Gibraltar: The Magnificent Eight Ride Again

1/26/2013 – "Seven" would have been much more appropriate, but there happen to be eight Super-GMs with ratings over 2700 in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2013. After three rounds, only three of the Magnificent Eight remained on 100% – together with a 18-year-old GM from China, Yu Yangyi, who is rated 2688 and clearly a prodigious talent. John Saunders reports.

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The Magnificent Eight Ride Again

Report after round three by John Saunders

Everyone remembers those classic movies The Magnificent Eight and Eight Samurai, don’t they? And those with a classical education might recall Eight Against Thebes by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus. No? Neither do I. The two films and the Greek play had ‘seven’ (and not ‘eight’) in the title, presumably because seven is some sort of magic number. ‘Eight’ appears to have no magical properties or fictional resonances. I’m not sure why that is – perhaps someone can enlighten me.

When I saw that this year’s Gibraltar Masters had precisely seven 2700+ players in the line-up, I was pleased because it meant I would be able to deploy all manner of analogies on this theme. It was a bit disappointing to hear that an eighth 2700+ man had been added at the last minute. My options were either (a) to bin the planned analogy or (b) doggedly stick to my schtick. Guess which option I chose...

The Magnificent Eight are Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Adams, Wojtaszek, Vachier-Lagrave, Navara, Shirov, Le Quang Liem, perhaps with an honorary ninth member, Nigel Short, as a former world championship runner-up and three-times winner of the Gibraltar Masters. After three rounds, only three of the Magnificent Eight remain on 100%. There are a total of 15 players on 3/3, including two women competitors, and representing twelve countries.

Leaders after three rounds: Michael Adams (England), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), Yu Yangyi (China), Eduardo Iturrizaga (Venezuela), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), Vladislav Tkachiev (France), Gawain Jones (England), Jaan Ehlvest (USA), Dariusz Swiercz (Poland), Ivan Salgado Lopez (Spain), Kaido Kulaots (Estonia), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia) and Artur Jakubiec (Poland) 3/3.

Here are the results of the third round, and here the top standings:

Rk. Ti Name Nat. Rtg Pts.
1 GM Adams Michael ENG 2725 3.0
2 GM Vachier-Lagrave M. FRA 2711 3.0
3 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2705 3.0
4 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2694 3.0
5 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2688 3.0
6 GM Iturrizaga Eduardo VEN 2650 3.0
7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2516 3.0
8 GM Tkachiev Vladislav FRA 2650 3.0
9 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2632 3.0
10 GM Ehlvest Jaan USA 2603 3.0
11 GM Swiercz Dariusz POL 2627 3.0
12 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan ESP 2606 3.0
13 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2587 3.0
14 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2555 3.0
15 GM Jakubiec Artur POL 2518 3.0
16 GM Navara David CZE 2710 2.5
17 IM Teran Alvarez Ismael ESP 2399 2.5
18 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2643 2.5
19 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2507 2.5
20 GM Kamsky Gata USA 2740 2.5
21 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2684 2.5
Rk. Ti Name Nat. Rtg Pts.
22 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2758 2.5
23 GM Jussupow Artur GER 2611 2.5
24 FM Fenollar Jorda Manuel ESP 2325 2.5
25 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2667 2.5
26 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2590 2.5
27 IM Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2478 2.5
28 GM Muzychuk Anna SLO 2582 2.5
29 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2471 2.5
30 GM Womacka Mathias GER 2442 2.5
31 FM Arvola Benjamin NOR 2309 2.5
32 GM David Alberto ITA 2599 2.5
33 IM Ibarra Jose Carlos ESP 2538 2.5
34 FM Villuendas Adrian ESP 2301 2.5
35 GM Felgaer Ruben ARG 2557 2.5
36 GM Gordon Stephen J ENG 2533 2.5
37 IM Zhou Yang-Fan ENG 2439 2.5
38 GM Cmilyte Viktorija LTU 2515 2.5
39 IM Melia Salome GEO 2403 2.5
40 GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2514 2.5
41 GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2546 2.5
42 IM Larino Nieto David ESP 2497 2.5

Antoaneta claims a major scalp

The big story of the third round was Polish super-GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek (above right), ranked fourth in the Gibraltar line-up, being gunned down by former women’s world champion Antoaneta Stefanova.

Antoaneta has proved herself to be one of the toughest women contestants who puts in a regular appearance at Gibraltar. One year she came close to overall victory in the tournament, and last year she nearly regained her world title. Her game yesterday was a classic of its type, and I would characterise it as a long squeeze (only in the purely chess sense, I hasten to add). It was a positional game which was underpinned by a recurring tactical trick, which might have accounted for many lesser mortals. Radoslaw coped well enough with the tactics but his various attempts to free his game only made things worse. It is difficult to identify exactly where he went wrong – the sign of very fine play by the opponent.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.24"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Stefanova, Antoaneta"] [Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D77"] [WhiteElo "2516"] [BlackElo "2723"] [Annotator "Saunders, John"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 d5 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Na3 Nc6 8. Nxc4 Be6 9. b3 Bd5 10. Bb2 a5 11. a4 Nb4 12. e3 e6 13. Qe2 Be4 14. Ne1 Bxg2 15. Nxg2 Qe7 16. Rfd1 Rfd8 17. Rac1 Nd7 18. Nf4 c6 19. Ba3 Bf8 20. Bb2 Rdb8 21. e4 Re8 {A slightly odd choice of square for the rook since it looks unlikely to be supporting an e6-e5 push anytime soon.} 22. Qf3 Bg7 23. e5 Red8 {Perhaps Black was trying to provoke White into playing e4-e5 before switching the rook to the more logical d8 square.} 24. Nd3 Bf8 25. Nc5 $1 {[diag] A strong positional idea, backed up by a deadly tactic.} Nxc5 26. dxc5 Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1 Nd5 ({Not falling for the gorgeous trap which White set up when playing 25 Nc5. If} 27... Qxc5 $4 28. Rd7 $3 {and now if Black plays 28...Be7 or 28...f5 to deal with the threat of 29 Qxf7+, White plays 29 Bd4!, winning the queen.}) 28. Bd4 Bg7 29. h4 h5 30. Kg2 {Although Black has established his knight on d5, White seems to have a solid positional plus, with better dark square control and tying the black rook to the defence of the a5 pawn, etc.} Qc7 31. Qe4 Rd8 32. Rd3 Bh6 33. Rf3 {Continuing to squeeze, with the idea of playing Nd6, to attack the f7 pawn, and then Qe1 to win the a-pawn.} Ne7 ({Black decides to jettison a pawn. Perhaps} 33... Rf8 34. Qe1 Ra8 35. Nd6 Rf8 {was still solid, though White has the alternative of roughing up the kingside with a g3-g4 push. }) 34. Bc3 Rd5 35. Bxa5 Qb8 36. Bc3 Nf5 (36... Rxc5 $2 {allows} 37. Bb4 {, winning the exchange.}) 37. Nb6 Rd1 ({White continues to find tactical tricks which indirectly defend her c5 pawn.} 37... Rxc5 $2 {loses to} 38. Nd7 {, of course.}) 38. Rd3 {White has consolidated her material advantage though there could still be a considerable technical exercise involved in winning.} Rc1 39. Bd2 ({It looks as if White could trap the black rook by playing} 39. Nc4 {, etc, but White prefers to liquidate some material.}) 39... Bxd2 40. Rxd2 {Now that Black's rook has moved off the d-file, he's in big trouble because the white rook has taken over control of the file and is helping the queen and knight to launch an invasion on Black's weak kingside dark squares. At this level Black is just plain lost.} Kg7 41. Qf4 Rb1 42. Nc4 $1 {Antoaneta is no longer interested in defending her pawns as she has calculated through to the end.} Rxb3 (42... Qe8 43. Qg5 Qe7 {was Black's last chance to challenge the queen invasion, but then} 44. Qxe7 Nxe7 45. Rd7 {wins a second pawn on b7 and Black's counterplay is non-existent.}) 43. Qg5 Qf8 44. Qf6+ Kh7 45. Rd7 $1 (45. Rd8 $2 Qg7 {is not so conclusive, though White can still win eventually.}) 45... Nh6 46. Nd2 (46. Nd2 {The knight is coming round to g5 to join in the kill:} Rb4 47. Nf3 Rb2 48. Ng5+ Kg8 49. Rd8 {when the trick} Rxf2+ $5 50. Kxf2 Ng4+ 51. Ke2 Nxf6 52. Rxf8+ Kxf8 53. exf6 {is still hopeless for Black.}) 1-0

There'll always be an England

England’s three leading competitors in the field, Mickey Adams, Gawain Jones (above) and Nigel Short, were very patriotic. They all played 1 c4 – the English Opening – and all three of them won.

Mickey (above) was a tad lucky as his opponent, Estonian grandmaster Meelis Kanep, missed at least one easy chance to wrap up a draw.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.24"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Adams, Michael"] [Black "Kanep, Meelis"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A11"] [WhiteElo "2725"] [BlackElo "2512"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/2q1pp2/5rp1/4n2p/1QPR3P/5BP1/4PPK1/1R6 b - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "2"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] {[diag]} 35... Nxf3 $2 ({Black surprisingly overlooks a way to close out the game for a draw:} 35... Rxf3 $1 36. exf3 Nc6 37. Qc5 Nxd4 38. Qxd4 Qxc4 { eliminates the c4 pawn and assures Black of a relatively simple draw.}) 36. exf3 {and, though the position is not much better for White, Mickey eventually ground out a win in 80 moves.} 1-0

Knowing me, knowing Yu

Yu Yangyi, from China, is only 18 years old and already has a rating of 2688. He is not yet as well known as other top Chinese players such as Wang Hao and Bu Xiangzhi, as he has been playing mainly in Asia and in various opens, but it is already clear that he is a prodigious talent. Former US women’s champion Anna Zatonskih found him too tough to handle in this brisk encounter.

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2013.01.24"] [Round "3.7"] [White "Yu, Yangyi"] [Black "Zatonskih, Anna"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C02"] [WhiteElo "2688"] [BlackElo "2491"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2013.01.22"] [EventRounds "10"] [EventCountry "ENG"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Bd3 cxd4 ({The usual intention when Black plays 4...Qb6 is to be able to play} 6... Bb5 {here.}) 7. Nxd4 (7. cxd4 {is often seen in analogous positions but it is insipid here. The text move is quite useful here, where the e5 pawn is not en prise to a knight on c6.}) 7... Nc6 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. O-O c5 10. c4 {White has a lead in development and is slightly better here.} dxc4 11. Be4 Rd8 12. Nd2 Qa6 13. b3 $1 {White is playing sharp moves, looking for open lines in order to capitalise on his lead in development.} Bb5 ({If} 13... cxb3 14. Qxb3 Bb5 15. Rb1 $1 {, White's attack is gathering momentum. If Black continues with} Bxf1 16. Bb7 Qb5 17. Nxf1 Qxb3 18. Bc6+ {and White has some compensation for the sacrificed material.}) 14. a4 $1 c3 {[diag]} ({Perhaps Black should back off with} 14... Bc6 {though White looks in good shape after} 15. Qe2 Ne7 16. Rb1 { , etc.}) 15. axb5 $1 Qxa1 16. Bc6+ Ke7 {Black's pieces are now in a terrible tangle.} 17. Qc2 Qa5 18. Nc4 Qc7 19. Qxc3 f6 20. Bf4 Kf7 21. g3 f5 22. Ra1 Kg6 23. Nd6 Rxd6 $2 ({After this the game comes to a sudden end. But it is pretty hopeless: if} 23... Bxd6 24. exd6 Qf7 25. Qxc5 Nf6 26. Rxa7 {, Black cannot survive the pressure for long.}) 24. Be8+ 1-0

Nigel's test

You’ll remember that I left you with the following position to solve, with White to play. Note that Nigel didn’t give any indication as to what result we have to aim for. In real-life chess nobody tells you which result you are playing for the simple reason that it is cheating. Nigel gave the impression of preferring studies to problems because they are more relevant or educational than problems, which tend to be rather artificial.


White to play

So the first question is: win or draw? The answer soon dawns that the best White can do is draw. The first instinct is to make a dash to the assistance of the b6 pawn and maybe, on a good day, win the b7 pawn. So White makes five king moves to get to c7. Unfortunately, Black makes five king moves to get to a6, and we’re left with one of those ‘deadly embrace’ positions where the player to move is in zugzwang. Here it is White’s turn: he must move the king and leave the b6 pawn to be taken.

I gave up all thought of winning at this point and correctly realised I was trying for a draw. I started looking at a dash across to, say, b1 or b2, in the hope of allow the black king to take my b6 pawn and getting the opposition for a draw. I hit on the idea of playing Kb2 the move after he had taken on b6, and when he plays Kb5, I play Kb3.

This was my first answer to Nigel and the cause of his glee. “b6!”, he exclaimed and it then struck me that answers based on gaining the opposition would never work because Black could always gain the opposition with this insidious pawn move.

Hmm. Back to the drawing board... except that, with me in charge, it had actually been a losing board so far. Eventually enlightenment dawned. The only way to reach a draw is to start with 1 Kg3! and head for e1 in the first instance, in a face-off with the black king. Ultimately Black’s only try is to head for the b6 pawn but White can pursue him closely and answer ...Kxb6 with Kb4! and he gets the draw.

A deceptively simple study, isn’t it? Nigel thinks it is by Grigoriev.

ChessBase editorial note

Actually the position arises in the following study by Nikalai Dmitrievich Grigoriev, a Russian chess player and a composer of endgame studies, born in 1895 in Moscow, where he died in 1938.

[Event "Shakhmaty v SSSR#545"] [Site "?"] [Date "1931.08.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Grigoriev, N."] [Black "White to play and draw"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2R5/1p6/8/1Pp5/7K/1p6/8/k7 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "27"] [EventDate "1931.??.??"] 1. b6 $1 (1. Ra8+ $2 Kb2 $1 2. b6 Kc3) (1. Rxc5 $2 b2 2. b6 b1=Q 3. Ra5+ Qa2 $1 4. Rxa2+ Kxa2) 1... b2 (1... Ka2 2. Rxc5) 2. Ra8+ (2. Rxc5 $2 b1=Q 3. Ra5+ Qa2 $1) 2... Kb1 3. Rc8 $1 Ka2 4. Rxc5 (4. Ra8+ $2 Kb3) 4... b1=Q 5. Ra5+ Kb3 6. Rb5+ Kc2 7. Rxb1 Kxb1 {[#]} 8. Kg3 $1 (8. Kg4 $2 Kc2 $1 9. Kf3 Kd3 $1 10. Kf2 Kc4 11. Ke3 Kb5 12. Kd4 Kxb6) (8. Kg5 $2 Kc2 $1 9. Kf4 Kd3 $1 10. Ke5 Kc4 11. Kd6 Kb5 12. Kc7 Ka6) 8... Kc2 9. Kf2 $1 Kd2 (9... Kd3 10. Ke1 $1) 10. Kf1 $1 ( 10. Kf3 $2 Kd3 $1) 10... Kd3 11. Ke1 $1 Kc4 12. Kd2 Kb5 13. Kc3 Kxb6 14. Kb4 $1 1/2-1/2

Top results and standings after round 4 (January 25, 2013)

Ti. Name Rtg
Pts.
Res.
Pts.
Ti Name Rtg
GM Jones Gawain 2632
3
½-½
3
GM Adams Michael 2725
GM Swiercz Dariusz 2627
3
1-0
3
GM Vachier-Lagrave M. 2711
GM Le Quang Liem 2705
3
1-0
3
GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2606
GM Vitiugov Nikita 2694
3
1-0
3
GM Kulaots Kaido 2587
GM Ehlvest Jaan 2603
3
½-½
3
GM Yu Yangyi 2688
GM Iturrizaga Eduardo 2650
3
1-0
3
GM Dzagnidze Nana 2555
GM Jakubiec Artur 2518
3
½-½
3
GM Tkachiev Vladislav 2650
GM Kamsky Gata 2740
1-0
3
GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2516
GM Cmilyte Viktorija 2515
0-1
GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2758
GM Navara David 2710
1-0
GM Harika Dronavalli 2514
GM Sutovsky Emil 2684
0-1
GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2507
IM Larino Nieto David 2497
½-½
GM Fridman Daniel 2667
GM Georgiev Kiril 2643
1-0
IM Muzychuk Mariya 2471
GM Jussupow Artur 2611
½-½
IM Oparin Grigoriy 2478
GM Womacka Mathias 2442
½-½
GM David Alberto 2599
GM Sandipan Chanda 2590
1-0
IM Zhou Yang-Fan 2439
GM Muzychuk Anna 2582
0-1
IM Melia Salome 2403
GM Felgaer Ruben 2557
1-0
FM Arvola Benjamin 2309
IM Teran Alvarez Ismael 2399
1-0
GM Maze Sebastien 2546
FM Fenollar Manuel 2325
0-1
IM Ibarra Jose Carlos 2538
Rk.
Title
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts.
Perf.
rtg+/–
1
GM
Le Quang Liem
VIE
2705
4.0
3233
8.3
2
GM
Vitiugov Nikita
RUS
2694
4.0
3223
8.4
3
GM
Swiercz Dariusz
POL
2627
4.0
3219
11.4
4
GM
Iturrizaga Eduardo
VEN
2650
4.0
3207
9.3
5
GM
Adams Michael
ENG
2725
3.5
2782
3.3
6
GM
Yu Yangyi
CHN
2688
3.5
2758
3.6
GM
Al-Sayed Mohammed
QAT
2507
3.5
2780
12.7
8
IM
Teran Alvarez Ismael
ESP
2399
3.5
2777
18.2
9
GM
Jones Gawain C B
ENG
2632
3.5
2764
6.5
10
GM
Navara David
CZE
2710
3.5
2751
2.2
11
GM
Ehlvest Jaan
USA
2603
3.5
2755
7.1
12
GM
Kamsky Gata
USA
2740
3.5
2654
0.0
GM
Tkachiev Vladislav
FRA
2650
3.5
2718
3.3
14
GM
Georgiev Kiril
BUL
2643
3.5
2717
3.3
15
GM
Ivanchuk Vassily
UKR
2758
3.5
2631
-0.6
16
GM
Sandipan Chanda
IND
2590
3.5
2684
3.9
17
GM
Jakubiec Artur
POL
2518
3.5
2667
6.6
18
IM
Melia Salome
GEO
2403
3.5
2658
12.4
19
IM
Ibarra Jose Carlos
ESP
2538
3.5
2624
3.1
20
GM
Felgaer Ruben
ARG
2557
3.5
2616
1.9
21
GM
Gordon Stephen J
ENG
2533
3.5
2600
2.3

The sun always shines on the festival

This year has seen a mixture of rain and sun in the tournament so far. But it is fair to say the weather has been kind to us with a little bit of rain on some days and glorious sunshine on others. Temperatures have averaged 16 degrees Celsius. Good enough weather then to venture onto Catalan Bay, the village and beach just below the Caleta Hotel, or take a trip to the top of the Rock to visit the apes or visit the Southernmost point at Europa Point.


Tournament Director Stuart Conquest took time out to play some chess on the beach at
Catalan Bay together with players Jovana Vojinovic (Serbia) and Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine)


Catalan Bay is the second biggest sandy beach in Gibraltar

He also introduced Valentina Gunina (Russia) to the stunning views from Europa Point where Europe and Africa meet. Situated in the area is the Lighthouse built in 1841 still the only lighthouse administered by Trinity House outside of the UK. But Europa Point houses not just a Lighthouse but a Mosque and the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe, a building date back to 1309, as well as Hardings Battery built in 1844. – Photos by Zelka Malobabic.

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


Links

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