Gelfand, standing tall, wins Netanya International

by André Schulz
7/3/2019 – Boris Gelfand turned in a strong second half in Netanya, and put himself in a tie for first with his victory in the eighth round against early-leader Luke McShane. Yesterday, a short draw against co-leader Leinier Dominguez was enough for him to win the tournament thanks to a better tiebreak score. Both finished with 5½ points. Mikhail Antipov won clear first in the Open with 7½/9. | Photos: Yoav Nisenbaum / imt.chess.org.il

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Gelfand, the only undefeated player

Luke McShane had the best start at the Netanya GM tournament and continued to have interesting fights, but after losing the lead, he ended the tournament with just 1½/5 tied for 8th place. His one win in the second half came over the leader Lenier Dominguez however, which proved to be critical to Boris Gelfand's eventual success.

Dominguez dominated the middle part of tournament, but finished with a pair of draws, alongside Boris Gelfand — the best ever Israeli player winning arguable the strongest ever tournament on Israeli soil. The 2012 World Championship challenger acted rather inconspicuously for a long time, but he remained unbeaten, and won when it really mattered. In the last round, he made a quick draw against Dominguez for the tournament victory thanks to better tiebreaks.

Gelfand

Solid and steady, Boris Gelfand | Photo: Yoav Nisenbaum / imt.chess.org.il

Other players were fighting to the very end; Pavel Eljanov and Peter Svidler were able to improve their positions in the final standings with victories over Ilya Smirin and Luke McShane respectively. 

In his game against Eljanov, the enterprising Smirin sacrificed a pawn on white side of a Rossolimo Sicilian, but the Ukrainian coldly took the offered material and kept everything under control.

 

White aims to open Black's king position with 19.f4, but had to hand over another pawn after the retort 19...d4. After 20.f2 xc3 Eljanov later exchanged queens and won the rook ending without difficulty. For Eljanov it was his third consecutive win. 

Peter Svidler finished with back-to-back wins of his own, the last ending Luke McShane tournament on a sour note in a Scottish Four Knights game.

 

Svidler used a two-move tactic to simplify the position 29...xd6 30.xd6 c7 31.cd1 b2 32.h3 xd6 33.xd6 xb3 34.d8+ h7 35.d5 and with ...b5 he had a relatively straightforward technical conversion.

The winners' podium: Dominguez (2nd), Gelfand (1st), Eljanov (3rd) | Photo: imt.chess.org.il

The critical game for Gelfand came in the eighth round, when he met McShane. With the white pieces, Gelfand opted for a classical variation of the King's Indian Defence that led to an early queen swap and offered White a small but long-lasting advantage.

Finally, this position emerged:

 

The a1-rook and the d3-Bishop are attacked. After 36.♖d1 ♝f8 everything would hunky-dory for Black. However, Gelfand found the stronger solution 36.d6 threatening a fork on f7. After 36...♞xa1 37.♘f7+ ♚g8 38.♘xd8 White is winning.

McShane tried the trick 36...e4 (with the idea 37.♗xe4 ♝xa1 38.♘f7+ ♚g7 39.♘xd8 ♞d2+), but after 37.f7+ first ...h7 (now ...Kg8 will allow a check on c4) 38.xe4+ g8 39.xd8 xa1 40.e2 c1+ 41.f3 a2 42.b5 the game was lost as his pieces are too far away to deal with White's queenside pawns adequately.

Results of Rounds 7-9

 
 
 

Final standings

 

All games

 

Antipov wins the Open

Also Mikhail Antipov took a quick draw against Tal Baron in the last round to ensure tournament victory in the Open. After a blistering 5/5 start, he needed to add just one win against the early-leader Dmitry Svetushkin in the second half.

 

Svetushkin played the disastrous 30...f4? and had to resign immediately after 31.f3 1-0 — the double-attack on the pinned bishop is fatal.

For the Moldavian GM, the second half was a nightmare. He lost his last three games to fall from 1st to 24th place!

Winners of the Open: Moiseenko (2nd), Antipov (1st), Baron (3rd) | Photo: Yoav Nisenbaum / imt.chess.org.il

Final standings (top 20)

 

All available games

 

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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