Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival: winners stumble

1/25/2013 – Early rounds of big opens rarely produce major surprises, as the top half of the draw tends to murder the bottom half in cold blood. But in this year’s Gibraltar Masters a number of top players were served reminders on how careful you must be against weaker opposition. Ask Vassily Ivanchuk, Gata Kamsky or Nigel Short. After three rounds 15 players have perfect scores. John Saunders reports.

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Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2013

Monday 21 January - Thursday 31 January 2013

Report after rounds one and two

By John Saunders

This year’s Gibraltar Masters produced a couple of shocks in the first round as the two highest rated competitors, former Gibraltar winner Vassily Ivanchuk and world championship runner-up Gata Kamsky, were held to surprise draws by amateur players in the first round, as the participants got down to business at the Caleta Hotel.

In the second round there was a bigger shock as three times Gibraltar winner Nigel Short (above in round one) succumbed to 40-year-old Spanish IM Ismael Teran Alvarez, who is ranked only 72nd in the Masters line-up.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.23"] [Round "2.8"] [White "Teran Alvarez, Ismael"] [Black "Short, Nigel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2399"] [BlackElo "2690"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] [WhiteClock "0:42:15"] [BlackClock "0:49:15"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Qb6 7. Be3 a6 ({Taking on b2 is not a great idea:} 7... Qxb2 $2 8. Nb5 Na6 9. Bd2 {and the black queen's escape route has been cut off.}) 8. a3 Qa7 (8... Qxb2 {would be even worse here:} 9. Na4 {traps the queen.}) 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. c3 c4 {A committal decision. The blocked position that ensues is not to every chess player's taste. Perhaps we should mark it "to be played by GMs only".} 11. g4 b5 (11... h5 12. gxh5 Rxh5 13. Ng3 Rh8 {was played in Kritz-Ulibin, Biel 2010, with White eventually winning.}) 12. Ng3 Nb6 13. Bg2 Na4 14. Qc2 Bd7 15. O-O h6 16. Rae1 O-O-O 17. f5 Kb8 18. Rf2 Bc8 19. Nh5 Qd7 20. Nh4 {[diag] Here some of us were hoping for 20...Na5, simply for aesthetic reasons - four 'dim' knights on the rim could be a record. More seriously, Black's position is starting to look creaky. White is calling all the shots on the kingside, while Black's counterplay has so far failed to materialise.} Rg8 21. Ref1 Qe8 22. h3 exf5 ({ 'Pass' moves are no longer an option:} 22... Nb6 23. fxe6 Bxe6 24. Qh7 Be7 25. Nf5 {puts major pressure on Black's kingside.}) 23. Nxf5 f6 (23... Bxf5 {is probably better, but after} 24. Qxf5 g6 25. Qf4 $1 gxh5 26. e6+ Bd6 27. exf7 Bxf4 28. Bxf4+ Kc8 29. fxe8=Q Rgxe8 30. Bxh6 {, Black is a pawn down and liable to be mauled by the white bishop pair.}) 24. exf6 $1 Bxf5 ({If} 24... g6 25. f7 $1 Qxf7 26. Nxh6 {is crushing. But the position is now utterly lost anyway.}) 25. Bf4+ Bd6 26. Bxd6+ Rxd6 27. Qxf5 g6 28. Qf4 Qd8 29. f7 Rf8 30. Ng7 g5 31. Qg3 Ka7 32. Re1 1-0

Giant killer: IM Ismael Teran Alvarez from Spain

Five of the other top seeds, Michael Adams (England), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Le Quang Liem (Vietnam), are amongst the 45 players still on a 100% score.

Nigel Short holds the record for the most Gibraltar Masters titles (three) and he had only previously lost two of the 53 games he has played in his six visits to the tournament. So his defeat came as a big surprise. Nigel refused to make any excuses and admitted he couldn’t explain his poor play in this game.

Vassily Ivanchuk, 43, is through to the last eight of the World Chess Championship qualifier to be held in London in March but in round one he couldn’t make any impression on Hristos Zygouris, an untitled 38-year-old amateur player ranked 90th in Greece. Ivanchuk allowed an early exchange of queens but found he could not make progress against solid play from his opponent, agreeing a draw on move 31. Chucky may have been fractionally worse when the point was split but the Caleta Hotel bar was echoing with the opinion that a certain young man currently playing in the Netherlands would not have agreed a draw before move 231.

Similarly, 38-year-old grandmaster and former world championship runner-up Gata Kamsky from the USA was held to a draw by 23-year-old Andreas Aerni, who is not even rated within the top 100 players in Switzerland. Aerni took a different path to a draw against his distinguished opponent, mixing things up in the opening and then sacrificing a piece to force a draw by perpetual check. The American arrived at the board rather late (fortunately FIDE’s absurd ‘zero tolerance’ rule is not enforced in Gibraltar) and seemed a little out of sorts, but it took some enterprising play by the Swiss player to achieve the draw.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.22"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Aerni, Andreas"] [Black "Kamsky, Gata"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B22"] [WhiteElo "2206"] [BlackElo "2740"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. e4 c5 2. c3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. cxd4 d6 7. Bc4 Nb6 8. Bb5 Bd7 9. e6 $5 {A plausible move in analogous positions to stymie Black's centre but not often seen in this particular line.} Bxe6 10. Ng5 {Possibly a bluff, but quite a good one.} Bd5 ({After} 10... Bd7 {, the move} 11. Qf3 $5 {is perhaps a little worrying for Black, though the computer is content to reply} f6 12. Bd3 $5 g6 13. Nxh7 Rxh7 14. Bxg6+ Rf7 {and not worry about any tactical complexities.}) 11. Nc3 e6 (11... Bxg2 12. Rg1 Bd5 {gains time for White in return for a pawn, and now} 13. a4 {gives White compensation for the two pawns. }) 12. O-O Be7 (12... h6 {looks like a decent alternative.}) 13. Qh5 Bxg5 14. Bxg5 Qd7 15. a4 a6 16. a5 {White is determined not to let Black's king get too comfortable on either side of the board.} axb5 ({There doesn't seem to be anything Black can do to avert the draw now. If} 16... Nc4 17. Ba4 Nxb2 18. Nxd5 Nxa4 19. Rfe1 {and White is better.}) 17. axb6 O-O {[diag]} (17... Rxa1 18. Rxa1 O-O 19. Bf6 {is similar to the game.}) 18. Bf6 $1 {A surprising coup.} gxf6 19. Qg4+ Kh8 20. Nxd5 {Exploiting the pin along the diagonal.} f5 21. Qh4 exd5 22. Qf6+ Kg8 23. Qg5+ Kh8 24. Qf6+ Kg8 1/2-1/2

There were a few other surprise results in round one further down the field, with Swedish grandmaster Pia Cramling losing to Portuguese player Paulo Pinho, and grandmasters Zhao Xue of China and Sebastien Maze of France conceding draws to Johannes Kvisla of Norway and David Jameson of Wales respectively. Apart from the five games mentioned, the leading players took a heavy toll of the amateur competitors.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.22"] [Round "1.35"] [White "Cramling, Pia"] [Black "Pinho, Paulo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A56"] [WhiteElo "2518"] [BlackElo "2128"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b1rrk1/1p3q1p/pR1p2p1/P1pPb1B1/2P1P2P/3Q1P2/4N1K1/5R2 w - - 0 38"] [PlyCount "24"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] {[diag]} 38. f4 {Not a mistake but it necessitates the taking of a couple of major decisions, just before the time control.} Bg7 39. h5 (39. Ng3 $5 h6 40. Rxd6 hxg5 41. hxg5 {looks like a handy way to sacrifice a piece.}) 39... h6 40. Bh4 $2 (40. Rxd6 $5 hxg5 41. Rxg6 {still looks like a possibility but this is that familiar phenomenon - an error on move 40.}) 40... g5 $1 {Now White is on the back foot.} 41. Be1 Qxh5 42. Rxd6 (42. Rh1 Qg4+ 43. Kf1 {looks very unpleasant and, sure enough, Black's attack comes crashing through:} Rxf4+ $1 { , etc.}) 42... Bh3+ $1 43. Qxh3 Qxe2+ {White's king and exposed pawns leave her no hope of survival.} 44. Kh1 Rxe4 45. f5 g4 46. Qg2 Qxe1 47. Rg6 Qh4+ 48. Qh2 Qxh2+ 49. Kxh2 Rf6 0-1

Vietnamese grandmaster Le Quang Liem caused a sensation a few years ago when he won the prestigious Moscow Aeroflot tournament and Moscow Open in the same year. The following game from round two showcases his remarkable talent.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.23"] [Round "2.6"] [White "Le Quang, Liem"] [Black "Roser, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E04"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] [WhiteClock "1:33:15"] [BlackClock "0:01:17"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 a6 6. O-O Nc6 7. e3 Bd7 8. Qe2 b5 9. Nc3 Nd5 10. e4 Nxc3 11. bxc3 Bd6 12. Bg5 Be7 13. d5 $5 ({This seems to be new.} 13. Bf4 O-O {and now} 14. d5 {was played in Smirnov-Belov, Plovdiv 2008, and Black won.}) 13... Na5 ({The knight is out of play here.} 13... Bxg5 14. dxc6 Bxc6 15. Ne5 $1 Bb7 16. Rad1 {looks too risky for Black}) ({maybe} 13... Nb8 {is a better choice.}) 14. dxe6 Bxe6 (14... fxe6 15. Ne5 Bxg5 16. Qh5+ g6 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. Qxh8+ Kf7 19. Qh7+ Ke8 20. Rad1) 15. Rad1 Qc8 16. Bxe7 Kxe7 {By playing d5 a move earlier than previously, White has managed to deprive Black of the ability to castle.} 17. Nd4 Rd8 (17... Bg4 {looks feasible but} 18. Qe3 $1 {is a strong reply. Black cannot accept the exchange sacrifice with} Bxd1 {because} 19. Nf5+ {gives White a winning attack.}) 18. Qh5 $1 {[diag] Black is already lost as he cannot cope with threats of Qxh7 and Qc5+.} c5 19. Nf5+ $1 Bxf5 20. exf5 Rxd1 21. Rxd1 f6 22. Re1+ Kf8 23. Qxh7 Qd8 24. Bxa8 1-0

Nigel Short tests my chess

Nigel Short came into the press room the other day and we happened to be chatting about teaching chess, and endgames in particular. Nigel’s recommendation was to give pupils interesting positions to solve. As an example he gave me the position below and challenged me to solve it. Suddenly I realised I had become, albeit temporarily, Nigel’s pupil. Here’s the position...

White to play

With something of a glint in his eye, Nigel got up to leave the room, saying “I shall be back in five minutes” – with the clear implication that I should have an answer ready for him when he got back. The realisation that a super-GM is putting your chess to the test is a little unnerving. I did my best to avoid the various pitfalls, prepared what I thought was the answer and awaited the teacher’s return. Sure enough, he was back in a few minutes and, with a quizzical expression on his face, wordlessly enquired after the solution. I gave what I thought was the answer. Nigel was visibly delighted – I had, of course, fallen into onto one of the traps in the position. He gave a one-move refutation of my plan, and then went off, and I again inferred that he expected an answer on our next meeting. At the beginning of the second round, whilst taking photos, I bumped into Nigel in the playing hall. Again, the wordless question – had I figured it out? This time my illustrious teacher was satisfied with the answer I gave. Phew...
Now it’s the reader’s turn. White to play – what should happen? I’ll publish the answer in the next report.

Between a rock and a snowy place

One of the joys of coming to Gibraltar is to escape the arctic winter being experienced further north in Europe and elsewhere in the world. I’ve had fun taunting my UK Facebook friends with pictures of people eating outside, beautiful sunrises and the like. But the downside of the severe weather in Europe was that it cost us some competitors because of the flight cancellations in the UK and France. One of casualties was French grandmaster Marie Sebag who had been hoping to play here for the first time but was unable to travel from France.

Another top woman player who we feared might not be able to come was reigning European Women’s Champion Valentina Gunina (above), who had just had an operation to extract her wisdom teeth and was told she shouldn’t travel. But Valentina was determined to come and both her chess and her health are doing fine here. She’s on 2/2 and is going to have her stitches removed tomorrow.

Highest rated female player (2582) GM Anna Muzychuk at 2.5/3

Indian GM Harika Dronavalli, 2514, also with 2.5/3 points

Round three of the Masters took place at the Caleta Hotel at 3.00pm on Thursday afternoon. Here are the results of the third round, and here the top standings:

Rk. Ti Name Nat. Rtg Pts.
1 GM Adams Michael ENG 2725 3.0
2 GM Vachier-Lagrave M. FRA 2711 3.0
3 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2705 3.0
4 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2694 3.0
5 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2688 3.0
6 GM Iturrizaga Eduardo VEN 2650 3.0
7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2516 3.0
8 GM Tkachiev Vladislav FRA 2650 3.0
9 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2632 3.0
10 GM Ehlvest Jaan USA 2603 3.0
11 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2627 3.0
12 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan ESP 2606 3.0
13 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2587 3.0
14 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2555 3.0
15 GM Jakubiec Artur POL 2518 3.0
16 GM Navara David CZE 2710 2.5
17 IM Teran Alvarez Ismael ESP 2399 2.5
18 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2643 2.5
19 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2507 2.5
20 GM Kamsky Gata USA 2740 2.5
21 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2684 2.5
Rk. Ti Name Nat. Rtg Pts.
22 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2758 2.5
23 GM Jussupow Artur GER 2611 2.5
24 FM Fenollar Jorda Manuel ESP 2325 2.5
25 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2667 2.5
26 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2590 2.5
27 IM Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2478 2.5
28 GM Muzychuk Anna SLO 2582 2.5
29 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2471 2.5
30 GM Womacka Mathias GER 2442 2.5
31 FM Arvola Benjamin NOR 2309 2.5
32 GM David Alberto ITA 2599 2.5
33 IM Ibarra Jose Carlos ESP 2538 2.5
34 FM Villuendas Adrian ESP 2301 2.5
35 GM Felgaer Ruben ARG 2557 2.5
36 GM Gordon Stephen J ENG 2533 2.5
37 IM Zhou Yang-Fan ENG 2439 2.5
38 GM Cmilyte Viktorija LTU 2515 2.5
39 IM Melia Salome GEO 2403 2.5
40 GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2514 2.5
41 GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2546 2.5
42 IM Larino Nieto David ESP 2497 2.5

Video report of round two (over one hour). There are hours and hours of video here.


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