Gibraltar: Eight-Way Tie For First at Half-Time

Gibraltar: Eight-Way Tie For First at Half-Time

| 7 | Chess Event Coverage

Besides the strongest tournament in history there is another very interesting event under way: the Gibraltar Chess Festival. The 12th edition has reached the fifth round, and eight players are sharing first place at the moment: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Pentala Harikrishna, Vassily Ivanchuk, Maxim Rodshtein, Nikita Vitiugov, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Li Chao and Richard Rapport.

Photos © Sophie Triay & John Saunders

With a record number of participants the 12th Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival started on Monday morning with the first amauteur tournament. This year the festival has attracted participants from countries such as Venezuela, Mongolia and China.

There are close to 70 grandmasters from 60 nations. The Masters has 252 players this year with around 370 playing in all three tournaments. It may not be the biggest open in the world, but it's certainly one of the strongest, with no less than ten 2700 playing in the Masters.

On of the players is 11-year-old Anna Cramling Bellon, the daughter of GMs Pia Cramling and Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez. Anna first came to the tournament with her parents, whilst still in her carry cot. She has been coming every year since then. 

As a baby she slept right through the tournaments, always next to one of her parents, who have participated every year in the Gibraltar Masters in its 12 year history!

The family lived in Fuengirola, Malaga, but last year moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where Ana who has ambitions of becoming a Grand Master in the future, now has her own coach. 

On Monday the first move was carried out by two of the youngest members of staff at Gibtelecom, Rachel Holgado and Craig Lima. The young chess player is Irene Nicolas Zapata from Spain, who recently won the silver medal in the under 16 category at the World Youth Championships.

On the same day many players we're flying in to be in time for Monday night's opening ceremony. The pairings for the first round were drawn by Gibraltar’s Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Steven Linares, who once again pledged the Gibraltar Government’s commitment to the tournament.

“It is a great pleasure to be part of the biggest tournament and event annually in Gibraltar,” he said. “As it continues to grow the Government will continue to support it as it does others. But this tournament takes the biscuit. It is the biggest tournament the Government has ever been involved with.”

Mickey Adams, Stuart Conquest & Steven Linares

With commentary on the official website by GMs Irina Krush and Simon Williams (produced by yours truly together with Lennart Ootes), the Masters tournament took off on Tuesday at 3pm.

Also for the Masters there was a ceremonial first move, performed by James Humpreys, Chairman of Tradewise Gibraltar Insurance Ltd. 

“Tradewise is becoming  synonymous with chess as much as it is to insurance and this is important for Gibraltar. In chess we have Tata Steel, and I hoping that over the years Tradewise will be exactly the same as that company in its association with the festival,” said Mr Humpreys.

On this board, top seeded player Michael Adams faced FM Emilio Miguel Sanchez Jerez from Murcia. Mr Sanchez took his chance for eternal fame and played the Evans Gambit, but a player of Adams's caliber knows who to deal with that.

On one of the most interesting games played so far was the following. Both kings don't casle, and both queens get close. However, White always had more pieces into play - Black's rook and bishop on the queenside were mere spectators.

Gata Kamsky won a nice attacking game, where his knights played a key role:

In this round 14-year-old Sebastian Mihajlov (2185) beat GM Krikor Mekhitarian (2566) of Brazil:

Commentary round 1

Top seed Michael Adams continued with a win in round 2, already facing a grandmaster.

Glenn Flear was close to a draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, but with little time on the clock in went wrong:

Vallejo Pons, who entered the tournament at the last minute, made clear that endings with opposite-colored bishops are not always a dead draw, especially in over the board play!

Commentary round 2

The third round saw a fantastic encounter on board one between Alexandr Fier of Brazil and Mickey Adams of England. It was a draw, but what a draw!

14-year-old Wei Yi, the youngest grandmaster in the world, was playing a nice attaciking game against IM Thomas Henrichs but suddenly lost track.

Li Chao & Wei Yi in the team blitz event

Here's one more fine game from the third round:

Commentary round 3

After four rounds three players were sitting on a perfect score: Maxim Rodshtein of Israel, Li Chao of China and Sandro Mareco of Argentina. The latter defeated David Navara on Friday:

Commentary round 4

After several draws on the top boards on Saturday, there is now an eight-way tie for first place with five more rounds to go.

Commentary round 5

Gibraltar Masters 2014 | Round 5 Standings (top 50)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. Rp
1 2 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2745 4,5 2876
2 9 GM Harikrishna P. IND 2706 4,5 2872
3 3 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2739 4,5 2859
4 13 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2682 4,5 2857
5 4 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2737 4,5 2850
6 8 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2707 4,5 2849
7 14 GM Li Chao B CHN 2680 4,5 2835
8 11 GM Rapport Richard HUN 2691 4,5 2828
9 1 GM Adams Michael ENG 2754 4 2722
10 30 GM Mareco Sandro ARG 2582 4 2717
11 10 GM Navara David CZE 2702 4 2704
12 60 GM Debashis Das IND 2494 4 2708
13 7 GM Kamsky Gata USA 2709 4 2702
14 38 GM Lenderman Aleksandr USA 2562 4 2706
15 63 WGM Tan Zhongyi CHN 2483 4 2680
16 17 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2672 4 2667
17 16 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2673 4 2662
18 22 GM Agdestein Simen NOR 2627 4 2655
19 32 IM Dvirnyy Danyyil ITA 2574 4 2643
20 26 GM Wei Yi CHN 2607 4 2635
21 39 GM Hansen Eric CAN 2559 4 2628
22 44 GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2536 4 2619
23 24 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2614 4 2582
24 23 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2619 4 2583
25 98 IM Nakar Eylon ISR 2398 4 2559
26 35 GM Mekhitarian Krikor Sevag BRA 2566 4 2429
27 15 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2677 3,5 2683
28 43 GM Spraggett Kevin CAN 2544 3,5 2673
29 20 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2658 3,5 2655
30 54 GM Xu Jun CHN 2510 3,5 2658
31 33 GM Fier Alexandr BRA 2572 3,5 2641
32 94 IM Tari Aryan NOR 2408 3,5 2599
33 5 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2733 3,5 2598
34 41 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2550 3,5 2608
35 6 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2715 3,5 2600
36 31 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2582 3,5 2589
37 55 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2503 3,5 2579
38 29 GM Adhiban B. IND 2590 3,5 2571
39 28 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan ESP 2597 3,5 2568
40 37 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2564 3,5 2567
41 40 GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2557 3,5 2543
42 27 GM Van Kampen Robin NED 2602 3,5 2542
43 45 GM Libiszewski Fabien FRA 2533 3,5 2537
44 76 WGM Guo Qi CHN 2450 3,5 2516
45 49 GM Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2517 3,5 2516
46 78 GM Akesson Ralf SWE 2447 3,5 2504
47 84 IM Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2430 3,5 2499
48 25 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2609 3,5 2508
49 59 WGM Pogonina Natalija RUS 2495 3,5 2504
50 83 IM Georgiadis Nico SUI 2436 3,5 2477

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival isn't called a 'festival' for nothing. Every year there is a large number of side events so that participants can enjoy themselves also in the evenings.

the Rock. The dinner was hosted by Gibraltar’s Minister for Tourism, Commercial Affairs, Public Transport and the Port, Neil Costa. The location was a beautiful and unique setting in the Cathedral Chamber of St Michael’s Cave located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

Photo © Sophie Triay

On Wednesday evening the first of four Masterclasses was held in the Caleta Hotel, which is also the playing venue and the place where many players stay. In the Masterclass, IM Elisabeth Paehtz and GM Nigel Short went through some of there games:

On Tursday night the traditional blitz team event was held in the hotel and as always it was amazingly strong, with some of the strongest grandmasters participating. A local team from the new chess company Cisha, headed by GM Jan Gustafsson, also participated.

After six rounds the Chinese team with Li Chao, Wei Yi, Tan Zhongyi and Guo Qi tied for first place with the team with Daniil Dubov (Russia), Richard Rapport (Hungary), Natalia Zhukova (Ukraine) and Jovana Vojinovic (Serbia). A total of 27 teams participated.

On Friday there was another Masterclass, this time by GM Vassily Ivanchuk. He went through all five games of this 1991 Candidates’ Match with Leonid Yudasin, and then answered several questions. Mr Ivanchuk turned out to be quite an expert also on other board games!

On Saturday evening the second Battle of the Sexes was held in the dining room of the Caleta, which was transformed into a boxing ring with a giant chess set inside! 

For the women Elisabeth Paehtz, Tania Sachdev, Hoang Thanh Trang, Natalia Zhukova, Guo Qi and Jovana Vojinovic played, and for the men Simen Agdstein, Wei Yi, Richard Rapport, Robin van Kampen, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Surya Ganguly, Daniil Dubov, and Vea Odin Blikra of Norway, who played in all editions of the festival. The team captains were Viktorija Cmilyte & Nigel Short. It was a tough fight, but in the end it was won 2-1 by... the ladies! They duly won the first two, and then the men won their 'consolation game'. :-)
For Sunday night another blitz event is scheduled, and then two more Masterclasses will be held on Monday and Tuesday night, which you can watch live from the tournament website!
Photos © Sophie Triay & John Saunders | Thanks to Alice Mascarenhas for providing much information
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.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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