Third Porticcio Open 2016 in Corsica (2)

by Sagar Shah
7/11/2016 – In part one of our report on the Porticcio Open we showed how beautiful the venue is, and described the progress of the top three finishers Areshchenko, Naroditsky and Sengupta. In the second part we bring you details about the players from four to ten, with some lessons to improve your chess. We also tell you the reasons why you should seriously think about making space in your calendar for the fourth edition of the event in 2017. Report from Corsica by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


Third Porticcio Open 2016 in Corsica

By Sagar Shah

Final Standings (after nine rounds)

Pl Ti Nom Elo Club
1 g Areshchenko Alexander 2654 Grasse Echecs
2 g Naroditsky Daniel 2634
3 g Sengupta Deep 2543
4 g Zhigalko Sergei 2653
5 g Edouard Romain 2648 Bischwiller
6 g Jones Gawain C B 2650 Echecs Club Montpellier
7 g Grandelius Nils 2643
8 g Bacrot Etienne 2695 Bischwiller
9 g Cornette Matthieu 2583 C.E. de Bois-Colombes
10 g Maze Sebastien 2627 C.E. de Bois-Colombes
11 g Laznicka Viktor 2654 Mulhouse Philidor
12 g Schroeder Jan-Christian 2507
13 g Kuzubov Yuriy 2635 Grasse Echecs
14 g Lalith Babu M R 2579
15 g Libiszewski Fabien 2537 Echecs Club Montpellier
16 m Bernard Christophe 2245 Echiquier de Franconville
17 m Sagar Shah 2433
18 m Piscopo Pierluigi 2429 Echecs-Club Ajaccien
19 f Schnider Gert 2374
20 gf Areshchenko Kateryna 2211
21 f Dubessay Bastien 2304 C.E. de Rueil Malmaison
22 m Debray Christopher 2337 C.E. de Rueil Malmaison
23 m Bekker-Jensen Simon 2460
24 m Zude Erik 2403
25   Ariza Thomas 2074 C.E. de Bois-Colombes
26   Sanvoisin Corentin 2144 Echecs-Passion Yffiniac
27   Brethes Francois 2285 Scacchera 'llu Pazzu
28   Podvin Francois-Xavier 2165 Echiquier Niçois
29   Revo Tatiana 2068

Sergei Zhigalko, in spite of losing to Deep Sengupta, managed to chalk up
a win over Lalith Babu in the last round and finish fourth with 7.0/9

The talented French grandmaster Romain Edouard finished fifth. It was sheer pleasure to
watch the different types of openings that he employed in every game that he played.

Gawain Jones came to Corsica with a cold and not such a great health. As he said,
“I could hardly calculate in the first seven rounds of the tournament.” By the eighth round
he started feeling better and by scoring 3.0/3 in the end he managed to tie for first place.

After six rounds he was leading the tournament with 5.5/6.
But 1.0/3 at the end gave him a seventh place finish

Nils Grandelius was perhaps the most exciting player of the event. He was the only grandmaster who beat two fellow 2600+ GMs: Gawain Jones and Edouard Romain. His tactical feel is quite impressive and it was shown amply in his third round encounter against Yours Truly.

Sagar Shah vs Nils Grandelius, round three

It is White to play. Should he take the pawn on b6?
Try to calculate the consequences of that capture.

[Event "2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.06.26"] [Round "3.7"] [White "Sagar, Shah"] [Black "Grandelius, Nils"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E52"] [WhiteElo "2433"] [BlackElo "2649"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "R7/3q1ppk/1pn3rp/3r4/3Pp3/B3P1P1/5P1P/1R3Q1K b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:33"] [BlackClock "0:06:10"] 31... Rf6 {[%cal Gg6f6] Black has just played his rook from g6 to f6. The question that you need to solve is whether the pawn on b6 is poisoned or can be taken? It is the most critical position of the game.} 32. Rxb6 $2 {I took the pawn after six minutes of thinking which means I was down to four minutes on the clock. It turned out to be a mistake. But the refutation is not so easy to see.} Nxd4 $3 {My opponent played this move without having seen all the details. In the limited time that we had it was surely impossible to calculate everything. If you worked it out, you are truly a very strong player.} ({ Also extremely strong was} 32... Rdf5 $1 33. Rb2 {I wanted to meet it with this move defending f2 but now Black has the strong} Nxd4 $1 {After the game Nils told me about this possibilty, but he was not 100% sure whether it worked. } 34. exd4 Qd5 $1 $19 {The rook on a8 is attacked and e3 is going to be crushing.} (34... e3 $6 35. f4 $1 Qc6+ 36. Qg2 Qc1+ 37. Qg1 Qc6+ $11)) 33. Rxf6 Ne6 $2 {This move lets White defend against the mating threats.} (33... Nf3 $3 {Of course I had not missed this move but I had seen the intermediate Rd6 as a defence. Turns out Black has some more ammo in his gun.} 34. Rd6 {This looks like White wins but Black has a nice shot.} Rh5 $3 35. Qg2 (35. h4 Qg4 $1 { And now it is impossible to defend against the mate threats.} (35... Nxh4 36. Rxd7 Nf3+ 37. Qh3 Rxh3+ 38. Kg2 Rh2+ 39. Kf1 Rh1+ 40. Kg2 Rh2+ $11) (35... Rxh4+ $2 36. gxh4 Qg4 37. Rxh6+ $1 gxh6 38. Be7 $1 $18 {Quite easy to go wrong. }) 36. Rxh6+ Rxh6 37. Be7 f6 $19) 35... Qb5 $3 {Threatening Qf1. A not at all easy move to see.} (35... Qb7 36. Rad8 $14) 36. Rd1 (36. Rad8 Qf1+ $1 $19) 36... Rxh2+ $1 {A simplification that wins the d1 rook.} 37. Qxh2 Nxh2 38. Kxh2 Qh5+ 39. Kg2 Qf3+ 40. Kg1 Qxd1+ $19 {Did you see everything? Komodo 10 will be quite impressed if you did!}) 34. Qc4 $1 (34. Rxf7 Qxf7 $15) 34... gxf6 35. Qc8 (35. Qxe4+ f5 $19) 35... Qxc8 36. Rxc8 $11 {The position is equal, but with very less time on the clock I blundered a pawn and went on to lose the game. The tactical melee starting with Rxb6 was quite interesting, don't you agree?} 0-1

Gawain Jones – Nils Grandelius, round five

This one is pretty easy! Gawain has just plonked his rook to e5. How should Black continue?

[Event "2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.06.28"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Jones, Gawain C B"] [Black "Grandelius, Nils"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C47"] [WhiteElo "2657"] [BlackElo "2649"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r6/5k2/4pn2/p1pp2p1/6P1/1P1B3P/P1P2K2/4R3 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:15:08"] [BlackClock "0:07:27"] 27. Re5 $2 {Can you see what is wrong with this move? Grandelius wasn't able to spot it.} Rg8 (27... Ne4+ $1 {A simple case of trapping the rook.} 28. Bxe4 Kf6 {[%csl Re5] The poor guy on e5 is trapped.} 29. Rxd5 exd5 30. Bxd5 Ke5 31. Bf3 Kd4 $19 {And the black king will win the house.}) 28. c4 $6 (28. Re1 $11 { The mistake is corrected and the game remains round about equal.}) 28... Nd7 $1 29. Re3 d4 30. Re1 Kf6 {Black has complete control on the dark squares and went on to win the game with some good technique.} 31. Be4 Ne5 32. Kg3 Rh8 33. Re2 a4 34. Re1 axb3 35. axb3 Rb8 36. Rb1 Ke7 37. h4 gxh4+ 38. Kxh4 Kd6 39. Kg3 Rg8 40. Bf3 Rb8 41. Be4 Rg8 42. Bf3 Nxf3 43. Kxf3 e5 44. Rh1 Rf8+ 45. Ke2 e4 46. Rh6+ Ke5 47. Rh5+ Kf4 48. Rxc5 Ra8 49. Rf5+ Kxg4 50. Rf7 Ra2+ 51. Ke1 e3 52. Rd7 Kf3 53. Rxd4 Ra1+ 0-1

The top seeded Etienne Bacrot was solid enough not to lose any games,
but made one draw too many. He finished eighth with 6.5/9.

Ninth place went to Matthieu Cornette

After grinding on for nearly six hours in the last round
Sebastien Maze was rewarded with the tenth place

This position arose in the last round between Erik Zude and Sebastien Maze. It is extremely important to know how White can draw this endgame. The main idea is to get the white king in the drawing zone which is a7, b7, a8, b8, any one of the four squares. As you will see in the analysis below, the white player didn’t follow this advice and kept his king on a5 and b5 which led to his downfall. It goes without saying that such endgames are extremely difficult to defend in practice. But having knowledge some rule like this can make your task considerably easier.

[Event "2016"] [Site "?"] [Date "2016.07.01"] [Round "9.8"] [White "Zude, Erik"] [Black "Maze, Sebastien"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A50"] [WhiteElo "2403"] [BlackElo "2614"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r7/2kp2p1/3p1p2/2nP3P/pKP3P1/8/2B5/R7 w - - 0 55"] [PlyCount "110"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:36"] [BlackClock "0:01:08"] {Here White decided to take the pawn on a4 and take the game into a pawn endgame. A wise decision as the endgme is drawn.} 55. Bxa4 Kb6 56. Ra3 Rxa4+ 57. Rxa4 Nxa4 58. Kxa4 Kc5 59. Kb3 Kd4 {Black tries to indulge in a race because he ends up in a queen endgame with an extra pawn.} 60. Kb4 Ke4 61. Kb5 Kf4 62. Kb6 Kxg4 63. Kc7 f5 64. Kxd6 f4 65. c5 f3 66. h6 $1 (66. c6 dxc6 67. dxc6 f2 68. c7 f1=Q 69. c8=Q+ Kxh5 {is also a draw but Erik rightly goes for a queen endgame with a rook pawn rather than a knight pawn.}) 66... gxh6 67. c6 dxc6 68. dxc6 f2 69. c7 f1=Q 70. c8=Q+ Qf5 71. Qg8+ Kh3 {[%csl Ga7,Ga8,Gb7,Gb8] [#]In such an endgame the defending side has two ways to hold. One is to bring the king back in front of the pawn. The other is to take it as far as possible in this case a7, b7, a8, b8. As the first method is impossible because the king is cut off, it makes sense to enter the drawing zone. However, we will see the Zude doesn't follow the guideline of staying within the zone.} 72. Kc7 $1 {The right move going towards the drawing zone.} Qg4 73. Qh7 h5 74. Kb6 $6 ( 74. Kb8 {would have been the right technique. Once the king is in the zone, you can safely keep checking without any problems.} h4 75. Qc2 Kg3 76. Qd3+ Kf2 77. Qc2+ Qe2 78. Qf5+ Qf3 79. Qc5+ Kg2 80. Qc2+ Qf2 81. Qe4+ Kg3 82. Qg6+ Kh2 83. Qe4 h3 84. Qd5 Kg1 85. Qd1+ Kg2 86. Qd5+ Qf3 87. Qd2+ Kh1 88. Qc1+ Kh2 89. Qb2+ Qg2 90. Qd4 Kh1 91. Qd1+ Kh2 92. Qd4 $11 {This is just an illustrative variation which shows how the king can be safe on b8 and the white queen can keep checking.}) 74... h4 75. Ka5 $6 {It is not yet lost yet because the king should be in the zone (a7, b7, a8, b8) when the pawn reaches h2. The pawn is still on h4. Hence this is still a draw, but the white player is taking too many risks.} (75. Ka7 $11) 75... Qg5+ 76. Ka6 Qf6+ 77. Ka5 $6 (77. Ka7 $11) 77... Qe5+ 78. Ka6 Qd6+ 79. Ka5 Qc5+ 80. Ka6 Qc4+ 81. Ka5 Kh2 82. Qf5 Qa2+ 83. Kb6 Qb3+ 84. Ka6 Qa3+ 85. Kb6 Qe3+ 86. Ka6 h3 87. Qg4 Qa3+ 88. Kb5 $6 {The pawn is just one square away from the second rank and hence it makes the most sense to get inside the drawing zone.} (88. Kb7 $11) 88... Qg3 89. Qe2+ Kg1 90. Qd1+ Kg2 91. Qe2+ Qf2 92. Qg4+ Kh2 93. Ka5 Qd2+ 94. Kb5 Qd3+ 95. Ka5 Kh1 96. Qf4 Kg2 97. Qg4+ Kf2 98. Qf4+ Ke2 99. Qh2+ Kd1 100. Qg1+ (100. Kb6 {The tablebases point out that this was the last chance for white to make a draw with this move. Mainly the white king is rushing back towards the drawing zone. Erik Zude's move is a mistake but I think the mistake was made many moves ago when he decided to keep his king on a5 and b5 instead of a8 and b8.}) 100... Kc2 101. Kb6 Qd6+ 102. Kb5 (102. Kb7 {Although the king is in the zone, it is too late now.} h2 103. Qf2+ Kb3 104. Qe3+ Ka4 105. Qe8+ (105. Qe4+ Qb4+) 105... Ka5 106. Qh5+ Kb4 107. Qg4+ Ka3 108. Qf3+ Ka4 {and with no checks on the horizon Black wins now.} 109. Qh1 Qe5 110. Qd1+ (110. Ka8 Ka5) 110... Kb5 111. Qb1+ Kc4 112. Qc2+ Kd5 113. Qa2+ Kd6 114. Qa3+ Kd7 115. Qh3+ Ke8 116. Qg2 Kf8 117. Qh1 Kg7 118. Qg2+ Kh7 119. Qc2+ Kh8 120. Qc8+ Kg7 121. Qg4+ Kf8 122. Qf3+ Kg8 123. Qh1 Qg3 $19) 102... Qe5+ (102... h2 $19) 103. Kb6 Qe6+ 104. Ka5 Qd5+ 105. Kb6 Qd6+ 106. Ka5 Qd2+ 107. Ka4 h2 108. Qc5+ Kb1 109. Qb6+ Kc1 {The checks have run out and white resigned.} 0-1

If you would like to learn more about queen endgames, as well as other major piece endgames like queen vs two rooks, rook vs bishop or knight etc. you must check out third part of Karsten Müller’s DVDs on endgame. This rule of drawing zone in queen vs queen + rook pawn was something that I learnt from that DVD.

Chess Endgames 3 -
major piece endgames

By Dr. Karsten Müller

The third part of an endgame series by Karsten Müller tackles queen endings, rook against minor pieces, queen against rook and queen against two rooks. Queen endings are not nearly as mysterious as they appear at first sight. Knowing a few rules of thumb and principles will make things very much easier for you. In the case of rook versus knight or bishop, you should not only know how to draw a pawnless endgame, but also when a fortress can be set up and when not. Something similar is the case for queen against rook, except of course that when there are no pawns the queen wins against the rook. In the duel against two rooks, further aspects come into play such as the coordination of the rooks. Those who have always found studying endgames with chess textbooks too dry and tedious will enjoy this DVD with its comfortable training system and benefit enormously – in brilliant endgames at the actual board. Complete video running time: seven hours.

The author: Since 1988 grandmaster Dr. Karsten Mueller from Hamburg has been playing for the Hamburger Schachklub in the Bundesliga, and in 1996 and 1997 he finished third in the German Championship. As an internationally renowned endgame expert he is the author of the endgame column in ChessBase Magazine and the author of the Endgame Corner column on His book "Fundamental Chess Endings", which he co-authored with Frank Lamprecht and which was published in 2001 by Gambit Publications is already considered to be a modern classic.

Order this very popular endgame DVD in the ChessBase Shop

The tournament standings also decided who the champion of Corsica would be. The winner was IM Perluigi Piscopo (with the mic). He is from Italy, but he is one of the well-established trainers of Corsica and has now settled down there. After winning the trophy he said: “The talented players of Corsica are fast catching up. This year I was lucky to win the trophy, but I sure soon others will overtake me.”

So many people play chess in Corsica. Out of a total population 320,000, nearly 50,000 people
know the game, most of them being kids who learnt it from the Chess in Schools program.

Chess grandmasters are stars in Corsica with young fans trying to get their autographs!

This young kid proudly shows his collection of the autographs
of some of the finest chess players in the world

The backbone of Corsican chess and the reason why so many people play chess on the island: (from left to right) arbiter Jean-Phillipe Orsoni, President of Corsican Chess Federation Leo Battesti, President of the Ajaccio chess club Marie Paul Tomasi and chief arbiter of the event Akkhavanh Vilaisarn

As a vegetarian my choices were limited, but I enjoyed the healthy food.
If you are a non-vegetarian then you are in for a treat!

The variety of fruits available is humungous and the way they are presented is delightful

In the open bar there were chess boards kept where you could enjoy a nice beer
and analyze some games, with music playing in the background

In the evening there were some nice events like dance…

…or learning Tai Chi from an expert!

It’s scenes like these that are going to drag me to the fourth edition of the Porticcio Open 2017. Strong players, beautiful scenery, good food, and most importantly: Corsica is a place where chess players are respected. What more can one ask! The organizers have already confirmed the dates: 2nd to 9th July 2017. It might be a good idea to write an email to the Marie Paul Tomasi if you are interested to play.

World number four with a rating of 2798, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, was also present in Porticcio. But what was he doing there? Had he come to just relax and play ping pong? We assure you that he sat down on the chess board and crushed many grandmasters. But more about that in a separate report!

Pictures by Amruta Mokal


You can use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server

Topics Corsica

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register