Gopal leads in Banja Luka

10/5/2008 – It is a famous tournament site, in the capital of the Republic of Srpska (an entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina). From September 28 to October 9 ten GMs are battling it out – quite literally, since there was only one "saloon draw" in the first four rounds. Indian GM Geetha Narayanan Gopal, rated 2548, leads, with 77-year-old Viktor Korchnoi in hot pursuit. Report from Banja Luka.

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Gopal leads after the fourth round

Ninth International Grandmaster Tournament «Banja Luka 2008»

After four rounds of the tournament which is held in Banja Luka, the capital of the Republic of Srpska (an entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina), from 28 September to 9 October, the Indian grand master G. N. Gopal leads with three and a half points. He is followed by Viktor Korchnoi (Switzerland) and Bartlomey Heberla (Poland) with half a point less in the count.


The leader: Indian GM Geetha Narayanan Gopal, rated 2548

The tournament is characterized by a great fighting spirit; and only in the fourth round did we see the first saloon draw. In the previous round the audience in the packed Music Pavilion hall, located in the town center, witnessed an inexplicable omission by the top ranked Russian – Sergey Volkov, in the match against Herbel. He had a position that hinted victory, but oversaw a checkmate in two moves!

Sergey Volkov (RUS) GM 2636 - Bartlomiej Heberla (POL) GM 2
9. Grandmaster Turnament Banja Luka 2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 dxe4 7.fxe4 e5 8.d5 Bc5 9.Nf3 Ng4 10.Na4 Nd7 11.Nxc5 Nxc5 12.Qc2 a5 13.h3 Nf6 14.Bd3 0-0 15.Bg5 Qd6 16.0-0 Nfd7 17.Rae1 Nxd3 18.Qxd3 Nc5 19.Qc3 f6 20.Bh4 a4 21.Bf2 b6 22.Nd2 Bd7 23.Rc1 Rf7 24.Rfe1 Rff8 25.Kh1 Rfe8 26.Qg3 Rf8 27.Rc3 Kh8 28.Be3 Rae8 29.Qf2 Ra8 30.Rec1 Kg8 31.b4 axb3 32.Bxc5 bxc5 33.Nxb3 Rxa3 34.Nxc5 Rxc3 35.Rxc3 f5 36.Rf3 g6 37.Nxd7 Qxd7 38.c5 Rd8 39.exf5 Qxd5 40.Qh4 Re8 41.fxg6 hxg6 42.Qh6 Qc6 43.Rg3 Re6 44.Rg4 Rf6 45.Rh4 Qxc5 46.Qh8+ Kf7 47.Rh7+ Ke6 48.Qc8+ Kd5 49.Rd7+ Ke4 50.Rd1 Rf4 51.Qe6 Qb5 52.Qxg6+ Ke3 53.Qg5 Ke2 54.Qh5+ Kf2 55.Qh7 Qe2 56.Rc1 Qe4 57.Qg8 Rf3 58.Qa2+ Kg3 59.Qg8+ Kf2 60.Qe6 Kg3

the game should end in a draw. But now comes the blunder: 61.Ra1?? and Black mates in two: 61...Rf1+ 62.Rxf1 Qxg2# 0-1.

The stamina that Viktor the Awesome, the winner of the last year's tournament, is exhibiting is admirable. In the last three rounds he stayed in the arena longest, and fought battles against Lela Džavahišvili (Georgia) and Zlatko Ilincic (Srbija) that lasted for five hours and more.


Fighting chess at 77: Viktor the Awesome Korchnoi in Banja Luka 2008


The playing hall in the Music Pavilion Hall, located in the town center


The public can also follow the games from outside the hall on flat panel screens

According to the Agenda, Friday is a day off. It was originally planned that Saturday should be the day off, but the timing had to be changed due to the last day of the local election campaign.

Standings after four rounds of play

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