Artemiev Retakes Lead Heading To Final Round Of Gibraltar Chess Festival
GM Vladislav Artemiev will be in the spotlight again today. Photo: John Saunders

Artemiev Retakes Lead Heading To Final Round Of Gibraltar Chess Festival

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

Round 10 of the 2019 Gibraltar Chess Festival is going to be a throwback. All the way back to Tuesday, when the 20-year-old GM Vladislav Artemiev was even two days younger.

In yesterday's round nine, he retook sole possession of first place in the tournament's 17th edition. While Artemiev was the only player getting to 7.5/9, his countryman GM Kirill Alekseenko fell back. Thus Artemiev is now his country's lone hope to become the second Russian to win the event.

Vladislav Artemiev
Vladislav Artemiev beat David Navara as he attempts to assume the mantle of the new "Big Vlad" this week. Photo: John Saunders.

If Artemiev wins against GM Yu Yangyi (7.0/9) on board one today, he will do just that. Even a draw is not the worst result in the world, as it guarantees him at least a playoff. After all, Artemiev is the number-five blitz player in the world in case it goes to extra games. In addition, the four-time champion and blitz specialist GM Hikaru Nakamura (6.5/9) is now mathematically unable to join him after a draw in round nine.

One person who will be lurking and watching board one carefully is GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (7.0/9), who is actually even higher than Artemiev on the blitz charts (world number-two). He won with some intra-country prep yesterday. However, he's already faced Artemiev earlier so now he will rely on the top Chinese player here to not lose against the leader.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Channeling Etienne Bacrot, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's novelty helped keep his tournament's hopes alive. Photo: David Llada.

There's no way for MVL to win without employing his blitz skills, since someone on the top board must get to 8.0 points or more. The dark horse will be the Frenchman's opponent on board two. GM Murali Karthikeyan was probably nobody's pick to lead the large Indian contingent, but he nonetheless also got to 7.0/9 yesterday and is the only other player mathematically able to get to a tiebreak.

Here's how Artemiev got closer to one of the biggest tournament wins of his young career. He played another double-fianchetto (just like against Nakamura in round seven).

Artemiev told that the decision to play 12. Nfd2 instead of 12. Nbd2 was critical. After the game he didn't make a big deal about what appeared to be a speculative exchange sacrifice.

"Of course it's a good performance for me, definitely," he said.  He added that he won't prepare much for today. Instead, he just wanted to sleep a lot before the morning beginning to the final round.

Many players at the tournament have been seen sniffling and catching a cold, but Artemiev said he had stayed healthy. Maybe it's all the walking—Artemiev is staying just across the border in Spain and walks some 45 minutes to the host Caleta Hotel each day. Youth!

Here's even more about the game with both combatants' thoughts:

Another man who often exercises at tournaments (when his countrymen aren't keeping him out late) is Vachier-Lagrave. In fact his best "helper" in round nine was a Frenchman who wasn't even here! MVL played a line in the Spanish he's used many times against GM Levon Aronian, but then uncorked some preparation courtesy of GM Etienne Bacrot. After a long thought, the novelty 19. dxc6 wasn't handled well by 21-year-old Alekseenko and the tournament's top seed had all kinds of straightforward tactics to win the game. It took him less than 2.5 hours.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
MVL got his win and also got to conserve energy. Photo: John Saunders.

"If Kirill had been better prepared the game would have been drawn," Vachier-Lagrave said. He wasn't being malicious—he was explaining that he knew the novelty to only be equal, but it required an exact response that the Russian didn't find.

Alekseenko actually went into the tank shortly after the novelty, giving Vachier-Lagrave confidence. "If he had played [the response] in two minutes instead of 55, I would have been very pessimistic about the outcome."

For even more of Vachier-Lagrave's thoughts on trying to finally win a title in Gibraltar after many attempts, here's his interview with IM Tania Sachdev.

GMs Ivan Saric and Levon Aronian could only draw each other on board three, and the same for GM David Howell and Nakamura a few boards lower. Nearly-local hero GM David Anton always seems to factor into the hunt here, but his draw versus former champion GM Nikita Vitiugov put them both out of the running.

This was Yu's win over GM Le Quang Liem that put him on board one in round 10.

And here's how Karthikeyan became the final and most unlikely player to get to 7.0/9.

Pia Cramling
GM Pia Cramling, defending women's champion of Gibraltar. Photo: David Llada.

And in the "endings you don't see every day" department, here's a bishop, knight, and three pawns beating a lone queen:

In the race for the top women's prize, the Muzychuk sisters and GM Tan Zhongyi are all on 6.0/9. GM Mariya Muzychuk got there with a draw against the Bird's Opening.

Mariya Muzychuk
Bird was the word, or "oiseau" as GM Jules Mussard might say, but GM Mariya Muzychuk didn't get caged. Photo: John Saunders.

There is no playoff for the first women's prize despite this being announced at last year's closing ceremony. Instead, it will be decided by tiebreak and it is not shared.

Watch Gibraltar Chess Festival, round 9 with GM Simon Williams and IM Jovanka Houska from GibChess on

2019 Gibraltar Chess Festival Masters Section | Standings After Round Nine

Rk. SNo Name FED Rtg Pts.
1 11 GM Artemiev Vladislav 2709 7,5
2 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2780 7,0
2 4 GM Yu Yangyi 2764 7,0
2 49 GM Karthikeyan Murali 2570 7,0
5 6 GM Navara David 2738 6,5
5 55 GM Lalith Babu M R 2547 6,5
5 20 GM Grandelius Nils 2682 6,5
5 2 GM Aronian Levon 2767 6,5
5 17 GM Saric Ivan 2690 6,5
5 8 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2720 6,5
5 41 GM Vaibhav Suri 2590 6,5
5 13 GM Adams Michael 2701 6,5
5 28 GM Alekseenko Kirill 2637 6,5
5 5 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2749 6,5
5 19 GM Howell David W L 2685 6,5
5 23 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2660 6,5
5 27 GM Anton Guijarro David 2642 6,5
18 62 GM Muzychuk Mariya 2540 6,0
18 9 GM Le Quang Liem 2714 6,0
18 3 GM So Wesley 2765 6,0
18 7 GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2734 6,0
18 37 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel 2603 6,0
18 26 GM Edouard Romain 2643 6,0
18 18 GM Adhiban B. 2689 6,0
18 36 GM Lagarde Maxime 2604 6,0
18 12 GM Mamedov Rauf 2703 6,0
18 35 GM Jumabayev Rinat 2604 6,0
18 80 IM Gukesh D 2497 6,0
18 99 IM Abel Dennes 2458 6,0
18 15 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2691 6,0
18 21 GM Eljanov Pavel 2680 6,0
18 83 GM Chandra Akshat 2492 6,0
18 42 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. 2589 6,0
18 63 GM Puranik Abhimanyu 2536 6,0
18 14 GM Matlakov Maxim 2700 6,0
18 45 GM Santos Latasa Jaime 2581 6,0
18 30 GM Indjic Aleksandar 2630 6,0
18 33 GM Moussard Jules 2605 6,0
18 32 GM Tari Aryan 2625 6,0
18 50 GM Muzychuk Anna 2569 6,0
18 53 GM Moroni Luca Jr 2562 6,0
18 73 GM Gallego Alcaraz Andres Felipe 2502 6,0
18 74 GM Tan Zhongyi 2502 6,0

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FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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