American Continental Rd2: Beauty and longevity

by Albert Silver
5/17/2015 – As the second round tightened the Elo differences, the number of upsets began to increase, though most of the favorites still kept a perfect score. Once more, high resolution photographic impressions and anecdotes will be found throughout as the beauty of a city stands out. A final tribute is made also to Lourenço Cordioli, who passed away a few days ago, the Methuselah of Brazilian Chess.

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The tournament

The tournament is an eleven-round competition played at 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment as of move one. The first round is on May 15 with rounds every day until round eleven on May 24, including a double-round on May 17. Play typically starts at 5PM.

Although there are tiebreak scoring systems in place, starting with direct encounter, Buchholz, and more, in the event of a draw at the top, the top four qualifiers will be decided by a rapid tiebreak match or tournament, depending on the number, starting at 15 minutes plus a ten-second increment.

The prizes are US$5000 for first, $3400 for second, $2400 for third with prizes all the way to 20th place. Note that as FIDE events of this caliber, all norms scored count double, thus a player who scores a norm at the end of the competition will be considered to have earned two norms, not one.

Enjoying the city

One warning given to me by a friend who had already been to Montevideo on more than one occasion was to be aware it would be considerably cooler than Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I reside, and that it was ‘always cloudy’.

The coolness was not a big concern, since all things are relative. If a city were ever to be labeled with the term ‘endless summer’ Rio would be it, and a bit of variety would actually be welcome.

A week before leaving I had enjoyed the Rio Cup of Beach Soccer (Click on image for high-res version)

I do not doubt the warnings, and it seems many players were told much the same, but it also appears we arrived in one of the exceptional periods, where it has been sunny all day, and quite warm. This is all wonderful ... except if you packed mostly warm clothes in anticipation.

Still, this has also meant it has been a great time to go for long walks exploring the city’s sites and stores, and as an unabashed shutterbug, it makes it far more photogenic.

On the Plaza Independencia (Independence Square), there are several
noteworthy points to visit and see. The most conspicuous aside from the
statue of Artigas is the breathtaking Palacio Salvo. The tower's unusual
and beautiful architecture stands out, in the way it does not simply rise
to the sky ever thinner.

The fascinating structure begs to be ogled from all angles. The building,
which is now a mixture of offices and private residences, is 95 meters tall
and was erected in 1928. (Click on image for high-res version)

At the Plaza is the Presidential Building, a modern structure, both impressive and with its own cultural items. In the front window, before going through the expected security checks, there is a metal statue of three card players with an empty seat. You might expect this to be a ‘don’t touch’ display, and as we approached, prepared for an act of delinquence to take a picture, we notice a small sign that neutralized our planned naughtiness saying it was an interactive display. In other words it was meant to be shared and enjoyed.

My good friend FM Ricardo Teixeira did the honors, and took out a couple of cards from his wallet to play the part

On the way back to the hotel, as we chatted, an Uruguayan suddenly chipped up, "Who do you think will win the Continental Cup?" (referring to football)

The friendly fellow, typical of the people we have seen here, had no qualms about striking up
a conversation out of the blue for some friendly banter on football, and some tips for our visit

As we drew closer to our destination, we heard some fellow yammering at full speed with the audible sound of a gavel. Either they were holding speed trials, or….

The entrance announcing it is an Auction House

The first thing we saw at the entrance was this retired buggy carriage for sale. No doubt
someone may find it interesting, but it is not the most practical item to buy.

As the auctioneer announced the items, an assistant would lift and show the object on offer.
This led to the rather curious image above in which it almost seems as if his arms and body are
an extension of the painting. (Click on image for high-res version)

The auctioneer went very fast and clearly had a great number of lots to go through as he
cycled through them almost one per minute if not faster

In the evening, we returned to the Plaza Independencia, and noticed the second display in the Presidential Building now enjoyed several well place spotlights that gave it a new dimension.

This tribute to the times long past was built from pieces of tree trunk, branches, seashells
and more. One could easily miss this, caught up in the impression of movement it conveys.

Also benefitting greatly from the lights is the Teatro Solis, one of the two main theaters
and concert halls, where great performances and even operas are performed. In the late
evening with the lights all lit, it is something to behold.

One cannot help noticing also the remarkable number of bookstores. Twenty-plus years ago, this would have been a normal sight in many cities, but nowadays, with the number dwindling around the world, the view stuck out.

It is not simply large racks of bestsellers, but the small bookstore that
knows it has a welcome audience who will keep it afloat. This one also
had a group meeting above, discussing philosophy.

Not three blocks away there was indeed a very large bookstore, beautifully decorated, and
working well into the night.

A welcome change of pace, and a reminder of the joy of books. (Click on image for high-res version)

Lourenço Cordioli (1916-2015)

A special mention must be made to Lourenço Cordioli who passed away a few days ago. Readers will understandably be wondering who that is, but in Brazil, this player was easily the Methuselah of chess. Lourenço was a remarkably strong player in his own right, having won the São Paulo Championship three consecutive times in 1947-48-49, a record he still holds to this day. He participated in three Brazilian finals, and he once declared his most memorable moment was in the 1948 InternationalTournament in São Paulo, when he defeated Sousa Mendes, the 7-time Brazilian Champion, among others.

This picture with Lourenço Cordioli, aged 93, playing IM Herman Claudius Van Riemsdijk
was taken in 2009 (picture by Herman Claudius Van Riemsdijk)

What stands out however, are not these accomplishments before most of us were even born, but his undying love of chess, and love of competition. The venerable Cordioli continued to compete until the very end, and even in 2014, at age 97, played in two official tournaments with a rating over 1900 FIDE. His continued activity in chess unquestionably helped him keep such a healthy mind, and as can be expected he was lucid and sharp until his very last days. He passed away on May 14, 2015 at age 98.

Round two

The second round of competition still saw huge disparities between the ratings, though now, instead of 500 Elo, the difference was chopped down to 300. This might still seem like a huge advantage, and of course it is, but the grandmasters were now facing masters, whether FIDE masters or IMs, and the danger of an upset had increased enormously.

For the most part, the pecking order was respected, and the top boards won their games,
but not all. Brazilian FM Francisco Ernant (2361) held his Cuban opponent, GM Yuniesky
Quesada Perez (2645) to a draw.

IM Rodrigo Disconzi was unable to break his opponent GM Axel Bachman

GM Emilio Cordova also kept an immaculate start

In the main room, other unexpected results included FM Federico Matsuura (2270), not to be
confused with his brother GM Everaldo Matsuura, who held GM Gregory Kaidanov to a draw.

A few other grandmasters were also unable to impose their will as they would have liked, but this is but the beginning of the event, with plenty of time to recover and prevail.

WGM Cori Deysi may not have begun on the stage, but will soon after a 2.0/2 start

Julio Granda Zuñiga - Claudia Lujan (annotated by IM Luis Rodi)

[Event "Continental"] [Site "Montevideo"] [Date "2015.05.16"] [Round "2"] [White "Granda Zuñiga, Julio"] [Black "Lujan, Carolina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A84"] [WhiteElo "2650"] [BlackElo "2353"] [Annotator "Rodi,Luis"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2015.05.17"] [EventCountry "URU"] {At this point, we would be remiss to not bring up the huge talent of the Peruvian grandmaster Julio Granda Zuñiga, who is also the reigning Continental Champion, having won in Praia de Pipa, Brazil, in 2014. The following game is an excellent example of his positional technique.} 1. c4 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. e3 {Not the most common way to face the Dutch, but Julio was never one to focus on openings and fashionable lines.} d6 4. Nf3 g6 5. b4 $5 { This idea was popularized by GM Robert Kempinski. White gains space on the queenside, where he hopes to also gain the initiative in the middlegame.} Bg7 6. Bb2 O-O 7. Qb3 {Granda continues mobilizing his army where he plans to undertake action.} (7. Be2 {de imediato é a alternativa, como gosta jogar Kempinski}) 7... Kh8 $6 {Not absolutely necessary. Black has alternate ways to fight against possible play on the a2-g8 diagonal.} (7... b6 $5) (7... e6 $5) 8. Be2 Ne4 $5 {Carolina, who had already beaten Julio in the Continental Buenos Aires 2005, attempts active play to get counterplay on the kingside.} ({ The option was} 8... Nbd7 {that is more solid, but also more passive.} 9. Ng5 $5 Nb6 10. O-O $14 (10. h4 $5)) 9. Nc3 e6 (9... a5 10. a3 $14) 10. O-O Nd7 11. Nxe4 fxe4 12. Nd2 Nf6 13. Rac1 $14 {White's structure is somewhat better, and while his pieces on this side are ready for immediate action on the queenside, Black's forces are far from ready to threaten the white king.} d5 14. Rc3 $5 { A typical move from the Peruvian, both original and useful. White doesn't need to take hasty measures on the queenside since Black has done nothing to oppose him on that side of the board. The exchange on c4 leaves Black with a poor structure and other moves might let White double the rooks on the c-file to pressure c7. Furthermore, the move} c6 {is met with the rupture} 15. b5 $1 cxb5 16. Qxb5 (16. cxb5 $14 {is also enough to maintain the advantage, but taking with the queen avoids a symmetrical structure.}) 16... Bd7 17. Qb3 Bc6 18. Ba3 Rf7 19. Qc2 $5 {Freeing b3 for the knight, readying for a base of operations on the c5 square. A similar idea was to retreat to b2.} Ne8 {The best female player in Argentina tries to bring her knight to d6 to pressure White, but the maneuver is met with a pretty refutation.} (19... a5 $5 20. cxd5 exd5 21. Qb2 $14) 20. Nb3 Nd6 21. Na5 $1 {Simple, but elegant.} Qxa5 22. Bxd6 Qd8 23. Bg3 { White's advantage stems from the superior structure and better piece coordination.} h5 $6 {Yes, this is the move also chosen by the computer, but no, I am not a fan of it. It creates weaknesses in a structure that already had enough issues as it was.} (23... Qd7 $5) 24. h3 Qe7 {Missing a tactical detail.} (24... Qd7 {was necessary, thoguh White still had the edge after} 25. Rc1 $14) 25. cxd5 exd5 (25... Bxd5 26. Bc4 $1 $16) 26. Rxc6 $1 $18 {After this loss of the exchange, Black's position collapses like a house of cards. Black will soon wish that h-pawn was back on h7.} bxc6 27. Qxc6 Qb7 28. Qxg6 Rf6 29. Qxh5+ Rh6 30. Qg5 Rg8 31. Bg4 Qc6 32. Be5 Rg6 33. Qf5 Bxe5 34. Qxe5+ Rf6 35. Bd7 (35. f4 $5 {is the computer's suggestion, but from a human point of view, the move played in the game is extremely appealing.}) 35... Qd6 36. Rc1 Rd8 ( 36... Rgf8 37. Rc6 $1 Qxe5 38. dxe5 Rxc6 39. Bxc6 {White would win this final leveraging the pawn majority, though it would still require technique and patience. The problem for Carolina is that by now she was in serious time-trouble.} Kg7 40. Bxd5 Rf5 41. Bxe4 Rxe5 42. Bc2 $18 {followed by Bb3 and the advance of the kingside pawns.}) 37. Rc7 a5 38. g4 Rg8 (38... Rdf8 39. Bf5 $18 {as in the game.}) 39. Kg2 Rgf8 40. Bf5 Kg8 41. Rd7 {A fine positional game by the reigning Continental Champion.} (41. Rd7 Qxe5 42. dxe5 Rxf5 (42... Rb6 43. Rxd5 a4 44. Ra5 {is no better.}) 43. gxf5 Rxf5 44. Rxd5 {holds no hope for Black.}) 1-0

Player list and results

The top eight boards of the event can be followed live at both the official site and on Playchess.

All photos by Albert Silver


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server 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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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