Ivan Cheparinov prevails in Sitges

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/24/2020 – With a last-round win Ivan Cheparinov clinched clear first place at the over-the-board open tournament in Sitges — Cheparinov scored 8 points in 10 rounds. Jules Moussard, Jaime Santos, Alexandr Fier and Vladislav Nevednichy finished a half point behind. | Photos: Lennart Ootes

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A convincing victory

In our last report, after round 8, Ivan Cheparinov and Jules Moussard were sharing the lead on 6½ points. The co-leaders faced each other in the penultimate round and shared the point after 40 moves. That same day, Jaime Santos joined them atop the standings thanks to a fine strategic effort that gave him a win over top seed Anton Korobov. Thus, three players entered the last round sharing first place.

Santos had the black pieces against Moussard, and the players decided to call it a day early on by repeating the position three times before reaching move 20. Cheparinov, who arrived in Sitges as the second seed, had the chance to clinch tournament victory by beating Matthieu Cornette with the black pieces — and that is exactly what he did, as he outplayed the Frenchman out of a Sicilian Defence.

Cornette,Matthieu (2558) - Cheparinov,Ivan (2688) 
[Besenthal, Klaus-Günther]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.0-0 e6 


7.d4 Rarely played, but not bad. [In the Grand Prix attack, mostly 7.d3 is played.]

7...cxd4 8.Nb5 Nge7 [8...e5?? is not possible, of course, because it would open up the file for the rook on f1.]

9.Bb3 0-0 10.Nbxd4 a6 11.c3 Na5 12.Bc2 e5 13.Ne2 b5 14.Qe1 f5 


Serious changes in the structure are now on the horizon.

15.fxe5 dxe5 16.exf5 Bxf5 [Black could also play 16...gxf5 to get a pair of hanging pawns.]

17.Bxf5 Nxf5 Black has opted for a position with an isolated pawn — except that it’s not a queenside pawn, as is usually the case!

18.Ng3 Qb6+ 19.Rf2 Nxg3 20.hxg3 Nc4 


A position has arisen in which White is confronted with some concrete problems: the pin of the f2-rook looks dangerous, and as long as the c1-bishop leaves the a1-rook out of play, Black could also get something going along the d-file. But if the c1-bishop moves, then b2 hangs. And who knows, even e5-e4 might work at some point.

21.Qe4 [Here 21.b3! Nd6 22.Ba3 would have dealt with White’s problems.]

21...Qc5 22.g4? This move is obviously not suitable to bring the a1-rook into play. [22.a4! was much better.]

22...Rad8 23.Bg5 Rd7 [More precise was 23...Bf6! as it threatens something concrete. After 24.Bxf6 Rxf6 25.b4 Qb6 Black is practically winning as he has much better-placed pieces, while the white position has holes everywhere.]

24.b4 Qd5 25.Re2 Qxe4 26.Rxe4 h6 27.Bh4 Rf4 28.Rae1 Rxe4 29.Rxe4 Rd1+ 30.Kh2


But even now Black is winning. An interesting phenomenon can be observed: the g7-bishop is actually passive behind its pawn, but this unassailable static structure secures Black a space advantage.

30...Kf7 31.a4 [Or 31.Bg3 Ke6 and the white bishop still does nothing.]

31...Nd6 32.Re2 e4 The dream of anyone playing with an isolated pawn comes true!

33.Nd4 bxa4 34.Rf2+ Ke8 35.Ra2 Nb5 36.Ne2 [36.Rxa4 Nxc3 is, of course, not possible.]

36...a3 37.c4 


Will everything be all right for White after all?

37...Ra1! No!

38.cxb5 [38.Rxa1 Bxa1 39.cxb5 Be5+ and the a-pawn queens; or 38.Rd2 Nd6!-+]

38...Rxa2 39.bxa6 Rc2 40.a7 Rc8 41.b5 Kd7! Everything works for Black. White resigned. 0-1

Ivan Cheparinov

Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov during the last round of the tournament

The organizers in Sitges do not like for prizes to be given out according to tiebreak criteria, so the final standings are always decided on blitz playoffs. In this case, places 2nd to 5th were decided among the four players tied on 7½ points, while places 6th to 8th were decided among those tied on 7 out of 10. Curiously, only Korobov and Nicolas Checa swapped places, with the Ukrainian beating his young rival in Armageddon.

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Cheparinov Ivan 8,0 60,0
2 Moussard Jules 7,5 62,5
3 Santos Latasa Jaime 7,5 62,0
4 Fier Alexandr 7,5 59,0
5 Nevednichy Vladislav 7,5 53,5
6 *Checa Nicolas 7,0 61,5
7 *Korobov Anton 7,0 56,5
8 Grigoryan Karen H. 7,0 56,0
9 Santos Ruiz Miguel 7,0 53,5
10 Mendonca Leon Luke 7,0 53,5
11 Lagarde Maxime 7,0 52,0
12 Dardha Daniel 7,0 52,0
13 Niemann Hans Moke 6,5 60,0
14 Plat Vojtech 6,5 57,0
15 Cornette Matthieu 6,5 57,0
16 Maurizzi Marc Andria 6,5 56,5
17 Sochacki Christophe 6,5 55,0
18 Batsiashvili Nino 6,5 54,5
19 Gines Esteo Pedro Antonio 6,5 54,0
20 Souhardo Basak 6,5 53,0

* Anton Korobov and Nicolas Checa swapped places after the playoffs

...138 players

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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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