Vergani Cup: When the mobile rings twice...

by André Schulz
1/6/2022 – In the second week of December Nigel Short caught Corona though he was vaccinated twice. Short's infection was so severe that he had to go hospital, but it did not stop the English Grandmaster from playing at the 6th Vergani Cup in Cattolica, Italy, at the beginning of the year. However, he needed some help from chess goddess Caissa when the tournament began. But Short did not forget his duties as a chess ambassador. | Photos: Circolo Scacchistico Forlivese, Rupali Mullick

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The 6th Vergani Cup is part of a tournament series, the "Grandiscacchi Chess tournaments", and is played in Cattolica, a town on the Adriatic coast, right next to San Marino.

The event includes three open tournaments, and in the A-Open players with a rating of more than 1800 Elo may participate. More than 120 players take part in the A-Open and the pandemic is of course still an issue.

Nigel Short knows this very well. He caught the virus in the second week of December, although he had been vaccinated twice. Short's infection was so strong that the former Vice World Champion and current Vice President of FIDE had to go to hospital to receive supplementary oxygen. But the eloquent English Grandmaster still found the strength to provide his followers on social media with pictures and updates about his situation. Short had to spend a week in hospital, but still suffered from the virus when he was released.

He nevertheless decided to play the 6th Vergani Cupin Cattolica, and he is one of 22 Grandmasters in the field. With a current rating of 2633 Elo, the 56-year-old is number five on the starting list. Top seed is Ukrainian Grandmaster Anton Korobov, who travelled straight from the Rapid and Blitz World Championships in Warsaw to Italy. Second seed is US Grandmaster Hans Moke Niemann who also played in Warsaw.

27 players in the field are Italians, 26 come from India. Grandmasters Lalith Babu M R, Iniyan P and Arjun Kalyan lead the Indian delegation by rating and are among the possible contenders to win the tournament.

In round one Short had to settle for a draw against one of the Indian players, the 23-year-old Ojas Kulkarni, who has a rating of 2219, and who is probably underrated.

Short vs Ojas Kulkarni

In round two Short played against the 14-year-old untitled Italian Lorenzo Candian, Elo 1966. Short won the game but only with a lot of luck.

Candian,Lorenzo - Short,Nigel D (2633) C03

6th Vergani Cup January 2022 Cattolica (2.10), 03.01.2022

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 h6 A rare move in the French Tarrasch, but quite playable. Black makes a useful waiting move to see how White wants to develop.

4.Bd3 More popular is 4.Ngf3

4...c5 5.c3 5.dxc5 is a good alternative.

5...cxd4 6.cxd4 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Bb4+ Of course not 7...Qxd4?? 8.Bb5+

8.Bd2 Qxd4 Black won a pawn and is better.

9.Bc3 Threatening Bb5.

9...Nc6 10.Nf3 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qd8 12.Bb5 White suddenly has some threats.

12...Nf6 Safer and better was 12...Qxd1+ 13.Rxd1 Nge7 14.Nd6+ Kf8 and Black keeps his advantage.

13.Bxc6+ bxc6 14.Nd6+ Ke7 14...Kf8 15.Ne5 is also unpleasant.


15.Ne5 Bd7? Still possible was 15...Qc7 16.Nexf7 Rg8 17.0–0 Ne8 18.Nxe8 Rxe8 19.Qh5. Black has an unpleasant position but he can still fight.

16.Ndxf7 Qc7 17.Qd4 White could not take on h8 because of Qxd4. White now also threatens Qc5.

17...c5 18.Qf4 Black is totally lost.

18...Rhc8 19.Rd1 Be8 20.Nd6 Nd5 21.Nxc8+ 21.Rxd5 exd5 22.Nxc8+ Rxc8 23.0–0 was another possibility. The black king is in grave danger.

21...Rxc8 22.Qg3 Kf8 23.0–0 Kg8 24.c4 Ne7 25.Rfe1 Nf5 26.Qa3 Nd4 27.Qh3 Bf7


And Black won, 0–1. But how is that possible? The game actually ended here. There are no moves missing. Black won because Candian's mobile rang and he forfeited the game... 

At some tournaments, it is currently allowed to bring the mobile to the board to let Corona warn apps remain active. Candian, however, had forgotten to mute his mobile.

Anton Korobov

In round two top seed Anton Korobov also needed some assistance by Caissa to win against Ilia Martinovice (2395), a nominally weaker opponent but not as much as Short.


The position is equal. But Black wants more than a draw.

37...g5! 38.fxg5 A good reply was 38.Qc3+ f6 39.hxg5 Qg4+ 40.Kf1 Qd1+ 41.Kg2 Qg4+ with a perpetual.

38...Qg4+ 39.Kf1?? Correct was 39.Kh2 Qxh4+ 40.Kg1 (40.Kg2?? Bh3+ 41.Kh2 Bg4+ and White is mated.) 40...Qg4+ 41.Kh2 Qh3+ (41...Qf3 42.Kg1 Bh3?? 43.Qxd5+–) 42.Kg1 Qg4+ and Black has no more than a perpetual.

39...Qc4+ winning a piece.

40.Kg1 Qc1+ 41.Kh2 Qxc6 42.Qd8 Qxa4 43.Qf6+ Kg8 44.Qd8+ Kh7 45.g6+ Kg7 46.gxf7 Kxf7 47.Qc7+ Bd7 48.f4 Qc6 0–1

However, Korobov's victory in round three against Subranamiyam Barath (2476) was convincing. The final combination is a textbook example.


29.Qb1 Rxd4 30.Nxf8+ Kh8 31.Qh7+ Nxh7 32.Ng6# 1–0

After five rounds Korobov is one of ten players with 4 points but they are all half a point behind GM Vitalyi Berndaskiy from Ukraine who is the sole leader.

Hans Moke Niemann

Co-favourite Niemann has already suffered two defeats and has 3.0/5. 

Standings after 5 rounds

Rk. Name Pts.  Tb1 
1 Bernadskiy Vitaliy 4,5 15,5
2 Tabatabaei M. Amin 4,0 18,0
3 Lodici Lorenzo 4,0 17,5
4 Korobov Anton 4,0 17,0
5 Lalith Babu M R 4,0 16,0
6 Kotronias Vasilios 4,0 16,0
7 Thybo Jesper Sondergaard 4,0 15,0
8 Prraneeth Vuppala 4,0 15,0
9 Bharath Subramaniyam H 4,0 14,5
10 Lagarde Maxime 4,0 13,5
11 Alsina Leal Daniel 4,0 13,5
12 Pantzar Milton 3,5 16,5
13 Ioannidis Evgenios 3,5 15,5
14 Arjun Kalyan 3,5 15,5
15 Dvirnyy Danyyil 3,5 15,0
16 Sorensen Hampus 3,5 14,5
17 Brunello Sabino 3,5 14,5
18 Gilevych Artem 3,5 14,5
19 Pranesh M 3,5 14,5
20 Salimova Nurgyul 3,5 14,0
21 Short Nigel D 3,5 14,0
22 Fataliyeva Ulviyya 3,5 13,5
23 Neelotpal Das 3,5 13,5
24 Nikolov Momchil 3,5 13,0
25 Martinovici Ilia 3,5 13,0
26 Klabis Rokas 3,5 13,0
27 Iniyan P 3,5 12,5
28 Barp Alberto 3,5 12,0
29 Piangerelli Michele 3,5 11,5
30 Niemann Hans Moke 3,0 16,0

120 players




André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/10/2022 10:56
Well, well, well. See the tournament site: "Mobile phones and electronic devices not allowed in playing hall".
Uhhh... (again): maybe we shouldn't take Andre Schulz' assumptions at face value?
adbennet adbennet 1/10/2022 04:52
@czechpirc - I'm for rational discussion and not attacking people for scant reason. I *have* played tournaments but none where any cell phones are allowed at all. I said "can be argued as being excessively harsh", you are free to argue the opposite view, it seems the arbiters agree with you, and Minnesota Fats disagrees. The whole point is that the argument now *is* about noise and not about cheating _per se_. For the record, noise doesn't bother me, I can just turn off my hearing aids. But for that reason I abstain, and let the hearing people decide on the penalties.
czechpirc czechpirc 1/9/2022 07:36
Kind of hilarious how many people in chat have not played in a chess tournament, you would understand the vile nature of cell phones going off while playing if you had, once was just a warning and 2nd disqualification and it was a nightmare, prob 20 people got warnings and the ringing was absurd, people live on their phones nowadays so needless to say I wont play in a tourney if 1st ring isnt a disqualification
adbennet adbennet 1/9/2022 02:18
"If you don't consult it, what was the use of bringing it to the board anyway?"
Precisely. The problem is not forfeiting if you *did* get a warning, forfeit is small potatos compared to covid. The problem is how do you verify you received a warning without forfeiting just for checking? One scenario is where the phone is on the table with the covid app already open, so *both* players can see it at all times. Maybe this is the rule, but in any case a forfeit for the phone making a noise in that scenario can be argued as being excessively harsh.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 1/9/2022 12:25
If farting is still allowed, why is the sound of a ringing cellphone not allowed?
I still think a ringing is more musical than a fart sound? But still farts are allowed according to the rules? The arbiters have no style!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/8/2022 10:29
I concluded that you were allowed to bring your phone in case you get a warning you have been in contact with someone with covid. After which, I guess, you should immediately distance yourself from others before getting a test. Which means you should forfeit the game. So, you are allowed to bring the phone to the board, but you will still lose if you consult it when it rings or flashes or whatever (but I guess without any further consequences). Meaning that as a social human being, you accept a loss as a consequence of your wish not to contaminate your opponent. If you don't consult it, what was the use of bringing it to the board anyway?
adbennet adbennet 1/7/2022 11:55
@Frits Fritschy - Oh I don't know, maybe in that case, do nothing! The phone is supposed to be on silent, so you won't notice the warning arrives. You are not supposed to consult the phone during play, so you won't notice the warning. Etc., etc. When I play my phone is off, I would even prefer to not bring it into the tournament hall except it's likely to be stolen if I leave it somewhere. Since off is what I do anyway, the previous rule was fine with me, but the new rule wouldn't affect me either. I was only pointing out that Minnesota Fats's comment wasn't "ridiculous" as PhishMaster stated, on some level of logic the player was indeed forfeited for noise.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/7/2022 10:48
Uhh... what is a player supposed to do when he gets a covid warn app during a game?
Aighearach Aighearach 1/7/2022 09:00
Not only might some people be more bothered by it than others, a binary signal for "this is a critical position with a game-winning computer tactic" cannot be distinguished from an "oops."

Like, "Duh."
adbennet adbennet 1/7/2022 04:25
Well Minnesota Fats does have a point, he just didn't spell it out. (1) Usual rule: The sound is auditory notification that the phone is switched on. The phone being switched on is prima facie evidence of cheating, thus a forfeit. Perfect. (2) Rule in effect for this event: Phone is allowed to be switched on, but must be on silent. So, the forfeit is not for the phone being on, but for the sound??? This doesn't make much sense, unless we suppose some complex signaling by choice of ringtone. Should revert to the usual rule.
PhishMaster PhishMaster 1/7/2022 01:05
@Minnesota Fats, your comment is ridiculous. Some people may be more bothered than you by a phone going off during their thinking time, so does that mean the rules should add in a pick-and-choose which violations are egregious? No, you have a binary rule: Either they are allowed, or not. They are not, so if your phone goes off, simple, you lose. This makes it an easy rule to enforce, and an easy decision for the arbiter.
Keshava Keshava 1/7/2022 12:22
@Minnesota Fats, the rules are made by the organizers. If they weren't harsh then phones would be going off a lot more.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 1/6/2022 11:20
This is really ridicilous. How come can a random sound of a mobile phone ringing, disturb a GM? And create a punishment to forfeit the game?

If one is that easilly disturbed, he should not be called a GM and the rules who block sounds for safety, just create weak GM's.

Shaolin monks are mentally much stronger than GM's...loosing a game when someone they lost their concentration?
e-mars e-mars 1/6/2022 10:17
Lesson learnt the hard way by Lorenzo
adbennet adbennet 1/6/2022 09:57
Of course we remember many years ago GM Short lost a game when his switched-off mobile rang anyway with a low battery alert. It seems a little random. As a game of perfect information there is not much luck in chess, but still there is some.

P.S. If you know your opponent has his mobile at the board (supposedly switched off), and you know your opponent's mobile number, then it might be a reasonable "try" to have a friend of a friend make a call.