Closing Gala in Gibraltar

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/10/2014 – With the best open of the year coming to an end it was necessary to host a traditional closing gala to celebrate the event. The players were of course eager to receive their prizes and to enjoy some relaxing time together. Mariya Muzychuk won best women's, while Fier and Adams shared best game. Additionally, we bring you commentary of what proved to be the fateful and decisive rapid games.

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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.


The first match of the playoffs was between Vassily Ivanchuk and Nikita Vitiugov. The first game was a relatively uneventful draw and so was the second, so the players went into a blitz tiebreak. Things were going smoothly for Ivanchuk in the following game but the position was too murky to evaluate clearly in the short time frame:

[Event "Gibraltar Masters TB 2014"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2014.02.06"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Black "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D28"] [WhiteElo "2737"] [BlackElo "2739"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2014.02.06"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O Nc6 {Committing the knight to c6 is not the usual approach in the Queen's Gambit Accepted. The move a6 first is preferred, although it scores horrendously at the grandmaster level.} 7. Qe2 a6 8. Rd1 {This is the difference with the move order, White doesn't need to fear b5 here.} b5 9. Bb3 $6 (9. dxc5 $1 Qc7 10. Bd3 Bxc5 11. a4 $14) 9... c4 10. Bc2 Nb4 11. e4 Bb7 12. d5 {The central expansion looks dangerous, but both players are out of their opening theory knowledge.} Nxc2 13. dxe6 $6 {Fighting chess. Black isn't actually forced to sacrifice anything here, but Ivanchuk sees a chance.} Nxa1 (13... Qc7 14. exf7+ Qxf7 15. Qxc2 Bc5 $17 {with obvious compensation for the pawn.}) 14. Rxd8+ Rxd8 15. exf7+ Kxf7 16. Ng5+ Kg8 {Black has more than enough material for the queen, the question is wether his king will survive and will his knight be rescued from a1.} 17. e5 Ne4 18. Ne6 Re8 19. Nxf8 Kxf8 20. f3 Nc5 21. Be3 Nd3 22. Bd4 Rd8 23. Bb6 Rd5 24. f4 Kf7 $2 {A bad blunder. It was already mandatory to ptay attention to the knight. The king is actually safer on f8 than on f7.} (24... Nxf4 $1 25. Qf3 Ke8 $1 {The knight on f4 is poisoned, so the game turns very complex.} 26. Nc3 $13 (26. Qxf4 Rd1+ 27. Kf2 Rf8 $19)) 25. Nc3 h5 26. e6+ Ke7 27. Nxd5+ Bxd5 28. f5 {Black's still ahead in material, but that knight is doomed and his king is unsafe.} Kd6 29. Bd4 Rg8 30. Qxh5 Nc2 31. Bb6 Kc6 32. Qf7 Rc8 33. Qd7+ Kxb6 34. Qxc8 Nd4 35. h3 Nxf5 36. e7 Nxe7 37. Qd8+ Kc6 38. Qxe7 Nxb2 39. Qxg7 Na4 40. h4 c3 41. h5 c2 42. Qg6+ {Truly complex game, but one in which Ivanchuk got lost on his own.} 1-0

Ivanchuk having to win with the White pieces in the second blitz tiebreak played powerful chess and had Vitiugov pinned against the ropes. However in time pressure he let go of his advantage gradually until Black's position became very strong. Eventually the Ukrainian player even overstepped the time limit allowing Vitiugov to fight for Gibraltar's first place.

Cheparinov was the opponent waiting for the Russian player. Somewhat more rested and in good spirits after beaitng Kamsky in a long game in the morning, the Bulgarian was certainly not afraid to enter complications. He won in a positional game when Vitiugov blundered away his position in what should probably have been a draw. With Cheparinov only needing a draw in the last game he resorted to... the King's Indian!

[Event "Gibraltar Masters TB 2014"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2014.02.06"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Black "Cheparinov, Ivan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A65"] [WhiteElo "2737"] [BlackElo "2672"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2014.02.06"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {After a relatively uninteresting game in which Vitiugov simply blundered near the end, Cheparinov needed only a draw to win the first prize in Gibraltar. His opening choice was less than orthodox for the situation.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 $5 {Even the Grunfeld has more drawish lines than the King's Indian Defense!} 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Nge2 c5 7. d5 e6 8. Ng3 exd5 9. cxd5 a6 10. a4 h5 11. Bg5 Qe8 12. Bd3 Nh7 13. Bf4 Qe7 {A Benoni structure has arisen and Vitiugov couldn't have been unhappy with the double edged nature of the position. However Black isn't without his chances. White is fighting to contain black who will fall apart without counterplay, meanwhile Black searches for breakthroughs all over the board.} 14. Nge2 Nd7 15. O-O h4 16. h3 {Allowing h3 is not in White's plans.} Ne5 17. Bc2 Bd7 18. a5 Rae8 19. Ba4 f5 20. Bxd7 (20. exf5 Rxf5 (20... gxf5 21. Re1 {isn't as comfortable as in the game.}) 21. Bc2 $5) 20... Qxd7 21. exf5 gxf5 22. Ra4 $5 {The rook is surprisingly well placed on a4, where it pressure h4.} Ng6 23. Bc1 Nf6 24. Bg5 $1 Nh7 25. Bxh4 {Vitiugov has won a pawn, but Black keeps compensation in the form of kingside pressure. In Rapid game this is not easy to deal with.} f4 26. Bf2 Ng5 27. Kh2 {Avoiding mating sacrifices is the main purpose of this move, but the kingside starts to feel uncomfortable.} (27. h4 $2 {Riskier, forcing Black to prove an all or nothing attack now.} Nxf3+ $1 (27... Nh7 28. h5 {is positionally horrible as he will lose f4 next.}) 28. gxf3 Qh3 29. Ne4 $1 Bh6 $1 {And Black's attack rages on.}) 27... Rf5 28. Ng1 Be5 {The x-ray is always annoying.} 29. Qc2 Kg7 30. Ne4 Rh8 {It's hard to suggest a plan of action for White. He is up a pawn but pinned down, however his next move is not good.} 31. Nxg5 Rxg5 32. Re4 Qb5 $6 {Too risky!} (32... Rh6 $1 33. Rfe1 Ne7 $1 {And the pressure continues.}) 33. Rb1 Qxa5 34. b4 cxb4 35. Rexb4 b5 {Pawns are now equal, but how does Black's king feel about that L-Shaped attack coming his way?} 36. Re4 (36. Ne2 $1 {Was better, the knight isn't doing much now that there are no sacrifices to be worried about.}) 36... Nh4 37. Bxh4 Rxh4 38. Ne2 Qb6 39. Rf1 b4 40. Nc1 Rh6 41. Qc4 Rhg6 42. Re2 Qb5 $1 {Exclamation mark because of the tournament situation. Cheparinov correctly predicts that he can hold the draw in the ensuing endgame rather than keep the position double edged.} 43. Qxb5 axb5 44. Nd3 b3 45. Rb1 b2 46. Nxe5 Rxe5 47. Rxe5 (47. Rexb2 Rxd5 48. Rxb5 Rd2 $11 {got White nowhere.}) 47... dxe5 48. Rxb2 Rb6 $1 {The power of the rook behind the passed pawn! White's rook is passive and his king is still far from the action.} 49. g4 fxg3+ 50. Kxg3 b4 51. Kg4 Kf6 52. h4 b3 53. h5 Rb4+ 54. Kg3 Kg5 55. Kf2 Kxh5 56. Ke3 Kg6 57. d6 Kf6 {With no hopes to win the game Vitiugov concedes the draw and Cheparinov emerges the winner of Gibraltar!} 1/2-1/2

Closing Gala

The prize ceremony was a well orchestrated and beautiful event. With many prizes to give out the players were looking forward to a night of relaxation, joy and even some dancing.

Eric Hansen (Canada, left) shared second in the U2650 prize, but had the best tiebreaks. He was actually not the player with the second best score to be reated under 2650, but the player that did - Al-Sayed, was only eligible for the U2550 prize!

A nice dinner to cool off after a tournament.

Lela Javakhishvili's performance was good enough for a GM norm and +22.5 rating points. Not bad!

Three women, three GM norms: Tan Zhongyi (China), Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine)
and Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia), with English GM Raymond Keene

Muzychuk (Mariya, not Anna) took best women's prize worth £15,000!

Guo Qi scored an IM norm. Here she is pictured with Spanish chess celebrity Leontxo Garcia

Malcolm Pein, director of the London Classic, said a few words at the closing ceremony

Some of the top finishers: left to right Sergei Movsesian, David Navara, Romain Edouard, Pentala Harikrishna and a still visibly upset Gata Kamsky who lost to Cheparinov that morning

In better spirits Ivan Salgado, Richard Rapport and Michael Adams

England's number one Michael Adams and Brazil's number two Alexandr Fier played a ferocious battle and split the £1,000 best game prize

Untouchable in the rapids: Cheparinov wins Gibraltar!

The biggest winners: £20,000 and £15,000, respectively

Simon Williams did a magnificent and entertaining live commentary throughout the event

What's there to do when there is no more tournament? Well play more chess, obviously

Final Standings

Note: ordered by tiebreak which was performance - variable with parameter

Rk. Name Rtg FED Pts.  TB1  Rp
1 Ivanchuk Vassily 2739 UKR 8.0 2846 2837
2 Vitiugov Nikita 2737 RUS 8.0 2832 2825
3 Cheparinov Ivan 2672 BUL 8.0 2742 2737
4 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2745 FRA 7.5 2807 2798
5 Rodshtein Maxim 2682 ISR 7.5 2780 2776
6 Li Chao B 2680 CHN 7.5 2735 2731
7 Adhiban B. 2590 IND 7.5 2720 2720
8 Dreev Aleksey 2673 RUS 7.5 2712 2709
9 Al-Sayed Mohammed 2476 QAT 7.5 2672 2669
10 Adams Michael 2754 ENG 7.0 2717 2710
11 Rapport Richard 2691 HUN 7.0 2709 2705
12 Harikrishna P. 2706 IND 7.0 2705 2702
13 Kamsky Gata 2709 USA 7.0 2693 2691
14 Hansen Eric 2559 CAN 7.0 2679 2679
15 Edouard Romain 2658 FRA 7.0 2676 2672
16 Navara David 2702 CZE 7.0 2672 2667
17 Tomashevsky Evgeny 2715 RUS 7.0 2668 2666
18 Movsesian Sergei 2677 ARM 7.0 2668 2665
19 Muzychuk Mariya 2503 UKR 7.0 2654 2654
20 Wei Yi 2607 CHN 7.0 2650 2650
21 Salgado Lopez Ivan 2597 ESP 7.0 2642 2642
22 Agdestein Simen 2627 NOR 7.0 2616 2615
23 Salem A.R. Saleh 2564 UAE 7.0 2596 2596
24 Henrichs Thomas 2477 GER 7.0 2569 2566
25 Zhao Xue 2567 CHN 7.0 2566 2561
26 Zhukova Natalia 2449 UKR 7.0 2558 2553
27 Mareco Sandro 2582 ARG 6.5 2633 2633
28 Spraggett Kevin 2544 CAN 6.5 2629 2629
29 Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2619 IND 6.5 2613 2608

All Photos by John Saunders


The games will be 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 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Topics Gibraltar

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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