Matsuura wins second Brazilian Championship after 26 years

by Albert Silver
3/4/2017 – It really must be considered a Cinderella story, since by all means, Everaldo Matsuura was not even supposed to be in the final, let alone win it, yet by forceful contortions of fate, the friendly player from the state of Paraná stormed away with the event, winning his second Brazilian title after 26 years. Juliana Terao crushed the Women’s Championship with 8.5/9. Here is the large illustrated report with GM analysis.

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The 83rd Brazilian championship was remarkable on many levels, and will be one that is remembered for the large number of improbabilities that took place. Then first is not event the headline at the top of the article, but the unequivocal fighting spirit that transpired through and through. After the daunting 74% draw rate in the elite FIDE Grand Prix in Sharjah, it is almost comical to share the nearly 73% win rate in the Brazilian Championship. To be fair, this is highly atypical.

Everyone added to this statistic, and all played uncompromisingly. In fact, in some cases, it was taken to extremes that even Tal would have smiled at.

Vitor Carneiro was party to one of the wildest games in round ten, courtesy of...

... Carlos Pinto who just refused to hold anything back. One thing was clear, no matter how right or wrong the play was, with no engines to supply easy answers, it forced his much higher rated opponent to focus with the utmost care.

Vitor Carneiro - Carlos Pinto

[Event "LXXXIII Brazilian Championship"] [Site "Rio de Janeiro"] [Date "2017.02.13"] [Round "10.5"] [White "Carneiro, Vitor Roberto Castro"] [Black "Pinto, Carlos Henrique Lope"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [WhiteElo "2426"] [BlackElo "2121"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2017.02.06"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "BRA"] 1. c4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nge2 d6 7. O-O c6 8. d3 Qe8 9. e4 e5 10. h3 Na6 11. Be3 Nh5 12. Qd2 Nc5 13. f4 Ne6 14. Rf2 exf4 15. gxf4 Qe7 16. Raf1 Bd7 17. d4 fxe4 18. Nxe4 Rae8 19. d5 cxd5 20. cxd5 Nc5 21. Bxc5 dxc5 22. d6 Qh4 23. Nxc5 Bxh3 24. d7 Bxg2 25. Rxg2 Rxe2 26. Rxe2 Ng3 27. Qd5+ Kh8 28. Re8 Qg4 29. Rxf8+ Bxf8 30. Qe5+ 1-0

After the game, players who had observed the madness, could not help themselves and were seen pitching in, and just as quickly shooed away by the arbiter.

IM Maximo Macedo was another who contributed generously to the win-rate, as his final score of 4.5/11 included only three draws

One cannot fault the effort that went into trying to take home one of these trophies...

... and especially the champion's trophy above.

GM Krikor Mekhitarian, the previous year's champion, had hoped to compound his title with a run, but two unexpected losses dashed that dream to pieces.

GM Felipe El Debs came in third just a half point behind the leaders, and were it not for his loss in round two, he might have had a greater say in the title

Fier - Macedo (annotated by Alexandr Fier)

In the final round, Alexandr Fier tried his utmost to trip Renato Quintiliano, but to no avail

After a fast and furious 6.0/6 start, Everaldo Matsuura had the luxury of not needing to press for the win in every game. In the final round he drew with Krikor Mekhitarian.

Everaldo Matsuura vs Krikor Mekhitarian (annotated by FM Ricardo Teixeira)

[Event "LXXXIII Brazilian Championship"] [Site "Rio de Janeiro"] [Date "2017.02.14"] [Round "11.5"] [White "Matsuura, Everaldo"] [Black "Mekhitarian, Krikor Sevag"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C96"] [WhiteElo "2480"] [BlackElo "2561"] [Annotator "Ricardo Teixeira"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2017.02.06"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "BRA"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 {Well, here we are with a known opening, and yet another game ending in a draw. So why analyze this game? In truth, we have before us a game between two grandmasters, which alone would justify much, but the real purpose is to pay tribute to two generations of Brazilian players, fighting for improved conditions for our sport here in Brazil. This is also a game played in the last round of a competition, which, coincidentally, directly involves the previous champion of the highest title in Brazilian chess, Krikor Mekhitarian, and the new champion as the result of this game, Everaldo Matsuura.} 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Nd7 {This knight maneuver is an old, yet excellent and solid idea (among many others) by the legendary Paul Keres, from the Ruy Lopez Chigorin. Here black overprotects his e5 pawn, while at the same time staying alert to an eventual liquidation of the central pawns, which might give a new life to his bishop pair.} 12. b3 {Not taking any risks, even more so as the game might well decide the title (and it did!), Matsuura takes a quieter road.} ({A livelier position, yet one that would be harder to remain risk-free, would be reached after} 12. Nbd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nb3 a5 15. Bd3 (15. Be3 a4 16. Nc1 exd4 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18. Bxd4 Bf6 19. Ne2 Bb7 20. Bxf6 Nxf6 21. Nd4 $14 { Tal - Keres, 1962(!) Candidates Tournament}) 15... Ba6 (15... a4 $2 16. Bxb5 axb3 17. Bxc6 Rxa2 18. Rxa2 bxa2 19. Qa4) 16. d5 Nb4 17. Bf1 a4 18. a3 Nxd5 19. Qxd5 axb3 20. Bxb5 Nf6 21. Qd3 Bxb5 22. Qxb5 Qb8 23. Qxb8 Raxb8 24. Bg5 Rfc8 { with a complicated position.}) 12... Qc7 {Mekhitarian opts for a less explored continuation with few references in the databases. The line that ensues, starting with 12/\ exd4, was first played in 1964(!) and continues to be the main one today, with Black making quick exchanges in the center to mobilize his forces aimed at the e4 pawn, which completely compensates for his d6 weakness. A classic give-and-take situation.} (12... exd4 13. cxd4 Nc6 14. Nc3 Bf6 15. Be3 cxd4 16. Nxd4 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Bb7 $11 {Stein - Darga, Interzonal, 1964}) 13. d5 Nb6 14. Nbd2 g6 $5 $146 {An interesting idea, and no doubt fruit of analyses by White resulting from the game Mekhitarian - Carvalho, H, Campo Grande, Brazil 2015.} ({The game then continued} 14... Bd7 15. Nf1 c4 16. b4 Nb7 17. g4 a5 18. Ng3 axb4 19. cxb4 Rfc8 20. Kh2 Na4 21. a3 c3 22. Nf5 Bf8 $16 {1-0 in 40 moves}) 15. Nf1 f5 {It might have been better to hold off this move for a bit. The reason is that Black will still not be able to create a strong and dynamic center recapturing with ...gxf5, which will yield good squares for White's knights, both to defend his d5 weakness, as well as an eventual attack on the e4 square. In any case, there is now a form of dynamic equality in the position.} 16. exf5 Bxf5 17. Ne3 Bxc2 18. Qxc2 c4 19. b4 Nb7 20. Nd2 a5 21. Ne4 axb4 22. cxb4 Nd8 23. Rd1 Qb7 24. Nc3 Qd7 25. Ne4 Qb7 26. Nc3 Qd7 27. Ne4 { Matsuura plays solidly, with no intention whatsoever of pressing in this position, and his eye firmly on the title, which was confirmed after Fier drew Quintiliano.} Nf7 28. Ng4 Qf5 29. Ne3 Qc8 30. Ng4 Qf5 31. Ne3 Qc8 32. Ng4 1/2-1/2

Vitor Carneiro came in 5th with 6.5/11, which was good enough for an IM norm

GM Felipe El Debs receives his third place trophy from the former club director

Tournament director, and president of the Brazilian Federation, Darcy Lima, gives the second-place trophy to Alexandr Fier

A special commendation must be made to the Brazilian Federation regarding the tournament this year. For one thing, this year's event brought in the largest prizefund in the championship's history, 20 thousand Reals (roughly $6000), and promises to increase that to 36 thousand Reals next year, when the structure will be organized as a knockout event with mini-matches. However, more than this, I spoke with several of the players to ask about their impressions or gripes, and was pleased to hear them all state extreme satisfaction with the conditions as they highlighted the pleasant playing room, the hotel where they stayed, and even the food. This was further repeated a couple of weeks later in the female championship (see below), when Regina Ribeiro commented in her closing ceremony speech that it had easily been the best championship she had been in after 33 years of competing in it.

Claudia Aquino, who coordinated the life transmission, daily photos, and more, had the pleasure of giving the champion's trophy to Everaldo Matsuura

Everaldo Matsuura’s win truly was one worthy of a fairy tale. Consider that by all measures he should not even have been there. In the Semifinal event he played in to qualify for the final, he had come in behind GM Andre Diamant and failed to make the cut. This effectively made him a reserve, which usually means that was that. However, as fate would have it, Diamant was forced to withdraw before the event started, and suddenly the vacant seat was given to him.

Everaldo Matsuura, born in 1970, had won the event in 1991 at the budding age of 21, but his progress had never been the streaking one that we read about every month as a prodigy or other produces an amazing result. He became an IM at the age of 26, and for years remained a strong IM, but no more. Inch by inch he made his way forward, with the diligence and patience that only the most iron-willed are capable of, and at the age of 40, fourteen years later, he finally locked all the conditions necessary and became a GM.

FM Ricardo Teixeira, himself a mutiple finalist, and one-time vice-champion, chats with friend and oft rival over-the-board, Matsuura.

When he arrived in Rio de Janeiro, fifth in the starting list, there was no burning fire that promised to leave everyone in the dust as he won the title. Sure he wanted to win it, but his attitude towards the game had changed. As he explained after, he no longer approached an event with the result as his main goal. He was now more accepting of the cards he might get, and sought only to play a good game. As is typical of all perfectionists, when asked what his best game had been in the championship, he said none met his criteria of a ‘good game’, but that was ok. His peers will no doubt have strong words of disagreement on this, as will his perfect 6.0/6 start where everything seemed to work for him. He explained also that this approach was not limited to the event, but to his games. While he understands that ideally, he will be in full control, calculating like mad and working out all the lines and nitty gritty, he feels this is an illusion and now relies more on his instinct and understanding of the positions. The result is a second title, 26 years after his first. The only other player in the history of the Brazilian Championship to rival (and beat) it is the legendary Souza Mendes, who was also the first Brazilian Champion ever.

Your author and photographer, Albert Silver, together with the champion

A group photo with the players and organizers

Final standings

The women's championship was won by top-seed Juliana Terão. Not only did she smash the field with a merciless 8.5/9, but she also became the first Brazilian woman to break 2300. (photo by Claudia Aquino)

The three top finishers Vanessa Feliciano (second), Juliana Terao (first), and Vivian Heinrichs (third) (photo by Claudia Aquino)

Group photo with all the participants of the Brazilian Women Championship (photo by Claudia Aquino)

Final standings


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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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