Gibraltar Masters 2020, or how I became an IM! (Part 1)
© Gibraltar International Chess Festival - Masters

Gibraltar Masters 2020, or how I became an IM! (Part 1)

RitvarsReimanis
FM RitvarsReimanis
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Hi All,

It's been a couple of months since my last blog post, as since playing in Corsica (which you can read all about here), I was preparing for the big bang or the central event of 2020 - Gibraltar Masters tournament in January.

As you can tell by the title of the blog, the tournament was a success for me, however, it was not a walk in the park (no surprise there!), since I was 138 seed out of roughly 240 players. Prior the tournament the goal was to achieve the final IM norm, which was no easy task, but that's what I went there for, and so it was time to do my best to reach this goal.

I landed in Malaga, Spain a day before the tournament start and the weather was not great as we were approaching La Linea - a Spanish city which shares a border with Gibraltar. Despite the gloomy sky and rain here and there I made it to the tournament hall meeting the Tournament Director Stuart and Main Arbiter Laurent who were very welcoming. I was stunned by the atmosphere at the tournament hotel as it was relaxed, people were playing blitz in the bar, you could see familiar player faces (which normally I would see only online on tournament broadcasts. Everyone was dressed up and waiting for the opening ceremony. I could clearly see that this event was taking chess to a whole new level, not something I had seen in any other tournaments I had participated before. I think this whole atmosphere gave me the extra motivation to really play well here and so I was ready for the games to start.

Playing Hall



Round 1 

In the first round I was paired against Indian Super-GM Adhiban B. with the White pieces. I remember Adhiban playing in Tata Steel super-tournament together with Magnus & Co and thought, wow, this is going to be fun and tough in the same time!


To say the least, I was very pleased with the tournament start and that was also very well captured in my little Hollywood moment here.

Round 2

There was little time to celebrate as in the next round I was facing another 2600+ GM from India - Naryanan S L, and this time with Black pieces, which is always a challenge when my openings are not so to say bullet-proof. And what I learned during the tournament, with shaky openings it's really tough to play these guys as they don't give many chances to equalize the game.



That was a very tough game. Made me check the lines with 7.Qd3, and also a good realization was that up until time trouble I was not too far from equalizing with my creative Rook lift to h6. 

Round 3

After having played two games against 2600+ players, I was finally facing an opponent who on paper was not as strong, and so I was the favorite in the game. That being said, it is important to note that everyone has come here to play serious chess and show their best, so even lower rated opponents are not easy to beat (which I proved in round 1 myself).


To sum up the game, opening prep went as expected - while not getting an edge out of opening, I got into a position I felt more comfortable than my opponent, and so managed to outplay her. However, when it seemed that Black had gotten some counter-play, I started playing really poorly and ended up drawing the game. I was quite shocked that I missed so many chances to win the game, but I guess these things happen. Definitely something I will need to work on going forward. During the game, there was a power cut, so the games were interrupted for an hour or so. At the time I didn't think it could have affected my poor play later in the game, however, now looking in hindsight, it may have been that I lost focus at some point due to this interruption. 

And so there it was - after 3 rounds I had 1 point out of 3, and I was pretty much on square one, and I needed to start winning some games in order to get back on track with getting the IM norm.  

Off the board...

While I was 100% committed to play good chess, I also managed to do a bit of touristy stuff in the mornings before the games. So here come a couple of pictures from my adventures  

The view of tournament hotel on the cliff and famous Gibraltar Rock

View of the playing hall and the famous Gibraltar Rock
Central square in Algeciras - town 30 minutes drive from Gibraltar
Central square in Algeciras - town 30 minutes drive from Gibraltar


Stay tuned as the next two parts of me reviewing my games from one of the top chess events in the world are coming very soon.

Cheers,
Ritvars

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