Gibtel Masters – four leaders with one round to go

2/3/2010 – The leaders, with 7.0/9 points, are Sergei Movsesian, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Michael Adams and Jan Gustafsson. The Gibtelecom Chess Festival is being held in Gibraltar, which is basically a giant rock on the Spanish Mediterranean coast (but a British overseas territory). In winter it is populated by chess players, who on a free day's outing got to know some of the native residents.

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“This is a miracle! How did you do it?”

By John Saunders

The presence of a chess legend has added an extra frisson to life at the Gibtelecom Chess Festival. One day I was waiting for the lift when I noticed a white-haired gentleman in his seventies move swiftly past me and put me to shame by using the stairs. Another day I was about to step into what I thought was an unoccupied lift only to notice at the last minute that it was occupied by the same man, who blinked at me in surprise as my rotundity briefly threatened to collide with his rather more svelte figure.


Former World Champion Boris Spassky

Yesterday I had my closest encounter yet with said gentleman, whom I’m sure you will already have guessed is the tenth World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky. I noticed him sitting in the bar with Stewart Reuben and Ruben Felgaer. At the time I was having difficulty finding somewhere to sit down and enjoy my chicken baguette and I was quite pleased to see them get up and depart, giving me an ideal place to sit down and have lunch.

About 20 minutes later a slightly perplexed Spassky returned to the same place. To my surprise, he bore down on me and asked “have you seen my glasses? I was sitting here before”. I was galvanised into action. Lifting the cushion on the chair, I caught sight of the great man’s spectacles on the floor under the chair. I fished them out and handed them to him. A trivial enough thing to do, of course, but Boris’s reaction was as if I had just given him a fully-worked, cast-iron refutation of the Benoni. Lifting his arms to the skies for added effect, he exclaimed: “This is a miracle! How did you do it?”

Trifling though the favour was, it was extremely pleasurable to have been of service to one of the greatest players who has ever lived. My life is now complete and my epitaph will surely read “here lies the man who once helped Boris Spassky find his specs”.

Round eight: Gusty Wind Blows Through Gibraltar


German GM Jan Gustafsson

Now to business: 30-year-old German grandmaster Jan ‘Gusty’ Gustafsson moved into the sole lead in round eight of the Gibtelecom Masters, blowing away Natalia Zhukova with some ease, though he has thirteen players still breathing down his neck as the tournament reaches its penultimate round. (I’ve been racking my brains for some more meteorological metaphors but I think I’ll call it a day at three. I don’t want a reputation as a windbag.)


WGM Natalia Zhukova, Ukraine, now living in Moscow

Natalia Zhukova had so far been the surprise package of this year’s festival but her streak came to an end when she faced the Hamburg-born grandmaster. Despite having the white pieces, she soon found herself in a passive position and Gustafsson found a powerful tactical coup to end the game on move 33.


Britisch GM Michael Adams


US GM Gata Kamsky

Other games between the eleven overnight leaders started brightly but gradually subsided into draws. Kamsky-Adams was a heavyweight encounter and promised a good struggle but after a number of exchanges the game reduced to a level endgame.

The game of the day was almost certainly the one between Argentinian grandmaster Damian Lemos and French International Master Clovis Vernay. The Frenchman, playing Black, attempted to extract himself from difficulties with a remarkable tactical combination involving an eye-catching queen sacrifice. Many a player would have succumbed to such a dangerous attack but the Argentinian found an equally astonishing defence to neutralise the Black counterattack and convert the material advantage into victory. Great credit must go to both players for providing this feast of chess.


Damian Lemos

Lemos,D (2556) - Vernay,C (2442) [D12]
8th Gibtelecom Masters Caleta ENG (8), 02.02.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4 7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3 Qc7 9.Bd2 Nbd7 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.g3 Bh5 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Bd3 g5 14.Nf5 Bxf3 15.0-0 g4 16.Nh4 h5 17.Nxf3 gxf3 18.e4 Nc5 19.dxc5 Bxc5+ 20.Kh1 h4 21.g4 Qg3 22.Rg1 Bd6!

White is in the sort of predicament that would turn one's nerves to jelly. How on earth can he save himself? 23.e5! Brilliant. White throws his first spanner in the works. 23.Rxg3? hxg3 24.Be3 Rxh2+ 25.Kg1 0–0–0! and White would have a hard job finding a defence to Rdh8 and mate, and his chances of winning have certainly evaporated. 23...Bxe5 24.Rxg3 hxg3

25.Bh7!! There goes the second spanner. 25...Rxh7 26.Qxf3. We now discover why White played 23.e5 and then 25.Bh7. The point was to be able to capture on f3 with the queen, after which Black's adventurous play is ultimately shown to be unsound. 26...Rxh2+ 27.Kg1 0-0-0 28.Qf5+ Rd7 29.Qxe5 Rxd2 30.Re1 1-0.

In the meantime round nine has been completed, so we bring you the latest standings. Thursday is the final round, and you can expect our closing report with all the games and results on Friday.

Top standings after nine rounds

# Player Pts Nat. Gen Rtng Perf W-We
1 GM Movsesian, Sergei 7.0 SVK
M
2708 2722 +0.18
2 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco 7.0 ESP
M
2705 2735 +0.35
3 GM Adams, Michael 7.0 ENG
M
2694 2776 +0.95
4 GM Gustafsson, Jan 7.0 GER
M
2627 2781 +1.77
5 GM Bacrot, Etienne 6.5 FRA
M
2713 2685 -0.15
6 GM Kamsky, Gata 6.5 USA
M
2693 2694 +0.12
7 GM Fressinet, Laurent 6.5 FRA
M
2670 2689 +0.31
8 GM Fridman, Daniel 6.5 GER
M
2654 2662 +0.18
9 GM Sandipan, Chanda 6.5 IND
M
2622 2697 +0.96
10 GM Koneru, Humpy 6.5 IND
F
2614 2687 +0.98
11 GM Geetha Narayanan Gopal 6.5 IND
M
2584 2620 +0.50
12 IM Lenderman, Alex 6.5 USA
M
2560 2603 +0.70
13 GM Stefanova, Antoaneta 6.5 BUL
F
2545 2661 +1.45
14 GM Cramling, Pia 6.5 SWE
F
2528 2571 +0.64
15 GM Bindrich, Falko 6.5 GER
M
2512 2614 +1.30
16 IM Javakhishvili, Lela 6.5 GEO
F
2493 2569 +1.08
17 WGM Zhukova, Natalia 6.5 UKR
F
2462 2688 +2.75
18 IM Boskovic, Drasko 6.5 SRB
M
2454 2494 +0.69
19 GM Cheparinov, Ivan 6.0 BUL
M
2660 2534 -1.18
20 GM Istratescu, Andrei 6.0 ROU
M
2607 2524 -0.79
21 GM Felgaer, Ruben 6.0 ARG
M
2591 2581 +0.09
22 GM Halkias, Stelios 6.0 GRE
M
2566 2610 +0.62
23 GM Lemos, Damian 6.0 ARG
M
2556 2507 -0.40
24 GM Malakhatko, Vadim 6.0 BEL
M
2549 2561 +0.26
25 GM Naumann, Alexander 6.0 GER
M
2525 2556 +0.51
26 GM Speelman, Jon S 6.0 ENG
M
2525 2545 +0.40
27 GM Guliyev, Namig 6.0 AZE
M
2516 2499 +0.05
28 IM Kapnisis, Spyridon 6.0 GRE
M
2510 2516 +0.21
29 GM Hoffmann, Michael 6.0 GER
M
2508 2593 +1.12
30 IM Cori, Jorge 6.0 PER
M
2483 2505 +0.39
31 IM Krush, Irina 6.0 USA
F
2455 2528 +1.02
32 IM Vernay, Clovis 6.0 FRA
M
2442 2511 +0.91
33 IM Sarkar, Justin 6.0 USA
M
2378 2397 +0.31
34 IM Dworakowska, Joanna 6.0 POL
F
2374 2244 -1.29
35 FM Avalos Parra, Joao 6.0 CHI
M
2245 2369 +1.48
36 Ivanov, Stojan Emilov 6.0 BUL
M
2198 2324 +1.61

Monkey Business on the Rock

You've not really visited Gibraltar until you've been up to the top of the Rock to meet the monkeys. This applies as much to super-grandmasters as it does to tourists. Maybe I can mischievously initiate a superstition that 'nobody who has not first met the monkeys can win the Masters'. I don't think it's true but... hey...

Finally, after a few days of rain and windy weather, the sun shone for a day or two starting on Sunday and our resident photographer Zeljka Malobabic eagerly led parties of players to the top of the Rock to meet its most famous residents. Here are some photos.


The Caleta Hotel, venue of the chess event, is built right up against the Rock


A view of the hotel from the Rock, with some local residents sitting in the sun


Women world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk makes friends with a young native...


...who is fascinated by the chess king that Alexandra has given him


Andrie Zaremba with a young ape: Andrie is a 28-year-old FM from the USA


So very cute and so very human – the monkeys of Gibraltar


Jorge Moises Cori Tello, 14, a GM in waiting from Peru.

Jorge's rating doesn't appear on the January 2010 list as yet, presumably because his national federation hasn't stumped up their FIDE affiliation fee – particularly frustrating for the lad who has all three GM norms and just needs a 2500 rating to get his title.


There are two of them: meet Deysi Estela Cori Tello, Jorge's older sister

Deysi Estela and Jorge Moises are both world champions, having won junior titles at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Turkey. Jorge won the Under-14 world title. Their twin victories caused a sensation in Peru.


A fashon super-model doing a photo session on the Rock – no, hang on, that's IM Irina Krush!

Photos by Zeljka Malobabic of MonRoi


Links

A selection of games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


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