Lucky Dino: New Open in Malta

by ChessBase
6/13/2015 – Swiss IM Roland Ekstroem and a Polish Candidate Master Piotr Tworzydlo shared first place in the Lucky Dino Open in Sliema, Malta, held 20-26 May 2015. The two players scored 7.5/9 1.5 points ahead of the third prize winner, Tiberiu-Petre Stanciu from Romania. This pictorial report Piotr Kaim contains very instructive and entertaining "banter" commentary by the winner.

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Lucky Dino: A New Open in Malta

Report by Piotr Kaim

The Republic of Malta is a speck of a nation eighty kilometers south of Sicily, an archipelago of a few islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The total area is 122 square miles or 300 sqare km, the population of around 450,000, which makes it one of the world's smallest and most densely populated countries. The capital Valletta is less than a single square km in area, making it the smallest national capital in the European Union. the official languages are Maltese, a semitic language decended from Arabic, and English.

Taste of Malta – which is surrounded by the Mediterranean

As we mentioned several months ago, Malta is becoming ever more active in organizing chess events. In January the Maltese hosted several round robins, including this one.

At the end of May this there was the first edition of a modest but very nice Open
directed by Clarence Psaila and sponsored by the online casino Lucky Dino.

The event was played in the Imperial Hotel in Sliema, a beach town that is a short bus ride
from the capital Valetta, and half an hour way from the country’s only airport in Luqa.

The lineup was not very strong, but the event was truly international. In two tournament groups (Open A for the players of Elo 1850+ and Open B for those under 1850) over twenty national federations were represented, including such distant ones as South Korean, New Zealand, Israeli and the Palestinian CF. Obviously, there were also many Europeans and not surprisingly a great deal of them were Maltese.

It is also a tradition that chess events on the archipelago attract a significant number of Britons, and the Lucky Dino was no exception. The UK contingent included, among others, a well-known journalist Dominic Lawson (Elo 1980), who used to be the chief editor of the Spectator weekly and now hosts a chess program, Across the Board, in the BBC. Besides, quite recently, Lawson became the President of the English Chess Federation – see this interesting pre-election interview with Frederic Friedel. In the Lucky Dino he scored four out of nine (including a point for two “byes”) that gave him a respectable 2007 rating performance.

Dominic Lawson (with glasses) having white pieces against his compatriot Paul Bielby

The heavy favorite for the first place in the group A was a Swedish IM Roland Ekstroem (2395) who has been living in Malta for years and is very active in the local chess circuit. Indeed, he won the competition, but quite unexpectedly faced very strong opposition from a Polish CM Piotr Tworzydlo (2116). The two players drew their game in round five and both scored 7.5/9 (in the case of IM Ekstroem it included half a point for a bye he took in the fourth round). Therefore, the winner was declared based on tiebreak points and it was the much more experienced IM that took first prize.

Roland Ekstroem proved you can win a tournament in spite of being the best in the pack.

Here is the game he won in the third round. Please pay attention to his frank, entertaining and instructive notes. Recently Roland has developped a liking for watching "banter blitz". It is a kind of game where players talk aloud what they are thinking during their play. In the following he comments his game in a similar fashon, here and there telling us what he thought during the game. These comments are marked "1", whereas those made after consulting databases and Rybka are marked "2".

[Event "Lucky Dino Open"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.22"] [Round "3"] [White "Ekstroem, Roland"] [Black "Belotelov, Dmitry"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B08"] [WhiteElo "2395"] [BlackElo "2189"] [Annotator "IM Roland Ekstroem"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] {Before the game I knew that my opponent was a 49-year-old FM from Russia. I had a look into ChessBase and was surprised to see that he had only two games there! One of them was a black game with 1.e4 g6. More info than nothing, so I decided to play...} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 {I assumed he was not so active and not up to date with sharp lines, therefore it was a moment when I was going to prepare something sharp like f2-f4 and then e5 followed by h2-h4. Sometimes I try to surprise my opponents this way and it can turn out well. However, it also happens that the result is bad when I feel too much commited to play a line just because I invested more than an hour to look at something I had never played before, even if I found it was a crap. Having recalled this pattern, I said to myself : "Roland, are you so stupid to spend 1.5 hours to prepare a new line that you have never played, just because he played 1...g6 once 15 years ago? How about saving your energy for the game instead? Have you not learned from past mistakes?!"} d6 4. Be2 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. O-O c6 7. a4 Qc7 {At home I looked a bit at the mainline 7...a5 and now he deviates. Therefore, it was time to think for myself, althought the moves should come like flowing water considering I played this setup all my life!} 8. Bf4 {"1": There may be some opportunities to play e4-e5. "2": The most common move is 8 h3.} Nh5 {"2": Now the most common is 8...Nbd7.} 9. Bg5 {"1": Want to provoke h7-h6 so I can win a tempo with Qd2 later on, when the bishop drops back to e3. "2": The main move with much better winning percentage is 9 Be3! The reason seems to be that after the text Black plays e7-e5, threatening ...Bg4 with attack on d4. If White plays h2-h3 to avoid ...Bg4 then Black can respond with h7-h6 and plant his knight on f4.} h6 {"1": Now I get what I wanted and after just two moves Black was very dissatisfied with his opening."2" Rybka confirms that the text move should get the "?!" mark.} 10. Be3 Nd7 ({"1": I expected} 10... e5 {and actually it is the main move.}) 11. Nd2 ({"2": I happened to play a theorethical novelty now! According to the ChessBase the only game played in this position continued} 11. a5 {. Some ten years ago someone said to me with full respect: "Roland! I saw you have played a theoretical novelty!!" He thought I had been analysing for weeks and brought something that was going to impress the chess world! But as for me I did not know what he was talking about. It is like this: there is a novelty in every game that is not a copy of another one. Usually, it comes when somebody forgets the theory. If you want to use a novelty as fast as in the third move, try something like this: 1.e4 a6 2.d4 f6!? 3.c4 g5!! TN.}) 11... Nhf6 12. f4 a6 ({"1": I saw a line like this:} 12... e5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. f5 gxf5 15. Rxf5 Nb6 16. a5 $6 Nbd5) 13. e5 Nd5 14. Nxd5 cxd5 15. Bd3 {This move I overestimated. In 1997 Gallagher showed me a manouver in almost the same structure. He moved the white's knight from f3 to g5 and I said: "what is this? I play ...h6 and you must go back." Actually, he went back with a mean smile. I realized that g6 got so weak that Black could never play ...f6 or ...f5.} f5 $5 {Oh, this is different. In the Gallagher game the pawn was on e6, not like here on e7, where Black can use his bishop on c8 to neutralize some of White's trumps.} 16. exf6 Rxf6 {"1": Black can be better if he manages to put his knight on f8 and his bishops comes out to f5. I must do something...} 17. Qf3 {"1": If he responds with 17.. .Qc6 then maybe I can play 18.Bb5.} Qc6 18. Ra3 ({How come? I forgot about} 18. Bb5 {until after I moved the rook. Fortunately it is not that good as it seems: } Qxc2 19. Bxd7 (19. Bxa6 $5 {is also possible}) 19... Bxd7 20. Qxd5+ Kh7 21. Qxb7 Bc6 22. Qc7 {and I have no idea about the assessment.}) ({"2": Rybka likes } 18. c4 dxc4 19. Be4 Qc7 20. Rfc1) 18... Nb6 19. a5 Na4 {"1": I hoped he would not play this, but what I was counting on after the knight went on b6?! I assume ...e7-e5 is a threat and so is ...Nxb2. I am afraid I am worse...} 20. c4 Nxb2 21. cxd5 Qc7 22. Ne4 {"1": If the rook moves I hope to trap his knight. } ({"2": Rybka recommends} 22. Be2 {and gives the assessment +1.33 in favour of White.}) 22... Nxd3 {"1": It is hard to evaluate the move as there is no engine available. "2": Rybka says his move should get the "!" mark.} 23. Nxf6+ Bxf6 24. Rxd3 Qxa5 25. g4 $40 {"1": I must attack before Black develops.} Bg7 26. Qe4 Bxg4 {"1": Black is going to lose a piece now...} 27. Qxg6 Be2 $2 ({ "2": No Roland, he could save the piece with} 27... Qb5 $1 {, but still you have some advantage after} 28. Rc3 (28. f5 $4 Qxd3) 28... Qe2 {.}) 28. f5 ({ "1": I could not play} 28. Qe6+ $2 Kh8 29. Bd2 Bxf1 $1 30. Bxa5 Bxd3 {, but "2": Rybka says white is 1.00 better.}) ({On the other hand} 28. Bd2 $2 {was a mistake due to} Qxd5 $1) 28... Qxd5 {"1": Looks like an easy win now.} 29. Bxh6 Qf7 30. Rg3 Qxg6 31. Rxg6 Kh7 $1 {"1": What is this? Have I overlooked something?! There is no win after 32.Bxg7 Bxf1 33.Kxf1 Rg8... Happily, everything is OK owing to:} 32. Rf4 $1 ({"2": You could win easier after} 32. Rxg7+ Kxh6 33. Rg6+ $1) 32... Bh5 33. Rxg7+ Kxh6 34. Rxe7 Kg5 35. Rf2 Kf6 36. Rxb7 Rg8+ 37. Rg2 Rc8 38. Rf2 Rg8+ 39. Kf1 Rg4 40. Rh7 Bf7 41. Rh6+ Ke7 42. f6+ {...and Black resigned after some more moves. I had not played many games for a while. When I came back to serious chess some time ago I saw nothing and got crushed much too often. I was not sure if it was of too little practice or I have just got too old... The last half of the year I play better so there is evidence my brain is not rotten yet! However I feel like a child when looking at Rybka.} 1-0

Some Polish names are really hard to read and pronounce for other nations and this is the case of Piotr Tworzydlo, who took second place. That is why the tournament referee Adam Raoof felt a bit helpless during the closing ceremony, when he had to announce the Pole’s success. Then he spotted your reporter (another Pole) and was much relieved once he could transfer the privilege of making the announcement to me.

I took it with pleasure and now I am going to repeat what I said to the crowd in the playing hall: "the second prize winner, who incidentally beat me in the last round, was

piɒtr tvɒˈʒɪdwɒ.


[Event "Lucky Dino Sliema"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.26"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Kaim, Piotr"] [Black "Tworzydlo, Piotr"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E85"] [Annotator "Piotr Kaim"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. f3 g6 4. c4 Bg7 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Be3 Nc6 7. Nge2 e5 {Not the best way to deal with the Saemish.} 8. d5 Ne7 9. Qd2 Ne8 10. g4 f5 11. gxf5 gxf5 12. O-O-O Nf6 13. Bh3 ({The idea to exchange the light square bishops in some moment is sound, but the bishop would be safer on h3, if the text move is preceded by} 13. h4 $1 {I dismissed that kind of play, as I was irrationally scared about allowing a black piece to enter into g4. However, after} fxe4 14. fxe4 Bg4 ({or} 14... Ng4 15. Bh3 Nxe3 16. Qxe3 Bxh3 17. Qxh3) 15. Re1 {and then 16.Ng3 White is fantastic.}) 13... Rf7 14. Bg5 Qf8 15. f4 $6 ({Black is well prepared for this opening. I should have played calmly, e.g.} 15. Rhg1 Kh8 16. Rdf1 {with considerable edge.}) 15... Nxe4 16. Nxe4 fxe4 17. Be6 {I counted on this move and thought I would be able to win the exchange...} Bxe6 18. dxe6 Rf5 19. Ng3 e3 $1 {This one I overlooked. Indeed, White wins the exchange as the Rf5 is trapped, but Black is able to keep his dangerous e-pawn and gets beautiful compensation.} 20. Qg2 (20. Qxe3 $2 exf4 21. Bxe7 fxe3 22. Bxf8 Rfxf8 {and Black is clearly better.}) 20... Rxf4 21. Bxf4 exf4 22. Rdf1 Kh8 23. Nh5 $2 ({After the game my opponent rightly said this move was a serious mistake, as the knight could easily be lost. I should have played} 23. Ne2 $1 {and White does not have to lose.}) 23... Be5 24. Qe4 Qh6 25. Rxf4 ({ Desperation. I saw that after} 25. Nxf4 e2 {I lose the piece and came up with another method to do the same. And it was even worse.}) 25... e2 26. Kc2 Qxh5 27. Rf7 Re8 28. Re1 Nc6 $1 29. Kb1 Nd4 30. Rxc7 Nxe6 31. Rxb7 Nc5 0-1

Apart from playing a good tournament, Piotr made a several days trip to Gozo, the second biggest island of the Maltese archipelago. As a result you can enjoy his photos in this article (whenever you see the Maltese landscape or a piece of Mediterranean architecture, the photo comes from him).

The third prize went to Tiberiu-Petre Stanciu from Romania (2069) who scored 6 out of 9. Apart from showing a good performance, Tiberu-Petre was one of the most colorful players of the event. Before each game he demanded somebody should make him a joint photo with the opponent and it was clear he was playing for fun, not for the result. Actually, these were the words he used after beating Israeli Yuval Helving (2093): “I am playing for fun”. Though Yuval was not happy about the outcome, he could not help but laugh when relating their postgame conversation.

Tiberiu-Petre Stanciu (right) and Yuval Helving

The strongest Maltese player of the main tournament was CM Duncan Vella (2052), who scored 4.5 out of nine and finished in the middle of the 25-player group. Group B was much more populous as it gathered 44 players. Just like in the main tournament there were two winners – the Englishmen Phillip K. Gardner (1793) and Ali Niall (1593) – who scored 7.5/9.

The third prize in Group B went to Maltese Mario Psaila (1841).
By the way, he has no family connections with the tournament director Clarence Psaila;
it just happens that both of them hold a surname that is one of the most common in Malta.

Malta is proud of its beautiful churches (photo from the north of the Island of Gozo)

View from the fortress of Rabat (the capital of Gozo)

Once the tournament is finished, let’s go to the countryside

One of the innumerable Maltese bays

Photos by Piotr Tworzydlo, Karl Heinz Neubauer and Filipina Thornton

Piotr Kaim (born 1973) is a Polish national master playing for the YMCA Warszawa (Warsaw) Club. Besides he is a freelance journalist who has contributed to numerous periodicals, magazines, newspapers and Internet sites. His articles concerned wide range of topics related, among others, to politics, chess and taxes.


Piotr is a certified tax advisor and had a 12 year career with PricewaterhouseCoopers Poland tax advisory services. He also submitted the most unusual photo of himself for publication.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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