G-Pawn Flies At "Battle Of The Sexes"

G-Pawn Flies At "Battle Of The Sexes"

| 27 | Fun & Trivia

In the annual "Battle of the Sexes" at the 2017 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, where a teams of 5-10 square off, the men conjured some irregular openings against the ladies.

On Saturday evening's three-game match, here's the trio of openings chosen by the all-GM man squad: Game One: 1...h6, 2...g5; Game Two: 1. g4; Game Three: 1. d4 e6 2. c4 g5.

Who to blame for the chicanery? It seems the top two by rating, who also began the men's rotation each game, were in cahoots.

GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana: co-conspirators.

But we're gettng ahead of ourselves. Before the match began, some pre-game entertainment followed the dinner. First up was GM Emil Sutovsky, well-known for his operatic talents. Before the sexes "battled" they serenaded. IM Elisabeth Paehtz joined the baritone for a rendition of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love."

When the microphones turned off, the master of ceremonies, Tournament Director GM Stuart Conquest came out. Can you guess his favorite color?

Here's a bigger hint:

The team captains then entered the ring to the music of "Rocky." GM Nigel Short returned from last year's successful captaincy, while GM Antoaneta Stefanova took over for the high-heeled adversaries.

None of the seven films in the "Rocky" franchise featured battles between the sexes, but Gibraltar did!

Another "first" occurred moments afterward. So sudden, in fact, that this writer's camera wasn't completely ready. A little more than nine years after GM Ivan Cheparinov and Short shared one of the most famous non-handshakes in chess history, out of nowhere they put the past behind them and even shared some laughs.

"I love Bulgaria!"..."I love England!"..."Hey let's be friends!"

Speaking of Bulgaria, GM Veselin Topalov couldn't believe once the opening game began what Vachier-Lagrave and Caruana had done.

Some people have teddy bears, but GM Veselin Topalov assuages his fears by cuddling a white bishop.

No, really, he can't believe what the world number two had done with 2...g5:

Maybe Caruana's offbeat openings were meant to confuse the ladies and offset their 12-8 time advantage in each game?

Here's that entire first game. The quality of the moves may have been "enhanced" by wine:

The ladies often stood together while on move.

And at other times, the audience stood at the rails overhead to get a peak at the action.

For GM Laurent Fressinet and Cheparinov, they just sat calmly amidst the craziness.

Here we are in game two, where the colors reversed. Is it common courtesy in oversized chess to let your opponent leave the board before moving? Nope! Just ask Vachier-Lagrave, the Giant World Chess Championship Runner-Up!

Not pictured: IM Elisabeth Paehtz hurdling pieces in heels (we can report she stuck the landing each time)!

When the men took White, Topalov questioned the wisdom of the two top players on his team. This time, he has swapped out the comfort of the white bishop for the black knight.

"Grob is a Bulgarian word. It means #%$@!"

In the end, the men took the lead in game two:

The men didn't work as cohesively as the women. Compare:


The last game was frenetic and it showed:

Is IM Tania Sachdev is more worried than...

...IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh?

All the fears were removed after the ladies took game three to even the match 1.5-1.5, which was just fine with Sachdev.

Officially the evening was a tie, but the women posed for celebratory pictures at the end with tournament host Brian Callaghan OBE.

Final game coming soon!

What's a good party without an after party? Sachdev and Conquest treated the oversized chess board as an ersatz dance floor. If you thought that was verboten, you'd probably side with John Lithgow's character in the title song they jammed to:

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