Gibraltar 08: Hurricane Ivanchuk is back

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/6/2014 – With a very important victory over Ganguly, Ivanchuk has regained the sole lead in Gibraltar. He is followed closely by Kamsky and Rapport, the only players to have won their round eight game going into it with 5.5/8. The leader will face US Champ Kamsky in a decisive battle in round nine, while Rapport will face the Frenchman MVL in depth round eight analysis.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


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 Eight

Ivanchuk clear first, yet again

Vassily Ivanchuk pulled ahead of the field for the second time when he defeated Surya Ganguly of India in the eighth round of the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters, played at the Caleta Hotel on Tuesday 4 February. He now has 7/8 and the field has become slightly stretched behind him, as Gata Kamsky and Richard Rapport also won to share second place on 6½. Behind them sharing fourth place are no fewer than 18 players on 6, including top seeds Michael Adams and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who have to hope the leaders falter so they can fight for the first prize of £20,000. Amongst the players on 6 are two women players, Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia and Zhao Xue of China, who are the current frontrunners for the women's first prize of £15,000. The game between the overnight round seven leaders was a smooth display of technique from the genial Ukrainian. Playing a Semi-Tarrasch with Black, Ganguly never really seemed to get going and was gradually bullied into submission without making any obvious error.

[Event "Tradewise Chess Congress 2014"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D41"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2619"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11. Rc1 Nc6 ({More frequently seen is} 11... b6 12. Bd3 Bb7 13. O-O h6 14. Rfe1 Nc6 {and now} 15. d5 exd5 16. exd5 Na5 17. d6 {is not out of the question.}) 12. Be2 Qb6 ({Re-routing the knight seems to have been the best plan for Black. This new move looks dubious.} 12... Ne7 {is one idea.}) ({Nigel Short happened to pop by the press room and we had a look at} 12... Qa5 $5 13. Qxa5 Nxa5 14. Rc7 b6 15. Kd2 Bb7 16. Ke3 Rac8 17. Rhc1 Rxc7 18. Rxc7 Rc8 19. Rd7 {after which Nigel thought White had a solid edge.}) 13. O-O Rd8 14. Rc4 ({The routine} 14. Rfd1 $6 {runs into} Nxd4 $1 15. Nxd4 e5 {where Black has freed his game.}) 14... Bd7 {One snag of developing the queen on b6 is that the bishop can't get into the game on b7. It doesn't look happy on d7.} 15. Bd3 {More to prepare Rb1, harassing the black queen, than to launch an attack on the kingside.} Qa5 16. Qb2 Rac8 17. Rfc1 ({ Obviously} 17. Qxb7 $4 Rb8 {loses the queen but the b-pawn remains a liability for Black.}) 17... Nb4 ({This achieves very little. Perhaps} 17... b5 18. R4c3 a6 {was better, though White still has pressure.}) 18. Bf1 $1 Nc6 ({After} 18... Rxc4 19. Rxc4 Nxa2 20. Rc5 Qa4 21. Qxb7 {, Black is running out of moves. }) 19. Rc5 Qb4 {The only move that doesn't lose material.} 20. Qa1 $1 {[diag] Ivanchuk has got a firm grip on the game and now he is ready to boss it from the back rank. There is a simple threat of Rb1 and then Rxb7.} Na5 ({Black's pieces soon get in a terrible tangle after this. Perhaps} 20... Ne7 21. Rb1 Qa4 22. Rxb7 Rxc5 23. dxc5 Qxe4 24. Rxa7 {has to be played, with chances of saving the game despite being a pawn down.}) 21. a3 Qb6 22. Rb1 Nb3 23. Qa2 Ba4 24. Rc4 $1 Qa5 (24... Rxc4 25. Bxc4 Rc8 26. Nd2 $1 {wins material.}) 25. Rxb3 Bxb3 26. Qxb3 {Ivanchuk contents himself with securing two minor pieces for a rook. It's too soon to say the game is over but one can't imagine a player of his calibre letting this slip.} b5 27. Rxc8 Rxc8 28. d5 $1 {Played as much as anything to give the knight a strong launch pad on d4.} Qa4 ({If} 28... Rc3 29. Qd1 {and the d-pawn is ready to launch down the board.}) 29. Qe3 exd5 30. exd5 Qd1 31. Nd4 Kf8 (31... h6 32. Nc6 Kh8 33. Qe5 {puts a ring of steel around the rook, allowing Ivanchuk to proceed with extricating his bishop at his leisure.} ) 32. d6 Re8 33. d7 $1 {[diag]} Rd8 (33... Rxe3 34. d8=Q+ Re8 35. Ne6+ $1 { wins the queen.}) 34. Qe5 {Black probably saw what was coming but sportingly allows the spectators to see the mate.} Rxd7 35. Qb8+ Ke7 36. Nc6+ Kf6 37. Qf4+ Ke6 38. Qe5# 1-0

Rodshtein versus Adams was a very tough game, with the young Israeli giving the number one seed quite a stern test. Though he was a pawn down in the final phase of the game, the commentators half-expected him to prevail with his several strong positional threats. However, Adams is a resourceful defender and he did enough to hold for a draw.

Li Chao versus Maxime Vachier-Lagrave wasn't a bad game either but soon fizzled out to a drawn rook and pawn endgame. On the next boards the two Russians Vitiugov and Dreev had a Slav opening 'discussion' before it too petered out to a draw.

Li Chao vs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

David Pardo Simón did well to beat Daniil Dubov in round seven but was thrown to the lions in round eight when he was paired with Gata Kamsky. Like Ivanchuk, the old pro is getting close to the finishing line and can almost smell the £20,000 winner's cheque. Consequently, he is liable to be very carnivorous when paired with someone rated 2450. This game was one-way traffic but it is instructive to see how he went about winning with Black.

Kamsky trying to get back into the fight

[Event "Tradewise Chess Congress 2014"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Pardo Simon, David"] [Black "Kamsky, Gata"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A80"] [WhiteElo "2450"] [BlackElo "2709"] [PlyCount "48"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. d4 f5 {The Dutch Defence, much favoured by those wanting to win at all costs. And, of course, Gibraltar commentator GM Simon Williams.} 2. Bg5 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 fxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Nc3 (6. Nc5 {is also popular.}) 6... Nh6 7. Nf3 Nf7 8. Be3 Nc6 9. Qd2 Bf5 10. Be2 Qd7 11. O-O-O O-O-O 12. Kb1 Kb8 13. a3 ( 13. Na4 $5 {, intending to go to c5, looks interesting.}) 13... h6 14. h3 g5 15. g4 Be6 16. Rhe1 Rhf8 {[diag]} 17. Nh2 $6 (17. Na4 {is the more positive move, carrying the fight to the enemy. Then} b6 18. Qd3 {and the queen can advance down either diagonal, to a6 or g6. The text looks a little tentative, worrying about Black undermining the g4 pawn.}) 17... Nd6 18. f3 $6 {More of the same.} Bg8 $1 {Black prepares to advance in the centre with ...e5. By going onto the back foot, White has conceded Black a significant initiative.} 19. Nb5 a6 20. Nxd6 Qxd6 21. Nf1 e5 22. dxe5 ({After} 22. c3 Bh7+ 23. Ka2 exd4 24. cxd4 Rde8 {Black has a significant plus but the game move looks worse.}) 22... Qxe5 23. c3 ({After this, White goes down with alarming rapidity.} 23. Qc1 d4 24. Bg1 Qd5 25. b3 Qa5 26. Nd2 {looks horrible but White is still alive. }) 23... d4 24. cxd4 Qd5 (24... Qd5 {White isn't quite dead after} 25. Qc2 Qa2+ 26. Kc1 Bxd4 27. Qb1 Qb3 28. Rd3 Qb6 {but he's pretty much on a life support machine. Most people would want to see something major and tangible happen in order to resign but perhaps the decision is not unreasonable here.}) 0-1

Eric Hansen, playing Black against Pentala Harikrishna, was a pawn up with the better game for quite a while, but the resourceful Indian managed to win the pawn back and draw the endgame.

Hansen had good chances today against Harikrishna

Vitiugov and Dreev are two Russian powerhouses, but they could not best each other

The pairing of Richard Rapport and Wei Yi was a mouth-watering one as both have caused a lot of excitement in the chess world in the last year or so. The game was actually quite a sedate one in many ways but the deeper they progressed into an endgame, the more Rapport's extra experience told.

[Event "Tradewise Chess Congress 2014"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.7"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Wei, Yi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A14"] [WhiteElo "2691"] [BlackElo "2607"] [PlyCount "113"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Be7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d5 6. b3 b6 7. Bb2 Bb7 8. e3 c5 9. Nc3 Nc6 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. d4 Qf5 13. Ne5 (13. dxc5 Rad8 14. Qe2 Bxc5 {has been seen before, when the position is approximately level.}) 13... Nxe5 {Only move but perfectly OK.} 14. Bxb7 Rad8 15. Qe2 Qd3 16. Ba6 Qxe2 17. Bxe2 cxd4 18. Bxd4 {White has the two bishops, so can be considered to have a slight edge, but he plays very conservatively over the next few moves.} Nc6 19. Bc3 Ba3 20. Rab1 Nb4 21. Bb2 Bxb2 22. Rxb2 Rc8 23. Rd1 Rfd8 24. Rxd8+ Rxd8 25. a3 Nd5 26. Rc2 Kf8 27. e4 Nf6 28. f3 Ke7 29. Kf2 Ne8 30. Bb5 Rd1 31. Ke2 Rb1 32. b4 Rh1 {[diag] White decides to go on the offensive rather than use his rook to defend the h2-pawn.} 33. Rc8 Nd6 34. Rc7+ Kf6 35. Bd3 Rxh2+ 36. Ke3 g5 37. Rd7 (37. Rxa7 Rh3 38. Rd7 Ne8 39. g4 {is not quite clear.}) 37... Ne8 (37... Nc8 {may be a better bet.}) 38. f4 $5 ({Eschewing the obvious, perhaps fearful of} 38. Rxa7 Rh3 39. g4 h5 40. gxh5 g4 41. h6 Nd6 {which might be OK for Black.}) 38... Rh3 39. e5+ Kg7 40. Kf2 ({In no particular time trouble, White makes a weird choice on the final move before the time control. } 40. Kf3 {feels more natural.}) 40... gxf4 41. gxf4 Kf8 42. f5 $5 a5 (42... exf5 43. Bc4 {would be bad for Black.}) 43. b5 {[diag]} exf5 $6 (43... a4 $5 { is interesting. White's rook is tied to the defence of the bishop so can't go after the a-pawn with 44.Ra7, and White may feel he cannot move the bishop for fear that the a3 may drop off. However,} 44. Be4 $5 {and if} Rxa3 $2 45. f6 { White sets up a deadly attack with Bc6 and Rd8.}) (43... Rh2+ $5 {looks better: } 44. Kf3 Ra2 {and there is no obvious plan to improve White's game.}) 44. Bc4 $1 {A pawn sacrifice but a powerful one. White has (or will have) a threefold advantage: good bishop for bad knight, the initiative on the seventh rank and (in a few moves' time) two advanced passed pawns.} Rxa3 45. Rxf7+ Kg8 46. Rf6+ Kg7 47. Rxb6 $1 Rc3 48. Rb7+ Kh6 49. Bf7 Rc8 (49... Ng7 50. b6 Rc2+ 51. Kf3 Rc3+ 52. Kf4 Rc1 53. Rc7 Rf1+ 54. Ke3 Re1+ 55. Kd4 {and White's pawns are on the move, while Black's are going nowhere.}) 50. Re7 Nc7 (50... Ng7 51. b6 a4 52. b7 Rc2+ 53. Kf3 Rb2 54. Bd5 {soon wins.}) 51. b6 Na6 52. Ra7 Nb4 53. e6 Nd3+ 54. Ke3 Ne5 55. b7 Rb8 56. e7 $1 Nxf7 57. Ra8 1-0

There was a surprise in an all-Spanish match-up between Paco Vallejo Pons and David Anton Guijarro, who were both on 5/7 at the start of the round. This might have been partially ascribable to the top Spanish GM's misfortune earlier in the day in having his car clamped in Gibraltar. Hopefully this will not lead to an international incident. But it definitely wasn't a good day for the genial Spanish número uno.

[Event "Tradewise Chess Congress 2014"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.9"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Anton Guijarro, David"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2707"] [BlackElo "2557"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/b7/8/P2R2p1/5pk1/8/2KB2P1/r7 w - - 0 48"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {[diag] Black had been pressing and probing for some time when this position arose and suddenly his determination was rewarded.} 48. Bc1 $2 (48. Re5 {and White is still holding Black at bay.}) 48... Be3 $1 49. Bb2 (49. Bxe3 fxe3 { and White has a problem. If he plays Kd3 (or Kd2 after the e-pawn has advanced to e2) then Rd1+ will win. So instead} 50. Re5 Kf4 51. Re7 Rxa5 {and White is losing.}) (49. Bd2 Bxd2 50. Kxd2 Ra2+ 51. Kd3 Rxg2 {wins.}) 49... Rg1 50. a6 Rxg2+ 51. Kb3 Rh2 52. Bf6 Rh5 53. Re5 (53. Bd4 Bxd4 54. Rxd4 Rh7 {and the two connected pawns win.}) 53... Ba7 54. Kc4 f3 $1 55. Re1 f2 56. Rd1 Kf3 0-1

The two leaders in the race for the women's first prize owed their victories in this round to their tactical acumen. Firstly, Zhao Xue, who started slowly but has now won her last four games, found a tricky tactic to defeat Ralf Akesson of Sweden.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2014"] [Site "The Caleta Hotel - Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.16"] [White "Akesson, Ralf"] [Black "Zhao, Xue"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2447"] [BlackElo "2567"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5k1/1b1nqrbp/pp4p1/2pp4/6n1/1PNP1NP1/PB2QPBP/R4RK1 w - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "44"] [EventDate "2014.01.28"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 17. Rae1 $2 ({This routine move in a slightly worse position has a tactical flaw. Instead White might have tried a tactic himself:} 17. d4 $5 cxd4 18. Qxe7 Rxe7 19. Nxd4 $1 Bxd4 20. Nxd5 $1 Re5 21. Bxd4 Bxd5 22. Bxe5 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Ngxe5 {and White has achieved a much better version of the rook versus two knights configuration which occurs in the game.}) 17... Qxe2 18. Rxe2 Bxc3 19. Bxc3 d4 $1 {Black attacks two pieces at once.} 20. Ng5 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 dxc3 22. Nxf7 Kxf7 23. Rc1 Nge5 24. Rxc3 Nc6 25. b4 $5 {A desperate attempt to get some play and not be strangled by the knights.} Nxb4 26. d4 Nd5 27. Rf3+ N7f6 28. dxc5 bxc5 29. Rc2 Rc8 30. Rc4 Rc6 31. g4 h6 32. h4 Nb6 33. Rc2 Kg7 34. Re2 (34. Ra3 Nbd5 35. Rc4 {might be more resilient.}) 34... Nfd5 35. Re8 c4 36. g5 hxg5 37. hxg5 c3 38. Rff8 Ne7 $1 {Rather a neat way to tie up the two rooks.} 0-1

Lela Javakhishvili's combination against Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian was even more devilish.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2014"] [Site "The Caleta Hotel - Gibraltar"] [Date "2014.02.04"] [Round "8.17"] [White "Javakhishvili, Lela"] [Black "Mekhitarian, Krikor Sevag"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2430"] [BlackElo "2566"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1rb2rk1/2q3bp/p7/2pPpp2/2P5/Q1N5/1P4PP/3RRB1K w - - 0 28"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2014.01.28"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {The position is roughly equal. But the knight which is about to land on the rim is very far from dim. In fact, it holds a first class degree in pure and applied tactics from the University of Cheapoville.} 28. Na4 $1 Rb4 $2 ({The best an engine can come up with is} 28... Rf6 $5 29. Qxc5 {, giving up the c5-pawn:} Qxc5 30. Nxc5 Bf8 31. Na4 Bd7 32. Nc3 Rxb2 33. Rxe5 {, which still might be quite decent for White. The text is cleverly refuted.}) 29. d6 $1 Qc6 30. Nxc5 $1 Qxc5 31. Rd5 Qb6 32. c5 Qb8 ({One nifty line goes} 32... Qb7 33. c6 $1 {and if} Qxc6 34. Qxb4 {when} Qxd5 {loses the queen to} 35. Bc4 {, etc.}) 33. d7 Bxd7 34. Rxd7 Rc8 (34... Rxb2 $2 35. Qg3 $1 {is a bone-crusher.}) (34... Rb7 {is Black's best chance:} 35. Rxb7 Qxb7 36. Bxa6 Qc7 37. b4 e4 38. Bc4+ Kh8 39. b5 {and the two connected passed pawns should triumph.}) 35. Qxa6 (35. Bxa6 $1 Rxc5 36. Red1 {is more precise.}) 35... Rxc5 (35... Kh8 {keeps the game going.}) 36. Qe6+ Kh8 37. Qe7 (37. Qe7 Qf8 38. Rd8 {wins.}) 1-0

There were one or two other commendable efforts from women competitors:

Hoang Thanh Trang (right) defeated 2733-rated fifth seed
Pavel Eljanov and left him languishing on 4½/8

Mariya Muzychuk beat Emil Sutovsky.
Such is the lure of the £15,000 first women's prize.

Bo.   Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts.   Name Rtg
1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2739 6 1 - 0 6 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2619
2 GM Rodshtein Maxim 2682 ½ - ½ GM Adams Michael 2754
3 GM Li Chao B 2680 ½ - ½ GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2745
4 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2737 ½ - ½ GM Dreev Aleksey 2673
5 IM Pardo Simon David 2450 0 - 1 GM Kamsky Gata 2709
6 GM Harikrishna P. 2706 ½ - ½ GM Hansen Eric 2559
7 GM Rapport Richard 2691 1 - 0 GM Wei Yi 2607
8 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2715 5 ½ - ½ GM Edouard Romain 2658
9 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2707 5 0 - 1 5 GM Anton Guijarro David 2557
10 GM Maze Sebastien 2536 5 ½ - ½ 5 GM Navara David 2702
11 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2672 5 1 - 0 5 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2527
12 GM Libiszewski Fabien 2533 5 0 - 1 5 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2597
13 GM Adhiban B. 2590 5 1 - 0 5 GM El Debs Felipe De Cresce 2520
14 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2483 5 ½ - ½ 5 GM Mareco Sandro 2582
15 GM Fier Alexandr 2572 5 0 - 1 5 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2476

All Photos and report by John Saunders from the Press Release


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.

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register