Gusty wind blows through Gibraltar

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Gibraltar 2010Contrary to what we reported earlier, the Masters section of the Gibtelecom Festival runs 10 rounds, not 9. With two rounds to go, GM Jan 'Gusty' Gustafsson from Germany is in sole lead with 6.5/8. John Saunders reports.

Photo © John Saunders

The 2010 Gibtelecom International Chess Festival takes place January 26-February 4 at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. The rate of play in this 10-round Swiss is 40 moves in 100 minutes plus 20 moves in 50 minutes plus 15 minutes for all remaining moves with 30 seconds per move added from the start. Draws by mutual agreement in under 30 moves are not allowed, but genuine draws by repetition or stalemate are acceptable.

Round 8 report by John Saunders

The presence of a chess legend has added an extra frisson to life at the Gibtelecom Chess Festival. One day I was waiting for the lift when I noticed a white-haired gentleman in his seventies move swiftly past me and put me to shame by using the stairs. Another day I was about to step into what I thought was an unoccupied lift only to notice at the last minute that it was occupied by the same man, who blinked at me in surprise as my rotundity briefly threatened to collide with his rather more svelte figure.

Yesterday I had my closest encounter yet with said gentleman, whom I’m sure you will already have guessed is the tenth World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky. I noticed him sitting in the bar with Stewart Reuben and Ruben Felgaer. At the time I was having difficulty finding somewhere to sit down and enjoy my chicken baguette and I was quite pleased to see them get up and depart, giving me an ideal place to sit down and have lunch.

SpasskyAbout 20 minutes later a slightly perplexed Spassky returned to the same place. To my surprise, he bore down on me and asked “have you seen my glasses? I was sitting here before”. I was galvanised into action. Lifting the cushion on the chair, I caught sight of the great man’s spectacles on the floor under the chair. I fished them out and handed them to him. A trivial enough thing to do, of course, but Boris’s reaction was as if I had just given him a fully-worked, cast-iron refutation of the Benoni. Lifting his arms to the skies for added effect, he exclaimed: “This is a miracle! How did you do it?”

Trifling though the favour was, it was extremely pleasurable to have been of service to one of the greatest players who has ever lived. My life is now complete and my epitaph will surely read “here lies the man who once helped Boris Spassky find his specs”.

Now to business: 30-year-old German grandmaster Jan ‘Gusty’ Gustafsson moved into the sole lead in round eight of the Gibtelecom Masters, blowing away Natalia Zhukova with some ease though he has thirteen players still breathing down his neck as the tournament reaches its penultimate round. (I’ve been racking my brains for some more meteorological metaphors but I think I’ll call it a day at three. I don’t want a reputation as a windbag.)

Natalia Zhukova had so far been the surprise package of this year’s festival but her streak came to an end when she faced the Hamburg-born grandmaster. Despite having the white pieces, she soon found herself in a passive position and Gustafsson found a powerful tactical coup to end the game on move 33.

Gibraltar 2010

Other games between the eleven overnight leaders started brightly but gradually subsided into draws. Kamsky-Adams was a heavyweight encounter and promised a good struggle but after a number of exchanges the game reduced to a level endgame.

Five players in the next score group took the opportunity to move close to the leading score. Top seed Etienne Bacrot moved back into contention by defeating Alex Lenderman of the USA in a long, fluctuating struggle. Georgian International Master Lela Javakhishvili became one of two women players to reach the group in second equal place when she won impressively against Spanish grandmaster Josep Manuel Lopez Martinez.

The game of the day was almost certainly the one between Argentinian grandmaster Damian Lemos and French International Master Clovis Vernay. The Frenchman, playing Black, attempted to extract himself from difficulties with a remarkable tactical combination involving an eye-catching queen sacrifice. Many a player would have succumbed to such a dangerous attack but the Argentinian found an equally astonishing defence to neutralise the Black counterattack and convert the material advantage into victory. Great credit must go to both players for providing this feast of chess.

Leaders after Round 8: 1st Jan Gustafsson (Germany) 6½ points out of 8; 2nd= Etienne Bacrot (France), Sergei Movsesian (Slovakia), Paco Vallejo Pons (Spain), Michael Adams (England), Gata Kamsky (USA), Laurent Fressinet (France), Chand Sandipan (India), Humpy Koneru (India), Stelios Halkias (Greece), Damian Lemos (Argentina), Alexander Naumann (Germany), Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia), Drasko Boskovic (Serbia) 6 points.

Gibraltar 2010 | Round 8 Standings (top 30)
Gibraltar 2010 | Round 8 Standings (top 30)

Selection of games, let's start with Lemos-Vernay

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Photos © John Saunders, more here


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