IV Floripa Open: Tales of war

by Albert Silver
1/23/2018 – The IV Floripa Open is now in full swing, and many an adventure has taken place in the first six of ten rounds. From heroic battles to ignoble defeats, and many a dream on the line still. In spite of the accelerated pairings to force true fights earlier, eleven players share first with 5.0/6, with Alexandr Fier at the top after a thrilling game against Andrés Rodrigues. | Photo: Albert Silver

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Tales of war

All photos by Albert Silver

The Floripa Open has lived up to its billing as a major event, not just in the smooth organization and excellent playing conditions, but in the many fun battles and sometimes unexpected results. If the first three rounds had only left three of the ten grandmasters in the top spots, six rounds has been enough to right the ship for many, and the top five spots are taken up by GMs on tiebreak.

While none of them can possibly be unhappy with their share of first, since to do so would be absurd, a few will have a slightly bittersweet taste in their mouth at a feeling of a missed opportunity. 

One such player will be 20-year-old CM Vitor Carneiro, who has represented Brazil numerous times over the past years in World Youth championships around the globe.

CM Vitor Carneiro (2432 FIDE)

After a perfect 3.0/3 start against lower-rated opposition, the CM, whose rating is a well-established 2432 FIDE for the record, finally faced his biggest challenge: GM Alexandr Fier, 2557 FIDE, and a very dangerous and resourceful player. The raw scoresheets will show he lost to the grandmaster in 54 moves, but in fact he had more or less committed hara-kiri on the clock after a mere 14 moves. 


After 10 moves, White had a very promising position which mostly required him to complete his development and then begin exploiting his space and center. He did so, but took 36 minutes here to play 11.Rhe1. After 14 moves, he was down to just 8 minutes on his clock compared to Black’s one hour and more. Fier never let him get back to his feet and exploited this advantage mercilessly. Still, to Carneiro’s credit, he bounced back with two wins and is now in the leading group with 5.0/6.

One doesn't need to be a titled player like FM Edgar Rodrigues to enjoy (or suffer) through the full gamut of emotions at the board...

... and it is this sort of appeal that is almost impossible to explain to a non-player.

There is no age to enjoy chess

Among the hopefuls who have risen out of their comfort zone is FM Daniel Rangel, who has been extremely active in the past year, with nearly 90 rated games, and investing in his game. He recently worked together with IM Dragan Stamenkovic, a Serbian native who has been living in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in order to overhaul his opening repertoire, and with great effect.

IM Dragan Stamenkovic is an experienced teacher, who at the event has been running a very well supplied selection of chess books at unusually accessible prices. He took one day off his sales to play in the tournament's blitz competition where he came in sole second.

In Rio de Janeiro, where Daniel is located, the 24-year-old is known for his passion for chess and bodybuilding, in equal parts as far as anyone can tell. After a decent start with 2½ / 3, he overcame GM Matsuura in round four, when the latter faced his younger opponent’s attack too passively and paid a heavy price. In round five, Rangel faced the out-of-form GM Delgado, and emerged with a draw.

FM Daniel Rangel has been in great form and is on course for a first IM norm

This actually yielded him a place on table three against a resurging Granda Zuniga, where he finally succumbed. Nevertheless, with a 2434 performance, he is still superbly positioned for an IM norm, having already faced three grandmasters with a 50% score. He will decide his fate in the last rounds.

GM Krikor Mekhitarian has also been in good shape, and is tied for first with 5.0/6

GM José Cubas from Paraguay was having a solid event until an unexpected loss to FM Charles Gauche in round six

The leaders entering round six were Brazilian GM Alexandr Fier, a veteran of opens in Europe, based in Georgia with his wife and child, and Uruguayan GM Andrés Rodrigues, who took the title of the first Floripa Open in 2015. With 4½ / 5, there was always the question of a safe draw between them, but this was soon dispelled.

There were no quick draws on the schedule and the result between the two leaders GM Fier (left) and GM Rodrigues (right), was a very exciting all-out war

The game started as a Sicilian Scheveningen, following a game played by Fier, also with black, in 2015. White improved upon the play but an overambitious push for the win backfired after 25.Be5?


Black struck back with 25…Rxd3! And after 26.Qxd3 f6! things were looking dire for White. The weather now began to make itself heard. As if timing itself for one of those melodramatic Hollywood blockbusters, a thunderstorm unfolded outside so raucously that from within the playing hall it sounded as if a symphony played on kettle drums was being performed on the roof.

Andrés Rodrigues has proven himself time and time again how talented an attacker he can be, so one can never count him out of a battle until the scoresheets have been signed. Fier is no slouch in this area, but mistakenly took a poisoned pawn and suddenly the momentum shifted once more.


After 31.h4!? Black grabbed the pawn somewhat carelessly with 31…Bxh4?! And after 32.Qa3! It was Black’s turn to sweat. The threats on the 8th and 7th ranks could not be ignored, and the question on the minds of the spectators crowding around the board area was whether White had irreversibly changed the course of the game. Looking after, the engines are quick to pronounce their cold infallible evaluations, but in the heat of the battle, with the clocks ticking away inexorably, and gold on the line, such numbers have little meaning.

Alexandr Fier, whose last name is actually pronounced 'fear', was fearless in his defense in round six

Alexandr Fier’s defensive skills cannot be underestimated, nor his guts and grit. With less than two minutes left on White’s clock, Black was fearless in his defense, and ability to provoke White. Look at the position below:


Here Black played 40…Kg5! and even the masters and grandmasters who were watching it were taken aback, a couple holding back a grin. This counterintuitive foray with the king straight into the lion’s jaws was quite a surprise and it also ate up the last seconds left of White’s time, the saving grace for Black. In the final position, after


The engines show White can forcibly win after 48. g5+! with a lengthy forced line. The problem is that White literally had fewer than ten seconds left, and even if he strongly suspected this would win, a single misstep might actually cost him the game in view of Black’s material advantage. With a visible grimace as he saw his clock with five seconds left, Rodrigues played 48. Qf2+ and repeated the position for the third time.

Andrés Rodrigues ½-½ Alexandr Fier

[Event "4th Floripa Open 2018"] [Site "Florianopolis"] [Date "2018.01.22"] [Round "6"] [White "Rodriguez Vila, Andres"] [Black "Fier, Alexandr"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B83"] [WhiteElo "2459"] [BlackElo "2557"] [Annotator "Albert Silver"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventCountry "BRA"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. f4 a6 10. a4 Bd7 11. Kh1 Rc8 12. Nb3 Na5 13. e5 {This is a mainline Sicilian Scheveningen with 6 Be2 a6} Ne8 14. Nxa5 Qxa5 15. Bd3 Bc6 16. Bd4 (16. Qh5 g6 $17) 16... Rd8 17. b4 Qxb4 18. Rb1 Qa5 19. Rb3 $146 ({Both players have been following a game Fier played a couple of years ago that went} 19. Bb6 Qxc3 20. Rb3 Bxg2+ 21. Kxg2 {0-1 (30) Morchiashvili,B (2331)-Fier,A (2624) Ureki 2015}) 19... b5 20. axb5 axb5 21. exd6 (21. Qh5 g6 $17) 21... Rxd6 22. Nxb5 Bxb5 23. Rxb5 Qa4 24. Rh5 g6 25. Be5 (25. Ba1 $11) 25... Rxd3 $1 $17 26. Qxd3 { The threat of Rxh7! has been White's wet dream for some time, but just when it is hanging over Black's position, things will go very badly for White.} f6 $1 27. Ra1 ({Better is} 27. Bxf6 $1 $15 Rxf6 28. Qb5) 27... Qc6 $1 28. Rh3 (28. Ra7 $2 Rf7 $19) 28... fxe5 29. fxe5 Rf2 30. Rf3 Rxc2 31. h4 {While not objectively the best, White's bait will be taken and lead to a sudden reversal in fortunes. The engines will gladly scream winning or lost, but in the heat of the battle, nothing could be less clear.} Bxh4 (31... Rc4 $19 32. h5 gxh5) 32. Qa3 Rc5 {Hoping for ...Nc7.} 33. Raf1 $2 (33. Qb4 $1 $15) 33... Be7 $19 34. Rf7 {[#]} Qc7 $2 (34... Rc2 35. Rf8+ $1 Kg7 36. Qxe7+ Kh6 37. Qh4+ Kg7 38. R1f7#) (34... Qxg2+ $1 $19 35. Kxg2 Rc2+ 36. Kf3 Bxa3) 35. Qf3 $40 {Black needs to defend precisely.} (35. Qh3 $16 Ng7 36. Qh6 Qxe5 37. Rxe7 Qh5+ 38. Qxh5 Rxh5+ 39. Kg1) 35... Rc4 {[#]} (35... Rxe5 $5 36. Rf8+ $8 Kg7 37. Rf7+ Kh8 38. Rf8+ Kg7 39. Rf7+ Kh8 40. Rf8+ Kg7 $11) 36. Rf8+ $1 Kg7 (36... Bxf8 37. Qxf8#) 37. g3 Qxe5 {aiming for ...Nf6.} 38. Rf7+ Kh6 39. Rxe7 Ng7 {Threatening ...Nf5.} 40. g4 Kg5 $1 {The exclamation point is as much for guts as for quality.} (40... Qg5 $5 41. Qf6 $8 (41. Qh3+ $2 Nh5 $19) 41... Qd5+ 42. Qf3 ( 42. Kh2 $2 Rc2+ 43. Rf2 Rxf2+ 44. Qxf2 Qd6+ 45. Qg3 Qxe7 $19) 42... Qg5 $11) 41. Rxg7 Rc3 $2 (41... Qxg7 $11 {and Black has nothing to worry about.} 42. Qe3+ Kh4 43. Qf2+ Kg5 44. Qe3+ Kh4 45. Qf2+ Kg5 46. Qe3+) 42. Qg2 $18 Qxg7 43. Qd2+ Kh4 44. Qf2+ Kg5 45. Qf4+ Kh4 46. Qf2+ Kg5 47. Qf4+ Kh4 {[#]} 48. Qf2+ $2 {With just seconds left on his clock, White grimaced and repeated the position, knowing he might be winning, but with no chance to convert it.} ({Only move:} 48. g5+ $1 $18 Kh5 49. Qh2+ Kxg5 50. Rg1+ Kf5 51. Qf2+ Ke5 52. Re1+ Kd5 53. Qa2+ Kd4 54. Rd1+ Ke4 55. Qxe6+ Kf4 56. Qd6+ Kf5 57. Rf1+ Kg4 58. Rg1+ Kf5 59. Qd5+ Qe5 60. Rf1+ Rf3 61. Rxf3+ Kg4 62. Qxe5) 1/2-1/2

Standings after six rounds

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Fier Alexandr 5,0
2 Rodriguez Vila Andres 5,0
3 Barbosa Evandro Amorim 5,0
4 Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag 5,0
5 Granda Zuniga Julio E 5,0
6 Molina Roberto Junio Brito 5,0
7 Carneiro Vitor Roberto Castro 5,0
8 Gauche Charles 5,0
9 Perdomo Leandro 5,0
10 Bittencourt Jorge 5,0
11 Santiago Yago De Moura 5,0
12 Kjartansson Gudmundur 4,5
13 Bachmann Axel 4,5
14 Di Berardino Diego Rafael 4,5
15 Cadilhac Igor Tokuichi Kikuchi 4,5
16 Menna Barreto Felipe Kubiaki 4,5
17 Matsuura Everaldo 4,5
18 Luz Arthur Nader 4,5
19 Coro Lucas 4,5
20 Pinto Rendrex Lopes 4,5

Complete standings

Live games



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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