Morozevich Wins Barcelona Masters

Morozevich Wins Barcelona Masters

GM Alexander Morozevich emerged victorious on tiebreaks (more games played with Black) ahead of a competitive field at the 20th annual Barcelona Masters. GM Axel Bachmann finished second on tiebreaks and won his individual encounter with Morozevich.

The tournament was a six-player round-robin hosted by the Catalonia Chess Federation from November 4-8. GM Alexander Morozevich, famed for his combative and interesting play, was the top seed in the tournament.

In rating order, the full field included GM Bachmann as well as GM Csaba BaloghGM Karen Grigoryan, GM Marc Narcisco Dublan, and IM Hipolito Asis.

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The tournament was held in the offices of the Catalonia Chess Federation concurrently with a youth tournament. All photos courtesy of the official site.

The final round saw the tournament leader Morozevich squaring off against Bachmann. Morozevich had +2 while Bachmann had drawn all of his games. In addition to the tournament stakes, the Russian GM could hope to push his Elo back above 2700.

The tournament organizers must be thrilled by Morozevich's participation as he played in three of the four decisive games.

In the last round, his fighting spirit was on full display, but for once in the tournament it backfired. After a bad opening, Morozevich sought complications with 21...f5. A similar strategy allowed him to triumph from a losing position in round one against IM Asis.

However, in the final round, Bachmann was more than up to the challenge, and his pieces infiltrated quickly and effectively on the weakened kingside squares.

[Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov.]

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GMs Morozevich and Bachmann prepare for their last round battle.

It is often said that it is better to be lucky than good. Both victors needed some luck to reach the winners' podium. Bachmann's luck came against GM Narcisco Dublan where he escaped with a draw despite Narcisco Dublan being winning in the final position. Viewers of GM Alex Yermolinsky's recent Chess.com series on knight endgames will find the key idea familiar.

GM Balogh won the 2013 and 2014 Barcelona Masters tournaments. He might have hoped to repeat with a victory in the following game against Morozevich. The latter is known for his creativity in the opening; thus the move 1.b3 wasn't as surprising as it might have been.

The opening was effective and Balogh was under pressure for most of the game. However, Morozevich faltered near the time control with the uncharacteristically greedy 37.Rxa7. Balogh pounced with 37...Rd8!, but he then returned the error almost immediately.

In the end, Morozevich was able to hunt down Balogh's extra knight and reach a drawn endgame.

The tournament featured queen sacrifices in more than a quarter of the games! One of the interesting sacrifices was offered by GM Grigoryan as Black against Narcisco Dublan. Grigoryan soon regained the queen with forcing play and had excellent winning chances in the endgame, but Narcisco Dublan slipped the noose and escaped to a drawn rook ending.

The only non-GM in the field was IM Hipolito Asis. Asis earned his berth by winning the 2015 Championship of Catalonia. Despite his lack of title, he acquitted himself well, managing an even score even after being bamboozled in the following first round game against Morozevich.

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Asis currently has one GM norm to his credit. His performance here lifts him very near the 2500 FIDE rating that is a requirement of the title.

Asis redeemed himself by winning the tournament's only decisive game in which Morozevich did not play. In the following position, can you see Black's most effective winning strategy?

The finish is pleasantly reminiscent of the majestic 47...Bh3!! which Shirov played against Topalov in another Spanish tournament — Linares 1998.

In addition to the invitational round robin, the chess festivities also included two youth tournaments (U12 and U10 respectively), and a simultaneous display by GM Morozevich. In the twenty board simul, Morozevich won 17 games, drew two, and lost one to Daniel Romero Castejon.

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20 local players were selected by lot to play in the simul.

For their efforts, Morozevich and Bachmann each collected 1,750 Euros. Balogh and Asis won 950 Euros, and Grigoryan and Narcisco Dublan won 500 Euros.

2015 Barcelona Masters | Final Standings

# Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts
1 GM Morozevich, Alexander (2695)  phpfCo1l0.png 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/5
2 GM Bachmann, Axel (2601) 1  phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ ½ 3.0/5
3 GM Balogh, Csaba (2645) ½ ½  phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ ½ 2.5/5
4 IM Asis Gargatagli, Hipolito (2483) 0 ½ ½  phpfCo1l0.png 1 ½ 2.5/5
5 GM Grigoryan, Karen H. (2616) ½ ½ ½ 0  phpfCo1l0.png ½ 2.0/5
6 GM Narciso Dublan, Marc (2529) 0 ½ ½ ½ ½  phpfCo1l0.png 2.0/5
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