Gibraltar: Four Amigos and the Battle of the Sexes

1/28/2013 – After four rounds of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2013 there were four players in the lead with perfect 4.0/4 scores, after five rounds just two were left (Le Quang Liem and Nikita Vitiugov) and after six there are three GMs with 5.5/6 points. We bring you another long and very entertaining report by John Saunders, with pictures and analysis, but which ends in something completely different.

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The four amigos

Report after round four by John Saunders

Yes, I’m messing with your brain again. In the film there were three amigos. At the end of round four of the Gibraltar Masters, played at the Caleta Hotel, there were four young men, aged between 18 and 25, in the lead. Chess is increasingly a young person’s game. By the end of play the four leaders with a 4/4 maximum score were Eduardo Iturrizaga from Venezuela, Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Nikita Vitiugov of Russia and Dariusz Swiercz of Poland. The group of seventeen players on 3½ included Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky who have recovered from their slow starts.

Dariusz Swiercz, who is from Poland and just 18, produced the surprise of the round with his defeat of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France. But perhaps we should not be too surprised as Dariusz is already rated 2627 and won the 2011 World Junior Championship in India. He and the French GM (also a former winner of the World Junior title, incidentally) went toe to toe in a complex game of fighting chess.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.25"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Swiercz, Dariusz"] [Black "Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B42"] [WhiteElo "2627"] [BlackElo "2711"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Bc5 6. Nb3 Ba7 7. Qe2 Nc6 8. Be3 Bxe3 9. Qxe3 Nf6 10. Nc3 d6 11. O-O-O e5 (11... O-O 12. f4 Qc7 13. Rhg1 b5 14. g4 b4 15. g5 Ne8 {is a vintage line from some years ago in which White seems to have the upper hand.}) 12. g3 Be6 13. f4 b5 14. Kb1 Rb8 15. Be2 O-O 16. f5 Bxb3 17. axb3 (17. cxb3 {is also feasible, intending to put the c-file to use.}) 17... Nd4 (17... Qa5 {is a sharp line which was looked at by the commentary team of Simon Williams and Irina Krush.}) 18. g4 (18. Rxd4 $5 exd4 19. Qxd4 {is a possibility but White might not have quite enough for the sacrifice.}) 18... b4 19. Na4 d5 20. exd5 Re8 (20... Qxd5 {seems to make sense since} 21. g5 {can be answered by} Qe4 {and Black is doing fine.}) 21. d6 $1 ({ A useful deflection of the black queen. If White plays the immediate} 21. g5 Nxd5 22. Qe4 {, Black has} Qxg5 $1 23. Qxd5 Nxe2 {which could be pretty good for Black.}) 21... Qxd6 22. g5 Nd5 23. Qe4 Rec8 {[diag] Material is level but the position is wide open and very imbalanced.} 24. Rhe1 $1 ({Very enterprising.} 24. Bc4 $2 {runs into big trouble after} Rxc4 $1 25. bxc4 Nc3+ $3 {and Black wins. 24 Bd3 is possible, however.}) 24... Rxc2 ({Black is brave and takes the bait but} 24... f6 {is a more cautious move and probably better.} ) 25. Bf3 $1 (25. Rxd4 Rxe2 26. Rxe2 exd4 27. Qxd4 {works out about equal, but White wants more from the position. As played, White is threatening the knight on d5, and to play Rxd4 followed by Qxc2, so Black has to take drastic action.} ) 25... Nc3+ $5 {The only move to carry the fight to the white king.} 26. bxc3 Rxc3 (26... bxc3 27. Rxd4 {and Black's various tries don't work, e.g.} Qa3 28. Kxc2 Qa2+ 29. Kd3 Qd2+ 30. Kc4 {and the king is safe despite its apparent exposure in the middle of the board.}) 27. Qd5 $1 ({White is a piece up and wants a queen exchange. In avoiding it, Black has to retreat.} 27. Nxc3 bxc3 { forces} 28. Rxd4 {when} Qa3 $5 {leads to murky complications.}) 27... Qc7 28. Nxc3 {Safer than previously as Black doesn't have the Qa3 possibility.} bxc3 29. Rxd4 $1 {White needs to be rid of the powerful knight on d4.} exd4 30. g6 d3 31. Qxd3 ({Analysis engines might want to play something bizarre like} 31. Bh5 {in this position but most humans would prefer not to take chances with connected passed pawns bearing down on their monarch.}) 31... Rxb3+ 32. Kc1 Rb8 33. Bd5 Qa5 {Now White can force the rooks off and use his extra piece to win the endgame.} 34. gxf7+ Kf8 35. Re8+ Rxe8 36. fxe8=Q+ Kxe8 37. Qe4+ Kd8 38. Kc2 Qa3 39. Qh4+ Ke8 40. Bc6+ Kf7 41. Bd5+ Ke8 42. Qe1+ Kd8 43. Qe6 Qb2+ 44. Kd3 Qxh2 45. Qg8+ Kc7 46. Qxg7+ Kd6 47. Bg2 {A useful move to hinder the black queen.} Qh4 48. f6 Qe1 49. Qf8+ Kd7 50. Bh3+ Kc6 51. Qc8+ 1-0

Le Quang Liem, with his previous successes in the big Aeroflot and Moscow tournaments, is one of the most successful open tournament players in the world, and the Gibraltar Masters title would be a big feather in his cap. In the fourth round he came up against Iván Salgado López of Spain and won with smooth positional chess, capitalising on his opponent’s entombed bishop.

23-year-old Eduardo Iturrizaga is Venezuela’s first and as yet only GM, who first served notice of his strength when he defeated Sergei Tiviakov in the first round of the 2009 FIDE World Cup. He outplayed former women’s prize winner Nana Dzagnidze but still the position was not entirely clear when Nana made an error at the end.

Nikita Vitiugov comes from St Petersburg, where he was born in 1987 when it was still in the Soviet Union. Like Le Quang Liem, he is something of an open tournament specialist and he tied for first with the Vietnamese super-GM at the 2011 Aeroflot Open. He beat the Estonian GM Kaido Kulaots.


V is for Venezuela Vietnam

Report after round five by John Saunders

How many countries in the world can you name with names beginning with “V”? I’ve given a clue to two of them in the title. If you’re good at this sort of trivia question, you might also come up with Vanuatu and Vatican City. Sadly, we have no representatives in the tournament from the latter two states (maybe next year), but we do have two extremely strong players from Venezuela and Vietnam, both of whom started the fifth round on 4/4.

Venezuela’s Eduardo Iturrizaga might have been better in the early part of the game against Vietnam’s Le Quang Liem. As so often, the fateful move was made right before the time control and the killer move was a zwischenzug, or intermezzo move, depending on your preference for chess jargon.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.26"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Iturrizaga, Eduardo"] [Black "Le, Quang Liem"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D43"] [WhiteElo "2650"] [BlackElo "2705"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 e6 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. e3 Nd7 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Bd6 10. O-O Qe7 11. e4 e5 12. d5 Nb6 13. Bb3 O-O 14. h3 Rd8 15. a3 a5 16. Qe2 a4 17. Ba2 Bc5 18. Rfd1 Rd6 19. dxc6 bxc6 20. Rxd6 Bxd6 21. Rc1 Nd7 22. Rd1 Bc7 23. Qc2 Nc5 24. Ne2 Bb6 25. Ng3 g6 26. Qc3 Bc7 27. Rc1 Ra5 28. h4 Kg7 29. h5 Bd7 30. Bc4 Nb7 31. hxg6 fxg6 32. Rd1 Be8 33. Ba2 Nd6 34. b4 axb3 35. Qxb3 Nf7 36. Rd3 Rb5 37. Qc2 Qc5 38. Rc3 Qb6 {[diag]} 39. Bxf7 $2 Rb2 $1 ( 39... Kxf7 {is equal but the text move sets up a powerful skewer on the f2 square.}) 40. Rb3 (40. Bxe8 Rxc2 41. Rxc2 Qb1+ 42. Ne1 Qxe1+ 43. Kh2 Bb6 { gains White a rook and a knight for the queen but looks very unpleasant for White on the dark squares.}) 40... Rxc2 41. Rxb6 Bxb6 42. Bxe8 Bxf2+ 43. Kh2 Kf6 {The body count (two knights for rook and pawn) doesn't seem too terrible for White at first sight but then you notice that White's two knights have little scope. In particular, they can't help in stopping the advance of Black's passed c-pawn.} 44. Nh4 Rc3 45. Nf3 c5 46. a4 c4 47. Bb5 Rc2 48. a5 c3 49. a6 Ra2 (49... Ra2 {If} 50. Ne2 {to stop the pawn, simply} Rxe2 51. Bxe2 c2 {and the pawn promotes.}) 0-1

The game between 100-percenters was won by Nikita Vitiugov of Russia in what was quite a smooth positional style against the teenage Polish GM Dariusz Swiercz. It was a good demonstration of the quiet but venomous strength of the English Opening.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.26"] [Round "5.2"] [White "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A29"] [WhiteElo "2694"] [BlackElo "2627"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. O-O Be7 8. a3 O-O 9. b4 f6 10. d3 Be6 11. Ne4 Qd7 12. Qc2 a5 ({Perhaps} 12... a6 {is a more solid set-up.}) 13. b5 Nd4 14. Nxd4 exd4 (14... Qxd4 15. Be3 Qd7 16. Bc5 { is an alternative, where White is probably a little better.}) 15. Nc5 $5 Bxc5 16. Qxc5 Na4 ({A bit too ambitious: maybe it is better to blunt White's dangerous bishop on the long diagonal with} 16... Bd5 {, although} 17. Bxd5+ Nxd5 18. Bb2 {puts pressure along the other long diagonal.}) 17. Qc2 Qxb5 18. Rb1 Qd7 19. Bd2 $1 ({White is not worried about being a pawn down temporarily. } 19. Bxb7 $6 Nc3 20. Bxa8 Rxa8 {gives Black some compensation for the pawn.}) 19... Nb6 20. Rfc1 Rf7 21. Bxb7 Ra7 22. Bc6 {[diag] White has restored material equality and can now look forward to a considerable positional advantage, with the bishop occupying the c6 square and cutting off the a7 rook from its kingside colleagues.} Qd6 23. Qc5 Qxc5 24. Rxc5 a4 25. Rb4 Nd7 26. Rc1 Ne5 27. Bxa4 Rf8 28. Rxd4 Rfa8 29. Bd1 Rxa3 30. f4 Ra2 31. Be1 Ra1 32. Rd8+ Rxd8 33. Rxa1 Nd7 {Black has done quite well to reactivate his position but he is still a pawn down.} 34. Ra6 Nb6 35. Ba5 Ra8 (35... Rd6 {is better but it still looks grim for Black.}) 36. Rxa8+ Nxa8 37. Ba4 Kf7 (37... Nb6 38. Bxb6 cxb6 39. Kf2 {leads to a probably lost bishop and pawns endgame.}) 38. Kf2 Ke7 39. e4 Kd6 40. Bb4+ (40. d4 {threatens mate in one with Bb4, so the Black king has to back up with} Ke7 {, allowing} 41. d5 {with what looks like a comfortable win.}) 40... c5 41. Ba5 (41. Ba5 {A slightly premature resignation but an example line is} Bd7 42. e5+ fxe5 43. fxe5+ Ke6 44. Bxd7+ Kxd7 45. Ke3 { , when the knight can never escape and what remains is a won king and pawn endgame.}) 1-0

Leaders after round five

That left Nikita Vitiugov and Le Quang Liem as the two remaining players on 5/5, with six players on 4½, namely Yu Yangyi, David Navara, Vassily Ivanchuk, Gawain Jones, Kiril Georgiev and Vladislav Tkachiev.

Rk.
Ti. Name
FED
Rtg
Pts.
 TB1 
Rp
rtg+/–
1
GM Le Quang Liem
VIE
2705
5.0
3294
2914
12.3
2
GM Vitiugov Nikita
RUS
2694
5.0
3282
2905
12.7
3
GM Yu Yangyi
CHN
2688
4.5
2828
2670
0.9
4
GM Navara David
CZE
2710
4.5
2823
2745
3.8
5
GM Ivanchuk Vassily
UKR
2758
4.5
2804
2679
0.8
6
GM Jones Gawain C B
ENG
2632
4.5
2800
2744
9.7
7
GM Georgiev Kiril
BUL
2643
4.5
2785
2854
12.1
8
GM Tkachiev Vladislav
FRA
2650
4.5
2766
2720
6.7


Top rankings after round six

Rk.
Ti. Name
FED
Rtg
Pts.
 TB1 
Rp
rtg+/-
1
GM Le Quang Liem
VIE
2705
5.5
2928
2914
12.3
2
GM Vitiugov Nikita
RUS
2694
5.5
2920
2905
12.7
3
GM Georgiev Kiril
BUL
2643
5.5
2865
2854
12.1
4
GM Adams Michael
ENG
2725
5.0
2774
2756
3.9
5
GM Navara David
CZE
2710
5.0
2759
2745
3.8
GM Iturrizaga Eduardo
VEN
2650
5.0
2759
2747
8.2
7
GM Jones Gawain C B
ENG
2632
5.0
2753
2744
9.7
8
GM Ivanchuk Vassily
UKR
2758
5.0
2747
2679
0.8
9
GM Kamsky Gata
USA
2740
5.0
2736
2681
1.0
10
GM Tkachiev Vladislav
FRA
2650
5.0
2732
2720
6.7
11
GM Salgado Lopez Ivan
ESP
2606
5.0
2705
2698
7.7
12
GM Shirov Alexei
LAT
2708
5.0
2680
2665
-1.0
13
GM Short Nigel D
ENG
2690
5.0
2655
2630
-1.1
14
IM Larino Nieto David
ESP
2497
5.0
2635
2622
11.5

Video report, of which there are hours and hours to be found here.


And now for something completely different

During the afternoon, between 3pm and about 8pm, the playing area is a serious place of work, as befits a major international tournament, but from 9pm onwards players and spectators can relax and let their hair down. The other night we had the team blitz event, in which players make up adhoc teams of four to play against each other. A lot of fun, though played with some intensity.

On Saturday night the tournament hosted a new event called the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ rapidplay match, held on a single giant-sized board in the restaurant of the Caleta Hotel, with two teams of six – men versus women – taking turns to move, without colluding. Given that it was a new idea, we didn’t know how it would work, but it went down a storm with the watching audience in the room and on the balcony. The two teams, had they been representing one country, would have been good enough to be strong contenders for the gold medals at an Olympiad.


The men were Gata Kamsky (USA), Gawain Jones (England), Emil Sutovsky (Israel), Maxime
Vacher-Lagrave (France), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) and Kiril Georgiev (Bulgaria)


The women were Jovanka Houska (England), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), Zhao Xue (China),
Tania Sachdev (India), Valentina Gunina (Russia) and Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania)


GM Kiril Georgiev making a move in the ‘Battle of the Sexes’


A miment of anxiety as Chinese GM Zhao Xue makes a move

It was designed as a bit of fun and the players entered into the spirit right away. You can see videos and still photos on our website. Most photos you see of Gata Kamsky and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave sitting at the board show them to be poker-faced...


...but here they were clowning around like schoolkids and playing to the crowd,


... while the women players were sisterly and giving each other encouragement,


... and squealing with glee when they beat the men in the second game.

Maybe soon the more competitive participants of six-a-side chess (shouldn’t it be seven-a-side?) will be dreaming up new types of tactical tricks to bamboozle the opposition. For example, it is important to think whereabouts on the board you want your opponent to have to make their next move, and see whether you can arrange for them to have to walk the longest distance and lift the heaviest piece.

Have you seen how big these pieces are? At my time of life I’m not sure I could play the move ‘Qa1x(Q)h8’ without straining my back and getting a little out of breath. Another case of modern chess favouring younger players, dammit.

It is certainly great fun. Grandmaster of ceremonies Stuart Conquest, armed with a microphone and a wicked sense of humour, entered into the spirit with his running commentary, which wasn’t always as even-handed as it might have been. Take the following position...

The women have just played Qd3. Stuart’s helpful piece of advice to the men’s team: "Guys, your d6 pawn is under attack!" This got a big laugh from the watching audience who, like Stuart, were hoping that they would miss the threat of Qxh7 mate. (Sadly, they didn't.) This was the deciding game of three and, surprisingly in view of what looks like a great position for White, the men won. Boo! But the good news was that the event helped raise £1,000 for charity, and winning captain presented the cheque to Shirley Callaghan, wife of tournament organiser Brian Callaghan.

Photos of the Battle of the Sexes by MonRoi – Zelka Malobabic


Links

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Copyright Saunders/ChessBase


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