David Paravyan, Tan Zhongyi Winners At Gibraltar Masters
David Paravyan and Tan Zhongyi took home the big prizes. Photo: Niki Riga/Gibraltar Chess Festival.

David Paravyan, Tan Zhongyi Winners At Gibraltar Masters

91 | Chess Event Coverage

David Paravyan won the £30,000 first prize at the Gibraltar Chess Festival masters tournament. The 21-year-old Russian grandmaster came out on top in a playoff, after seven players had finished in a tie for first place. Like last year, China's Tan Zhongyi won the £20,000 top women's prize.

Round seven was the last round possible to take a half-point bye. Unfortunately, a big name did not appear at the board anyway for round eight, and in fact for the remainder of the tournament. Due to illness, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had to withdraw (reportedly he's already feeling better) and as a result, Praggnanandhaa R. got a free point since the pairings had been made already.

Except for one more game, there were draws on the top 16 boards in this rather quiet round. One surprising result elsewhere in the playing hall was Vassily Ivanchuk losing to the 18-year-old German IM Valentin Buckels:

Valentin Buckels chess
Valentin Buckels defeated Vassily Ivanchuk. Photo: Niki Riga/Gibraltar Chess Festival.

The penultimate round saw a lot of blood with just four draws on the top 15 boards. The biggest drama occurred on board one, where Andrey Esipenko, who had taken that slightly controversial bye in round seven, missed a huge chance to go into the final round a half-point ahead of the pack:

Magsoodloo Esipenko Gibraltar 2020
Maghsoodloo vs. Esipenko. Photo: John Saunders/Gibraltar Chess Festival.

The semi-retired top GM Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) was among the players who finished half a point behind the leaders. He played one of the most exciting games of the event in the penultimate round:

Veselin Topalov. Photo: John Saunders/Gibraltar Chess Festival.
Veselin Topalov. Photo: John Saunders/Gibraltar Chess Festival.

David Navara won a great game against the Argentinian GM Alan Pichot and afterward called it his best-ever at Gibraltar (and this is his fifth visit). It involved a piece sacrifice for pawns and initiative, featuring a long king hunt:

Navara was interviewed after the game. Video: Gibraltar Chess Festival.

More draws were seen on the top boards in the final round, and at some point only Parham Maghsoodloo could still win the tournament outright. However, the Iranian grandmaster was never better, let alone having winning chances as he ended up losing to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave:

Vachier-Lagrave was interviewed after the game. Video: Gibraltar Chess Festival.

And so the tournament saw a big tie for first place; seven players finished on 7.5 points.

2020 Gibraltar Masters | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo FED Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1
1 16 GM Esipenko Andrey 2654 7,5 2809
2 3 GM Wang Hao 2758 7,5 2792
3 46 GM Yuffa Daniil 2566 7,5 2774
4 22 GM Paravyan David 2629 7,5 2760
5 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2770 7,5 2759
6 5 GM Navara David 2717 7,5 2711
7 28 GM Yilmaz Mustafa 2607 7,5 2701
8-9 13 GM Maghsoodloo Parham 2674 7,0 2743
8-9 56 GM Werle Jan 2545 7,0 2743
10 4 GM Topalov Veselin 2738 7,0 2710
11 48 GM Aryan Chopra 2562 7,0 2709
12 27 GM Kobalia Mikhail 2609 7,0 2684
13 29 GM Karthikeyan Murali 2606 7,0 2671
14 10 GM Adams Michael 2694 7,0 2668
15 6 GM Le Quang Liem 2713 7,0 2667
16 12 GM Jones Gawain C B 2679 7,0 2654
17-18 14 GM Saric Ivan 2655 7,0 2649
17-18 18 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2648 7,0 2649
19 34 GM Moussard Jules 2600 7,0 2647
20 31 GM Praggnanandhaa R 2602 7,0 2632

(Full standings here.)

As it turned out, Vachier-Lagrave just missed out on qualifying for the playoff (where have we heard that before?) by the smallest possible margin. Only the top four, with the highest performance ratings, were in and MVL's TPR was just one point behind number-four Paravyan: 2760 vs 2759. Incroyable.

With a random pairing, Daniil Yuffa and Wang Hao were paired for one semifinal, and Esipenko vs. Paravyan was the second. While Wang qualified smoothly for the playoff final, Paravyan only decided the match in his favor in the fifth game (an Armageddon) and then also overcame Wang. 

Playoff games

2020 Gibraltar playoff final
The playoff final. Photo: John Saunders/Gibraltar Chess Festival.

The Gibraltar Chess Festival was held for the 18th time in the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. The first prize was £30,000 ($39,040 or 35,448 euros) in the masters tournament and £20,000 ($26,027 or 23,630 euros) was the top women's prize.

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