Salamanca: Shirov and Topalov in the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
2/5/2021 – Veterans Alexei Shirov and Veselin Topalov are sharing the lead at the Salamanca Masters, taking place this week as an over-the-board rapid tournament. David Antón and Eduardo Iturrizaga are trailing the leaders a half point behind and are yet to face the Bulgarian. Only round 5 will be played on Friday, while the tournament will come to an end on Saturday. | Photos: Official site

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Salimova still the strongest among the women

While the first day of action saw 7 out of 8 games finishing decisively, on Thursday we got to see 5 draws and 3 decisive encounters. Exciting chess was the rule nonetheless, with Alexei Shirov and Veselin Topalov showing their well-honed skills to go into the last two days of action sharing the lead on 3/4.

Nurgyul Salimova, who had kicked off the event with two consecutive wins, was defeated by Shirov and Eduardo Iturrizaga on Thursday. The 17-year-old Bulgarian, however, still has the best score among the women.

In Friday’s fifth round, which kicks off at 16.00 CET, Shirov will have white against Almira Skripchenko while Topalov will have the tough task of facing defending champion Iturrizaga with the black pieces. David Antón will have white against Salimova and Sabrina Vega will try to continue her good run (she won one and drew one on Thursday) while playing white against Elisabeth Paehtz.

Veselin Topalov, Alexei Shirov

Co-leaders Veselin Topalov and Alexei Shirov

The one decisive result of round 3 saw Shirov beating Salimova after the latter bravely decided to go for a sharp line against the legendary tactician. Shirov calculated precisely to keep his opponent’s initiative at bay:

 

After 18...Qxe5, Shirov calmly developed his two minor pieces still on the first rank while gaining two tempi — 19.Nf3 Qd6 20.Bg5. White has a large edge and Black has burned too many bridges. Salimova resigned six moves later.

Meanwhile, Vega became the first player to hold Topalov to a draw in the event and Antón managed to find a strong counterattack from a slightly inferior position against Iturrizaga.

Round 3 games

 

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Alexei Shirov

Alexei Shirov during the third round

The round-4 direct confrontation between Topalov and Shirov — surely two opponents that know each other well — finished drawn. Topalov, playing white, was in the driver’s seat from the middlegame, but could not break through Shirov’s stern defensive efforts.

Salimova suffered her second defeat of the day against Iturrizaga, who found an elegant knight manoeuvre on move 21:

 

Black went for 21...Nbd3, as White would be strategically lost after 22.exd3 Nxf3+. Salimova continued with 22.Bg5, only to see her opponent increase his advantage with a series of forcing moves — 22...f6 23.Be3 Nxb2:

 

The same knight continues to wreak havoc on White’s camp. Salimova took the bait with 24.Qxb2, and Iturrizaga showed his idea — 24...f5 25.Nc3 b4:

 

The black bishop on the long diagonal is deadly. Iturrizaga swiftly converted his advantage into a 34-move win.

In the remaining two games, Paehtz held Antón to a draw and Vega got the better of Skripchenko with the black pieces.

Round 4 games

 

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Nurgyul Salimov, Eduardo Iturrizaga

Nurgyul Salimova facing Eduardo Iturrizaga


Standings after Round 4

 

All games

 

Links


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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dbuethorn dbuethorn 2/5/2021 05:02
Beth Harmon would win this !
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