Kamsky catches Almasi, wins Reggio Emilia 2010

by ChessBase
1/8/2010 – Before the final round of this prestigious Italian tournament seven-time Hungarian champion Zoltan Almasi was a full point ahead. But he had to face his main rival, Gata Kamsky, with the black pieces. The US grandmaster played a dashing exchange sacrifice on move 17 to take the game and the overall tournament victory. Second was Almasi, third Fabiano Caruana. Final report.

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52nd Reggio Emilia Tournament

The Masters group was an invitational with ten players with an average rating of 2623 (= Category 15). The rate of play was 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds increment given for each move from the start of the game.

Round nine (final)

The final round saw four wins and a single draw. Italian GM Michele Godena, 42, beat Moldavian GM Viktor Bologan, 38, who is 155 points above him on the Elo scale, while 17-year-old Fabiano Caruana beat German GM Konstantin Landa with a dangerous kindside attack.

Caruana,F (2652) - Landa,K (2664) [C42]
52nd It Reggio Emilia ITA (9), 06.01.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.0-0-0 Qd7 10.Kb1 Bf6 11.h4 h6 12.Nd4 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 0-0 15.Rg1 Rae8 16.g4 Qc6 17.Bg2 Qa6 18.b3 Bd7 19.g5 h5

20.g6 Re7? Black cracks under the pressure. 21.Bd5. Threatening 22.gxf7+ and mate. 21...Be6 22.Rde1 c5 23.Qd1 Rfe8 and Black is getting mated. 24.Qxh5 fxg6 25.Rxe6

Landa resigned, Fabiano Caruana had held his third place in the final table. 1-0.

The game of the day was of course Gata Kamsky vs Zoltan Almasi. The Hungarian GM had led for most of the tournament and was a full point ahead of the second-placed Kamsky, who needed to beat him in the final round to catch up. Almasi decided to use the Archangelsk Variation in Kamsky's Ruy Lopez to defend his lead, but things didn't go the way he hoped.

Kamsky,G (2695) - Almasi,Z (2704) [C78]
52nd It Reggio Emilia ITA (9), 06.01.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.a4 Rb8 9.axb5 axb5 10.d4 Bb6 11.h3 0-0 12.Re1 h6 13.Be3. This is the last position we could find in our databases, which makes Almasi's 13...Bd7N a new move. 14.Nbd2 Re8 15.Qb1 b4 16.Qc2 Na5

17.Rxa5! We have not been able to ascertain whether this exchange sacrifice was found by Kamsky in home prep or whether he figured it out during the game. Our chess engines come up with it quite quickly: Fritz 12 within 30 seconds with a 0.65 score, while Rybka picks it in just three seconds with a 0.48 evaluation. For human beings the surprise effect of the move must be worth considerably more.

17...Bxa5 18.dxe5 dxe5 19.Nc4 Rb5. The bishop and the pawn on e5 were under attack. Now the complications are horrendous: 20.Ba4 b3 21.Qd1 Qb8 22.Nfd2 Be6 23.Qa1

Almasi had to work out lines like 23...Bxc4 24.Nxc4 Nxe4 25.Rd1 Bxc3 26.bxc3 Qb7, which we think would have given him much better drawing chances than his choice of strategy: 23...Rc8?! 24.Ba7 Qxa7 25.Bxb5 Bb6 (25...Ra8 was an alternative to consider) 26.Qxa7 Bxa7 27.Nxe5. White is now a healthy pawn up and, bearing the name Kamsky, has no serious problems bringing home the full point. 27...Rd8 28.Ndf3 Bb6 29.Bc4 Re8 30.Nd2 Bc5 31.Bxe6 Rxe6 32.Nec4 Bf8 33.e5 Nd5 34.Nxb3 Nf4 35.h4 Ra6 36.Ra1 Rc6 37.Ra4 Nd3 38.Nd4 Rc5 39.e6 Be7 40.Ra8+ Kh7 41.Re8 1-0.

Final standings (after nine rounds)

Of the 45 games played in Reggio Emelia 21 were drawn = 47%. White won 14 games (= 31%) and Black nine games (= 22%).

After the decisive final game Kamsky explains things to the spectators

An interview with the happy winner, conducted by the local TV station Telereggio

And finally the prize giving, with Kamsky receiving a trophy for his first place

Photos provided by Giorgio Gozzi


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