Mamedyarov, Naiditsch, Vachier-Lagrave eliminated in San Sebastian

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Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Arkadij Naiditsch and Vachier-Lagrave were the strongest names that didn't manage to reach the 4th round of the San Sebastian-Donostia Chess Festival's A group. They continue playing in the B group, while Vugar Gashimov and Ruslan Ponomariov are still the favourites to win the first prize of 20,000 Euro and an electric motorbike. 

Vugar Gashimov eliminated Konstantin Landa in round 4 | All photos © David Llada and Anastasiya Karlovich

EventDonostia Chess Festival | PGN via TWIC
DatesDecember 28th-January 5th, 2011
LocationDonostia-San Sebastian, Spain
System64-player knock-out, matches of two games played simultaneously
PlayersGashimov, Mamedyarov, Ponomariov, Moiseenko, Bacrot, Naiditsch, Dominguez and Vachier-Lagrave are topping the list
Rate of play2 hours for all moves + 30 seconds increment

By Anastasiya Karlovich

B group

The players who had been knocked out from the A group joined the players from B group and had to play the third round of the B-tournament on Saturday morning, 31st of December. Few GMs who lost their chances to stay in A group cancelled their participation. Top seed of the B-tournament GM Loek Van Wely had a rest day because of odd number of participants.

The third round didn’t bring too many surprises – most of rating favourites defeated their opponents. The match Sarkhan Gashimov-Sergey Fedorchuk was an intense struggle. The Azeri player, brother and manager of Vugar Gashimov, made two draws and even had chances to finish the match in his favour as in the second classical game he had promising position with an exchange up. The match was decided on tie-breaks – Sergey Fedorchuk was stronger in rapid and won the match with a 1.5-0.5 score.

Sarkhan Gashimov almost beat Sergey Fedrochuk

Alejandro Hoffman won against Nicolas Brunner, also in rapid. French players Fabien Libiszewsky and Axel Delorme made two quick draws in their classical games and let the match to be decided on tie-breaks. Eventually the needed a Armageddon game as all rapid and blitz matches were drawn too.

Armageddon games also consist of two blitz games, played simultaneously! Libiszewsky had the black pieces and 5 minutes in both games against his compatriot, who had White with 6 minutes - he needed to score 1.5 points in the match in order to win. Delorme lost the first game on time and immediately resigned the second one as the match was already lost. Both players showed a very exciting performance.

The players who lost their matches this day were redirected to the C-tournament.

Round 4

After New Year’s Eve all players were ready to uncompromising battles again. In the A group only three matches were decided in classical games. Former top player Julia Granda Zuniga showed that he's still a dangerous opponent, and beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2-0. Alexander Moiseenko won against Kamil Miton 1.5-0.5 while Etienne Bacrot eliminated his compatriot Sebastian Maze. Three other matches were decided in the rapid games: Andrey Volokitin won against Arkadij Naiditsch and Viktor Laznicka defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Andrey Volokitin (l.) eliminated Arkadij Naiditsch

The closest battle by rating was Dominguez – Fressinet. This very tough match was finished in favor of the Cuban player. In the matches Gashimov – Landa and Ponomariov – Feller the opponents exchanged punches in the rapid games and then rating favorites Vugar Gashimov and Ruslan Ponomariov both won their blitz matches with a 2-0 score.

Ruslan Ponomariov won against Sebastien Feller in the spectacular double blitz session

Only 10 participants are left in the B group after the 4th round and all of them will play the last decisive matches on the 3rd of January. The players who lost on Monday were redirected to the C group. One of the top players of B group, Sergey Fedorchuk, unexpectedly lost 2-0 to Alejandro Hoffman.

Players continue sharing their thoughts about this new format of the event and the matches.

Julia Granda Zuniga:

It was a very tough match today because it’s very, very difficult to play simultaneously two games against such a strong player. I didn't prepare for my games and I received very bad positions in the openings, especially in the game with the white pieces. His position was almost winning but my opponent didn’t play precisely, so I held the position. In the second game I was slightly better but he took some risk and after that I got some edge. At that moment his time advantage was very big – I had only 5 minutes left in both games and he had one hour in each one. He offered draws in both games but I refused to accept it, thinking that my only chance to win can be with normal control because Shakhriyar plays even stronger in rapid and blitz.

Julio Granda Zuniga: too strong for Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

The tournament goes well for me so far, I didn’t expect such result. The funny thing is that when I play tennis I use both hands usually. Here I use one hand to make moves and another one to write them down at the score sheets. I’m satisfied with my result so I hope there will be more tournaments like this in the future.

Loek van Wely:

Once I participated in a tournament where we played on six boards at the same time and it was more like a simul. Some theoretical battles could even happen on some boards. It was much more important to play quickly there and put time pressure on your opponent. Still, it’s also kind of tricky to play on two boards. I believe it's better not to play fast here. You should not be distracted by your opponent who makes moves on the other board as well. Although, if there is an obvious move on the other board you can make the move quickly but in general it’s better to keep on thinking about your position. The only situation when it’s possible to switch all the time is when you have time trouble. In any case it’s not so simple somehow to play here.

I lost to Sebastian Maze in the previous round. We had two very tough games with normal time control and in the rapid it was even worse. It’s possible to play on “autopilot” but in those games it was difficult to calculate all the variations. I was better in one rapid game but I had to play accurately which was not easy to do with that time control. You look at one board, then at the other one and somehow you don’t see clearly any more.

In the B tournament's 4th round, Van Wely beat Santiago Gonzalez de la Torre 2-0

I believe people will like this format and we are going to see more tournaments with the Basque system. In my opinion it’s a fairer format. There is a chance to play against the same opponent with both colors. In open tournament you play with black against a weaker opponent and he is happy to make a draw with you, for example, while you have to win. I don’t know why weaker players are doing this, but many of them are just happy to make a draw with a stronger opponent and they don’t want to fight. Playing here I don’t care about this problem because I also have my game with the white pieces. If my opponent wants to make a draw with White I’ll be happy to make a draw but he is still going to suffer in the other game (laughing)! I also believe it’s good for chess because your opponent always has to show something if he wants to win.

Games A group, round 4

PGN file

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