'Twofer' Titled Tuesday Draws 41 GM Entries; Spaniards Dominate

'Twofer' Titled Tuesday Draws 41 GM Entries; Spaniards Dominate

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

Titled Tuesday,'s monthly event for masters and grandmasters, is a two-headed monster as of this month. This Tuesday, two events were held at different times, with no restrictions on players competing in both events.

Two hours of chess thus became four hours, and nine rounds became 18 for some! When the smoke cleared, GM Tal Baron picked up his second title while tying the record for single-event points. Later in the day, GM Fransisco Vallejo Pons became the third Spaniard to win a Titled Tuesday event.

In the early edition, Baron acted like the "Red Baron" by shooting down opponents left and right. The WWI ace is credited with 80 kills, while Baron had to content himself with "merely" eight in a row before a final-round draw.

The incredible run included wins over GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Dmitry Andreikin, both past Death Match champions.

Along with GM Tal Baron, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was the only other person to cash twice on the day.

Baron started with five in a row, then started playing the big boys. In round six, he played an accurate rook sac, proving that a castle is not always the safest place when the Red Baron is involved.

The game could have ended even sooner, but Baron made a few flyovers before he dropped his payload. White resigned rather than offer his queen -- there was no other way to prevent the twin mates on f3 and g2.

Vachier-Lagrave would recover to finish in a tie for third.

Here's an earlier effort of his against the "Ginger GM," whose opening was misguided according to his opponent. "The French against a Frenchman, what did you expect?" Vachier-Lagrave chatted afterward. "A bit optimistic as always."

One round later, Baron continued upsetting super-GMs. He slowly overwhelmed Andreikin, and saved a strike on the open h-file until it was unstoppable.

Baron got another win in the penultimate round but decided eight is enough and coasted to the title with a final-round draw against IM Facundo Quiroga of Argentina.

A much more exciting closing came from GM David Larino Nieto, a past winner in Titled Tuesday 10. This smash also portended the Spanish victory to follow later in the day.

It's not every day you offer all four minor pieces to force mate before move 20!

Baron's 8.5/9 tied GM Georg Meier's similar high-water mark score in Titled Tuesday 2. He won $500 while Larino Nieto (7.5/9) took $250 for clear second. The three-way tie for third (7.0/9) was Vachier-Lagrave, Andreikin and NM Conrado Diaz from the Philippines, who all take $83.33.

Diaz's impressive run included wins over GMs Max Dlugy and Sam Sevian, a final-round draw with Vachier-Lagrave, and one incredibly rare finish, en passant mate!

In the late edition, Vallejo Pons won his first Titled Tuesday crown among a field of 61 players and 11 GMs. His run heated up in earnest in round six, where he beat that same guy again, Vachier-Lagrave (the night owl, or "noctambule," began his event at 2 a.m. Paris time). Spanish knights turned out stronger than French bishops:

After a quick draw with Baron the next round, Vallejo Pons routed GM Aleks Lenderman as Black in round eight. The final position with the queen on g3 and menacing pawn on e3 reminds one of the famous Ivanchuk-Yusupov game. First the Titled Tuesday version:

And now the historical version, which won best game of the first 64 issues (31 years) of Chess Informant:

In the same round, Baron took out Vachier-Lagrave for the second time in the same day. The sparkling Ng5+ drew out the black king. The knight couldn't be removed, else the white bishop and queen battery would take over:

Baron had a chance to win his second title but went down in the final round in fewer than 20 moves to GM Jon Ludvig Hammer.

That left the door open for Vallejo Pons, who only needed to draw to clinch clear first. Still, he declined an offer, only relenting when he had to after 116 moves.

Vallejo Pons (7.5/9) won $500 for clear first place, while Hammer (7.0/9) took $187.50 for a share of second with Quiroga. Fourth place was a giant mashup with Baron, Vachier-Lagrave, GMs Max Dlugy and Juan Carlos Ibarra Jerez (the third Spaniard to cash on the day), and IM Minh Le.

The next Titled Tuesday tournaments will be be Tuesday, November 3 at 11 a.m. Pacific (GMT -7) and 5 p.m. Pacific (GMT -7).

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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