Ivanchuk, Shirov, et al. win Canadian Open

7/23/2005 – This is chess for the fans: a large and varied contingent of featured players, side events like a simul on the Santa Maria, a replica of the ship used by Christopher Columbus, at one of the world's most spectacular malls. Fighting spirit was evident in most games, and upsets were also plentiful, even on the top boards. Report and games.

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Canadian Open Chess Championship, Edmonton 2005

Report by Adrien Regimbald

Throughout the Canadian Open, players and fans were treated to the best that chess has to offer. There was a large and varied contingent of featured players, who not only participated in side events such as simuls and lectures, but also posed for pictures, signed autographs, shared amusing anecdotes, etc. Fighting spirit was evident in most games, even amongst the top players, and there were hardly any quick draws in sight. Upsets were also plentiful, even on the top boards. No tournament would be complete without a little chess camaraderie, and this was certainly no exception. This Canadian Open has provided many pleasant memories for everyone who participated, and was a success by any measure.


GMs Shirov and Ivanchuk looking at the board for a change!

After ten rounds of play, five players emerged at the top of the crosstable. Grandmasters Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov, Viktor Bologan and Mark Bluvshtein were joined by International Master SR Chowdhury in a tie for first place with 8 points. Right behind them in a tie for sixth place were Grandmasters SS Ganguly and Abhijit Kunte, International Masters S. Kidambi and Thomas Roussel-Roozmon, as well as Fide Masters Tomas Krnan and Zhe Quan with 7.5 points.

1 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2792
GM
8
2 Shirov, Alexei 2745
GM
8
3 Bluvshtein, Mark 2529
GM
8
4 Bologan, Viktor 2740
GM
8
5 Chowdhury, SR 2421
IM
8
6 Ganguly, SS 2636
GM
7.5
7 Quan, Zhe 2396
FM
7.5
8 Kidambi, S 2524
FM
7.5
9 Kunte, Abhijit 2601
GM
7.5
10 Krnan, Tomas 2462
FM
7.5
11 Roussel-Roozmon, Thomas 2417
IM
7.5
12 Moiseenko, Alexander 2704
GM
7
13 Nataf, Igor-Alexandre 2623
GM
7
14 Tyomkin, Dmitri 2549
GM
7
15 Venkatesh, MR 2475
IM
7
16 Gentes, Kevin 2331
FM
7
17 Reeve, Jeff 2364
-
7
18 Chanda, Sandipan 2600
GM
7
19 Haessel, Dale 2230
-
7
20 Pechisker, Alfred 2190
-
7
21 Mohota, Nisha 2343
WGM
7
22 Huber, Greg 2310
FM
7
23 Sasata, Robert 2323
-
7
24 Pechenkin, Vladimir 2263
-
7
25 Grumic, Sasha 2087
-
7
26 Gardner, Robert 2221
-
7
27 Gokhale, Anupama 2243
WIM
7

On the surface, it may not seem like a surprise to see the three Super GMs Ivanchuk, Shirov and Bologan at the top of the crosstable. As it turns out though, there was some drama involved for these players as both Shirov and Bologan suffered losses during the tournament. The game in which Bluvshtein, Canada's youngest GM, defeated Shirov will be remembered and talked about for a long time in Canadian chess circles, and is certainly one of the highlights of Bluvshtein's bright career. Bluvshtein surprised Shirov out of the opening on the black side of the Petroff's Defense, which is hard enough to do on its own, then followed this up with a double piece sacrifice, followed by a fatal attack on the white king.


Alexei Shirov struggling against 17-year-old GM Mark Bluvshtein

Shirov,Alexei (2705) - Bluvshtein,Mark (2525) [C42]
Canadian Open Edmonton, Canada (9), 16.07.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Qc2 Na6 10.a3 Bg4 11.Ne5 Bf5 12.b4 f6 13.Nf3 Qe8 14.b5

14...Qh5?! A (temporary) piece sacrifice against Shirov. 15.bxa6 Bg4. The white knight on f3 is defending against the mate on h2. Maybe 16.Nh4 Qxh4 17.f4 was the best way to defend. 16.Re1 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Qxh2+ 18.Kf1 f5 19.cxd5 cxd5 20.fxe4 fxe4 21.Bxe4 dxe4 22.Be3 Bg3 23.Ra2. Shirov missed a forced draw with 23.axb7 Bxf2 24.Bxf2, after which Black must repeat moves (Qh1+ and Qh5+). This line was given in The Scotsman.

23...Rf3 and Black wins. The threat is 24...Qh1+ 25.Ke2 Rxe3+ 26.Kxe3 [26.fxe3 Qxe1#] 26...Qxe1+ 27.Qe2 Bxf2+ 28.Kf4 Rf8+ 29.Kxe4 [or 29.Ke5 Qa5+ 30.d5 Qc7+ 31.Kxe4 Rf4+ 32.Kd3 Rd4#] 29...Re8+ 30.Kf3 Re3+ 31.Qxe3 Qxe3+. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Showing his class, Shirov bounced back with a vengeance in the next and final round with a demolition of GM Sandipan Chanda.

Aside from Bluvshtein's amazing upset over Shirov, many other local players had impressive scalps over some heavyweight opponents. Albertan master Dale Haessel was especially prolific in the scalping department as he defeated GM Shabalov and managed draws with GM Chanda and IM Mulyar. Not to be outdone, local Edmontonian players also achieved some notable upsets, with master Rob Gardner defeating current Canadian Closed champion IM Charbonneau and expert Sasha Grumic defeating IM Mulyar.


IM Krush faces off against GM Bologan

There was plenty of excitement, both at the main and side events during the mid rounds of the tournament. One of the most memorable games from the tournament occurred in the fifth round. In a game that lasted over six hours, GMs Shabalov and Bologan were both going for the kill, and the game took many interesting twists and turns. At one point, Shabalov had a material advantage of a queen against two minor pieces, while there was still another pair of queens and some pawns on the board, however Bologan had a safer king, and in time trouble at the end of the game, Shabalov fell into a trap and wound up losing. The players and fans watching the game appreciated the fighting spirit of the two players so much that they erupted into applause once the game was over.

Shabalov,Alexander (2593) - Bologan,Viktor (2700) [C67]
Canadian Open Edmonton, Canada (5), 12.07.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.dxe5 Nxb5 7.c4 d6 8.e6 Bxe6 9.cxb5 Ne5 10.Nd4 Bd7 11.f4 Ng6 12.Qf3 Be7 13.Qxb7 0-0 14.Nc3 Bf6 15.Be3 Re8 16.Qf3 a6 17.a4 Nh4 18.Qf2 axb5 19.axb5 Rb8 20.Rfe1 Bxd4 21.Bxd4 Rxe1+ 22.Qxe1 Nf5 23.Ba7 Rc8 24.Bf2 h5 25.Qe2 h4 26.h3 Rb8 27.Qd3 Be6 28.Ra7 Ra8 29.Ra6 Rb8 30.Ra7 d5 31.Bc5 Ra8 32.Ra6 Rc8 33.Ne2 Qf6 34.Qc3 Qg6 35.Qd3 Re8 36.Kh2 f6 37.Bf2 Bf7 38.Ra7 Qh5 39.Ng1 Nd6 40.Rxc7 Bg6 41.f5 Ne4 42.Qxd5+ Bf7 43.Qd7 Nxf2 44.b6 g5.

Black's last move has given White excellent chances to win this game. And he goes about it in a systematic way: 45.b7 g4 46.Nf3 gxf3 47.Rc8 fxg2 48.Rxe8+ Bxe8 49.Qd5+ Kh7 50.Qxg2 Nxh3 51.b8Q.

The material balance is that White has a queen for two minor pieces – and there are three queens on the board! 51...Ng5 52.Qf4 h3 53.Qgf1 Bf7 54.Qd3 Qh6 55.b4 Qf8 56.Qh4+ Kg8 57.b5 Qa8 58.Qf2 Ne4 59.Qg1+ Ng5 60.Qf2 Qb8+ 61.Kg1 Qe5 62.Qfe2 Qc5+ 63.Qee3 Qb4 64.b6 Qb2 65.Qde2 Qb1+ 66.Kh2 Qb4 67.Qc2 Qd6+ 68.Kg1 Qb4 69.Qc8+ Kh7 70.Qc7 Qb1+ 71.Qcc1 Qa2 72.Qg3 Kg7 73.Qcc3.

White is winning, in spite of Black's constant harassment. But the last move was a decisive mistake (73.Qf1 or Qd1 or Qce3 was required). Bologan is not one to miss the opportunity: 73...h2+ 74.Qxh2 Qb1+ 75.Kg2 Bd5+ 76.Kf2 Qa2+ and White resigned: 0-1. [Click to replay]


It’s past midnight, but the spectators are still captivated by the Shabalov-Bologan game

The spectators also witnessed a titanic Super GM tilt, as Shirov defeated Bologan in a wild game in the sixth round. The game featured an early queen sacrifice by Bologan which could not be accepted, and many interesting material imbalances were seen throughout. Shirov had more pieces to work with, and it seemed that he should be easily winning, but Bologan always created chances for himself, and the balance shifted from move to move. In the end, Bologan's pawns weren't able to create enough threats of queening, and Shirov's extra pieces took over. [Click to replay]


GM Bluvshtein’s simul on the Santa Maria

The early rounds were of course jam packed with side events for the players. One of the most interesting was the simul by GM Mark Bluvshtein. This event was for juniors only, and was held on the Santa Maria, a replica of the ship used by Christopher Columbus, at West Edmonton Mall.


South-East corner of West Edmonton Mall

An entertaining commentary provided by Bruce Thomas, one of the organizers, along with the unique venue made for quite a different atmosphere than what is usual for a simul, and the general public seemed to appreciate this as they lined up along the second floor to watch. Local junior Arthur Baser surprised everyone when he managed to win his simul game.


Part of the Galaxyland amusement park in West Edmonton Mall

As I mentioned in my last report, West Edmonton Mall is the world’s largest indoor mall. There is an incredible selection of attractions within the mall, including a waterpark with a large wavepool and waterslides, an amusement park, a skating rink, a mini golf course, multiple movie theatres, a casino and plenty more.


Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall

Of course, there is a wide variety of stores, kiosks, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc to keep shoppers of every taste happy. There are also themed and ethnic areas within the mall, such as Europa Boulevard with its European shops, Bourbon Street which has a New Orleans feel to it, and a Chinatown marketplace.

It has been a pleasure to be a part of this tournament, and I'd like to thank the players for coming out and giving us their best chess efforts, the spectators, my fellow organizers, and of course the ChessBase readers for their interest.

Some feature games from the tournament are included with this report, but if you want the most up to date information, please see the official website.


Adrien Regimbald has been an active chess player for over ten years, and has recently seen an increase in rating bring him close to his goal of reaching expert level.

He has also been involved with organizing chess tournaments throughout Alberta, with this being his second time as an organizer for a Canadian Open. Some readers may recognize him as the author of the chess program Faile, which was actually made into a ChessBase engine at one point. Work commitments as a Computer Engineer keep Adrien too busy to actively develop Faile, but he still enjoys reading about advances in computer chess.


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