Gibraltar Rd6: Naka 6-0

by Alejandro Ramirez
2/1/2015 – Streaks are in fashion! Caruana's 7-0 in the Sinquefield, Carlsen's 6-0 in the middle of Wijk, and now Nakamura starts 6-0 in Gibraltar! With this victory he keeps a half point lead over the competition and regains his spot as the #1 American over So. We bring you analysis of his victory over Topalov and a pictorial report of one of the most jovial events in Gibraltar.

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Battle of the Sexes

This year was the third edition of the battle of the sexes. The friendly, but at the same time competitive, atmosphere in Gibraltar continues with one of the most fun event for the players. The Battle of the Sexes rapid match between the Men and Women teams at a time limit of 10 minutes for all the moves plus an increment of 5 seconds a move. As always this light-hearted event, with Master of Ceremonies and Tournament Director Stuart Conquest (and his hat) in charge, was enjoyed by all. The match score was 2½-½ - the men won the first two games with the token third game, drawn.

The players would take turns playing their moves on a giant set, similar to tandem chess rules.

Natalia Zhukova

The Latin American delegation preparing before the match

Before the battle, a musical performance

Part of the Women's team: Mariya Muzychuk, Natalia Zhukova, Atonaeta Stefanova,
Salome Melia, Elisabeth Paehtz, Jovanka Houska, Harika Dronavalli and Tania Sachdev

The Master of Ceremonies and tournament director Stuart Conquest

The men's team had a decent rating average

Round one: start!

Mariya Muzychuk might be regretting her decision to wear heels

Ivan Cheparinov solidifies black's position

Elizabeth Paehtz on the attack: remember the games had a ten minute time limit!

"It's my pawn now, what are you going to do about it?"

David Howell, quite possibly literally, charging forward

The women start to seem concerned about their position

Round one victory for the men's team!

Reinforcements: Pentala Harikrishna and Ivan Salgado subbed in

Wei Yi showing his strength

By the end of the match it seemed as if Elisabeth Paehtz forgot who she was supposed to be helping

The jovial match ended in a 2.5-0.5 win for the men's team, revenge from last year's 2-1 defeat!

Round Six

Bo. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg
1 Nakamura Hikaru 2776 5 1 - 0 Topalov Veselin 2800
2 Yu Yangyi 2724 1 - 0 Vazquez Igarza Renier 2592
3 Wei Yi 2675 0 - 1 Howell David W L 2670
4 Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2595 4 ½ - ½ 4 Harikrishna P. 2723
5 Rodshtein Maxim 2680 4 ½ - ½ 4 Roiz Michael 2592
6 Hou Yifan 2673 4 1 - 0 4 Mareco Sandro 2583
7 Muzychuk Mariya 2520 4 0 - 1 4 Adhiban B. 2630
8 Bachmann Axel 2629 4 1 - 0 4 Nabaty Tamir 2579
9 Naroditsky Daniel 2622 4 1 - 0 4 Sandipan Chanda 2574
10 Lenderman Aleksandr 2614 4 ½ - ½ 4 Oparin Grigoriy 2551
11 Wagner Dennis 2501 4 1 - 0 4 Bologan Viktor 2608
12 Jakovenko Dmitry 2733 1 - 0 4 Vishnu Prasanna. V 2463
13 Rapport Richard 2716 1 - 0 Boruchovsky Avital 2517
14 Cheparinov Ivan 2681 1 - 0 Stefanova Antoaneta 2515
15 Motylev Alexander 2665 ½ - ½ Debashis Das 2503
16 Popilski Gil 2522 ½ - ½ Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2649
17 Edouard Romain 2638 ½ - ½ Shyam Sundar M. 2489
18 Donchenko Alexander 2511 ½ - ½ Sutovsky Emil 2637
19 Tari Aryan 2487 0 - 1 Salgado Lopez Ivan 2628
20 Smith Axel 2483 0 - 1 Sethuraman S.P. 2624

The big news of the day, is of course Nakamura's victory over Topalov:

A huge win for Naka, as he once again is the #1 American!

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.02.01"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2776"] [BlackElo "2800"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. a4 Ngf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. d4 cxd4 7. Qxd4 a6 8. Be2 {It's always refreshing to see that after eight moves we are already out of theory. Black will play this in a hedgehog style, developing with b6 and Bb7, while White will try to contain his opponent.} b6 9. O-O Bb7 10. Rd1 Qc7 11. Bg5 Be7 12. Nd2 h6 13. Bh4 Ne5 14. Nf1 Rd8 15. Bg3 O-O 16. Ne3 Rc8 17. Kh1 Rfd8 18. f3 Nh5 19. Bf2 Nf4 {Black doesn't have too much to complain about his position. He is a little cramped, but he has some good squares on the kingside; it is not trivial to push the knights back as any pawn move on the kingside will cause a weakness. On the other hand Nakamura still holds a nice amount of space and targets the b6 and a6 pawns with his diagonals.} 20. Bf1 Nfg6 (20... h5 {and march the pawns forward on the kingside is not completely crazy.}) 21. Qd2 Bg5 22. Qe1 Nf4 23. Bg3 Nh5 24. Bf2 {Black looks to be relatively planless, but as is usual in the hedgehog finding a way to improve ones position (doesn't matter if you are white or black) seems to be the most difficult part of the game.} Qe7 25. Ra3 Nf4 26. Rb3 Rc6 27. Ne2 $1 {White gets rid of this pesky knight on f4, and this gives him a slight edge.} Nxe2 (27... Nfg6 28. Nd4 $16) 28. Bxe2 Rdc8 29. c3 Nd7 30. Nc2 d5 $6 {This advance usually solves Black's problems, but here it is done too early. Black had to defend against certain threats.} (30... Nc5 31. Ra3 R6c7 {is perhaps slightly favorable for White but still anyone's game.}) 31. Nb4 $1 Rc5 32. exd5 {Suddenly thehre is no good way of recapturing on d5. It is unclear to me what Topalov had planned, as 31.Nb4 was quite obvious.} Ra5 33. Nc6 Bxc6 34. dxc6 Rxc6 35. Rb4 $16 {The pair of bishops and the awkward position of Black's rook causes real headaches for Topalov. White has a clear advantage.} Bf6 36. Qf1 Rd6 37. Rxd6 Qxd6 38. Bxa6 {One pawn finally falls: White has converted his advantage into something tangible.} Nc5 39. Bb5 Qd2 40. Bg1 Ra8 41. Bc6 $1 Rc8 42. Rxb6 $1 {Now it's two pawns!} Bd8 43. Rb5 Rxc6 44. Bxc5 Bc7 45. a5 {Black simply lacks any good compensation for his material. The rest is easy for Nakamura.} Qc2 46. f4 f6 47. h3 Kh7 48. f5 exf5 49. Bg1 Be5 50. a6 1-0

Boards two and three proved decisive as well. Board two saw an even fight between Yu Yangyi and Vazquez Igarza, but a blunder before time control cost Black the game:

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2015"] [Site "Caleta ENG"] [Date "2015.02.01"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Yu, Yangyi"] [Black "Vazquez Igarza, Renier"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B46"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2592"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/2r1qp1p/4p1p1/3pP2P/5R2/2P1R1Q1/5PPK/8 b - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2015.01.27"] 34... Qf8 $2 (34... Rc4 $1 $11 {stops all the nonsense that is about to occur.} ) 35. hxg6 hxg6 36. Rh4 Rc4 {Too little, too late.} 37. f4 $1 {Oops, now the rook is locked out of the kingside.} Re4 38. Rf3 d4 (38... Rb8 39. Qg5 Qg7 40. Rfh3 {is deadly, as White will follow up with Qf6 and the trade of queens does not save Black from checkmate.}) 39. cxd4 Rc1 40. Qh3 Qg7 41. Rb3 Rc8 42. d5 { unfortunately for Black, in this variation the rook on c8 is hanging, so d5 cannot be taken.} g5 43. dxe6 1-0

Wei Yi finally lost a game to an inspired David Howell. The Englishman played a very good game, slowly (very slowly) converting his pawn structure advantage in a long endgame. Yu Yangyi and David Howell are the only players with 5.5/6, and it is Howell that will have the pleasure of trying to stop Nakamura tomorrow.

A huge victory for David Howell

The pack of 5.0/6 is not big either, and is currently being spearheaded by Hou Yifan, who will face her compatriot Yu Yangyi tomorrow after a clean win over Argentinean Sandro Mareco. Last (by rating) but certainly not least in that list is Dennis Wagner, a 17-year old IM from Germany who has only dropped one point so far... by drawing Svidler and Matlakov!

Yu Yangyi in hot pursuit

Axel Bachmann from Paraguay trails the leaders by only one point

Interestingly several people were not paired on round six, some due to cricket-watching commitments, others for reasons unknown. Svidler, Vitiugov, Agdestein, Stefansson, Xu Jun, Mrktchian and a few others were not paired on this round, most of them with a half point bye.

Round Six Standings

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts.
1 Nakamura Hikaru USA 2776 6.0
2 Howell David W L ENG 2670 5.5
3 Yu Yangyi CHN 2724 5.5
4 Wagner Dennis GER 2501 5.0
5 Adhiban B. IND 2630 5.0
6 Hou Yifan CHN 2673 5.0
7 Naroditsky Daniel USA 2622 5.0
8 Bachmann Axel PAR 2629 5.0
9 Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2735 4.5
10 Topalov Veselin BUL 2800 4.5
  Venkatesh M.R. IND 2460 4.5
12 Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2551 4.5
13 Svidler Peter RUS 2739 4.5
14 Harikrishna P. IND 2723 4.5
15 Wei Yi CHN 2675 4.5
16 Roiz Michael ISR 2592 4.5
17 Vazquez Igarza Renier ESP 2592 4.5
18 Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2680 4.5
19 Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2733 4.5
20 Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2614 4.5

Pairings Round Seven

Bo. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Name Rtg
1 Howell David W L 2670   6 Nakamura Hikaru 2776
2 Yu Yangyi 2724   5 Hou Yifan 2673
3 Adhiban B. 2630 5   5 Naroditsky Daniel 2622
4 Wagner Dennis 2501 5   5 Bachmann Axel 2629
5 Topalov Veselin 2800   Lenderman Aleksandr 2614
6 Salgado Lopez Ivan 2628   Svidler Peter 2739
7 Vitiugov Nikita 2735   Roiz Michael 2592
8 Sethuraman S.P. 2624   Jakovenko Dmitry 2733
9 Harikrishna P. 2723   Muzychuk Anna 2544
10 Vazquez Igarza Renier 2592   Rapport Richard 2716
11 Oparin Grigoriy 2551   Cheparinov Ivan 2681
12 Lalith Babu M.R. 2537   Rodshtein Maxim 2680
13 Venkatesh M.R. 2460   Wei Yi 2675
14 Matlakov Maxim 2695 4   Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2595
15 Donchenko Alexander 2511 4   4 Motylev Alexander 2665
16 Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2649 4   4 Javakhishvili Lela 2486
17 Debashis Das 2503 4   4 Edouard Romain 2638
18 Sutovsky Emil 2637 4   4 Das Arghyadip 2476
19 Anton Guijarro David 2617 4   4 Krush Irina 2467
20 Bologan Viktor 2608 4   4 Trent Lawrence 2470

Nakamura avoids playing the 2700 player with Black, but Howell is not exactly an easy opponent either. If the American does manage to win, however, it would be quite the impressive streak. The Chinese duel in board two will also be a pleasure to watch; can Hou Yifan use her lessons learned in Wijk aan Zee tomorrow?

Replay Masters games - Round Six

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All photos by Sophie Triay and John Saunders from the Official Website


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Topics: Gibraltar

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.
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leigh leigh 2/2/2015 08:32
Naka avoid to play with Chinese players? or the organizers