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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