Sunway Sitges: Moussard and Cheparinov share the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/21/2020 – Eight out of ten rounds have been played at the over-the-board tournament in Sitges, a town located about 35 kilometres south-west of Barcelona. Ivan Cheparinov and Jules Moussard are sharing the lead on 6½ points. A five-player chasing pack stands a half point behind. Cheparinov will have the white pieces against Moussard in Tuesday’s top clash. | Photos: Lennart Ootes

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Two rounds to go

A couple of days ago we published a nice article by Sebastian Siebrecht describing the atmosphere at the beautiful Catalonian seaside town of Sitges. Not only is the town attractive but the organizers also work hard in creating an enjoyable atmosphere for the participants. If you want to take a deeper look, you can check the photo gallery at the official website — the photos were taken by the very talented Lennart Ootes.  

While it is always nice to play in a welcoming atmosphere, professional chess players are all about competitiveness, and for those near the top of the standings table the real struggle lies in trying to collect more points than their rivals. With two rounds to go, seven players have a real shot at taking home the €5.000 first prize.

Second seed Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria) and fifth seed Jules Moussard (France) are currently sharing the lead on 6½/8 points. The co-leaders will face each other in Tuesday’s penultimate round, with the ever-fighting Cheparinov getting to play with the white pieces.

Five players stand close behind, each having collected 6 points — Nicolas Checa (United States), Jaime Santos (Spain), Anton Korobov (Ukraine), Alexandr Fier (Brazil) and Christophe Sochacki (France). The only player not undefeated in the top 7 is defending champion Korobov, who was defeated by Hipolito Asis in round 4 — three consecutive wins in the following rounds allowed the Ukrainian to get back in contention for first place.

Antoaneta Stefanova and Nino Batsiashvili — who curiously have the exact same Elo rating — are the highest-ranked female players in the standings table, both with 5½ points.

Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova facing Daniel Garcia in round 8

Moussard kicked off the event with three straight wins. After drawing Checa and Fier, he defeated former sole leader Vojtech Plat in round 6. A draw with black against IM Hans Niemann was followed by a remarkable victory over Vladislav Nevednichy:


White advanced his kingside pawns after noticing his opponent’s passive play. By move 30, the difference in activity is clear as day. With all the positional trumps on his side, Moussard broke through with 31.Ne6+. Black cannot capture the knight with 31...fxe6 due to the straightforward 32.Rxg6, when there is no way to save the black knight without allowing mate — for example, 32...Ne7 would be met by a strange-looking mate with 33.Rf6#.

Nevednichy held on to dear life with 31...Ke7, but only to delay the inevitable. Nine moves later, Moussard finished off his opponent in style:


Black resigned after 40.Bb7+. Deflection! The king cannot prevent the pawns from promoting after capturing the bishop. 

Jules Moussard

Jules Moussard analysing his victory over former leader Vojtech Plat in round 6 

Curiously, Cheparinov’s results perfectly mirrored those of his French colleague in all eight rounds, with the Bulgarian even winning with the same colour as Moussard (white) in rounds 6 and 8. On Saturday, Cheparinov defeated Asis in an endgame:


Black played 47...Be8 in the diagrammed position, keeping an eye on both passers advancing on the far-most files of each flank, when the direct 47...Bxa4 was called for. In fact, Asis resigned after 48.a5 Bxh5 49.Bb5.

Of course, the Catalan grandmaster probably feared some of the ensuing endgames that would have arisen after 47...Bxa4 48.Bxf5 Be8. For example, in case of 49.Nf4, going for 49...Bxh5 would lead to a bishop and knight versus knight ending which requires precision in defence.

Perhaps what Black feared, though, was 49.Bg6 Bxg6 50.hxg6 Kc4, although the position is drawn according to the Lomonosov endgame tablebases:


Calculating technical endgames precisely after having fought hard for hours against a 2660-rated opponent is no easy task.

Sunway Sitges Chess 2020

Round 8 top boards — Korobov vs Checa and Cheparinov vs Niemann

Standings after Round 8 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Moussard Jules 6,5 37,5
2 Cheparinov Ivan 6,5 35,5
3 Checa Nicolas 6,0 39,0
4 Santos Latasa Jaime 6,0 38,5
5 Korobov Anton 6,0 36,5
6 Fier Alexandr 6,0 36,5
7 Sochacki Christophe 6,0 34,0
8 Niemann Hans Moke 5,5 37,5
9 Grigoryan Karen H. 5,5 37,0
10 Cornette Matthieu 5,5 36,0
11 Narciso Dublan Marc 5,5 36,0
12 Lopez Martinez Josep Manuel 5,5 35,5
13 Santos Ruiz Miguel 5,5 35,5
14 Lagarde Maxime 5,5 35,0
15 Stefanova Antoaneta 5,5 35,0
16 Batsiashvili Nino 5,5 35,0
17 Nevednichy Vladislav 5,5 34,5
18 Maurizzi Marc Andria 5,5 34,5
19 Dardha Daniel 5,5 34,0
20 Flom Gabriel 5,5 32,5

...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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