Vallejo wins first Bahia Feliz

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Vallejo wins first Bahia FelizIt was a most unlikely scenario for the first Bahia Feliz tournament on the Gran Canaria island, but it happened anyway: tournament leader Paco Vallejo of Spain, undefeated in the first eight rounds, lost his last game with the white pieces and... runner-up Ilya Nyzhnyk (Ukraine) did the same. This way, Vallejo had a lucky escape as he finished clear first anyway, with 6/9, half a point more than the talented 14-year-old Ukrainian.

The first Bahia Feliz GM tournament was held May 12-21 in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands (also known as 'Canaries' or Canarias in Spanish). The group of seven islands and six islets is located just off the north-west coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. Gran Canaria is the third largest, after Tenerife and Fuerteventura.

Gran Canaria

The tournament took place in the Hotel Orquidea of the Bahia Feliz resort, on the south coast of the island. It was a 10-player, single round robin with quite an interesting field of players: Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain), Julio Granda Zuniga (Peru), Markus Ragger (Austria), Henrique Mecking (Brazil), Ilya Nyzhnyk (Ukraine), Gerald Hertneck (Germany), Stefan Bromberger (Germany), Stefan Kindermann (Germany), Ramon Mateo (Dominican Republic) and Sabrina Vega Gutierrez (Spain).

The field of players

The field of players in Gran Canaria

We'll repeat a paragraph from our May 13th overview report that explained where such an event, with among others the legendary Mecking and the youngest GM in the world Nyzhnyk, came from:

It’s sponsored by Roman Krulich, a chess player himself but also partner of the Munich Academy of Chess and the founder of the Munich Chess Foundation. This way Krulich has helped stimulating chess among children in the Munich region together with GMs like Hertneck and Kindermann, and now he decided it was time to make a contribution to the chess scene with a serious tournament. “Chess masters are top experts in their field and I think it’s important to create platforms where all chess lovers can admire their skills,” Krulich said in an interview with Hertneck. Applause!

Top seed Vallejo started with 2.5/3 against Kindermann, Mateo and Vega Gutierrez and then faced 14-year-old Nyzhnyk in the fourth round.

Vallejo-Nyzhnyk Gran Canaria 2011 Diagram 1

Nyzhnyk decides to trade the knight on d1 for his queen's bishop, but will soon regret this: 12... Bg4?! 13. Qg3 Bxd1 14. Rxd1 Nh5 15. Qg4 Nxf4

Diagram 2

16. Bc4! Focusing the attention to the weak f7 pawn. 16... Bc5+ 17. Kh1 O-O 18. Rd7 (More white squares have been weakened...) 18... Qc8 19. Bxf4 exf4 20. Rad1 White was clearly better and won easily.

Nyzhnyk recovered well and by the 8th round, the 14-year-old was in clear second place with 5.5/8, just half a point behind tournament leader Vallejo. The Spanish GM had announced before the last round that he would play for a win. "I always play to win," he said. He was extra motivated for his game against Granda, as a win would mean a jump to the 17th place in the world rankings. It wasn't meant to be.

Vallejo-Granda Gran Canaria 2011 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. Bg5 Vallejo played the Four Knights, hoping to catch his opponent in unknown territory. 7... Ne7!? This rare move was successfully played by Ponomariov in his game against Nisipeanu at the Kings Tournament in Bazna last year. "I never expected Granda to play this, almost without thinking," Vallejo said after the game. "It's the only line that really bothered me, and almost nobody plays it." 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. Ne2 f5 10. c3 Ba5 11. Bc4 Ng6 12. Ng3 fxe4 13. dxe4 Bb6 14. Nf5 Qf6 15. Ne3 c6 16. Kh1 Kh8 17. a4 a5 18. b4 Rg8 19. b5 Rg7 20. Rb1 Bc5 21. Rb2 Nf4 22. bxc6 bxc6 23. Re1 Bd7 24. Rb7

Diagram 3

24... Nxg2! 25. Nxg2 Bh3 26. Bf1 Rag8 27. Ngh4

Diagram 4

27... Qxh4 This wins as well, but 27...Rg1+! is in fact mate in four. 28. Rxf7 Rg2! 29. Rf8 Qxf2 30. Rxg8+ Kxg8 31. Re3 Bxe3 0-1


Vallejo-Granda, won in great style by the Peruvian GM

This game left the tournament winner with bitter sweet feelings after finishing a very intense period of tournaments, including his recent successes in Thailand and Azerbaijan. "In the last fifty games I played, I've only lost two, but now I will spend a couple of months pondering this defeat."

Julio Granda Zuniga

Julio Granda Zuniga, a world class player in the 90s and still a very strong GM

His displeasure would have been even greater if Nyzhnyk hadn't been caught by laboratory opening preparation by Mecking. The Brazilian GM was ruthless in the use of his advantage gained in the opening.

Nyzhnyk-Mecking Gran Canaria 2011 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. e3 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Re1 a5 11. Qe2 Be6 (11... Bg4 12. h3 Be6 13. b3 was the decisive game Gelfand-Grischuk, Candidates final (06) 2011) 12. Rd1 Bc4 13. Qc2 Nb4 14. Qb1 e5 15. a3 exd4 16. axb4 dxc3 17. Rxd8 Raxd8 The players were still following the game Leitao-Caruana, Khanty-Mansiysk OL 2010. This spectacular game was one of many played at the Olympiad with this Grünfeld, and probably got the Gelfand team prepare this variation very deeply with White for the Candidates matches. Poor Nyzhnyk, who is said to be looking for a good coach, wasn't aware of all this.

Diagram 5

18. Qc2? With 18. bxc3! White can hold the balance, as Caruana analysed last year: 18... Rd1+ 19. Bf1 Bxf1 20. Qc2 and here Black has nothing better than to take the draw. 18... axb4 19. Nd2 cxd2 20. Bxd2 Ra8 21. Rd1 Only here, in a position that's close to lost already, does Nyzhnyk deviate from the Leitao-Caruana game, but it didn't help him. Obviously Mecking did know all of the above, probably helped by the fact that Leitao is also from Brazil...

Ilya Nyzhnyk

14-year-old Ilya Nyzhnyk (Someone please help this huge talent to get his openings at a higher level!)

Henrique Mecking

The legendary Henrique Mecking beating a young opponent in the opening - shouldn't it be the other way around? :-)

Selection of games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Bahia Feliz 2011 | Final Standings

The winners of the first Bahia Feliz

The prize winners of the first Bahia Feliz

A group photo with all players and organizers

A group photo with all players and organizers

Photos © Gerald Hertneck & official website


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