Gibraltar Masters: Ivanchuk leads, six players follow

2/1/2011 – Everything went black on The Rock on Monday evening, as play was interrupted for over an hour due to an electricity outage. The participants had to wait by candlelight. Nigel Short, who enjoyed sole second place behind Vassily Ivanchuk, was joined by five other players – one of them female – in the catch-the-king slot. During the day some visited the monolithic limestone promontory that is Gibraltar.

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The 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival is taking place from Monday, 24 January to Thursday, 3 February 2011 at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. The event, which is open to all, is the ninth in the series held on the Rock, but the first one to be sponsored by Tradewise Insurance. The rate of play: 40 moves in 100 minutes plus 20 moves in 50 minutes plus 15 minutes for all remaining moves with 30 seconds per move added from the start. There is a special women's award for the hightest performance by a female player, with a prize of £10,000. In addition there are a number of subsiduary tournaments.

Bad Day at Black Rock

Round seven wrap-up by John Saunders

Everything went black on the Rock on Monday evening. Play was interrupted for just over an hour in the Gibraltar Masters as there was an electricity outage over a large area of Gibraltar. At 7.45 p.m. clocks were stopped as players (still playing nearly five hours into their game) remained seated at their boards in near blackness as the emergency lights in the hotel came into operation.


Chess by candlelight: it was actually rather darker than the photo shows, and the
players were waiting patiently for the lights to come back on

Arbiters and hotel staff took control of the situation and within minutes torches were flashing and candles found. This at least allowed players some movement around the hotel. Play resumed shortly after 9 p.m. when the electricity was restored.


Organiser Stuart Conquest quickly makes sure the girls (Nadezhda and Tatiana
Kosintseva, Natalija Pogonina) are safe and not frightened by the dark

Of course, it was all Stewart Reuben’s fault. After all, on Sunday tempted fate by making a joke about “rainbow stopped play”, didn’t he? It was the curse of the chess commentator, whereby all predictions and whimsical observations inevitably come back and kick you in the teeth. Stewart, who is the UK’s most experienced tournament director, tried to deflect criticism but he was impaled on the iron logic of IM Jack Rudd who told him: “[the electricity outage] could be deemed an act of God – so you were responsible.”

The black-out did influence a couple of peace treaties amongst the top boards but as far as can be ascertained there were no obvious injustices done by one player having an extra hour’s thinking time. On the top boards the decisive results were all battles of the sexes. The men beat the women 2-1 in this unofficial match. Israeli GM Michael Roiz gradually harried Nadezhda Kosintseva into an untenable position with his advantage of the two bishops.


GM Gopal Geetha Narayanan of India, rated 2597

GN Gopal’s win against Nana Dzagnidze was more tactical but achieved much the same objective. Salome Melia struck back with a win against her fellow countryman Giorgi Kachesihvili. As with Vallejo Pons’ game the previous day, this looked to be a case of a bad choice of opening by the stronger player and demonstrated how quickly even a strong grandmaster can find himself in a desperate straits.


IM Salome Melia of Georgia, rated 2449

Melia,S (2449) - Kacheishvili,G (2585) [B14]
Gibraltar Masters Caleta ENG (7), 31.01.2011
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 0-0 10.0-0 Be7 11.Re1 Bf6 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Ne5 Qb6. 13...Nxd4 is not completely out of the question, but after 14.Bb4 Bxe5 15.Rxe5 Re8 16.Qh5 g6 17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Qxd5 White has a substantial positional edge. 14.Bc3 g6 15.a4 a5. Silicon suggests lines like 15...Bxe5 16.dxe5 d4 17.Bd2 Re8 which may win a pawn but the human player would worry about the exposed dark squares on the kingside. Still, it might have been better than the text. 16.Qf3 Ne7 17.Bb5 Kg7

18.b4! This bold move establishes the two white bishops on the two diagonals a4-e8 and a3-f8 and sets up strong threats. 18...axb4 19.Bxb4 Qxd4. Black is damned if he does capture, and damned if he doesn't. 19...Be6 20.Qa3 Qd8 21.Re2 Rc8 22.Rae1 and White is contemplating a knight sacrifice on f7. 20.Qa3! Bxe5 21.Rad1 Qb2 22.Rxe5 Qxe5 23.Bc3 d4 24.Bxd4 Qxd4 25.Rxd4 Nf5 26.Rd1 Kg8 27.Qf3 h5 28.h3 Rb8 29.Bc4 Ng7. A blunder in what is a lost position anyway. 30.Bxf7+ 1-0.

The Gibraltar Masters is not all about super-GMs and top ten women stars. It provides the opportunity for sub-2200 rated players to show that they can score points against more exalted opposition. Several players in this category have good scores but we’ll single out just two. Philip Wheldon, 2106, of England is on 4½/7, having drawn with IM Eesha Karavade and defeated GM Juan Manuel Bellon.


Untitled Paul Szuper of USA, rated 2174

More impressive still has been Paul Szuper, 2174, of the USA, who in his last four games has drawn with IM Gaponenko and GM Ikonnikov, and beaten WGM Pogonina and GM Lemos for a score of 5/7. You might say that Wheldon has done well but the American has been szuper-duper.


Ana and the Rock, a monolithic limestone promontory that is the trademark of Gibraltar


Not doing too well in Gibraltar, but still cheerful: GM Tatiana Kosintseva of Russia

Photos by Zeljka Malobabic and John Saunders

Top standings after seven rounds

Rk.  Ti. Name FED Rtg Pt. Perf.
1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2764 6.0 2880
2 GM Short Nigel D ENG 2658 5.5 2802
3 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2655 5.5 2794
4 GM Roiz Michael ISR 2649 5.5 2745
5 GM Gopal Narayanan IND 2597 5.5 2715
6 GM Mikhalevski Victor ISR 2579 5.5 2638
7 IM Melia Salome GEO 2449 5.5 2600
8 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2530 5.0 2739
9 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2531 5.0 2723
10 GM Adams Michael ENG 2723 5.0 2710
11 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2577 5.0 2708
12 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2690 5.0 2694
13 GM Harikrishna Pentala IND 2667 5.0 2654
14 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2721 5.0 2653
15 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2693 5.0 2630
16 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2669 5.0 2623
17 GM Onischuk Alexander USA 2689 5.0 2614
18 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-D. ROU 2678 5.0 2613
19 GM Erdos Viktor HUN 2593 5.0 2593
20 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2634 5.0 2563
21 GM Speelman Jon S ENG 2524 5.0 2562
22 IM Fernandez Ernesto ESP 2453 5.0 2555
23 IM Bellaiche Anthony FRA 2458 5.0 2553
24 GM Ikonnikov Vyacheslav RUS 2580 5.0 2551
25 IM Nezad Husein Aziz QAT 2420 5.0 2531
26 GM Iordachescu Viorel MDA 2634 5.0 2503
27 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2571 5.0 2491
28   Szuper Paul USA 2174 5.0 2457
 
Rk.  Ti. Name FED Rtg Pt. Perf.
29 GM Korchnoi Viktor SUI 2544 4.5 2686
30 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2550 4.5 2632
31 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda RUS 2552 4.5 2620
32 GM Buhmann Rainer GER 2572 4.5 2615
33 GM Vallejo Francisco ESP 2698 4.5 2609
34 GM Lafuente Pablo ARG 2561 4.5 2601
35 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2641 4.5 2586
36 IM Krush Irina USA 2483 4.5 2563
37 GM Kacheishvili Giorgi GEO 2585 4.5 2542
38 FM Forsaa Espen NOR 2306 4.5 2522
39 GM Kanep Meelis EST 2531 4.5 2491
40 IM Harika Dronavalli IND 2520 4.5 2481
41 IM Mullon Jean-Baptiste FRA 2420 4.5 2443
42 GM Robson Ray USA 2532 4.5 2436
43 GM Lemos Damian ARG 2553 4.5 2428
44 FM Andersen Mads DEN 2410 4.5 2427
45 IM Battaglini Gabriel FRA 2437 4.5 2421
46 IM Vaibhav Suri IND 2421 4.5 2418
47 IM Karim Ismael MAR 2375 4.5 2414
48 IM Wohl Aleksandar H AUS 2409 4.5 2403
49 GM Cabrera Alexis ESP 2518 4.5 2391
50 IM Vernay Clovis FRA 2446 4.5 2379
51 IM Boskovic Drasko SRB 2412 4.5 2372
52 GM Le Roux Jean-Pierre FRA 2551 4.5 2367
53 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2441 4.5 2358
54 IM Monroy Charles FRA 2421 4.5 2308
55 IM Slavin Alexei RUS 2417 4.5 2305
56   Wheldon Philip ENG 2106 4.5 2257

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