Dubai Open 2017: Gawain Jones wins

by Priyadarshan Banjan
4/15/2017 – The annual Dubai Open is a regular affair for many grandmasters and talented youngsters. This time, about 214 players were competing for USD 50,000. Surprisingly, 91 of these players were Indians. We bring you an illustrated report with grandmaster analysis. Tip: Alexander Fier of Brazil who finished eighth in the tournament has annotated his final round game in wonderful depth that you just should not miss—the analysis is a work of grandmaster art.

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Photos by Iva Videnova

The 19th Dubai Open held at the Dubai Chess Club is an annual fare for many of today's strong grandmasters. The event was a nine-round swiss that attracted 214 players from around the world including 42 grandmasters and 33 international masters. The event was held under the Patronage of Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Former British champion GM Gawain Christopher Jones forced a draw in his last round game against co-leader Mustafa Yilmaz of Turkey to finish with 7.0/9 and win a 7-way tie for first place. Jones is on a roll these last few months, with a second place in Millionaires Chess and also the winning performance at the TATA Steel-B coming to mind.

Turkish GM Mustafa Yilmaz (2614), also 7.0/9, was second in the tiebreak.

91 players of the total field, which accounts for 43%, were from India. The leader of this pack of Indian players, most of them young talented kids, was...

...GM Vidit Gujrathi (2670), who also scored 7.0/9 to take the third place. Here is a beautiful game of his where he beat GM Antipov (2586) with a great mix of concrete play and strategic understanding.

[Event "19th Dubai Open 2017"] [Site "Dubai UAE"] [Date "2017.04.08"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Vidit, S."] [Black "Antipov, M2."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2670"] [BlackElo "2586"] [Annotator "Srinath,Narayanan"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 c5 4. dxc5 Na6 5. Bg2 Nxc5 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Nh3 O-O 8. O-O d6 9. Nf4 Bf5 10. Be3 Nfe4 (10... Rc8 11. Rc1) 11. Nxe4 Bxe4 12. Bxe4 Nxe4 13. Qd5 $5 {A concrete approach. White wins a pawn, but gives up the bishop and allows Black to dent his structure.} (13. f3 Nf6 14. Qd2 Qd7 15. Rac1 b6 16. b3 Rfd8 17. Rfd1 Rac8 18. g4 {was another option, with a slight edge.}) 13... Nf6 14. Qxb7 Ng4 15. Rab1 Nxe3 16. fxe3 e6 17. Qb4 a5 18. Qd2 Qb6 19. b3 {[#] The White Queen is safely out and White is a pawn up for good. Black's compensation is White's e2-e3 weakness.} Rac8 20. Rfd1 Rfd8 21. Rbc1 h5 22. Qd3 Rc5 23. h4 ({Attempting to save the pawn with} 23. Kg2 {wouldn't help as Black takes the pawn anyway.} Re5 24. e4 Qc6 $11) 23... Re5 24. Kf2 {[#] Black has White where he wants him to be, paralysed to the defence of e3. However, how does Black improve his position further?} Rf5 (24... Qa7 {And White has no way to improve his position. For example} 25. Rb1 (25. Qd4 Rc5 26. Qd2 Re5 $11) 25... Qb6 {Now, White's only plan is to break with a3,b4.} 26. a3 {Now that White has moved his rook away from c1, here possibilities like c5 are no longer in the air.} Rf5 27. Kg2 Re5 28. e4 Qc6 29. b4 axb4 30. axb4 Rxe4 31. b5 Qa8 32. Qf3 Rxc4 33. Qxa8 Rxa8 34. Rxd6 {with a menacing b-passer. It's objectively (0.00) however, it's much harder for a human grandmaster to go for this when looking from far.} Rb8 35. b6 Rb7 36. Rd8+ Kh7 37. Ra8 Bd4 {And Black holds.}) 25. Kg2 Qc6+ (25... Re5 26. e4 Qc6 27. Qf3 Qxe4 (27... Rxe4 28. c5 $1) 28. Qxe4 Rxe4 29. Kf3 Re5 30. c5 $14 {looks dangerous.}) 26. Kh2 Bb2 $2 {I think this is where the position starts to slip away from Black.} (26... Re5 27. Rf1 Rb8 28. Rf3 a4 $44) 27. Rb1 Ba3 28. Rf1 Bc5 29. Rf3 Re8 30. Rbf1 {White has managed to improve his position, white Black doesn't have much progress to show far in his last few moves. It's hard to say if Bb2-a3-c5 was really an improving operation, as the bishop had more flexibility when on g7. Black tries to reach e3 by opening the e-file, but this simply fails tactically.} d5 31. cxd5 exd5 32. Rc1 $1 {[#]} Re4 33. Qc2 d4 34. exd4 Rxd4 35. Nxg6 $1 { [#] The point. White is just winning after this.} Rxf3 36. Ne7+ Bxe7 37. Qxc6 Rf2+ 38. Kh3 Rxe2 39. Qe8+ Kg7 40. Rf1 f6 41. Qxh5 Re3 42. Rf3 Re5 43. Rf5 1-0

The South Americans did remarkably well, and GM Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli (2671), from Venezuela, was fourth.

The top seed GM Anton Korobov (2695) of Ukraine started with a loss against Azeri player Vusal Abbasov (2211), but then mounted a comeback as expected and was vying for the top place, which was prevented by a final round loss to...

GM Sergei Zhigalko (2639)

Spare a thought for IM Jaime Santos Latasa (2565) who was leading after six rounds with 5.5/9, only to fall apart towards the end, finishing with 6.0/9, +12 in Elo and a GM norm performance nevertheless.

ChessBase author GM Alexander Fier (2562) hailing from Brazil was also playing the tournament and scored 6.5/9 to become first among equals and take the eighth place. The honesty and candour in his analysis are remarkable. Let me not spoil it with my words—enjoy it for yourself.

[Event "19th Dubai Open 2017"] [Site "Dubai"] [Date "2017.04.10"] [Round "8"] [White "Salem, A R Saleh"] [Black "Fier, Alexandr"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B48"] [WhiteElo "2652"] [BlackElo "2562"] [Annotator "Alexandr Fier"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. e4 {0} c5 {5} 2. Nf3 {0} e6 {0} 3. d4 {0} cxd4 {3} 4. Nxd4 {0} Nc6 {4} 5. Nc3 {0} Qc7 {4} 6. Be3 {27} a6 {4} 7. Qf3 {29 A trendy line in the last years, nowadays it's probably as popular as the English Attack.} Nf6 {5} 8. O-O-O {24} Ne5 {4} 9. Qg3 {0} b5 {12 An interesting line, but I'm not sure I will repeat it after this game.} 10. f4 {87} Neg4 {5} 11. Bg1 {133} b4 {5} 12. Na4 {15} ( 12. Nb1 {is also possible, but the knight is more active on a4} e5 13. fxe5 Nxe5 14. Nf3 d6 {Fressinet,L (2713)-Giri,A (2768) Bundesliga 1415 2014 (7.8) 1/ 2-1/2 and Black was fine in}) 12... h5 {10} 13. Bd3 {339} d5 {0} 14. e5 {449} Ne4 {4} 15. Bxe4 {381} dxe4 {6} 16. Nb3 {5 Before the game I was expecting 1. d4, so I just took a quick look at this variation, since he has played 7.Qf3 before. 16.Nb3 was a big surprise and Black has to be really careful to not get a lost position in a few moves.} (16. Qe1 {was what I was hoping for and I started to wonder what would happen after} Bd7 17. Qxe4 Rc8 18. b3 Bxa4 19. bxa4 b3 $5 { sacrificing a pawn to open some files on the queenside, the computer here gives a funny line:} 20. axb3 (20. Nxb3 {should be also possible}) 20... Qc3 21. Rd3 Qa1+ 22. Kd2 Bb4+ 23. Ke2 Qe1+ 24. Kf3 Qf1+ 25. Kg3 O-O (25... Be1+ 26. Kh3 Qxg1 27. Rxg1 Nf2+ 28. Kh4 Nxe4+ 29. Rxe1 $18) 26. Kh4 (26. Rf3 Qc1 27. Qe2 Rfd8 28. Qf1 Be1+ 29. Kh3 g5 30. g3 Nxe5 31. fxe5 g4+ 32. Kh4 gxf3 {looks nice for Black}) 26... Be7+ 27. Kg3 Bb4 28. Kh4 Be7+ $11 {with a normal draw, since} 29. Kxh5 $4 {loses to} f5 $19) 16... Bb7 {629} 17. Bb6 {0} (17. Nb6 Rd8 18. Rxd8+ Qxd8 19. Na5 Bd5 {can be slightly better for White, but nothing special.} ) 17... Qc6 {133} 18. h3 {2} Qxa4 {651} (18... Nxe5 19. fxe5 Qxa4 20. Rhf1 Bd5 21. Rxd5 exd5 22. e6 {gives White a great initiative}) (18... Rc8 {was my first idea and probably the best move} 19. Kb1 Nxe5 $1 20. fxe5 Qxa4 21. Rhf1 ( 21. Qg5 Bd5) 21... Bd5 $11 {it's harder for White to create an attack without the f-pawn.}) 19. hxg4 {24} Qb5 {47} (19... Qxa2) 20. Be3 {1101} a5 $2 { 180 Looks like a natural move, but now White has the initiative. The attack on the queenside looks dangerous, but White has a good way to deal with it.} 21. Nd4 {309} Qc4 {118} 22. Kb1 {235} (22. b3 {would give a nice advantage} Qa6 ( 22... Qc3 23. Nb5 Qc6 24. Nd6+ Bxd6 25. exd6 Kd7 26. f5 $18) 23. f5 a4 24. fxe6 fxe6 25. gxh5 O-O-O 26. Kb1 $16) 22... a4 {54} 23. b3 {250} (23. gxh5 $2 a3 24. b3 Qc3 $19) 23... Qa6 {439} 24. Qf2 {2} (24. Rd2 $2 hxg4 $1 25. Rhd1 (25. Rxh8 Qf1+ 26. Kb2 (26. Rd1 Qxd1+ 27. Bc1 Qxd4) 26... a3#) 25... g6 26. Qxg4 Be7 { with a kingside consolidated, Black's position is fine.}) 24... h4 {168} 25. f5 {75} Be7 {629} 26. g5 {427 The best move, White needs to open the kingside.} ( 26. fxe6 fxe6 27. Rhf1 Rf8) (26. Rhf1 Bd5 27. fxe6 Bxe6 28. Nxe6 Qxe6 29. Qf4 O-O 30. Qxe4 axb3 31. cxb3 Ra5 {with enough compensation for the pawn.}) 26... Bd5 {229} (26... g6 {was one of my plans} 27. Nxe6 $1 {not an easy idea to see} (27. fxe6 fxe6 28. Rxh4 Rxh4 29. Qxh4 axb3 30. Qh8+ Bf8) 27... fxe6 28. f6 axb3 29. cxb3 Rf8 30. Qd2 Qd3+ 31. Qxd3 exd3 32. Rxh4 Bd8 33. Bc5 Rg8 34. Rh7 $18) 27. f6 {163} gxf6 {44} 28. exf6 {117} (28. gxf6 Bf8 {gives White no attack.}) 28... Bd6 {105} 29. g6 $1 {377} fxg6 {278} (29... Be5 30. g7 Rg8 31. Rd2 { the pawn on g7 will decide the game} (31. Rxh4 axb3 32. cxb3 Bxf6 {is unclear}) ) 30. f7+ {17} Kd7 {4} 31. Rd2 {155} Rhc8 {0 Bringing one more piece to the attack.} (31... Rh5 32. Rhd1 Rf8 33. Qf6 $18) 32. Rxh4 {282 Looks like this is a good move, but in fact Black has a winning attack after it. There was a win for White but even with computer help took me some time to understand how and why.} (32. Rhd1 axb3 33. cxb3 Rc3 34. Nxe6 Rxb3+ 35. Ka1 {I was imagining this position and I had the feeling Black is fine. Black actually is fine, but for other reasons.} Rd3 $2 (35... Kxe6 {is better, but less interesting} 36. Rxd5 Rd3 37. R5xd3 exd3 38. Bc5 b3 39. Re1+ Kd7 40. Bxd6 Qxd6 41. f8=Q Rxf8 42. Qa7+ Kd8 43. Qa8+ $11) 36. f8=Q $2 (36. f8=N+ $1 Ke8 (36... Kc8 37. Rc1+ Bc4 38. Rxd3 exd3 39. Kb1 $1 $16) 37. Ng7+ Kd8 38. Qf6+ $18) 36... Qxa2+ $2 (36... Be5+ $1 37. Kb1 Rb3+ 38. Kc1 Qa3+ $19) 37. Rxa2 Rxd1+ 38. Bc1 $1 Rxc1+ 39. Kb2 Rxa2+ 40. Kxc1 Rxf2 41. Qxf2 Kxe6 {and Black should hold.}) (32. Nxe6 $1 {I was aware about this possibility, but I didn't think it could work here.} axb3 ( 32... Kxe6 33. Qxh4 $1 {that's the key move. White's attack is one move faster than Black's one} axb3 34. Qg4+ Ke7 35. Bg5+ Kf8 36. Bh6+ Ke7 (36... Kxf7 37. Qd7+ $18) 37. cxb3 Bxb3 38. Qxe4+ Kd7 39. Rxd6+ Qxd6 40. axb3 {and the computer gives +7!}) 33. cxb3 Kxe6 34. Qxh4 $1 {again it works} Bxb3 35. Qh3+ Kxf7 36. Qh7+ Kf8 37. Qh8+ Kf7 38. Rf2+ Ke6 39. Qf6+ Kd7 40. Rh7+ Kc6 41. axb3 $18) 32... Rc3 {290} (32... Bg3 {doesn't win and it's even not good because of} 33. Rh7 $1 $16) (32... axb3 33. cxb3 Bg3 34. Rh7 $1 (34. Qxg3 Qf1+ 35. Kb2 Rxa2+ 36. Kxa2 Ra8+ 37. Kb2 Qa1+ 38. Kc2 Ra2#) 34... Rf8 35. Qe2 $16) 33. Rh7 { 51} Rf8 {4} (33... Bf8 $1 {it's more important to keep the rook free} 34. Rh1 ( 34. Rd1 axb3 35. cxb3 Rxe3 $19) (34. Rh3 axb3 35. cxb3 e5 36. Bg5 Rxh3 37. gxh3 Bc5 $19) 34... axb3 35. cxb3 e5 {with an improved version of the game} 36. Nf5 Rxb3+ 37. Ka1 Qc4 $19) 34. Rd1 {37} e5 {440} (34... Be5 35. Bh6 axb3 36. axb3 $1 (36. Nxb3 Kc6 $1 {is the only move and even after the game I struggle to understand what's going on} (36... Qxa2+ 37. Kxa2 Ra8+ 38. Kb1 Ra1+ 39. Nxa1 { doesn't really work}) 37. Rxd5 exd5 38. Bxf8 e3 39. Qe1 Rxc2 40. Kxc2 Qxa2+ 41. Kd1 Qxb3+ 42. Ke2 Qc4+ 43. Kf3 Qf4+ 44. Ke2 Qc4+ {apparently is the best line for both sides.}) (36. cxb3 e3 37. Bxe3 Be4+ {with a winning attack.}) 36... Rcc8 37. Bxf8 Ra8 38. Kc1 Qa1+ 39. Kd2 Qc3+ 40. Ke2 Rxf8 41. Qe3 {with clear advantage}) 35. Nf5 $5 {102 Played with a couple of seconds on the clock, I had the feeling that I should have something concrete to get advantage, but I could not find it. The computer gives a boring 0.00 for the next dozen of moves.} (35. Ne2 {was more normal and I missed one important detail} Rxc2 { was my first idea and I was not sure if during the game I would see White's 40th move.} (35... axb3 {enters in a total chaos, and it's probably the best move} 36. Nxc3 bxa2+ 37. Ka1 bxc3 38. Rxd5 Qa3 39. Rxd6+ (39. Rb5 Bb4 $19) 39... Qxd6 40. Ba7 {holding Black's rook} Qd1+ 41. Kxa2 e3 42. Bxe3 Qd5+ 43. Ka3 Qa5+ 44. Kb3 Rb8+ 45. Kc4 Rb4+ 46. Kxc3 Rd4+ 47. Kb2 Qb4+ 48. Ka2 Qa4+ 49. Kb2 Qb4+ $11) 36. Kxc2 (36. Rxd5 axb3 37. Rxd6+ Qxd6 38. axb3 Qd3 $19) 36... axb3+ 37. axb3 (37. Kd2 bxa2 $1 $19) 37... Qa2+ 38. Kc1 Bxb3 39. Rxd6+ Kxd6 40. Nc3 $1 {a beautiful idea!} Qa3+ 41. Qb2 Kc6 42. Nb1 Qxb2+ 43. Kxb2 Rxf7 { and White will eventually pick up all Black pawns.}) 35... gxf5 {586} 36. Rxd5 {1} f4 {4} 37. Rh6 {0 A hard decision to make. In one hand the endgame should be ok for White, but the position is harder for him to play since Black pawns are dangerous. In the other hand the middlegame after 37.Bc1 is difficult to evaluate.} (37. Bc1 e3 38. Qf3 e2 39. Rxd6+ Qxd6 40. Qxe2 a3 {here I suppose the game should end in a strange perpetual in a couple of moves.}) 37... Rxe3 { 24} 38. Rhxd6+ {28} Qxd6 {3} 39. Rxd6+ {5} Kxd6 {2 Here I was sure I was not losing, but with the rooks far from each other and the exposed king, White is probably fine.} 40. Qd2+ {0} Ke6 {48} 41. Qxb4 {16} Rxf7 {2} 42. Qc4+ {74} Kf6 {7} 43. Qc6+ {6} Kg5 {384} 44. Qe6 {6} Rf5 {2} 45. Kb2 {0 A small surprise, White decides to improve the king before starting the run.} (45. bxa4 {was expected and would require some precision} f3 46. Qg8+ Kh4 47. Qh8+ $8 Rh5 48. Qf6+ $8 Kg4 49. gxf3+ $8 exf3 50. Kb2 $8 $11) 45... axb3 {47} 46. axb3 {2} Kg4 {70} (46... Rg3 {the rook stays on the way of Black's king} 47. Qg8+ Kh4 48. Qh7+ Rh5 49. Qxe4 (49. Qe7+ $2 Rgg5 $1 $19 {now the king is safe and the pawns are ready to run.} (49... Kg4 50. Qg7+ Rg5 51. Qd7+ $11)) 49... Rhg5 50. b4 Re3 51. Qc6 Kg3 52. b5 {and White is in time to hold.}) 47. b4 {59} f3 {68} 48. Qg6+ {24} Rg5 {3} 49. Qe6+ {6} Kg3 {27} 50. Qh6 $2 {5 White finally blunders. The idea is correct, but it was necessary to exchange on f3 first.} (50. Qh3+ Kf2 51. Qh4+ Rg3 52. gxf3 exf3 53. b5 Kg2 {Black pieces are finally coordenated } 54. b6 f2 55. b7 Rg8 $1 $19) (50. gxf3 $1 {avoiding what happened in the game } Rxf3 {would be my choice and the endgame is still complex. One possible continuation could be} (50... exf3 51. Qh6 Kg4 52. Qe6+ Kf4 53. Qf6+ Kg4 (53... Rf5 54. Qh4# {would be painful}) 54. Qe6+ Kg3 55. Qh6 $11) 51. Qh6 Rg4 52. Qh1 e3 53. Qe1+ Kf4 54. b5 {and the computer says it should be draw.}) 50... fxg2 $1 {0 Now Black is winning, White has no way to stop the pawn.} 51. Qxg5+ {1} Kf2 {4} 52. Qf6+ {71} Rf3 {0} 53. Qh4+ {1} Rg3 {17} 54. Qf6+ {49} Ke2 {119} 55. Qxe5 {33} Rg4 $5 {124 Holding the e4-pawn, just to be sure.} (55... g1=Q { also wins, but I was slightly afraid to change the queens.} 56. Qxe4+ Qe3 57. Qxe3+ Rxe3 58. b5 Kd2 {and White has no good way to activate the king.}) 56. Qh2 {14} (56. Qb5+ Ke1 $19) 56... Kf2 {5} 57. b5 {99} e3 {0} 58. b6 {30} e2 {3} 59. b7 {23} Rb4+ $1 {13} 60. Ka3 {39} e1=Q {10} 61. Qh8 {28} g1=Q {63} 62. Qf6+ {25} Ke2 {0} 0-1

IM Praggnanandhaa R. (2447) finished with 6.5/9 after his opponent for the final round GM Eltaj Safarli failed (refused?) to turn up for the game. Strangely, one could see Safarli playing immediately after this tournament ended at the GRENKE Chess Open. For Pragg, each game matters as a learning experience to move forward. Even though he was not in the running for a norm, depriving him of a chance to play is cruel, if it was done intentionally.

A final group photo (click for high-res)

Final standings

Rk
SNo
 
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
TB
rtg+/-
1 7 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2671 7,0 50,5 6,0
2 18 GM Yilmaz Mustafa TUR 2614 7,0 49,5 15,7
3 8 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2670 7,0 47,0 11,6
4 6 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2671 7,0 46,5 9,0
5 22 GM Adly Ahmed EGY 2597 7,0 45,0 11,1
6 17 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2639 7,0 45,0 4,2
7 10 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2665 7,0 42,5 2,6
8 32 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2562 6,5 49,0 19,7
9 11 GM Amin Bassem EGY 2663 6,5 48,5 1,8
10 29 GM Idani Pouya IRI 2573 6,5 46,0 5,4
11 14 GM Oleksiyenko Mykhaylo UKR 2643 6,5 45,5 2,4
12 25 GM Pantsulaia Levan GEO 2589 6,5 45,0 4,5
13 12 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2655 6,5 44,5 -0,3
14 51 IM Praggnanandhaa R IND 2447 6,5 44,5 7,6
15 21 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2602 6,5 44,0 3,2
16 16 GM Zhang Zhong SGP 2641 6,5 43,0 -4,6
17 4 GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2679 6,5 42,0 -3,8
18 24 GM Indjic Aleksandar SRB 2589 6,5 40,0 -2,4
19 64 IM Rathnakaran K. IND 2383 6,5 36,5 7,3
20 31 IM Santos Latasa Jaime ESP 2565 6,0 49,0 12,1
21 28 GM Can Emre TUR 2578 6,0 47,5 8,5
22 19 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2607 6,0 47,0 -4,3
23 2 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2686 6,0 47,0 -3,3
24 1 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2695 6,0 46,5 -6,9
25 44 IM Salomon Johan NOR 2487 6,0 46,5 13,5

There was also an incident where a player was caught in cheating scandal that occurred towards the beginning of the tournament.

Check complete standings



Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.
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Bipolar Bipolar 4/16/2017 02:52
KevinC and Masquer, now I understand! Thanks!!
KevinC KevinC 4/16/2017 02:27
@Bipolar, also one of those points was by default, so was not rated. So for rating purposes, he was really 5.5/8.
Masquer Masquer 4/16/2017 12:54
@ Bipolar, It all depends on who they've played. In a Swiss, each player typically plays different opponents, and the strength of the opposition can vary.
Bipolar Bipolar 4/16/2017 12:42
Two things I don't understand: How Praggnanandhaa gains only 7,6 rating points and Fier gains 19,7 if both scored the same 6,5 points in the tournment? And how Latasa earns a GM norm, with 6,0 points and Praggnanandhaa; with 6,5; don't. Maybe he don't play the required number of GM games...
Konstantin14 Konstantin14 4/15/2017 10:25
Not sure what was so impressive about the notes from Fier....interesting game anyhow.
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