Shirov impressive in Arica

by Antonio Pereira
2/1/2019 – A large ten-round Swiss tournament was organised at the Chilean port city of Arica. Players from seventeen countries arrived in the northernmost city of the Andean country. Top seed Alexei Shirov took first place after finishing with an undefeated 8½/10 score. Peruvian IM Renato Terry surprised by ending up second and Farrukh Amonatov clinched third place on tiebreaks. Full pictorial report provided by club "Jaque 64".

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Down in South America

Traditionally strong masters from South America find it necessary to either move to Europe — usually to Spain — or plan tours through the Old Continent in order to face stronger opposition and improve their game. Luckily for them, however, strong European and North American masters are more than willing to make a trip down south when a well-organised event takes place.

In this year's "Festival Internacional de Ajerez Ciudad de Arica", the organisers managed to attract players from Spain, Tajikistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Belgium and the United States, besides the big line-ups that arrived from neighbouring South American countries. The biggest star was none other than Alexei Shirov — the Latvian grandmaster now represents Spain and has recently won a similar tournament in Chihuaha, Mexico.

The tournament was held in two venues, the CUT (Central Unitaria del Trabajador) and the Luckia Casino. It had 8 million pesos in prizes (around 12,000 U.S. dollars) and was valid for international titles and rankings.

The Luckia Casino | Photo: Official site

Shirov showed his vintage attacking style to get some crucial victories in the tournament. In round six he faced Uruguay's top player Andrés Rodríguez with the black pieces — uncompromising play by both led to the following position:


Notice that White just captured a rook on a8, but Black's attack is imminent — clearly, Shirov had evaluated that 22...f4 was good for him. Nonetheless, White counted on getting counterplay after 23.d3, attacking h7. The game followed 23...g6 24.hxg6 fxe3 25.f3 f2 26.f1 f6 27.gxh7+ h8 28.e2 f5 29.a1. (It is a long variation, but feel free to move the pieces and analyse other variations on the diagram above!)

The queens quickly left the board, but Black's d-pawn combined with a strong knight on g3 convinced Rodríguez that it was time to resign:


The last move of the game was 24...e5, with the threat of taking the rook to h1 via h5. 

Takes two to tango — Andrés Rodríguez from Uruguay | Photo: Official site

The biggest surprise was Peruvian IM Renato Terry, who finished second ahead of eleven grandmasters. The 26-year-old finished with four straight wins and only lost once throughout the event — against Ukrainian GM Vitaly Sivuk. Alongside Terry, two fellow Peruvians finished in the Top 10, José Martínez Alcántara and Christian Cruz, showing once again how the younger generations from the Andean country are slowly but surely rising up the rating ladder.

Half a point behind Terry, six players finished on 7½/10, but Farrukh Amonatov had the best tiebreak score. Amonatov was born in the Soviet Union — like Shirov — but now represents Tajikistan.

The winners | Photo: Official site

Also on 7½ finished four-time U.S. champion Alexander Shabalov, who alongside two-time fellow U.S. champion Alex Yermolinsky are venturing to lesser-known destinations to play chess. Yermo, by the way, arrived in the last round tied for second and faced Alexei Shirov on top board — unfortunately for him, he could not take revenge for his loss in Chihuahua.

A smiling Yermo | Photo: Official site

Alex Shabalov finished on 7½ | Photo: Official site

It was also a memorable event for Chilean Nicolás Abarca, who scored 6/10 and achieved his third and final IM norm.

Nicolás Abarca is now an IM | Photo: Official site

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 SHIROV Alexei 8,5 0,0
2 TERRY Renato 8,0 0,0
3 AMONATOV Farrukh 7,5 0,0
4 DELGADO RAMIREZ Neuris 7,5 0,0
5 MARTINEZ ALCANTARA Jose Eduardo 7,5 0,0
6 SIVUK Vitaly 7,5 0,0
7 CRUZ Cristhian 7,5 0,0
8 SHABALOV Alexander 7,5 0,0
9 YERMOLINSKY Alex 7,0 0,0
10 STUPAK Kirill 7,0 0,0
11 MALAKHATKO Vadim 7,0 0,0
12 QUINTILIANO PINTO Renato R. 7,0 0,0
13 DI BERARDINO Diego Rafael 7,0 0,0
14 REAL DE AZUA Ernesto 7,0 0,0
15 SIERRA FONSECA Edwin Andres 6,5 0,0
16 ARIAS Mario 6,5 0,0
17 VILLANUEVA Mario 6,5 0,0
18 BARRIA ZUNIGA Daniel 6,5 0,0
19 DELGADO ROMERO Marco 6,5 0,0
20 FLORES QUILLAS Diego Saul Rodri 6,5 0,0
21 CUEVAS ARAYA Walter 6,5 0,0
22 ABARCA GONZALEZ Nicolas 6,0 0,0
23 VALDES ESCOBAR Alvaro 6,0 0,0
24 RODRIGUEZ VILA Andres 6,0 0,0
25 GUTIERREZ MONTES Sebastian 6,0 0,0

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Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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