Ivanchuk retains lead in Gibraltar

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Ivanchuk retains lead in GibraltarVassily Ivanchuk is still on top at the Masters tournament of the 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. The Ukrainian grandmaster scored 7 points out of 8 games, and is followed by Nigel Short (England) and Viktor Mikhalevski (Israel) who have 6.5 points.

Ana Cramling Bellon, 8-year-old daughter of GMs Pia Cramling and Juan-Manuel Bellon Lopez

General info

The 9th Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival takes place from Monday 24 January to Thursday 3 February 2011 at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. The top five seeds are Ivanchuk, Adams, Caruana, Vallejo and Bologan. Top female participants include Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva, Dzagnidze, Stefanova and Cmilyte. More info here.

Round 7 report by John Saunders


Everything went black on the Rock on Monday evening. Play was interrupted for just over an hour in the Gibraltar Masters as there was an electricity outage over a large area of Gibraltar. At 7.45pm clocks were stopped as players (still playing nearly five hours into their game) remained seated at their boards in near blackness as the emergency lights in the hotel came into operation.

Arbiters and hotel staff took control of the situation and within minutes torches were flashing and candles found. This at least allowed players some movement around the hotel. Play resumed shortly after 9pm when the electricity was restored.

Of course, it was all Stewart Reuben’s fault. After all, on Sunday tempted fate by making a joke about “rainbow stopped play”, didn’t he? It was the curse of the chess commentator, whereby all predictions and whimsical observations inevitably come back and kick you in the teeth. Stewart, who is the UK’s most experienced tournament director, tried to deflect criticism but he was impaled on the iron logic of IM Jack Rudd who told him: “[the electricity outage] could be deemed an act of God - so you were responsible.”


The Caleta Hotel seen from the Rock in Gibraltar

Yesterday’s audience enjoyed some excellent fare, with various distinguished guests appearing alongside regular commentator GM Simon Williams. Stuart Conquest, Ray Keene, Paco Vallejo Pons and Nigel Short all provided illuminating commentary, and Irina Krush came in for the evening session.

The black-out did influence a couple of peace treaties amongst the top boards but as far as can be ascertained there were no obvious injustices done by one player having an extra hour’s thinking time. On the top boards the decisive results were all battles of the sexes. The men beat the women 2-1 in this unofficial match. Israeli GM Michael Roiz gradually harried Nadezhda Kosintseva into an untenable position with his advantage of the two bishops. GN Gopal’s win against Nana Dzagnidze was more tactical but achieved much the same objective. Salome Melia struck back with a win against her fellow countryman Giorgi Kachesihvili. As with Vallejo Pons’ game the previous day, this looked to be a case of a bad choice of opening by the stronger player and demonstrated how quickly even a strong grandmaster can find himself in a desperate straits.


Salome Melia (Georgia)

The Gibraltar Masters is not all about super-GMs and top ten women stars. It provides the opportunity for sub-2200 rated players to show that they can score points against more exalted opposition. Several players in this category have good scores but we’ll single out just two. Philip Wheldon, 2106, of England is on 4½/7, having drawn with IM Eesha Karavade and defeated GM Juan Manuel Bellon. More impressive still has been Paul Szuper, 2174, of the USA, who in his last four games has drawn with IM Gaponenko and GM Ikonnikov, and beaten WGM Pogonina and GM Lemos for a score of 5/7. You might say that Wheldon has done well but the American has been szuper-duper.

Melia-Kacheishvili Gibraltar 2011 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 0–0 10.0–0 Be7 11.Re1 Bf6 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Ne5 Qb6 13...Nxd4 is not completely out of the question, but after 14.Bb4 Bxe5 15.Rxe5 Re8 16.Qh5 g6 17.Rxe8+ Qxe8 18.Qxd5 White has a substantial positional edge. 14.Bc3 g6 15.a4 a5 Silicon suggests lines like 15...Bxe5 16.dxe5 d4 17.Bd2 Re8 which may win a pawn but the human player would worry about the exposed dark squares on the kingside. Still, it might have been better than the text. 16.Qf3 Ne7 17.Bb5 Kg7 Melia-Kacheishvili 18.b4! This bold move establishes the two white bishops on the two diagonals a4-e8 and a3-f8 and sets up strong threats. 18...axb4 19.Bxb4 Qxd4 Black is damned if he does capture, and damned if he doesn't. 19...Be6 20.Qa3 Qd8 21.Re2 Rc8 22.Rae1 and White is contemplating a knight sacrifice on f7. 20.Qa3! Bxe5 21.Rad1 Qb2 22.Rxe5! Qxe5 22...Qxa3 23.Bxa3 and Black must lose at least the exchange. 23.Bc3 d4 24.Bxd4 Qxd4 25.Rxd4 Nf5 26.Rd1 Kg8 27.Qf3 h5 28.h3 Rb8 29.Bc4 Ng7 A blunder in what is a lost position anyway. 30.Bxf7+ 1–0

Gopal-Dzagnidze Gibraltar 2011 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Re1 Rb8 10.Qf3!? Something a little unusual. 10...d4 11.Ne2 c5 12.c3 Bb7 13.cxd4 cxd4 14.Nf4 Another off-beat move by Gopal. It is not at all obvious where this knight is headed. 14...Qa5 15.Re2 Bd6 16.Qh3 There are big threats of 17 e5 and 17 Nxe6 but they are easily countered - or so it seems. 16...e5 17.Nd5 Nxd5 Perhaps not the best. 17...Nxe4!? 18.Bxe4 Bxd5 seems very solid for Black, even though he is still some way from castling. 18.exd5 Qxd5 19.f4 Kf8 19...Qe6!? 20.Bf5 Qc4 21.Rc2 Qd5 22.fxe5 leads to a minimal edge for White. 20.fxe5 Bxe5 Gopal-Dzagnidze 21.b3! White is close to deploying his remaining pieces but the h8 rook is far from becoming involved in the game. 21...Bd6 Black might like to try and find a refuge for his king with 21...g6 but 22.Bh6+ Bg7 23.Rf1! sets up unstoppable threats of 24 Bc4, etc. 22.Bc4 Qa5 23.Qd7 Qc7 24.Qxc7 Bxc7 25.Ba3+ Kg8 26.Re7 1–0 White has threats of Rxfc7 as well as a capture on f7.


Yarur Elsaca-Hanrahan Gibraltar 2011 (Challengers B, Round 2) Yarur Elsaca-Hanrahan Two recent issues of the bulletin have featured instances of illegal queenside castling, so we thought it appropriate to redress the balance and show you an example where castling queenside is a very, very good move indeed. Take a look at this: White threatens (a) mate on e7, (b) to take the rook on g8 and (b) f7+ forking king and rook. But fortunately Black has not yet moved either his king or the a8 rook, so 24...0–0–0! ... and all his problems are solved. If this were a 'How Good is Your Chess?' article (as featured in CHESS magazine), we would now say 'deduct 1,000 points if you chose any other move'. The game ended 25.Kb1 c3 26.b3 Qa3 0–1

Rounds 8 report by Stewart Reuben

Yesterday the sun shone beamishly. There was a wealth of competitive chess for the commentary room to consider: GM Simon Williams had the help there of GM Stuart Conquest, GM Nigel Short, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Jon Speelman, IM Alex Wohl, IM Jack Rudd and others in the room from time to time. People online who made valuable contributions included GM Peter Wells, IMs Richard Bates, Lawrence Cooper and Thomas Rendle. Peter Purland went off as usual to teach chess to local schoolchildren. The special evening event was team pairs, that is alternate moves by the two members of the team and no consultation. This event was visibly and audibly enjoyed by all who participated. In other words, it was another day in chess paradise at the Caleta Hotel.

Ivanchuk (6) v Roiz (5½) was the top board game. 19...Nxf4 seemed to favour Black, in the view of Simon Williams. But White recovered, Black got sloppy and eventually lost. Many thought his resignation was premature.

Ivanchuk-Roiz Gibraltar 2011 Ivanchuk-Roiz "No doubt your opponent would not resign here and, alas, nor would mine" (said Leonard Barden of a similar premature resignation). It is quite probable that White would win but most of us would require White to do some more work before lowering our colours.

Gopal (5½) v Short (5½) was a well-crafted game by the Englishman. Even so, he admitted he did not see 24…Qb4+ 25 Bd2 exd4! I must admit to a certain feeling of relish that even great grandmasters overlook things.

Gopal-Short Gibraltar 2011 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6 6.c3 Bf5 7.Nf3 Nd7 8.g3 Qa5 9.Bg2 Qb5 10.Nh4 Bg6 10...Bd3!? 11.b3?! e5 12.c4 Qb4+ 13.Bd2 exd4! at this point Nigel exclaimed "I didn't see that at all" - otherwise he would have played this very sweet combination. In fairness, White has other options here, such as 11.Qb3. 11.Nxg6 hxg6 12.Qb3 a6 13.d5 Nc5 14.Qxb5 cxb5 15.Ke2 Na4 16.h4 Bh6 17.f4 f5 18.Rb1 Bg7 19.Be3 0–0–0 20.Rhd1 Kb8 21.Rd3 Rd7 22.Kd2 Rc8 23.Bd4 Bxd4 24.Rxd4 Nb6 Gopal-Short 25.b3 25.Ke2 may have been better hereabouts, planning to defend the d-pawn with a further rook. 25...Rcd8 26.c4 e6 27.Bf1 bxc4 28.bxc4 Ka7 29.Bg2 exd5 30.cxd5 Nxd5 Inexorably, White's position has worsened and a pawn has been lost. 31.Bxd5 Rxd5 32.Rxd5 Rxd5+ 33.Ke3 Ra5 34.Kd4 A desperate attempt to carry the fight back to Black but it falls well short. 34...Rxa2 35.Ke5 Ra3 36.g4 fxg4 37.Kf6 g3 38.Rg1 38.Kxf7 g2 39.Rg1 Rg3 is hopeless. 38...Rf3 39.Kg5 a5 40.Kg4 Rc3 41.f5 a4 42.fxg6 fxg6 43.Kg5 Rc6 44.Rxg3 b5 0–1


Gopal vs Short

The young Italian-American Fabiano Caruana (5) gave a very cogent explanation of his game with Richard Rapport (5) where Black got squeezed off the board in a most delicate style. Many might think this is not the stuff of games which will be anthologised, but we disagree. It is very hard to believe that Caruana is the older player.

The one that got away - we think. Salome Melia missed a win near the end of her game with strong GM Daniel Fridman. Nonetheless she is still on course for a GM norm.

Fridman-Melia Gibraltar 2011 Fridman-Melia 33...Qxe3? Allowing perpetual check. Black can win with 33...c5! when, for example, 34.Kf3 Qh1+ 35.Ng2 Ng5+ 36.Kf2 Nh3+ 37.Kf3 Qf1+ wins. 34.Qf5+ Kg8 35.Qc8+ ½–½

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival | Masters | Round 8 Standings (top 40)
Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival | Masters | Round 8 Standings

Selection of games rounds 7-8

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Vassily Ivanchuk, still on top with two rounds to go

Photos © John Saunders & Zeljka Malobabic


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