Ivan "the Ice Breaker" Cheparinov Wins in Gibraltar
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On Thursday Ivan Cheparinov defeated Nikita "The Iceman" Vitiugov in the playoff final to clinch his first victory at the 12th Gibraltar Chess Festival. The two grandmasters had finished shared first with Vassily Ivanchuk, who lost to Vitiugov in the semi-final.
Photos © Sophie Triay & John Saunders
This report starts after seven rounds, when Vassily Ivanchuk and Surya Ganguly tied for first place. Obviously they were paired against each other, and it was a really nice game by Chuky!
Ivanchuk moved to 7.0/8 and behind him were Gata Kamsky and Richard Rapport, who both won their games to reach 6.5 points. Kamsky outclassed the Spanish IM who had played surprisingly well up to that point.
Behind Rapport and Kamsky sharing fourth place were no fewer than 18 players on 6, including top seeds Michael Adams and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The latter gave a wonderful Masterclass that evening about his exciting game with Ding Liren played last year at the Alekhine Memorial in Paris:
The big clash in the penultimate round was Kamsky versus Ivanchuk, but this game was over in no time. Whereas the American went for his favorite non-theoretical 2.Bf4 system, the Ukrainian played one of the most principled replies, which was theoretical, and led to an early move repetition:
After buying two chess clocks for his school in Lviv, Ivanchuk joined the commentary of the round, spoke a bit about this game and looked at some other games.
On board two French number one Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat Hungary's Richard Rapport in an ending, while top seed Mickey Adams fell back in the standings after a draw with Baskaran Adhiban of India. 2013 winner Nikita Vitiugov won a B vs. N ending against Ganguly:
Last year Zhao Xue won the top ladies prize, and in this round she improved her chances of claiming it for a second time significantly. Her vicitim was Pentala Harikrishna:
Going into the final round, Ivanchuk was still the sole lead with 7.5 points. On 7.0 were Vachier-Lagrave, Vitiugov, Kamsky, Dreev, Cheparinov, Al-Sayed and Zhao Xue. Playing Ivanchuk as Black, Vachier-Lagrave had to try and win his game and just like in the final round last year (when he played 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 e6!? against Vitiugov), the French GM put the board on fire at an early stage:
Two of the players on 7 points won their game and caught Ivanchuk in first place: Ivan Cheparinov and Nikita Vitiugov. Cheparinov didn't have an outstanding tournament, but he won in the last three rounds against Bela Khotenashvili, David Anton Guijarro and then Gata Kamsky:
Vitiugov had less trouble beating Zhao Xue:
This meant that Cheparinov, Ivanchuk and Vitiugov would play a tiebreak to decide on the winner. The drawing of lots was "won" by Cheparinov, who could sit and watch while the other two played the "semi-final". There was some debate about whether this was fair (it would have made sense to have Ivanchuk, with the best tiebreak, qualifying for the final directly) but at least Cheparinov was the one who had the longest round 10 game, so he kind of deserved the longest break too!
Ivanchuk and Vitiugov drew their two rapid games (10 minutes + 5 seconds per move) and then it was "the Iceman", as commentator Simon Williams nicknamed the Russian last year, who won both blitz games (3 minutes + 2 seconds):
In the first game of the final, Cheparinov became "the Icebreaker" as he defeated (the pun "crush" would be too much) Vitiugov at his own territory: in quiet, positional style.
The second game was drawn and so Ivan Cheparinov became the overall winner and took the cheque of 20,000 pounds! Both Muzychuk sisters played in Gibraltar this year and whereas Anna wasn't feeling well and scored badly, her younger sister Mariya scored a GM norm, won the top women's prize of 15,000 pounds and another 2,000 pound rating prize!
Three GM norms were scored and all by women! Besides Muzychuk, Lela Javakhishvili of Georgia and Tan Zhongyi of China also made a norm. Guo Qi of China scored an IM norm.
Below you can replay the live commentary of the playoff produced by yours truly together with Lennart Ootes. Good news: we'll be doing the same for the Reykjavik Open: daily live shows with commentary. This will also be available on Chess.com/TV - don't miss it!
Gibraltar Masters 2014 | Round 10 Standings (top 50)
|6||14||GM||Li Chao B||CHN||2680||7,5||2735||2731||8,3|
|21||28||GM||Salgado Lopez Ivan||ESP||2597||7||2642||2642||7,5|
|23||37||GM||Salem A.R. Saleh||UAE||2564||7||2596||2596||5,7|
|29||23||GM||Ganguly Surya Shekhar||IND||2619||6,5||2613||2608||2|
|35||12||GM||Short Nigel D||ENG||2683||6,5||2572||2569||-12|
Photos © Sophie Triay & John Saunders | Thanks to Alice Mascarenhas & John Saunders for providing much information.