The 6th edition of Gibraltar's Gibtelecom Chess Festival took place from 22-31 January 2008 at the Caleta Hotel, one of Gibraltar's best hotels.
"It always happens, doesn’t it?" writes BCM editor John Saunders in the official bulletin. "You laud a player to the skies, and he promptly loses. Following my report on ‘the Great Bu’, Bu Xiangzhi was trampled underfoot by Ukrainian GM Efimenko in round nine. My apologies to him Bu for putting the kiss of death on him.”
Incidentally we were told that John Saunders, BCM editor, was extremely offended by our comments on his "Great Bu's up" report. He especially disliked our description of it as "one of the most atrocious puns in chess history". He said he believed it was clearly the most atrocious pun in chess history, and he objected to our attempts to deprive him of the full credit he deserves!
After our round eight report, in which Bu Xiangzhi had scored 7½ points with a 3022 performance. He was leading the field by a full point, with just two rounds to go. In the ninth he lost (how did Saunders put it, he got trampled) by Zahar Efimenko.
After his victory against Bu in round nine, Efimenko had equalised with Bu. Half a point behind were Ni Hua, Viktor Bologan, Hikaru Nakamura (who had beaten Tigran Petrosian with the black pieces) and India's Geetha Narayanan Gopal. So six players had a chance to win.
In round ten Bu drew with his compatriot Ni Hua, and so ended with 8.0/10 points. The game was short and the other contenders were still playing. Gopal had excellent winning chances against Bologan, who is nominally 135 points stronger, but let the game slip to a draw. Both finished with 7.5 points. So the key game was Nakamura vs Efimenko. The US grandmaster showed his class by winning this vital game in a clean start to finish effort. So this is what the table looked like at the end of the ten rounds:
The two leading players had to play an afternoon tie-breaker: two rapid chess games of ten minutes + ten seconds per move (with an Armageddon blitz game to follow, if required). The second strongest players of the United States and China were facing each other. Nakamura drew first blood by outplaying his opponent's Grunfeld. 1-0 for the US.
In the second game Bu uncorked a novelty in a Queen's Gambit Declined and had Nakamura on the defensive. With a rook and a knight for Bu's queen the American set up a fortress which the Chinese GM was unable to penetrate. Then, with time running out and with a necessity to win, this is what happened:
Bu Xiangzhi (2691) - Nakamura,H (2670) [D36]
6th Gibtelecom Masters Playoff Gibraltar ENG (2), 23.01.2008
Position after 67...Re7+
White played 68.Kd6?? You know what that leads to, don't you? 68...Ne4 mate. Well bu-hu! [No stoning, just a pebbling for this pun].
The comeback of Hikaru Nakamura was every bit as sensational as Bu Xiangzhi's stratospheric flight in the first eight rounds. The American had started with a dismal 3/5 and then won his next seven games – five regular, two tiebreak – in a row. Our thanks to both these courageous for the extraordinary chess entertainment they provided us.
The winner of Gibtel 2008: Hikaru Nakamura, 20, 2670, USA
Unhappy second Bu Xiangzhi, 22, 2691, China
The following videos were produced by Zeljka Malobabic of MonRoi and posted in YouTube:
The tiebreak games between Nakamura and Bu, including
interviews with both players (Bu in Chinese with subtitles)
Impressions from Gibtel and Gibralter, featuring players,
passtimes and Gibraltar's Barbary apes
If you want to see more videos by the younger of MonRoi's Malobabic sisters you can go to this special video page. There is a lot of footage to watch, all lovingly edited. So take some time with you.