Superb Ivanchuk wins in Havana

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Superb Ivanchuk wins in HavanaThanks to a marvellous start in the first half of the tournament, Vassily Ivanchuk managed to win the Capablanca Memorial for the 4th time in his career. Final report by IM Robert Ris from Havana, Cuba.

By IM Robert Ris

Whereas the first cycle was being dominated by Chucky, the second half of the tournament was Nepomniachchi's. With three consecutive wins he succeeded to close the gap to only half a point, two rounds prior to the end. His victories over Evgeny Alekseev and Lazaro Bruzon were mainly of technical value, while against Nigel Short the 20-year old Russian demonstrated once more his tactical abilities.

Nepomniachtchi took revenge for a tactical oversight he conducted in their first game, as this time it was Short who overlooked the back-rank mate motive. Ironically, the Englishman didn't seem warned enough, as during lunch before the game he praised his opponent to be 'a dangerous tactical beast'. Now he should know better!

Short-Nepomniachtchi, after 23.Bxg7 Re8 24.Qa1 Ne3 Nepomniachtchi-Short Black has been reluctant to recapture the bishop on g7 and instead launches a counterattack on the White king. 25. Rg1? Short commits a horrible blunder. Instead he should have played 25.Bd4 Bxg2+ 26.Kg1 Bxf1 (26...Nxf1 27.Rxg2) 27.Bxf1 Nxf1 28.Qxf1 Rxa2 when the game remains double-edged. 25...Nxg2 26.Rgxg2 Rxa2! 27.Rxa2 (27.Qxa2 Re1+ and mate; 27.Qc1 Bxg2+ simply wins material.) 27...Qxa2 28.Bf1 Bxg2+ and here White resigned in view of 29.Bxg2 Qxa1+ 30.Nxa1 Re1+.


The playing hall with the top boards

Being trailed by just half a point, Chucky felt it was the right time to clarify matters. In the penultimate round he obtained a solid edge right out of the opening against Bruzon which he duly converted on move 63. It seems the Ukrainian felt more comfortable in his Black games during the tournament, winning three of them, while against Dominguez he mishandled a promising positional exchange sacrifice. To draw the contrast, he must only have been content with his second round win over Alekseev, while in his other four White games his opponents weren't confronted with a difficult task.

A last-round win over Alekseev brought Dominguez on a shared third place, together with Short. With this victory he managed to save the Cuban honour, as his countryman Bruzon didn't win a single game in the entire tournament. Towards the end, Bruzon seemed to be running out of energy, which caused him three unnecessary losses in the second half. Alekseev's performance (3 out 10, 4 losses) was pretty uninspired as well, which resulted in a shared bottom place with Bruzon.


Alekseev vs Nepomniachtchi

The premier group became a triumph for local Yunieski Quesada with 6 out of 9, remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament. On one point distance he was followed by GMs Emilio Cordova, Ildar Khairullin and Holden Hernandez.

Curiously enough the Open was won by FM Hector Delgado Ramos (2414) with 8 out of 10, leaving numerous GMs and IMs behind him. Many Cuban players are simply underrated, as they don't all have the opportunity to go abroad for tournaments. This explains the high number of FMs, while they are actually playing at GM strength. The high level of the tournament was confirmed by the average rating of 2306 by a number of 110 participants!

The running campaign for the upcoming FIDE elections has also reached the Americas. Two weeks ago Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short (both supporting the Karpov team) visited Nicaragua, which was greatly covered in various national television programmes. This time Cuba took honours for current FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and his rival Anatoly Karpov, who both attended the last couple of days of the event.

Press conference

A press conference with Ilyumzhinov, Karpov and officials

In his speech Ilyumzhinov announced to donate 500,000 US$ from his own fund to organize two new events in the region: the Caribbean Cup and the Latin America Cup. A promising initiative, though like many other current FIDE events, we rather first see than believe whether it's going to take place at all.

The tournament got some extra glance when Ivanchuk joined a traditional Cuban dance during the closing ceremony. The long, standing ovation was certainly not misplaced for someone who is so passionated by the game and loves sharing his thoughts about it with everyone. A better compliment couldn't have been wished by the organisation, who despite the reduced financial possibilities still managed to bring an interesting field together.


Ivanchuk joining a traditional Cuban dance

Games rounds 6-10

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Capablanca Memorial 2010 | Elite Group | Round 10 (Final) Standings
Capablanca Memorial 2010 | Round 10 (Final) Standings


The view over Havana with on the left Malecón road and the Caribbean Sea


Hotel Riviera's beautiful pool


Chess fans following a game on an old demo board


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