Tradewise Gibraltar: Aronian takes the playoff

by André Schulz
2/2/2018 – On the last day of the Tradewise Chess Festival in Gibraltar, there was plenty of excitement. Seven players ended tied after ten rounds. The four best on tiebreak battled in a pair of rapid and blitz matches. Aronian defeated Richard Rapport and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who ended Nakamura's run as Gibraltar champion. | Photo: Sophie Triay

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Vachier-Lagrave the runner-up

Five players entered the Masters Open final round in Gibraltar with 7 points. Levon Aronian pushed with white against Nakamura's Pirc defense but agreed a draw in a position that could have been played a bit further. On board two the game between Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Richard Rapport ended with the point split:


Click or tap the second game in the list to switch

The fifth player with 7 points was Daniil Dubov. He got paired "down" to Le Quang Liem who was in the chasing group with 6½, but lost his game and was thus out of the race for the tournament victory. Instead, Le moved into the top group, along with Michael Adams and Nikita Vitiugov.

Top results of round ten

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Aronian Levon 7 ½ - ½ 7 Nakamura Hikaru
Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 7 ½ - ½ 7 Rapport Richard
Le Quang Liem 1 - 0 7 Dubov Daniil
Vitiugov Nikita 1 - 0 Antipov Mikhail Al.
Gupta Abhijeet ½ - ½ Duda Jan-Krzysztof
Wang Hao ½ - ½ Howell David W L
Adams Michael 1 - 0 Grandelius Nils
Cheparinov Ivan ½ - ½ Vocaturo Daniele
Oparin Grigoriy ½ - ½ Gelfand Boris
Kobo Ori ½ - ½ 6 Ivanchuk Vassily

But Gibraltar must have a single winner, and the rules stipulate that only four players could participate in a playoff with performance rating being used as the tiebreak. So, Le, Adams, and 2013-winner Vitiugov were out.

Afterwards Adams and Le spoke about their games — which both featured 3.Bb5 against the Sicilian — and their overall tournament performance.


Final standings after ten rounds (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Nakamura Hikaru 7,5 2822
2 Rapport Richard 7,5 2763
3 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 7,5 2759
4 Aronian Levon 7,5 2746
5 Vitiugov Nikita 7,5 2731
  Adams Michael 7,5 2731
7 Le Quang Liem 7,5 2713
8 Howell David W L 7,0 2760
9 Gupta Abhijeet 7,0 2732
10 Debashis Das 7,0 2728
11 Duda Jan-Krzysztof 7,0 2713
  Oparin Grigoriy 7,0 2713
13 Wang Hao 7,0 2710
14 Vocaturo Daniele 7,0 2679
15 Gelfand Boris 7,0 2673
16 Sethuraman S.P. 7,0 2672
17 Sutovsky Emil 7,0 2668
18 Dubov Daniil 7,0 2658
19 Henderson De La Fuente Lance 7,0 2642
20 Kobo Ori 7,0 2638
21 Cheparinov Ivan 7,0 2634
22 Motylev Alexander 7,0 2633
  Narayanan S. L. 7,0 2633
24 Epishin Vladimir 7,0 2595
25 Bindrich Falko 7,0 2594

The playoff

In the semi-final, Hikaru Nakamura met Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Richard Rapport fought Levon Aronian, each in two rapid games of 10 minutes plus 5 seconds per move. Aronian won the first game against rapport with Black, from an unfavorable position. Nakamura failed to put his positional advantage against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave into action, and the game ended in a draw.

playoff crowd

Semi-final tiebreak

Aronian also won the second rapid game against Rapport but the second game between Nakamura and Vachier-Lagrave also ended in a draw, so their match had to be decided in blitz. Vachier-Lagrave prevailed.

In the final, after three draws Aronian won the fourth tiebreak game against the Frenchman, became tournament winner and winner of the first prize (and GBP £25,000).


All playoff games


The winner's interview

Aronian remarked that it was generally "a decent tournament" despite kicking himself for missing his chances in the last round of regulation against Nakamura. He also notes that his World Cup tiebreak experience against Vachier-Lagrave came in handy.

"I was thinking that Maxime would definitely love to have a revenge, so it was my mission not to allow it."

The fight for the first special prize for the best woman was won by Pia Cramling. The Swedish grandmaster, born in 1963, is one of the pioneers of the women's professional chess. Her earliest games in the Mega Database are those from the preliminary round of the 8th Chess Olympiad in 1978 in Buenos Aires. Cramling has played on the Swedish national women's team since she was 15 years old.

Pia Cramling

Pia Cramling

In the following years, she was of course not limited to women-only tournaments, but regularly participated in strong opens and, for example, at the Swedish National Championships with her male colleagues. In 1986/87 Pia Cramling was the first woman to play in the German Bundesliga (for Lasker Steglitz). In 1983 she was awarded the title of International Master, and in 1992 the Grandmaster title. Between 1978 and 2016, she took part in eight women's Olympiads with the Swedish team, as well as four open Olympiad teams between 1990 and 2000. In 2003 and 2010 Pia Cramling became European Women's Champion.

Here was her last round game against Varuzhan Akobian, who gave an acclaimed Master Class earlier in the week.


All games


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


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


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