Nigel Short wins King's Tournament in Bazna

6/5/2008 – With four white piece wins and no losses British GM Nigel Short, former world championship challenger, finished this tournament in Romania with 7.0/10 points. In joint second were veteran grandmasters Lajos Portisch and Ulf Andersson. Henrique Mecking, who had been doing well until round eight, lost twice and dropped to seventh place. Big illustrated report.

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King's Tournament in Bazna

The King's Tournament took place in Bazna, Romania, from May 24th to June 4th, 2008.The rate of play was 40 moves in 90 minutes, with 30 seconds increment per move, followed by 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move for the rest of the game. The first prize was 7,000 Euro.

Until round eight the legendary Henrique Mecking, former child prodigy and in 1978 the number three player in the world, was in good shape, having scored two wins and no losses. However, in round nine Mecking lost a marathon 68-move game with the white pieces to Alexander Beliavsky, and in round ten he played the following game against Romanian GM Andrei Murariu.

Murariu,A (2483) - Mecking,H (2565) [C45]
King's Tournament Bazna ROM (10), 02.06.2008
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 d6 9.exd6 cxd6 10.Bg5 Qxe2+ 11.Bxe2 h6 12.Bd2 Be7 13.Bf3 Bf6 14.Nc3 Rb8 15.Bxd5 cxd5 16.0-0-0 Bb7 17.b3 d4 18.Ne4 Bxe4 19.Rde1 d5 20.f3 Kd7 21.fxe4 Rhe8 22.exd5 Rxe1+ 23.Bxe1 Rb5 24.Kd2 Rxd5 25.Kd3 h5 26.a4 Rf5 27.b4 a6 28.Bg3 Kc6 29.Kc4 a5 30.b5+ Kb6 31.Kd3

So far Black has been doing okay, and was in fact better for much of the game. Now he makes a fatal mistake: 31...Rc5? 32.c4! and 32...dxc3 is not possible because of the skewer 33.Bf2. 32...Rf5 33.Bd6 Kb7 34.c5 Bd8 35.c6+ Kc8 36.c7 and 36...Bxc7 is met with 37.Rc1+–. 1-0.

Final standings

The draw average in this tournament was 69%, with White winning 24% of the decided games and Black 7%. Alexander Khalifman drew all his games, two in 14 moves, one in 15, and two in 18. There were a total of nine games that ended in draws in less than 20 moves.


Henrique Mecking in his final round game against Mihai Suba (draw in 71 moves)


The marathon 68-move loss by Mecking to Beliavsky in round nine


The eventual winner Nigel Short in his round seven game against Andrei Sokolov (1-0 in 37)


Nigel Short in his 43-move round five win against Rafael Vaganian


Andersson vs Mecking round four: draw in 44. The two have faced each other before: for instance 37 years ago in Wijk aan Zee and Hastings.


Mecking vs Timman in round three (1-0 in 41 moves). These two played each other in Wijk 30 years ago (Timman won that game in 35 moves).


Beliavsky vs Khalifman in round three – draw in 26 moves


Out of form: Holland's Jan Timman with a very disappointing 2504 performance


A trio of chess legends: Henrique Mecking, Lajos Portisch and Boris Spassky

All photos from the Clubul Regilor web site



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