December 2003 tournament review

12/29/2003 – Looking forward to Wijk aan Zee? Already counting the days to Linares? Not so fast. There have been many interesting tournaments in the last month and more are underway. We take you from the land of the Mayans to the Subcontinent with crosstables, games to download, and analysis of the most interesting and important games. More..

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December 2003 tournament review

You'd be doing yourself a disservice by looking ahead to Corus Wijk aan Zee already. We've had plenty of chess action in the past month and there are several interesting events underway in Pamplona and Hastings. Let's take a look at some recent highlights. You can replay the below games and other selected ones here.

Mexico's Yucatan peninsula again hosted the Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial. Despite his too-brief career in the 1920's, the Mexican legend still stands as one of the trio of Latin American greats along with Capablanca and Mecking.

The Latino flag was carried high in this year's edition as unknown 19-year-old Cuban IM Yuniesky Quesada took first place after eliminating European names Luther, Nisipeanu, Gelfand, and previous champion Fillipov. (Photo from the official site.)

The event started with an open swiss that qualified a dozen players to join four invited Grandmasters in the knock-out final (Gelfand, Nisipeanu, Dreev, Filippov). Swiss GM Milov cruised through the qualifier to take first but was swept out of the KO by South Africa's Simutowe. The other early shocker was seeing second-seeded Alexei Dreev knocked out by Mexican IM Espinosa Flores.

2003 Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial - Merida, Mexico


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According to Quesada, the key was his win over top seed Boris Gelfand in their first semi-final game. He said before that he had just been happy to make it out of the qualifier, but the win over the Israeli super-GM gave him confidence that he could win the event. (While it took us a while to figure out all the similar Spanish names and nationalities, Gelfand is repeatedly called German at the official event website. Do they know something we don't?)

Quesada gained the advantage against Gelfand with Black in this position. Perhaps Gelfand missed 30...Qe4?

28...exf4 29.Nxf4?

[Better swindling chances were given by 29.Rdf3! Ref7 (29...fxg3?? 30.Rxf8#; 29...Rxe2+ 30.Kf1 Qxh2 31.Qf6 Re8) 30.Rxg7 (30.h3!? Now h2 won't be under attack after ..fxg3. 30...Kg8 (30...fxg3? 31.Rxf7; 30...Qxg3+ 31.Rxg3 fxg3 32.Nf6 Rg6! Good old Fritz) 31.Rxg7+ Bxg7 32.Qd2 Qg5+ 33.Kh2 Bd4; 30...Bxg7 31.Qc1 Qg4+ 32.Kh1 Bxb2! 33.Qf1 (33.Qxb2+? Rg7) 33...Be5]

29...Qxf4 30.Rdf3 This skewer looks lethal. If the queen moves Rxf8 is mate. But... 30...Qe4 Stepping aside with a pin on the rook. 31.Kg1 Kg8 0-1


The Indian Championship, also known as the Great Indian Marathon, is a 23-round all-play-all that definitely settles the issue of who's the best. Except when it doesn't. Anand, who IS the best, doesn't play. Now Indian number two Sasikiran has also "graduated" and didn't defend his title this year. That left the field without a clear favorite, although youngsters Harikrishna and Koneru had all eyes on them for much of the way.

We won't give the massive crosstable here, but there was a tie for first place between GMs Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda on 17.5/23 after both won with black in the final round. On tiebreaks Ganguly took his first title. Tiebreak points wouldn't have been needed if Sandipan's last-round opponent had finished off an excellent game.

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Tail-ender Sriram had Sandipan on the ropes all the way and passed up several more solid wins by sacrificing a bishop to win with his passed pawns. In this position White still has victory in his grasp. Instead of 43.exd5, White temporarily gives up another piece with 43.c6! and reaches a winning endgame.

43.exd5 [43.c6! Nc3+ (43...Rc7 44.cxd7 Nc3+ 45.Kb2 Na4+ 46.Kb3 Rc3+ 47.Kb4 Rc1 48.Bh4 Nf7 49.d8Q; 43...Nxc6 44.Bxa7 Nc3+ 45.Kc2 Be8 46.Kxc3 b4+ 47.Kb2 Nxa7 48.Re6) 44.Kc2 Bxc6 (44...Rxa6 45.Rxd7+ Nf7 46.Rxf7+ Kg8 47.Rf6!;

44...Nxc6 45.Bxa7) 45.Bxa7 Nxe4 46.Rxd8 Ng5 47.Rc8 Bxf3 48.Rc5 Nf7 49.Bb8 g5 50.Bxe5 g4 51.a7 b4 52.Bc7]

43...Nf7 44.c6 [44.Rxd7 Rxd7 45.c6 Rd8 46.Bc5 Kg7 47.d6 Nxd6 48.Bxd6 Ra8 49.c7 (49.Bxe5+ Kf7 50.c7 Ke6) 49...Kf6 50.a7 Rc8] 44...Bf5+ 45.Kb2 Rxa6 46.Rf6 Kg7 47.Bh4 Bc8 48.Kb3 g5 0-1


Belfort, France has place in chess history for being the site of one of Garry Kasparov's triumphs on his road to the 2800 mark. In 1988 Kasparov won the Belfort World Cup with a sensational 11.5/15. This year Belfort hosted the sixth Comtois Masters tournament. It was won handily by Belgian GM Mikhail Gurevich. Last year's winner, Moroccan Hicham Hamdouchi, finished in the cellar this time around.

The concluding rounds of the event should be disappointing for the organizers. All nine games of the final three rounds were drawn, seven of the them in fewer than 24 moves. No game in the final two rounds lasted longer than 23, with all three of the final round's games totaling 42 moves. Let's hope this pathetic display leads to a shake up of the field next time.

6th Comtois Masters - Belfort, France


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Both of Gurevich's wins against Hamdouchi were one-sided, sacrificial affairs. In the first, in this position, Gurevich shows that the centralized location of the black queen has its disadvantages.

20.Bxf7+ A remarkable clearance sacrifice. Now the rook can capture on c5. 20...Rxf7 [20...Kxf7 21.Rxc5 Qe6 22.Nc7 Qxa2 23.Nxa8] 21.Rxc5 The black queen's only escape squares allow the Nc7 fork. For two pieces White gets rook, pawn, and a winning protected passed pawn on c7.

21...Qe8 [21...Qe6 22.Nc7 (22.d7 Bxd7 23.Nc7 Qxa2 24.Nxa8) 22...Rxc7 23.dxc7] 22.Nc7 Rxc7 23.dxc7 Kh7 24.Rd8 (1-0 in 35)

Also notable was Gurevich's first-round win over Tregubov in one of the strangest, yet successful, hypermodern black openings you'll ever see. Gurevich constantly put his pieces on odd squares and ended up winning purely via domination of the only open file on the board. Do NOT show this game to beginning students!

Replay the selected games here

Mig Greengard


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