Almasi shines at 2013 Capablanca Memorial

by ChessBase
5/3/2013 – With a certain irony, the 2013 Capablanca Memorial was held on the exact same days as the Alekhine Memorial, and thus the two former giants remain rivals even today. Hungarian Zoltan Almasi, playing his first edition of this classic, scored a brilliant first in spite of a loss, but it was a celebration of Cuban chess at this festival of activities. Here is the illustrated report.

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Almasi shines at 2013 Capablanca Memorial

By Miguel E. Gómez Masjuán

The playing hall where both the Elite and Premier events took place

For the first time since 2010 the Capablanca Memorial Elite group did not include GM Vassily Ivanchuk among its participants. In his six trips to Havana, the Ukrainian has only lost two games and only once was his ultimate triumph in danger. His unfortunate absence led to a variety of predictions and more than a few hoped GM Leinier Dominguez would win his third title in this event. As it was, the best chess player in Latin America, with 2723 Elo, finished in third place.

In the Elite there were several unexpected results. In his first trip to Havana, the Hungarian Zoltan Almasi (2689) left a very good impression, and dominated the group with 6.5/10, thanks to  four wins, five draws and a lone setback. The veteran player, aged 37, added fifteen Elo points and will now return to the ever expanding list of players rated over 2700.

Hungarian Zoltan Almasi had a brilliant tournament and came sole first despite a lossAlmasi’s only failure in the tournament was against the player that impressed the most in 2013 Capablanca Memorial: GM Yuniesky Quesada. With a mere 2608 Elo, the player from Villa Clara seemed destined to occupy the last position. However, he displayed a very high standard that allowed him to lead the event until the penultimate round, when he finally lay down his king in capitulation to the Russian Ernesto Inarkiev (2688), which cost him a relegation to second place.

Quesada and Dominquez came in second and third at 6.0/10 (photo by Calixto N. Llanes)The final round presented a "conflict of interest" for both Cuban representatives. Quesada and Dominguez have known each other a long time, and both are members of the national team. In fact Quesada has even been Leinier’s second in recent events. The schedule put them face to face in the last round and a win by either might challenge Almasi for first. What was the decision? A quick draw that gave first place to the Hungarian. Perhaps it would have been more interesting to see an "open fight", in pursuit of the gold.

Final standings of Elite

Linares – the best Cuban in the premier

The playing area of the Premier tournament

The Cuban Oleiny Linares (2321) from Santiago had a spectacular tournament, ending undefeated on 7.0/9 with five wins and four draws, and thus scored her second International Master norm. Behind Linares was the Nicaraguan IM Carlos Dávila (2304) who had an identical score, but was edged out on tiebreak

Cuban Oleiny Linares (2321) playing black was a class act as she took first ahead of the men

In third place was Cuban FIDE Master Yasel Borges (2426) who added yet another
IM norm to his prize list.

Final standings of Premier

Bruzón unable to shine in the open

GM Lázaro Bruzón, the second highest rated Latin American chess player with 2707 Elo, declined to participate in the Capablanca Memorial. He was busy playing in Costa Rica, where the Zonal 2.3 tournament was hosted with two spots for the next World Cup, in Tromso, Norway. Unfortunately for him, visa problems prevented him from going to Norway and as a result Bruzón chose to play the event. Since the lineup for the Elite had already been confirmed, the only option left was the Open.

IM Juan Carlos Obregon (2501) on the left came first with 8.0/10 and a grandmaster normThis tournament was a ten-round swiss and though Bruzón was the overwhelming favorite, with the next highest rating at 2570 points, things did not work out for him. The bad news soon appeared as he was held to draws by Yunier Leyva (2408) and Ermes Espinosa (2461), but the real disaster was in the seventh round, when he succumbed IM Alexey Fernandez (2453).

Though he responded with wins, first went to IM Juan Carlos Obregon (2501), who finished with 8.0/10 and a sublime grandmaster norm.

Pictures by María del Carmen Ramón


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