nc3 Nb2 21.Nd5 Qxc1 22.Nf6+ Kg7 23.Nxe8+ Rxe8 24.f6+ Kg8 25.Qxc1 Bxc1 26.Rxc1 Nd3 27.Rc3 Nxf2 28.Kxf2 h5 29.Rc6 Re6??

Exchanging the rooks was a fatal mistake, and the young Indian GM knows how to capitalise: 30.Rxe6 fxe6 31.g4! hxg4 32.Kg3 Kf7 33.Kxg4 Kxf6 34.Kh4 a5 35.a4 Ke7 36.Kg5 Kf7 37.Kh6 Kf6 38.h4 Kf7 39.Kh7 Kf6 40.Kg8 1-0

White is down a pawn and has no passed pawns, but the game is over for Black, who is in deadly zugzwang: for instanance 40...Ke7 41.Kg7 Kd6 42.Kxg6 Kc5 43.h5 or 40...g5 41.h5 g4 42.h6 g3 43.h7 g2 44.h8Q+ Ke7 45.Qg7+ Ke8 46.Qxg2 wins for White. Beautifully played by Harikrishna, who must have seen this all at move 30!


Bad start for Israel GM Emil Sutovsky

Short,N (2683) - Harikrishna,P (2664) [C01]
8th It Montreal CAN (2), 20.07.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d3 Nf6 6.d4 d5 7.Bd3 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.h3 h6 10.Nc3 c6 11.Re1 Re8 12.Rxe8+ Nxe8 13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Bf4 Nf8 15.Qh5 Be6 16.Rb1 f6 17.Ng6 Bf7 18.Bxd6 Nxd6 19.g4??

19.Qg4 would have left White with a slightly shaky but playable position. With the queen blocked in he loses immediately: 19...Ne4 0-1. After 20.Nxe4 Bxg6 21.Qh4 Bxe4 Black is simply a piece up. Ouch (tooth and blunder).

In round three Emil Sutovsky, who had also lost his first two games, was taken apart in an ill-conceived Grünfeld, which ended in a marathon 76-move win by Vassily Ivanchuk.


Perennial Super-GM Vassily Ivanchuk

Short,N (2683) - Ivanchuk,V (2762) [C07]
8th It Montreal CAN (4), 23.07.2007
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Ngf3 cxd4 6.Bc4 Qd6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Nb3 Nc6 9.Nbxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 a6 11.a4 Qc7 12.Qe2 Bd6 13.h3 0-0 14.c3 h6 15.Re1 b6 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.Bd2 Rfd8 18.Rad1 Bc5 19.Nf3 Bd6 20.Bc2 Rd7 21.Be3 Rad8 22.Bd4 Bc5 23.Bxf6 Rxd1 24.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 gxf6 26.Nd4 Qe5 27.Bd3 Bd6 28.Nf3 Qf4 29.Be2 Kg7 30.Kf1 Bc7 31.Ne1 a5 32.Qd7 Bd5 33.Nd3 Qh2 34.Bf3 Bxf3 35.gxf3 Qxh3+ 36.Ke2 Qh2 37.b4 h5 38.bxa5 bxa5 39.c4 h4 40.c5 h3 41.c6 Bb6 42.Qb7?

White was in a dire situation anyway, but 42.Qe7 Qg1 43.c7 Bxc7 44.Nc5 may have put up token resistance. 42...Qg1 43.Qxb6 h2 44.c7 h1Q 45.Qb3 Qf1+ 46.Ke3 Qh6+ 0-1.


Leading in Montreal: top US grandmaster Gata Kamsky

Photos provided by Zeljka Malobabic and Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro of MonRoi

Video impressions


From round four


From round four

Videos by Robin Lindsay for the Montreal Chess Fest blog

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