Shirov leads in Arica

by André Schulz
12/18/2019 – Arica is a lively port city on the Pacific coast of Chile, not far from the Atacama Desert. An Open with international appeal has been played here for a few years. Alexey Shirov tops the ranking list and started with 5 out of 5. | Live games and video of Round 6 from 19:30 UTC (21:30 CET / 3:30 PM EST)

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6th International Chess Festival in Arica 

The Club Jaque 64 organizes the sixth edition of its "International Chess Festival Arica City 2019" from December 15th to 22nd. Two tournaments are played over eight days, the chess tournament of the city of Arica and a blitz tournament. The prize fund is 8,250,000 Chilean pesos (about USD$11,000). The official hotels of the tournament are the Hotel Diego de Almagro and the Hotel Arica.

With mild, warm temperatures, the city of Arica is considered the "city of eternal spring". After independence from the Spaniards beginning in the late 19th century, the city initially belonged to Peru, but passed to Chile after the Saltpetre war (a.k.a. the War of the Pacific). The city's landmark is the rock "Morro".

The centre of Arica | Google Street View

130 players from 11 countries take part in the tournament, including a number of international grandmasters. Alexey Shirov returns to Arica and takes the top spot in the starting list. Other grandmasters include GM Nikita Petrov from Russia, the Chileans GM Cristobal Henriquez and GM Pablo Salinas, Jose Marinez and Christian Cruz from Peru, the Bulgarian GM Petar Arnaudov and the Argentinian grand masters GM Sandro Mareco, GM Salvador Alonso, and WGM Carolina Lujan and WIM Florencia Fernandez.

Alexey Shirov has so far lived up to his role as favourite. In the first five rounds the Latvian, again playing under the Spanish flag, won all his games fairly effortlessly. 


In round two, Shirov with Black chose the classical variation of the Sicilian Defence. The diagram position has been reached in a number of previous games, but is not necessarily good for White. Here White played 13.♗h4. After the thematic sacrifice 13...xc3 14.bxc3 d5 Black has taken the initiative and is clearly better.

The playing hall

In the fifth round, Shirov faced Peruvian GM Cristhian Cruz. In a French Advance variation, Shirov built up a positional edge, and eschewed a repetition draw option in favour of a kingside attack. 


Cruz is angling for counterplay against White's weak a3 pawn but his next move, 29...Ra4 proved to be a serious error. Shirov went for the direct threat, 30.e2, and the tactics are working in his favour. After 30...c3 (30...♔d8 31.f5 is a winning attack) 31.xc3 xc3 32.b5+, Black's queen is overloaded. 32...c8 (a nice line is 32...♜c6 33.♘d1! ♛c2 34.♖f2 ♛b3 35.♖b2) 33.xd5+ xf3 34.e8+ 1-0

Hotel Almagro

Hotel Arica

Standings after Round 5 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 SHIROV Alexei 5,0 0,0
2 VERA SIGUENAS Deivy 5,0 0,0
3 MARTINEZ ALCANTARA Jose Eduar 4,5 0,0
4 PETROV Nikita 4,5 0,0
5 ARNAUDOV G. Petar 4,5 0,0
6 CRUZ Cristhian 4,0 0,0
7 MARECO Sandro 4,0 0,0
8 OLIVARES OLIVARES Claudio 4,0 0,0
9 TERRY Renato 4,0 0,0
10 SALINAS HERRERA Pablo 4,0 0,0
11 QUINTILIANO PINTO Renato R. 4,0 0,0
12 CORO Lucas 4,0 0,0
13 VALDES ESCOBAR Alvaro 4,0 0,0
14 LUJAN Carolina 4,0 0,0
15 BARRIA ZUNIGA Daniel 4,0 0,0
16 HENRIQUEZ VILLAGRA Cristobal 3,5 0,0
17 ABARCA GONZALEZ Nicolas 3,5 0,0
18 GONZALES CURSE Flavio 3,5 0,0
19 ALONSO Salvador 3,5 0,0
20 PAEZ MEDINA Guillermo 3,5 0,0

...132 Players

Live games and video


Round 6 from 19:30 UTC (21:30 CET / 3:30 PM EST)

All available games


Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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