Artemiev atop Gibraltar Masters

by Macauley Peterson
2/1/2019 – Vladislav Artemiev left no doubt by winning with Black against Yu Yangyi to take clear first and avoid a possible playoff. It's the first time the Gibraltar Masters has had a single player in first place after ten rounds since 2015. Karthikeyan Murali capped a fantastic tournament by beating Maxim Vachier-Lagrave and thereby finishing in sole second place. Tan Zhongyi from China took the top women's prize | Photo: John Saunders

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Artemiev arrives

In a week that saw the retirement from professional chess of "Big Vlad", a more moderately sized "Vlad" makes his move into the elite ranks. Vladislav (not Vladimir) Artemiev charged up the Gibraltar standings with a take-no-prisoners performance of 8½ / 10, to become the first sole winner after ten classical rounds since Hikaru Nakamura did it in 2015. Not even a tremendous upset on board two could derail the Artemiev Express. Although he surely would have a huge edge in a rapid and blitz playoff against Karthikeyan Murali, who briefly was in the lead after beating Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a must-win game, no such tiebreak was needed.

Artemiev takes home the GBP £25,000 (about USD $32,600) first prize, and has made a rating-breakthrough —he is now number 20 in the world after this gain of 27 Elo points. Along the way, he beat top GMs like David Navara, Yu Yangyi, and Hikaru Nakamura!

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Yu Yangyi 7 0 - 1 Artemiev Vladislav
Karthikeyan Murali 7 1 - 0 7 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime

No playoff needed

A happy Vladislav Artemiev is clearly on the ascent in Russia


Marvellous Murali

There was a large Indian contingent at the Gibraltar Masters — 26 players — led, in rating terms, by B. Adhiban. Karthikeyan started slowly with two draws. That got him somewhat easier pairings than he otherwise might have as he made his climb. But he still faced a tough challenge against Rauf Mamedov (2703) in round eight.

In round nine, he ground out an endgame win against the strong Russian GM Maxim Matlakov (2700). With White in the last round, he was not content with a draw, which would have given him a top ten finish, even against a player of the calibre of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Karthikeyan explained his attitude after the game:

"I agree that I was playing against MVL, but according to the tournament situation I had to win the game to finish on the top. I just wanted to make the best moves. And he also has to make the best moves. If he doesn't then I win the game!"


Karthikeyan earned £20,000 (about USD $26,100) for solo second prize.

"I wanted to win today...he's also human."

Other upsets

Two other smaller upsets in the last round are worth a mention. Levon Aronian made a speculative sacrifice that backfired against David Howell.


Aronian provokes 11...e4 12.♗xe4 dxe4 13.♘bc3 but wasn't able to prove nearly enough compensation for the material deficit.

Hikaru Nakamura, on the adjacent board certainly didn't seem impressed by Aronian's gamble:


Howell scored 5½ out of his last six games to finish tied for 3rd-5th place with Nikita Vitiugov and David Anton.

"I've played Lev a few times and he's bluffed me a couple of times...I was confident in my calculations."

Spanish number three David Anton Guijarro got a minor upset win of his own with black against Arkadij Naiditsch which was heralded by IM Tania Sachdev as "an attacking masterpiece".


Anton's opening of the centre was the knockout blow, ignoring the attack on his e8-rook as 25.exd4 ♞xd4 with a knight hopping into d3 is devastating for the white king.

"I think we were both very tired, we both missed things..."

Tan tops Women

The top women’s prize of £15,000 was won by former Women's World Champion Tan Zhongyi from China. Tan won her last round game over GM Aleksandr Indjic to finish in 20th place overall with 7/10.

Indjic made a misguided attempt at activating his rook in an equal endgame, which cost him a pawn:


29.h4 was unwise. 29...gxh4 30.♖h1 ♞f3 31.♖h3 ♞g5 32.♖xh4 ♞xe4+ and the knight returns to g5 leaving Black a pawn up.

Festival founder Brian Callaghan called Gibraltar "the home of women's chess" at the closing ceremony: "We have had more women entrants than ever before...We will further encourage female players to Gibraltar", he told the packed crowd at the Caleta Hotel on Thursday evening.

Look for more Gibraltar reporting in a story by GM Jan Werle next week!

Results of Round 10 (top 20)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Yu Yangyi 7 0 - 1 Artemiev Vladislav
Karthikeyan Murali 7 1 - 0 7 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
Aronian Levon 0 - 1 Howell David W L
Nakamura Hikaru ½ - ½ Grandelius Nils
Navara David ½ - ½ Melkumyan Hrant
Vitiugov Nikita 1 - 0 Vaibhav Suri
Alekseenko Kirill ½ - ½ Adams Michael
Lalith Babu M R ½ - ½ Saric Ivan
Naiditsch Arkadij 6 0 - 1 Anton Guijarro David
So Wesley 6 1 - 0 6 Deac Bogdan-Daniel
Le Quang Liem 6 1 - 0 6 Santos Latasa Jaime
Mamedov Rauf 6 1 - 0 6 Muzychuk Anna
Matlakov Maxim 6 1 - 0 6 Puranik Abhimanyu
Lagarde Maxime 6 ½ - ½ 6 Cheparinov Ivan
Gukesh D 6 ½ - ½ 6 Adhiban B.
Eljanov Pavel 6 1 - 0 6 Moroni Luca Jr
Edouard Romain 6 1 - 0 6 Gallego Alcaraz Andres Felipe
Indjic Aleksandar 6 0 - 1 6 Tan Zhongyi
Tari Aryan 6 ½ - ½ 6 Chandra Akshat
Antipov Mikhail Al. 6 ½ - ½ 6 Moussard Jules

Standings after Round 10 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Artemiev Vladislav 8,5 2941
2 Karthikeyan Murali 8,0 2747
3 Vitiugov Nikita 7,5 2779
4 Howell David W L 7,5 2705
5 Anton Guijarro David 7,5 2696
6 Navara David 7,0 2790
7 Grandelius Nils 7,0 2771
8 Lalith Babu M R 7,0 2767
9 Le Quang Liem 7,0 2741
10 Saric Ivan 7,0 2736
11 So Wesley 7,0 2734
12 Yu Yangyi 7,0 2715
13 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 7,0 2708
14 Adams Michael 7,0 2706
  Alekseenko Kirill 7,0 2706
16 Nakamura Hikaru 7,0 2703
17 Edouard Romain 7,0 2692
18 Mamedov Rauf 7,0 2681
19 Eljanov Pavel 7,0 2673
20 Melkumyan Hrant 7,0 2659

...250 Players

All games


John Saunders in Gibraltar and IM Sagar Shah of ChessBase India contributed reporting.


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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