82nd Brazilian Championship starts seeking history

by Albert Silver
1/12/2016 – The 82nd Brazilian Championship has started in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will run from January 9-16, 2016. This event brings not only a highly eclectic field of players who qualified from events all around the country, but also a potential for a little bit of history as Rafael Leitão tries to break a record he shares with three players: the most titles held. A rich illustrated report.

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Report and photos by Albert Silver

Seven. That is the number of Brazilian Championship titles held by four players as of last year: the legendary Souza Mendes, the first Brazilian Champion, and most likely first true master from the nation, was the first to accomplish this feat. Later came Sunye Neto, Brazil’s second grandmaster after the great Mecking, followed by Giovanni Vescovi, and his rival Rafael Leitão, who joined the club last year.

IA Elcio Mourão, chief arbiter, with organizer and president of the Brazilian Federation, Darcy Lima

GM Rafael Leitão, seven-time Brazilian Champion

Rafael Leitão’s talent is of course never in doubt as the former World under-12 and World under-18 champion, but players of his caliber many times forego on national championships either for financial reasons, or for pure sporting reasons. I.e. lack of interest for lack of proper competition. Consider Bobby Fischer for example, who really only played in the US Championship so many times because it was the effective Zonal of the World Championship cycle. In Leitão’s case, the interest has been quite clear: become the first player to achieve eight titles. Not that the other conditions fail, but this year, especially with a newborn son due in two months, his focus is total.

GM Krikor Mekhitarian is one of the chief rivals to upset Rafa's plans

The start of the tournament

Also of special note in this year’s edition is the second straight year of live GM commentary of all the rounds, in Portuguese, by GM Darcy Lima. This year the Brazilian Federation is partnering with ChessBase so that the live commentary is broadcast via Playchess but open to all visitors, even guest accounts! This video commentary is done together with ChessBase News editor, Albert Silver, and can be viewed in the web version of Playchess as well.

Rafael Leitão joins Darcy Lima in the post-game conference

The commentary could be seen not only in the desktop software, but also the web version of Playchess

To view it live, and free, just enter PlayChess, go to Live Games and Listen to Radio

With a range of players and ratings from an untitled 2159 FIDE to a 2633 FIDE grandmaster, there is room for wild games, unpredictable results, and overall highly entertaining rounds, and the first three rounds have lived up to that.

GM Rafael Leitão - FM Ricardo Teixeira 

[Event "82nd Brazilian-ch 2015"] [Site "Rio de Janeiro"] [Date "2016.01.09"] [Round "1"] [White "Leitao, Rafael"] [Black "Teixeira, Ricardo da Silva"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A91"] [WhiteElo "2633"] [BlackElo "2234"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventCountry "BRA"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. d4 {0} e6 {0} 2. c4 {0} f5 {0} 3. g3 {18} Nf6 {13} 4. Bg2 {7} Be7 {15} 5. Nc3 {23} O-O {13} 6. Nf3 {22} d6 {13} 7. O-O {13} a5 {6} 8. Re1 {388} Ne4 {136} 9. Qc2 {29} d5 {33} 10. Ne5 {109} c6 {469} 11. Nxe4 {1682} fxe4 {658} 12. f3 { 67} Nd7 {477} 13. Nxd7 {63} Bxd7 {134} 14. fxe4 {41} dxc4 {87} 15. Qxc4 {56} b5 {165} 16. Qd3 {468 It is quite clear that White is enjoying a considerable advantage, and one might expect a clean victory over his opponent rated 399 Elo less, but as will be seen, no one is going down easy.} c5 {334} 17. Bf4 { 861} c4 $1 {608 This bold move shows that Black is ready to fight back, keeping his own options alive.} (17... cxd4 $6 {would have been a more timid approach, offering Black fewer chances for a result to his liking.} 18. Qxd4 Be8 19. Qe3) 18. Qe3 {24} Qb6 {240} 19. h4 {119} Rac8 {306} 20. Rac1 {9} b4 { 229} 21. h5 {73 This is a completely logical continuation, weakening not only the kingside but opening up the dark squares for future invasions.} a4 {857} 22. h6 {26} g6 {26} 23. Be5 {65} b3 {692} 24. a3 {610 [#]} Bxa3 $3 {301 Though not impossible to see, the second exclamation point is also for the courage to go through with it against the top-seed right in the first round.} 25. bxa3 {15 } b2 {4 An exchange will go down, no matter what, and the only question is how. The real issue is the resulting position. Black may recover material, but his counter play may suffer as a result.} 26. Rc3 {72} (26. Rb1 $2 {would be very poor after} c3) 26... b1=Q {38} 27. Rxb1 {4} Qxb1+ {3} 28. Kh2 {8} Qe1 {143} 29. Bf3 {92} Rf7 {90} 30. Kg2 {233} Qb1 {47} 31. Bd6 {442 In this complex position, after 31 moves of blow and counter blow, the Elo difference has only been on the scoresheet, and not the board.} Qb2 {39} 32. g4 {52} Be8 $6 { 33 Short of time, Black finally starts to go astray, perhaps feeling unnecessarily optimistic or ambitious, and the volatile nature of the position blows up in his face.} 33. g5 {162 It should be noted that the computers clearly state this position is equal, but if you ask a grandmaster, most (at least the three here) will favor White almost overwhelmingly. As is the nature of engines and their ability to calculate, each attempt by White has a viable defense, which is sufficient. Naturally, finding them is another story.} Rb7 $4 {52 From misstep to slip and stumble, the game is now in White's hands, and Rafael Leitao, known for his precise calculation, has no trouble finding it.} 34. Bg4 {48} Bd7 {47} 35. Qf2 {192} e5 {97} 36. Rf3 1-0

Another candidate for a surprise is IM Evandro Barbosa

IM Yago Sanitago arrived with considerable momentum after earning a
GM norm not long ago in Argentina, but the first three rounds were a
nightmare, and nothing seemed to go right for the friendly player.

Renan do Carmo Reis won spectacularly in round two

Renan do Carmo Reis - Yago Santiago

[Event "82nd Brazilian-ch 2015"] [Site "Rio de Janeiro"] [Date "2016.01.10"] [Round "2"] [White "Reis, Renan do Carmo"] [Black "Santiago, Yago De Moura"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C00"] [WhiteElo "2254"] [BlackElo "2422"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [EventCountry "BRA"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] 1. e4 {0} e6 {102} 2. d3 {22} d5 {31} 3. Nd2 {5} Nf6 {9} 4. Ngf3 {4} c5 {13} 5. g3 {9} g6 {19} 6. Bg2 {19} Bg7 {8} 7. exd5 {33} Nxd5 {48} 8. h4 {78} h6 {101} 9. O-O {318} Nc6 {239} 10. Nb3 {83} b6 {262} 11. d4 {35} Ba6 {310} 12. Re1 {67} c4 {51} 13. Nbd2 {63} Rc8 {1142} 14. c3 {73} O-O {56} 15. Qa4 {500} Na5 {102} 16. Ne5 {90} Re8 {261 Black has undertaken some risky decisions in order to take his opponent out of his preparation, hoping to compensate the concessions made with errors made from lack of familiarity. The issues for Black are clear though: his knight and bishop are very poorly placed on the a-file, and will not easily reposition themselves to the kingside if needed.} 17. Ndf3 {184} b5 {35} 18. Qc2 {205} Ne7 {735 [#] It shows how dangerous this was for Black, that this almost innocuous seeming move has the engines screaming blunder in no uncertain terms.} 19. h5 {1289} gxh5 {93} ({An example of the danger he faces can be seen after} 19... g5 {[#]} 20. Nxf7 $3 Kxf7 21. Bxg5 Kg8 (21... hxg5 22. Nxg5+ Kf8 23. Nxe6+) 22. Rxe6 {and the end is near.}) 20. Bxh6 $1 { 127 Both this and Nxf7 are decisive blows, and the fact that there are two shows how precarious the king's position is. White has no trouble converting his attack and wins the day. A tough start for IM Yago Santiago.} Nf5 {83} 21. Bxg7 {170} Kxg7 {15} 22. Bh3 {108} Nh6 {567} 23. Re4 {107} Nc6 {296} 24. Nxc6 { 541} Rxc6 {9} 25. Rh4 {33} Bb7 {855} 26. Rxh5 {220} Rc8 {52} 27. Bg2 {324} Bd5 {263} 28. Ne5 {245} Bxg2 {143} 29. Rxh6 {48} Kxh6 {18} 30. Nxf7+ {6} Kg7 {5} 31. Nxd8 {8} Bd5 {4} 32. Re1 {505} Rcxd8 {79} 33. Re5 1-0

IM Eduardo Limp is one of the bastions of Brazilian chess, with a vast
general culture as well as exemplary sportsmanship and character

Maximo Macedo

Luismar Brito is known for his clever resourcefulness, and forces players to always be on their guard

Rafael Cabral de Souza is the lowest rated player in the tournament, but earned his spot
just as all the others

Marcus Vinicius Santos won a hair-raising game in round one, in a theoretical debate in
which he sacrificed a queen

The competition is being held in the traditional Clube de Xadrez Guanabara (Guanabara
Chess Club) that is now in its 60th year

A lot of interest in Krikor's opening play

The surprise leader after three rounds is the incredibly friendly Ernani Choma with 2.5/3.
It should be noted that getting this picture was not nearly as easy as one might think as
he is prone to huge grins and laughter, which don't suggest "chess assassin". In the end,
I gave up telling him to give me a killer look, and told him to imagine my face was 1.e4 c5.

Nevertheless, right behind with 2.0/3 is Leitão, and he will no doubt have plenty to say by the end

In parallel to the main event, is a special round-robin designed to allow female players to achieve WGM norms, or even better should they succeed with four grandmasters, one IM, one local player, and four WIMs seeking their fates.

The author poses with the venerable 91-year-old Luciano Nilo de Andrade, former president
of the Brazilian Federation, whose many tales of Euwe and others are always a delight

For Brazilian viewers - Para leitores Brasileiros


Este vídeo em Português deve esclarecer como acessar a Playchess para acompanhar os
comentarios ao vivo e de graça. (Trans: this video in Portuguese should help explain how
to access Playchess in order to enjoy the free live commentary)

Current standings after three rounds


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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WickedPawn WickedPawn 1/13/2016 03:57
Chess definitely needs more attention in Brazil. It's a country of 200 million people with only seven (7) GMs. I've never believed in the benefits that Kasparov and many others claim about 'chess in school' programs (pardon me, but just look at Kasparov himself), but a way of discovering the immense but hidden talent for chess in Brazil is needed.
GPQ GPQ 1/13/2016 01:12
Congrats for the partnership and the live coverage. Though somewhat far from the figures displayed in the international chess scenario, Brazilian players look forward to keeping such level of consideration from the media.