21-Year-Old Anton Leads Nakamura, MVL In Gibraltar

21-Year-Old Anton Leads Nakamura, MVL In Gibraltar

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

Like last year, David Anton is doing great at the 2017 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. The 21-year-old Spanish grandmaster is leading the tournament alone, and has White in today's final round.

Ju Wenjun is the big star among the ladies, so far.

First Chinese New Year, then her birthday, now this! GM Ju Wenjun (right) became the fifth woman in history to cross 2600, and she discussed her game with IM Jovanka Houska.

A day later she padded her rating even more and is now fewer than two points away from the fourth-highest rating for women of all time. 

Let's start with that ladies section for this report. The tournament in Gibraltar is known to attract more female chess players than anywhere else because of the special prize fund, with 15,000 pounds going to the highest-finishing woman. This year, Ju has excellent chances to win the big envelope, and may have already won it (see the math below!).

Can Ju Wenjun win first place overall and pocket both top prizes? | Photo Sophie Triay.

In rounds eight and nine (covered in this report) she won twice, and especially the first one was very sweet. As the world number-two herself, she beat world number-one and world champion Hou Yifan. In doing so, Ju crossed the 2600 mark on her 26th birthday!

For the overall standings there were few changes at the top, as 10 out of the 12 top boards ended in draws. The exceptions were Veselin Topalov and Fabiano Caruana, who won their games as Black.

First the Bulgarian number-one was under some pressure for most of the game against Emil Sutovsky (although the computer prefers Black all the time!) but then calculated deeper at the end.

Caruana's win looked smooth. For a win as Black, the American grandmaster used a line in the Ruy Lopez sometimes employed by Magnus Carlsen too.

David Anton had made a draw with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in round eight, and the next day went even better: He defeated Topalov as Black!

Playing only three kilometers from his homeland, Spanish number-two GM David Anton will play top board in the final round of Gibraltar, just like last year. Only this year, he will be the sole leader. | Photo Sophie Triay.

Anton played the same line of the Closed Ruy Lopez he had used to beat Emil Sutovsky earlier in the tournament. It's rather solid, and in this particular case Black got a dream position with a good knight vs a bad bishop.

Topalov resigned rather early, but his endgame was dreadful.

Anton has vaulted 40 spots into the world top-100 (#69) just in this event. He's only 0.5 points behind GM Alexander Morozevich!

This round also saw the big American clash between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. An unwelcome pairing for both, and a surprising one to a Swiss pairing expert, but OK, they played.

GM Fabiano Caruana was officially eliminated from first place yesterday, but remained in good spirits. | Photo Sophie Triay.

The latter chose a Queen's Gambit Declined to defend a slightly worse endgame to a draw.

Monkey business is over. It's time to cross the finish line, or risk having a local eat your car.

The game between Michael Adams and S.P. Sethuraman saw a moment where both players missed a tactical opportunity for Black. "It's not so difficult, as soon as you see it," said commentator Simon Williams. But that's true for many moves in chess.

The other seven players on 7/9 will be rooting for GM Mickey Adams today. As long as he doesn't lose as Black to the young Spaniard, they are all still alive. Like them, Adams needs to win. | Photo John Saunders.

Boris Gelfand, who plays in Gibraltar for the first time, helped Ju a lot for those women's standings by beating Antoaneta Stefanova. A bit of a walkover, this game, which Gelfand kindly explained to the online viewers afterward.

But it must be said, Ju's win over Maze looks like a walk-over too. Ju is playing very well, and got "downfloated" last round as the low player on 6/8, and avoided several 2700s the computer could have matched her against.

Wenjun is a point clear of several other ladies and has virtually assured herself of the top women's prize. Even if she loses and one or all of the five women on 6/9 win, Wenjun goes into this round with a 2785 performance rating, which is the first tiebreaker (there is no playoff for top female). That's more than 120 points clear of anyone in the peloton.

Peaking at the right time: GM Ju Wenjun will be the favorite at the next women's world championship, which begins later this month. | Photo John Saunders.

She even has an outside chance at becoming the first woman to win first place overall in Gibraltar. But it won't be easy. She would need Anton to not win, and she'd have to handle her own assignment: Black against her compatriot Yu Yangyi. (The absolute purist will note that if five players finish on 8/10, which is theoretically possible, one player still won't make it into a playoff. What's clear is that eight men and one woman are still in it!)

Among the "interesting" pairings for the final round is that the leader will take White, giving him six Whites and four Blacks despire opening with Black in the first round. Also, IM Anna Zatonskih, still in contention for a top women's prize, has to face her husband, GM Daniel Fridman.

The pairings are so interesting that FM Sunil Weeremantry, stepfather of Nakamura, filed an appeal. Appeals Committe Chairman Stewart Reuben said the appeal was denied. He explained that nearly every player on 7/9 was due Black, but Anton was due White. Reuben said the pairings maximize the number of correct colors, and the fact that Anton is the sole leader is immaterial to this maximization.

Gibraltar Masters | Round 9 Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo FED Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 w-we
1 24 GM Anton Guijarro David 2650 7,5 2878 2,55
2 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2785 7 2826 0,6
3 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796 7 2819 0,43
4 5 GM Adams Michael 2751 7 2818 0,81
5 8 GM Yu Yangyi 2738 7 2811 0,88
6 38 GM Ju Wenjun 2583 7 2785 2,36
7 13 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2689 7 2766 0,89
8 10 GM Gelfand Boris 2721 7 2727 0,2
9 30 GM Edouard Romain 2613 7 2685 0,88
10 20 GM Howell David W L 2655 6,5 2740 1,12
11 28 GM Sutovsky Emil 2628 6,5 2719 1,2
12 1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2827 6,5 2718 -0,73
13 7 GM Topalov Veselin 2739 6,5 2718 -0,07
14 12 GM Matlakov Maxim 2701 6,5 2700 0,15
15 27 GM Akobian Varuzhan 2633 6,5 2696 0,91
16 69 IM Steinberg Nitzan 2486 6,5 2684 2,38
17 18 GM Fressinet Laurent 2660 6,5 2680 0,34
18 14 GM Kovalenko Igor 2684 6,5 2634 -0,43
19 36 GM Gledura Benjamin 2589 6,5 2590 0,23
20 16 GM Short Nigel D 2675 6 2708 0,54
21 11 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2702 6 2667 -0,27
22 58 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2512 6 2663 1,9
23 9 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2724 6 2653 -0,71
24 21 GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo 2652 6 2649 0,07
25 26 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2637 6 2646 0,25
26 42 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel 2572 6 2646 0,99
27 6 GM Svidler Peter 2748 6 2643 -0,99
28 33 GM Fridman Daniel 2594 6 2639 0,59
29 22 GM Hou Yifan 2651 6 2636 -0,07
30 23 GM Piorun Kacper 2651 6 2633 -0,09

(Full standings here.)

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

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