Italian FM Michel Bifulco wins 43. Open Int. Città di Arco

by André Schulz
10/26/2021 – In mid-October, the 43rd edition of the traditional Open of the City of Arco was played. In late summer weather many strong amateurs and several title holders, including two Grandmasters, competed for victory. In the end, four players shared first place but the Italian FM Michel Bifulco won the tournament on tiebreak. | Photo: Gerhard Bertagnolli

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In mid-October (9 to 17.10), the traditional 43rd Open International Città di Arco took place in Arco. Arco is a small town with 17,000 inhabitants in the province of Trento, not far from Lake Garda. Due to its location in a valley surrounded by mountains, the climate here is particularly mild. In the second half of the 19th century, the Austrian emperors chose Arco as their winter domicile. At that time, the province of Trento belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Casino

On a rock above the town, the ruins of Arco Castle dominate the view. The castle was built in 1000 AD at the latest and was extended and rebuilt over the centuries.

The ruins of Arco castle

The town of Arco grew from a small settlement on the hill and the castle was subject of many disputes and over the centuries it was in the hands of various owners. A picture from 1495 by the German painter Albrecht Dürer shows the castle and the municipality of Arco in front of it. But during a siege by the French in 1703, the castle was bombed and subsequently abandoned. The last private owner of the ruins was Countess Giovanna d'Arco and since 1982, the municipality of Arco has been the owner of the castle.

The painting by Albrecht Dürer, 1495

The Chess Festival included two open tournaments. In the A-Open, a 9-round Swiss, almost 160 players took part. In the B-Open, an 8-round Swiss, 30 players registered. The venue was the large hall in the casino, which also houses a restaurant and a music school.

The bulk of the field consisted of strong amateurs. But with the Latvian Ilmars Starostits and the living chess legend Oleg Romanishin, there were also two Grandmasters in the field.

Oleg Romanishin

At the end of the tournament Starostits was one of the four players who finished with seven points. The winning quartet also included the German IM Frank Zeller and Jan Boder.

The German International Master and chess author Frank Zeller

From the four players who shared first, the Italian FM Michel Bifulco had the best tiebreak and was thus declared the tournament winner. His last-round draw against Zeller was enough to win the tournament. In the penultimate round, Bifulco had convincingly defeated his compatriot Fabrizio Molina.

Bifulco,Michel (2314) - Molina,Fabrizio (2178) B43

43. Open Int. Città di Arco Open A Arco (TN) (8.4), 16.10.2021 as

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 a6 3.Nge2 d6 4.g3 b5 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 e6 8...e5 9.Nf5 b4 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.exd5 g6 12.Ne3 Nd7 13.a3 a5 14.axb4 axb4 15.Bd2 Ba6 16.Te1 and White is better: 1–0 (43) Muzychuk,M (2536)-Hou,Y (2658) INT 2021

9.Re1 Qc7 10.a4


White is better developed and starts an attack on the queenside.

10...e5 11.Nb3 b4 12.Na2 a5 13.c3 Na6 14.Bd2 Nc5 Black continues to neglect the development of his kingside.

15.cxb4 axb4 16.Bxb4 Nxa4 17.Na5 Nc5 After 17...Rxa5 18.Bxa5 Qxa5 19.Nc1 Bc6 20.b3 Be7 21.bxa4 White wins an exchange.

18.Nc3 Be7


Finally, Black thinks about castling but that is already too late.

19.Nb5 Qd7 20.Nxb7 Rxa1 21.N7xd6+ Kf8 22.Qxa1 Bxd6 23.Nxd6 Qxd6 24.Qa8+ Ke7 25.Qxh8 1–0

Mario Bifulco

Final Standins Open A

Rk. Name Pts.  Tb1 
1 Bifulco Michel 7,0 50,0
2 Starostits Ilmars 7,0 49,5
3 Zeller Frank 7,0 47,5
4 Boder Jan 7,0 46,5
5 Sirosh Ilja 7,0 46,5
6 Pasini Nicolo 6,5 48,5
7 Borgo Giulio 6,5 48,5
8 Vezzosi Paolo 6,5 47,0
9 Sarkar Justin 6,5 46,5
10 Dittmar Peter 6,5 45,5
11 Favaloro Andrea 6,5 43,5
12 Bettalli Francesco 6,5 41,0
13 Engesser Jonas 6,5 39,5
14 Romanishin Oleg M 6,0 50,5
15 Molina Fabrizio 6,0 48,5
16 Lohia Sohum 6,0 46,5
17 Bazilius Augustinas 6,0 45,5
18 De Santis Alessio 6,0 45,0
19 Bordignon Angelo 6,0 42,0
20 Higatsberger Michael 6,0 41,0
21 Marzano Carlo 6,0 40,5
22 Aigner Michael 6,0 40,0
23 Nielsen Andre 5,5 49,5
24 Cmiel Thorsten 5,5 48,5

...158 players

The brilliancy prize of the tournament was named after Stuart Wagman. Wagman was born in the USA in 1919 but lived in Italy for a long time and died in Livorno in 2007 at the age of 87. In the 1940s Wagman was a member of the Washington Chess Divan, but then did not play for many years. However, after his retirement he took up chess again. He was a strong player and at the 2006 Senior World Championship, when he was 87 years old, he still scored 6 points from 11 rounds.

Wagman was a devotee of the Dragon Variation and German chess writer Thorsten Cmiel, himself a Dragon fan and participant in the A-Open, has unearthed two Dragon games by Wagman.


Games of the A-Open


Photos: Gerhard Bertagnolli and Thorsten Cmiel


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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