Cheparinov surprise winner in Gibraltar

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/7/2014 – After Ivanchuk was holding on to his leader position for so many rounds, and with a pack of 2700s usually only half a point behind, it was a mystery that Ivan Cheparinov was able to become the 2014 Gibraltar Tradewise Chess Festival's champion! With a string of victories in the last three rounds and with luck on his side in the playoffs the Bulgarian emerged victorious.

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The traditional Gibraltar Chess Congress has begun! The 12th edition of this event is under way, but the main attraction - the Masters Section, will begin tomorrow. The Masters section entries are closed and the pairings are ready for the tournament to begin.

Round Nine

Bo. No. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg
1 7 Kamsky Gata 2709 ½ - ½ 7 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2739
2 2 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2745 6 1 - 0 GM Rapport Richard 2691
3 1 Adams Michael 2754 6 ½ - ½ 6 GM Adhiban B. 2590
4 23 Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2619 6 0 - 1 6 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2737
5 34 Zhao Xue 2567 6 1 - 0 6 GM Harikrishna P. 2706
6 28 Salgado Lopez Ivan 2597 6 ½ - ½ 6 GM Rodshtein Maxim 2682
7 39 Hansen Eric 2559 6 ½ - ½ 6 GM Li Chao B 2680
8 16 Dreev Aleksey 2673 6 1 - 0 6 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2564
9 40 Anton Guijarro David 2557 6 0 - 1 6 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2672
10 20 Edouard Romain 2658 6 ½ - ½ 6 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2430
11 68 Al-Sayed Mohammed 2476 6 1 - 0 GM Bologan Viktor 2661
12 24 Dubov Daniil 2614 ½ - ½ GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2511
13 25 Sandipan Chanda 2609 0 - 1 IM Muzychuk Mariya 2503
14 26 Wei Yi 2607 1 - 0 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2483
15 38 Lenderman Aleksandr 2562 ½ - ½ GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2715

Kamsky and Ivanchuk drew at the top allowing Rapport to potentially join the Ukrainian in the summit. However quite the contrary happened as Vachier-Lagrave took him down to take fate into his own hands and playing Ivanchuk on the last round. Vitiugov, Zhao Xue (!), Dreev and Cheparinov also joined Kamsky in the pack of players with 7.0/9

Kamsky getting ready for a decisive game

Tan Zhongyi had good chances for best women's prize,
but losing to Wei Yi diminished her chances greatly

Zhao Xue however entered round 10 half a point away from clinching best woman

Round Ten

With everything on the line - the prize difference between first and second and third being so big - players were eager to play fighting and exciting chess to risk it all. The first example of this could be seen on the first board:

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2014"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2014.02.06"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A39"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2745"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2014.01.28"] [Source "Chess Today"] [SourceDate "2014.02.06"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 cxd4 7. Nxd4 Nc6 8. Nc3 Qa5 9. Nb3 Qh5 $5 {Black's intention to sacrifice a piece on g4 is now clear. It doesn't make sense to parade the Queen around the board without the sacrifice. Vachier-Lagrave goes for aggression rather than waiting passively in a long English endgame. Notice that Ivanchuk has no intention of playing for a draw either - a win will secure him first place and he won't have to deal with the randomness of the playoffs.} 10. h3 d6 11. g4 Bxg4 (11... Qe5 12. f4 {is not good.}) 12. hxg4 Nxg4 13. Bf4 Be5 {Black is hoping to deliver a quick mate, but since Ivanchuk is clearly not going to let him do that what he is hoping for is to have sufficient initiative to compensate for the missing piece. The two pawns help out, but more importantly White's pieces are currently not doing anything.} 14. Qd2 g5 $1 {Anything else is too slow, Black must force this dark squared bishop off the board without allowing the queen to the kingside.} (14... Bxf4 15. Qxf4 g5 16. Qg3 {and the queen on g3 is a monstrous defender.}) 15. Bxe5 Ncxe5 16. Rfc1 f5 $5 (16... Nxc4 {had been seen before. It seems to promise Black equality, but no more. Maybe here Vachier-Lagrave wanted to risk it all.} 17. Qd3 Nce3 $1 {A beautiful point.} 18. fxe3 Qh4 {Now the draw is unavoidable.} 19. Nd5 Qf2+ 20. Kh1 Qh4+ 21. Kg1 Qf2+ 22. Kh1 Qh4+ {1/2-1/2 Zhou Jianchao - Matlakov, Kazan 2013.}) 17. Nd4 $5 ( 17. Qd5+ $6 Kh8 18. Qd4 {Pinning the knight on e5, was one way to continue. However the advance of the f-pawn is now dangerous.} f4 19. Nd1 Nh2 $1 $17 { and the f3 threat is very uncomfortable. Notice how Uncoordinated White is.}) ( 17. Nd1 Ng6 $1 {Reroutes the knight to f4. Black still holds a lot of compensation, but how much will be left to future generations of sacrificial grandmasters.}) 17... Qh2+ 18. Kf1 Nxf2 19. Kxf2 {This move leads to a forced draw,} (19. Nf3 Nxf3 20. Bxf3 $1 {Black has three pawns for the piece, but maybe his pieces on the kingside are somewhat stuck. White has some immediate threats - could this have been the path for Gibraltar victory for Ivanchuk?}) 19... Ng4+ 20. Kf1 f4 $1 21. Qd3 Qh4 $1 (21... Ne3+ $2 22. Ke1 Qxg2 23. Kd2 $18 {and the tables have completely turned. Now White's king is safe and Black's king is the one that will quickly be annihilated after Rg1.}) 22. Nd1 Ne3+ 23. Nxe3 fxe3+ 24. Kg1 Qf2+ 25. Kh1 Qh4+ (25... Rf6 {no one ain't got time for that...} 26. Nf5 $1 Rxf5 27. Rf1 Qh4+ 28. Kg1 {and White not only holds, he wins.}) 26. Kg1 Qf2+ 27. Kh1 Qh4+ {An amazing way to finish off Gibraltar's Master tournament! And off to the play-offs for Ivanchuk} 1/2-1/2

With Ivanchuk's draw the door was open for players to try to catch him in the final round, but just because people are playing fighting chess doesn't meant they will best their opponent. The following results stood out:

Bo.   Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg
1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2739 ½ - ½ 7 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2745
2 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2737 7 1 - 0 7 GM Zhao Xue 2567
3 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2672 7 1 - 0 7 GM Kamsky Gata 2709
4 GM Dreev Aleksey 2673 7 ½ - ½ 7 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2476
5 GM Wei Yi 2607 ½ - ½ GM Adams Michael 2754
6 GM Rapport Richard 2691 ½ - ½ GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2597
7 GM Adhiban B. 2590 1 - 0 GM Short Nigel D 2683
8 GM Rodshtein Maxim 2682 1 - 0 GM Mareco Sandro 2582
9 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2430 0 - 1 GM Li Chao B 2680
10 GM Edouard Romain 2658 ½ - ½ GM Hansen Eric 2559
11 IM Muzychuk Mariya 2503 ½ - ½ GM Agdestein Simen 2627
12 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2715 6 1 - 0 6 GM Anton Guijarro David 2557
13 GM Cramling Pia 2525 6 0 - 1 6 GM Navara David 2702
14 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2511 6 ½ - ½ 6 IM Dvirnyy Danyyil 2574
15 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2562 6 0 - 1 6 GM Zhukova Natalia 2449

Vitiugov's win over Zhao Xue was important not only because the Russian caught Ivanchuk and forced a playoff, but also because it left open the possibility for other ladies to catch Zhao Xue and potentially pass her on tiebreak (performance rating). This is indeed what happened as Mariya Muzychuk drew Agdestein and her massive TPR (tournament performance rating, which was at 2650+) allowed her to take best woman. Lenderman's loss to Zhukova guaranteed Zhukova's third place in the famel section as Li Chao beat Javakhishvili who had a monster tournament.

Back to the top boards Cheparinov bested Kamsky in a game which he was winning the entire time. Dreev and Al-Sayed shared the point and neither of them amde it to the final playoffs.

Vitiugov crushed Zhao Xue's dreams while advancing his own

Lawrence Trent made the fatal mistake of exchanging queens with Ulf Andersson. How can you expect to beat the endgame legend without your most powerful piece!? He was able to somehow draw the game regardless.

Dreev and Al-Sayed split the point and no one was benefited by this


The playoff system when there are three players in Gibraltar is hard to explain. One players gets to 'sit out' and wait for the winner of the other two players in the finals, but this isn't done by a tournament tiebreak or any other method, its just luck. This seems unfair to Ivancuhk especially as he had by far the most impressive performance solidly holding board one throughout the event.

As fate would have it he played Vitiugov. No stranger to playoffs in Gibraltar, Vitiugov vanquished Short last year to get the title. This year he beat Ivanchuk quite convincingly.

Ivanchuk and Vitiugov had almost no rest time before their rapid match

In the final he met with Cheparinov. The Bulgarian player had a long game against Kamsky in the tournament but had time to rest while the other players duked it out. The first game was interesting and the Bulgarian took advantage of Vitiugov's blunder in an endgame that should be drawn to win game one, and then held on on game two to take the first prize.

At 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move anything can happen, especially when the players are exhausted

We will bring you full analysis of these games and a report of the closing gala in a report later today, meanwhile here are the games of the playoff:

Playoff Games

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

With this draw clinched Cheparinov won against Vitiugov 1.5-0.5 and claimed the tournament!

All Photos by John Saunders


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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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