Almasi & Kamsky lead in Reggio Emilia

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Almasi & Kamsky lead in Reggio EmiliaAfter five rounds in Reggio Emilia, Zoltan Almasi and Gata Kamsky are leading the tournament with 3.5 points out of 5 games. Thus far the young Italians, Sabino Brunello and Daniele Vocaturo, have played better than their score would suggest.

The 52nd edition of the “Torneo di Capodanno” takes place December 28th - January 6th at the Astoria-Mercure hotel in Reggio Emilia. It's a 10-player round-robin with GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Michele Godena, GM Daniele Vocaturo, IM Sabino Brunello (all from Italy), GM Gata Kamsky (USA), GM Eltaj Safarli (Azerbajan), GM Baadur Jobava (Georgia), GM Konstantin Landa (Russia), GM Viktor Bologan (Moldavia) and GM Zoltan Almasi (Hungary).

At first Vladimir Malakhov was going to play in Reggio, but because of his success at the World Cup the Russian Chess Federation wanted him on the team for the upcoming World Team Championship in Bursa, Turkey. The Italian organizers were then helped by Gata Kamsky, who was happy to step in. The rate of play in Reggio is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes to finish the game + 30 seconds per move starting from the 1st.

In a way the field of players is similar to that of the London Chess Classic: a mixture of strong, international players and local, rising stars. Where favourites such as Almasi and Kamsky seriously try to win the tournament, young stars like Vocaturo and Safarli have not much to lose and can go all or nothing in almost every round. This has led to quite a fightful event so far, with a drawing percentage as low as 44%.

Reggio Emilia 09/10 | Round 5 Standings
Reggio Emilia 2009


Selection of games rounds 1-5



Game viewer by ChessTempo


In the first round, all victories were scored with the black pieces. Safarli defeated Brunello in an ending that should have been a draw (after 31.e4) - 36.Be1 seems to be the decisive mistake. Caruana started strongly with a Black victory against Bologan in an Archangelsk Sicilian. White resigned because of 42.Rxg3 Bxe4!.

Reggio Emilia 2009/2010

Godena was under pressure throughout his game against Almasi but held the draw. Against Kamsky, Vocaturo got his pawns running in a Sicilian, but positionally Black was better and in the second phase of the game White could only defend, but not safe himself.

In round 2, Godena beat his young compatriot Vocaturo using an Alapin Sicilian. Black was well prepared and absolutely fine after 25 moves, but blundered on move 34 where 34...Qd2! was necessary. Bologan had just reached equality with Black against Jobava, but was suddenly outplayed completely in the ending.

The Moldav GM recovered in the next round and defeated Brunello, who repeated Aronian's unsuccessful answer to Dominguez' 8.d4 Anti-Marshall played at Corus, almost year ago. Brunello's new 16...Ba8 is interesting, and he was doing fine for a long time, but in timetrouble things went downhill.

Reggio Emilia 2009/2010

Almasi played very strongly against Jobava and beat the Georgian GM in a Rauzer Sicilian.

Reggio Emilia 2009/2010

Vocaturo scored his only point so far in this third round. He beat Caruana, who won an exchange but then committed several mistakes.

Reggio Emilia 2009/2010

On December 31st, Jobava decided to start early with the fireworks. Against Vocaturo he played aggressively and directed the game into a Four Pawns KID. His 21.Rxf7!? was extremely interesting, but not necessarily good for White, as Vocaturo showed with a series of strong moves. This probably cost him too much time on the clock, because the Italian completely threw away a much better position in the phase after move 30. A pity. In another g3 Grünfeld, Almasi was too strong for Brunello while Bologan managed to beat Landa with the black pieces in a King's Indian, Bayonet variation. One mistake of his opponent (24.Rc7?) was all he needed.

Reggio Emilia 2009/2010

Vocaturo must do his best to forget about the first five rounds, to be able to do better in the remainder of the tournament. Also in yesterday's game against Brunello he reached an excellent position, but let it slip away, first to an unclear ending, and then to a lost one. In a very irregular, almost coffeehouse English Opening, Kamsky castled queenside against Jobava, who blundered his rook on move 34.

The last four rounds will be played Sunday, January 3rd till Wednesday, January 6th. Interestingly, Almasi and Kamsky will play each other in the last round.

Photos: Giorgio Gozzi

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