2009 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

2009 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

          Kotronias Leads After Round Four

 After four rounds, we have a sole leader - 44-year-old Greek grandmaster Vassilios Kotronias, who has had the perfect start with four straight wins.Vassilios likes Gibraltar - he was joint winner of our first tournament in 2003 - and he started with a brisk win against Marcelo Ripari. In round two he had an amazing game against Spanish Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez (check out FM Sunil Weeramantry's analysis of this game in the Round 2 Press Release). Next up was a confrontation with last year's winner Hikaru Nakamura: the US super-GM allowed his queen to be snared and that made it 3/3 for Vassilios. In round four he played another young super-GM, Pentala Harikrishna. The Indian player seemed to go wrong in the opening and Vassilios grabbed the initiative. Soon he was a pawn ahead and his technique took over. A very impressive start. Vassilios and I arrived in Gibraltar on the same plane from London and we shared a taxi to the venue. I told him about Peter Svidler playing cricket on the day before the tournament and he quipped: "I hope it takes his mind off the chess!". It's pretty clear that Vassilios himself is very focused on those 64 squares...

Kotronias and Belyavsky Lead At The Halfway Mark

Summary by John Saunders

 Leader Vassilios Kotronias drew a long game with Michael Roiz of Israel in the fifth round and this allowed him to be caught in the lead by veteran grandmaster Alexander Belyavsky. 'Big Al', as the former world junior champion is familiarly known, managed to beat Nana Dzagnidze in an extraordinary game. The ex-Soviet GM seemed to have much the worse of things in the early stages and he then forced a liquidation into a minor piece endgame where he was a pawn down. That flies in the face of what the textbooks tell you to do, of course, but Belyavsky had seen a little further into the position and soon levelled the material. Later he won a pawn to go ahead on material and eventually his well-honed, old-school technique triumphed. His reward is to have White against Vassilios Kotronias in this afternoon's clash of the leaders.

Round 6: Big Al's Up at Gib

Summary by John Saunders

 Last year it was 'Great Bu's Up' at Gibraltar (which tickled ChessBase head honcho Frederic Friedel enough to dub me the 'world's worst punster' - finest compliment I've ever been paid) but this year it is more a case of 'Big Al's Up' (though, despite racking my brains, I can't find a Blackadder sketch to fit the bill this time - or even an anagram of 'Gibraltar', dammit). 55-year-old Alexander 'Big Al' Belyavsky is easily the oldest of the leading contenders in the Gibtelecom Masters (good grief, the man is almost as old as I am) but he unseated the early leader Vassilios Kotronias in yesterday's sixth round.


Alexander Belyavsky
Beware: Big Al Belyavsky knows his endgame studies

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