Capablanca Memorial: Wesley So takes command

by Albert Silver
5/17/2014 – The Capablanca Memorial, one of the greatest GM traditions, is now celebrating its 49th edition, once more bringing in elite players such as Vassily Ivanchuk, Wesley So, Francisco Vallejo Pons, and Zoltan Almasi, facing Latin America's two strongest players, Cubans Leinier Dominguez and Lazaro Batista Bruzon. Wesley So has taken a full point lead after a cataclysmic clash.

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Some players seem to have a stranglehold on certain events, where they consistently perform at their best time after time. Dortmund has long been that for Vladimir Kramnik for example, and the same is true of the Capablanca Memorial for Vassily Ivanchuk.

Vassily Ivanchuk's inclusion in the Capablanca Memorial year after year has helped
Cuban players such as Leinier Dominguez evolve into world class players themselves

The traditional grandmaster tournament is easily the greatest traditional event in the Americas, with no peers even close, as it now celebrates its 49th edition. Is it any wonder that two of the strongest Latin American players, Leinier Dominguez and Lazaro Bruzon are from Cuba? Still, despite the home court advantage, the Cubans have found it hard actually outperforming Ivanchuk, and last year, when he missed out, Hungarian Zoltan Almasi took the laurels. That said, the promise of regular top-notch chess has ensured their progress, and one need only see the recent inclusion of Dominguez into the Top 10 to see the result.

'Paco' Vallejo faces last year's winner Zoltan Almasi

This year, the Elite event had six players, in a double round robin of ten rounds, with a challenger event brining ten players for nine rounds of action. In the Elite event, the players were Leinier Dominguez Perez (2768), who came as top seed for the first time, followed by Vassily Ivanchuk (2753), Wesley So (2731), Francisco Vallejo Pons (2700), Zoltan Almasi (2693), and Lazaro Batista Bruzon.

The event took an unusual turn early on with Ivanchuk starting with a difficult 1.5/5 including two losses. The name of the tournament has been the Philippine prodigy Wesley So, who seems to finally be coming into his own. Entering round eight, he had been caught by Leinier Dominguez with 4.5/7, and it was anyone's guess what would happen. Five months ago, Dominguez had beaten So in 21 moves at Wijk aan Zee, so the question was whether Dominguez had a psychological edge now, or would So get his pound of flesh.

[Event "49th Capablanca Elite 2014"] [Site "Havana CUB"] [Date "2014.05.16"] [Round "8.2"] [White "So, W."] [Black "Dominguez Perez, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2738"] [BlackElo "2768"] [PlyCount "127"] [EventDate "2014.05.08"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 Ng4 7. Bc1 Nf6 8. f3 e5 9. Nb3 Be6 10. Be3 h5 11. Nd5 Bxd5 12. exd5 Nbd7 13. Qd2 g6 {Dominguez has significant experience in this line that has served him well thus far.} 14. Be2 Qc7 15. Rc1 (15. c4 a5 16. Rd1 a4 17. Na1 Qa5 18. Qxa5 Rxa5 19. Nc2 Bh6 20. Bf2 Ke7 21. g3 Ne8 22. O-O f5 23. Rfe1 Nef6 24. Bf1 Kf7 25. Na3 e4 26. f4 g5 27. fxg5 Bxg5 28. Bd4 Ne5 29. Be2 h4 30. Rf1 Kg6 31. Nb5 Rxb5 32. cxb5 hxg3 33. hxg3 Rc8 34. Rf2 Nfg4 35. Bxg4 Nxg4 36. Re2 Rc4 37. a3 {0-1 (65) Caruana,F (2774)-Dominguez Perez,L (2723) Thessaloniki 2013 CBM 155 [Ftacnik,L]}) (15. Na5 b6 16. Nb3 Bg7 17. a4 O-O 18. O-O Kh7 19. c3 Ng8 20. g4 Ndf6 21. g5 Nd7 22. f4 exf4 23. Rxf4 Ne7 24. Raf1 Kg8 25. c4 Nc5 26. Nd4 Nxa4 27. Bd1 Nc5 28. b4 Nd7 29. Nc6 Ne5 30. b5 axb5 31. cxb5 Ra3 32. Bd4 Nf5 33. Rxf5 gxf5 34. Qc2 Qd7 35. Bxb6 f4 36. Rxf4 Ng6 37. Rf1 Rfa8 38. Bxh5 Ra2 39. Qd3 R8a3 40. Qe4 Ra4 41. Qf5 Rg2+ 42. Kh1 Qxf5 43. Rxf5 Rb2 44. Bxg6 Ra1+ 45. Bg1 fxg6 46. Ne7+ Kh7 47. Rf4 Rbb1 {0-1 (62) Bologan,V (2678)-Dominguez Perez,L (2719) Khanty-Mansiysk 2011}) 15... Bg7 16. O-O O-O 17. c4 b6 18. Na1 $1 {[%cal Ra1c2,Rc2b4,Rb4c6] At first view, this move may come across as very odd, after all: one of the most basic tenets is that a knight should never go to the corner. However, here the plan is to reposition it via c2-b4-c6.} (18. h3 Nh7 19. Bd3 a5 20. Na1 Nc5 21. Nc2 f5 22. Na3 g5 23. Nb5 Qd7 24. Bc2 f4 25. Bxc5 bxc5 26. Qd3 e4 27. Qxe4 Be5 28. Qg6+ Qg7 29. Qxg7+ Bxg7 30. Nxd6 Bxb2 31. Rb1 Bd4+ 32. Kh1 Nf6 33. Nf5 Bc3 34. Rb7 Rfb8 35. Rfb1 Rxb7 36. Rxb7 Re8 37. Ne7+ Kg7 38. d6 Bd4 39. Ba4 Rf8 40. d7 Bf2 41. Nc6 Rf7 42. Ne5 Re7 43. d8=Q Rxb7 44. Qd3 {1-0 (42) Saric,I (2637) -Duda,J (2553) Wijk aan Zee 2014}) 18... Kh7 19. h3 $6 {It's not that there is something inherently wrong with this move, but since it doesn't do anything urgent, finishing the knight's mobilization with Nc2 would have been more consistent.} Ng8 20. g4 Qd8 21. gxh5 Qh4 22. hxg6+ fxg6 23. Bd3 Bh6 $1 {This move equalizes for Black, as he exchanges off the dark-squared bishop and gains excellent footholds on the dark squares for his pieces.} 24. Rf2 Bxe3 25. Qxe3 {[%csl Rc5,Rd4,Rf4]} Ne7 26. Rg2 Nf5 $6 ({Since it is unclear whose king is actually weaker, why not show this with} 26... Kg7 27. Nb3 Rf4 $1 28. Nd2 Rh8 {and Black may have the easier game.}) 27. Bxf5 Rxf5 28. Nb3 Kg7 29. Nd2 Qxh3 $2 {A mistake that will cost the Cuban important tempi.} 30. Kf2 Raf8 $2 ( {Black now had to give the pawn back to give his knight e5.} 30... e4 31. Qxe4 Ne5 {[%cal Re5f3,Re5g6] though White is still doing better now that the g-file is wide open.} 32. Rcg1) 31. Rcg1 R8f6 32. Ke2 e4 $2 {The right idea at the wrong time, since now White has a straightforward tactical sequence that wins the game.} 33. Nxe4 Rxf3 34. Rxg6+ $1 Rxg6 35. Rxg6+ Kxg6 36. Qxf3 Qxf3+ 37. Kxf3 Ne5+ 38. Kf4 Nxc4 39. b3 Ne5 40. Nxd6 {and this endgame is an easy win.} Nd3+ 41. Ke4 Nc1 42. Ke5 Nd3+ 43. Kd4 Nc1 44. Nc8 Kf7 45. Ke5 Ke8 46. Ke6 Kd8 47. d6 Nd3 48. Nxb6 Nf4+ 49. Kf5 Ne2 50. Ke6 Nf4+ 51. Kf6 Ne2 52. d7 Nc3 53. Ke6 Nb5 54. Na4 Nc7+ 55. Kd6 Nb5+ 56. Kc6 Nd4+ 57. Kd5 Nb5 58. Nc5 Kc7 59. Ke6 Nd4+ 60. Ke7 Nf5+ 61. Ke6 Nd4+ 62. Kf7 Nf5 63. Kf6 Ne3 64. Ke6 1-0

Wesley So seems to have come into his own after breaking the 2700 barrier last year

With this powerful win, Wesley So is not only ahead by a full point of Lazaro Bruzon Batista with two rounds to go, but is also looking at a move to the 15th spot in the world rankings.  Bottom seed Lazaro Bruzon Batista has long been considered one of the most talented players in the Americas, only held back by personal issues, and despite his lower rating, has shown his quality of play with imagination and consistency.

Be sure to check out Bruzon's (left) queen sacrifice against Wesley So (right)

Standings of Elite after eight rounds

Schedule and pairings of Elite

Round 1 – 08.05.14
So
½-½
Bruzón
Vallejo
½-½
Almasi
Domínguez
½-½
Ivanchuk
Round 3 – 10.05.14
Vallejo
½-½
Bruzón
Domínguez
½-½
So
Ivanchuk
0-1
Almasi
Round 5 – 12.05.14
Domínguez
½-½
Bruzón
Ivanchuk
0-1
Vallejo
Almasi
0-1
So
Round 7 – 15.05.14
Ivanchuk
½-½
Bruzón
Domínguez
½-½
Almasi
Vallejo
½-½
So
Round 9 – 17.05.14
Almasi
-
Bruzón
Ivanchuk
-
So
Domínguez
-
Vallejo
 
Round 2 – 09.05.14
Bruzón
½-½
Ivanchuk
Almasi
½-½
Domínguez
So
1-0
Vallejo
Round 4 – 11.05.14
Bruzón
½-½ 
Almasi
So
½-½ 
Ivanchuk
Vallejo
 0-1
Domínguez
Round 6 – 14.05.14
Bruzón
½-½ 
So
Almasi
 0-1
Vallejo
Ivanchuk
 ½-½
Domínguez
Round 8 – 16.05.14
Bruzón
1-0
Vallejo
So
1-0
Domínguez
Almasi
 ½-½
Ivanchuk
Round 10 – 18.05.14
Bruzón
-
Domínguez
Vallejo
-
Ivanchuk
So
-
Almasi

The two highest rated players in the Premier section, Yunieski Quesada (2642)
and Peruvian Emilio Cordova (2616) faced each other in round one. Yuniesky's
younger brother, Yasser, a FIDE master rated 2493, may achieve a GM norm if
he is able to score 1.5/2 in the last rounds.

Photos by María del Carmen Ramón

Standings in Premier after seven rounds



Links

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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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randy cabuncal randy cabuncal 5/19/2014 10:30
congratulations wesley so!
nonoyski nonoyski 5/19/2014 06:02
Congratulation Wesley So. You made Philippines proud again with your recent victory.
cptmajormajor cptmajormajor 5/18/2014 11:02
Wesley So has shown massive potential from an early age and its no surprise to me that he is showing such form. Next step is regular invites to the top 10 tournaments. wp sir.
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