Reggio Emilia sees return of Morozevich; Paco leads with 2.5/3

by ChessBase
12/30/2010 – The 53rd Reggio Emilio Masters is both the last super tournament of 2010 and the first of 2011 as it crosses the boundaries. The event sees the top Italian players as well as an interesting mix of strong 2700 players joining the ranks. At the top is the indefatigable Ivanchuk, not to mention the return of Morozevich to top competition. 'Paco' Vallejo-Pons leads after three rounds. Report with games.

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The 53rd Reggio Emilia masters tournament is running from December 28th, 2010 to January 6th, 2011 with a fascinating selection of international talents, as well as the top two Italian players of the day.

The Astoria Mercure Hotel where the playing venue is located

The players

Vasily Ivanchuk
Vugar Gashimov
Sergei Movsesian
Fabiano Caruana
David Navara
Alexander Morozevich
Francisco Vallejo-Pons
Alexander Onischuk
Nigel Short
Michele Godena

The tournament started with a number of fascinating battles, though missing one of the most awaited players: Alexander Morozevich. The Russian has long been a favorite of the audience for his maverick opening choices, original play, and alternating technical with the extremely dynamic play that characterizes his style. Due to the extreme weather conditions, he only made it into the second day, and his first round game against Navara was rescheduled for the rest day on January 1st.

Reggio Emilia is in a festive mood, though lacking the snow
blizzards that have characterized the rest of Europe.

The dome of the Basilica Della Madonna della Ghiara built in 1619.
The church was built in response to an alleged miracle associated
with a local votive image of the Madonna, painted by Lelio Orsi,
which took place in 1596.

The first round saw Short with his back against the wall and Gashimov sacrificing material to maintain an initiative against his king, however the Englishman was able to steer his way through the maze and his material advantage turned things to his favor. The Spaniard Vallejo-pons chose to face the local homebred GM Michele Godena with an Evans Gambit, an opening he knew Godena had himself played in the previous year's Italian Championship.

Francisco "Paco" Vallejo-Pons (right) at the opening ceremony

Vallejo Pons,F (2698) - Godena,M (2549) [C51]
53rd Masters Reggio Emilia ITA (1), 28.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

The romantic Evans Gambit has seen a resurgence of respectability, and some players such as Short, Jobava, and Petrosian (not the world champion, but his current namesake who sports a 2600+ rating) employ it with a certain regularity. Godena himself played it as white in last year's Italian championship, which cannot have escaped the Spaniard's notice.

4...Bxb4 5.c3 Be7 6.d4 Na5 7.Be2 d6 8.Qa4+ c6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Nxe5 b5 11.Qc2 Nf6 12.a4N [12.0-0 Be6 13.Nf3 0-0 14.Nd4 Bd7 15.e5 Nd5 16.Bd3 g6 17.Bh6 Re8 18.e6 Bc8 19.Nd2 Bf8 20.exf7+ Kxf7 21.Bxf8 Kxf8 22.a4 b4 23.cxb4 Nxb4 24.Qc5+ Qe7 25.Qxa5 Nxd3 26.Nxc6 Qf6 27.Ra3 Bf5 28.g4 Qxc6 29.gxf5 Rad8 30.Qb5 Qd6 31.Rb3 Nf4 32.Nf3 Rb8 33.Qc4 gxf5 34.Kh1 Rxb3 1/2-1/2 Godena,M (2537)-Brunello,S (2507)/Sarre 2009/CB00_2010] 12...0-0 13.0-0 Be6 14.axb5 cxb5 15.Bxb5 Qc7 16.Nf3 Nb3 17.Ra6 Nxc1 18.Rxc1 Rab8 19.c4 Rfc8 20.Nc3 Qf4 21.Rxa7 Bb4 22.Ba6 Rd8 23.Nd5 Bxd5 24.cxd5 Nxe4 25.Rc7 Ba3 26.Rf1 Nf6 27.Rc4 Qd6 28.Rc6 Qxd5 29.Bc4 Qh5 30.h3 Rb7 31.Re1 Qa5 32.Ra1 Ra7 33.Qb3 Rda8 34.Rb6 g6 35.Rxf6 1-0. [Click to Replay]

Post-game interview by WGM Martha Fierro with Fabiano Caruana and Vasily Ivanchuk

WIth the arrival of Morozevich in time for the second round, one wondered how his lengthy absence would affect his play. In many ways, it was much what one might have expected. A combination of the brilliant player known and admired by all, and the deadly effects that rust will do to one's play.

Will this be the beginning of a welcome comeback for Alexander Morozevich?

Short,Nigel D (2680) - Morozevich,Alexander (2700) [C11]
53rd Masters Reggio Emilia ITA (2), 29.12.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.dxc5 Sidestepping the mainline with 6.Nf3, and entering a variation that has never been played by so much as a 2600 player, unless one goes back in time 60-odd years to find a few references with Averbakh and Boleslavsky, and even so, none played 7.a3. 6...Nc6 7.a3 One needs to go back over 100 years to see any notable players in this line, though it was played in the brilliant classic Pillsbury-Lasker (Nuremberg, 1896). 7...Bxc5. 7...Nxc5 8.b4 Nd7 9.Bd3 a5 10.b5 Ncb8 11.Nf3 Nc5 12.Be3 Nbd7 13.0-0 g6 14.Ne2 Be7 15.Qe1 Nb6 16.Nfd4 Bd7 17.Qf2 Nba4 18.Rab1 h5 19.b6 Nxd3 20.cxd3 Bxa3 21.f5 gxf5 22.Nf4 h4 23.Ra1 Be7 24.Rxa4! Bxa4 25.Ndxe6!! 1-0 Pillsbury,H-Lasker,E/Nuremberg 1896/HCL (50) 8.Qg4 0-0 9.Bd3 Qe7 10.Bd2 f6!

White is in trouble. Morozevich has achieved as much as he could hope for in the opening, with the opponent's king forced to castle under the potential pawnstorm, and the center is being undermined irremediably. 11.Qh4 h6 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.0-0-0 e5 14.fxe5 Nxe5 15.Nf3 Nxd3+ 16.cxd3

16...b5! Things are looking ugly for the Englishman. 17.Rhe1 Qb7 18.Be3 Bxe3+ 19.Rxe3 a5 20.Rde1 b4 21.Re7 Qb6 22.axb4 axb4 23.Nd1

23...Bg4. The obstructing 23...Ne4! was stronger, with the idea of cutting off the king from escaping to d2, as well as Qc5+ picking up the rook. 24.Kd2 b3 25.Ke2. The threat is 25...Qb4+ 26.Ke2 (26.Nc3 d4) 26...Bxf3+ Winning the queen. 25...Ra4 26.Qg3 Nh5 27.Qe5 Rf5 28.Qc3 Bxf3+ 29.gxf3

29...d4?? Incomprehensible on every level. It isn't just that this throws away almost the entire winning advantage, but even conceptually it looks terrible, cutting off both its own rook and queen in one self-inflicted blow. 30.Re8+ Kh7 31.Qc8 Nf4+ 32.Kf1 Qb5 33.Nf2 Nxd3?? Disaster. Now it is White who is seriously ahead. Seeing the mess he has made of his once won game, Morozevich has gone berzerk in terms of chess, and goes out of his way to end it as soon as possible. 34.Rh8+ Kg6 35.Qe6+ Kh5 36.Rb8 Qe5 37.Rxe5 Ra1+ 38.Re1 Rxe1+ 39.Qxe1 Nxe1 40.Kxe1 Rxf3 41.Rd8 Re3+ 42.Kf1 Rc3?? "It is better to burn out than to fade away!" (Highlander, 1986) 43.bxc3 dxc3 44.Nd3 1-0. [Click to Replay]

A second win for the former world championship finalist, and this time snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. This put him in sole lead with 2.0/2. David Navara also scored his first win with a nice positional win over top Italian GM Caruana.

Round three showed that Short is human, despite his Rasputin tendencies, and he was unable to save a game against Fabiano, after trying to confuse the issue at the wrong moment.

Caruana,Fabiano (2709) - Short,Nigel D (2680) [C09]
53rd Masters Reggio Emilia ITA (3), 30.12.2010

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5 cxd4 7.0-0 Bd6 8.Nb3 Nge7 9.Nbxd4 0-0 10.h3 Re8 11.c3 a6 12.Bd3 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Nc6 14.Nf3 Bc7 15.Bg5 Qd6 16.Bh4 Qh6 17.Bc2 Be6 18.Bg3 Bxg3 19.fxg3 Rad8 20.Qd3 g6 21.g4 f5 22.Rae1 fxg4 23.hxg4 Bf7 24.g5 Qf8 25.Ba4 Rxe1 26.Rxe1 b5 27.Bb3 Qd6 28.Nd4 Nxd4 29.Qxd4

The position is quite equal, though White could be considered to have a very small edge due to the good bishop/bad bishop but there is no real way to force an entrance so a passive effort to just hold the fort should be enough. 29...Qg3 This move attempt to play something active and lead his young opponent astray is a mistake and what gets Nigel into trouble. 30.Re5 d5 can no longer be protected. Was he planning some form of mass exchange on d5 followed by a perpetual with Qe1-h4? 30...a5 31.a3 b4 32.axb4 axb4 33.Bxd5 bxc3??

34.bxc3 Argh! Perhaps not yet re-oriented to play for the win after having played a quiet game for so long, White misses an actual mating opportunity. Both players seemed to have been oblivious to this possibility. 34.Bxf7+! led to mate after 34...Kxf7 35.Qc4+ Kf8 36.Qf1+ Kg8 37.Re7 Rf8 38.Qc4+ Kh8 39.Qd4+ 34...Bxd5 35.Rxd5 Rxd5 36.Qxd5+ Kg7 37.Qd2

Though mate was missed the endgame is terrible for Black. The pawn supported by queen advances very easily, and Black's only chance lies in a perpetual of some kind. 37...Qc7 38.Qd4+ Kg8 39.c4 Qe7 40.c5 Qxg5 41.Qc4+ Kf8 42.c6 Qd8

43.Qf4+? Fabiano misses a chance to shorten the conflict with 43.c7! Qc8 44.Qb4+ Ke8 45.Qd6! and now 45...Qd7 is not possible because of the cute line: 46.Qe5+ Kf7 47.Qc3 Qc8 48.Qh3! Qxc7 49.Qxh7++- 43...Kg8 44.Kh2 Qd5 45.Qf6 Qh5+ 46.Kg3 Qc5 47.Kg4 Qd5 48.Kh3 Qh5+ 49.Kg3 Qc5 50.Qe6+ Kg7 51.Kf3 Qc3+ 52.Ke4 Qc2+ 53.Kd4 Qxg2 54.c7 Qd2+ 55.Kc5 Qa5+ 56.Kd6 Qa3+ 57.Kd7 Qa4+ 58.Ke7 Qa7 59.Qd7 1-0. [Click to Replay]

Paco also won his game, this time against Navara, and with it took the lead after three rounds.

Current standings after three rounds


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