Fans of the British TV comedy series Blackadder will probably recall the wonderful scene in which the eponymous hero Edmund Blackadder finds himself throwing a drunken party in one part of his house whilst playing host to his strictly teetotal uncle and aunt elsewhere in his home. Edmund’s attempts to impress his relatives with a display of moral rectitude and religious observance (with a view to inheriting their enormous wealth) are suddenly thrown into jeopardy when a reveller from the party suddenly bursts into the room where his aunt and uncle are staying and exclaims “Great booze-up, Edmund!” before reeling out again. Edmund attempts to explain this away to his shocked relatives by concocting a long story about a tribal chief called ‘Great Bu’ whom he says is staying elsewhere in the house, is suffering from sleeping sickness but has just risen from his bed. Hence his ludicrous interpretation of the drunken reveller's exclamation as “Great Bu’s Up”.
'The Great Bu' vs Victor Bologan
You are beginning to see where I am going with this, aren’t you, reader? Although ‘Great Bu’ was a fiction within a fiction in Blackadder, the name has become a reality here in Gibraltar and “Great Bu’s Up” is a pretty good headline for the event so far. The Chinese GM, who turned 22 last December, has so far turned in a phenomenal performance to score 7½/8. This is the best score recorded at this stage of a Gibtelecom Masters event and corresponds to a performance rating of 3022 for eight games so far.
Some people are starting to compare Bu’s run of form with Alexander Morozevich’s 9½/10 at the last Lloyds Bank Masters tournament in 1994. We shouldn’t be too surprised at the young man’s achievement so far. It is amazing to think that Bu Xiangzhi is only 22 but has already been a GM for the best part of a decade. He qualified for the title aged 13 years 10 months way back in 1999. Like many another prodigy, progress is not necessarily linear and his trajectory has come in fits and starts. But there is some evidence that he could be making another breakthrough to the next level. Last October he took part in a blindfold tournament in Bilbao alongside Topalov, Carlsen, Karyakin, Polgar and Harikrishna, and raced to a score of 7½/10, a point and a half clear of the next player. Earlier, in July, he score 8/10 to finish head of a strong field at the Canadian Open in Ottawa.
Here in Gibraltar, Bu is a point clear of the field with two rounds to play. He has Black against Zahar Efimenko in round nine and a win would give him first place with a round to spare. Two draws would also guarantee him undisputed first place but such is the young man’s energy and determination that it wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to try and get it over and done with this afternoon.
Bu seems to have just the right style for this sort of event. He grinds away, hour after hour, and he is supremely calm and patient. There is a stillness about him. It is worth having a look at the amusing three-minute video clip of the tournament hall made by our Monroi operator Zeljka Malobabic and posted on our video page. In the foreground, with all the people rushing around the room, you can see Bu sitting calm as a cucumber at the board awaiting his opponent. Though the film has been cranked up to double speed, he somehow seems to remain at normal speed.
Anyway, now it’s over to our press officer Manuel Weeks, for his round-up of round eight play...
Former prodigy Bu Xiangzhi has had some remarkable results of late. Winning the Canadian Open and the Bilbao tournament ahead of Polgar and Topalov. Now he is within a stones throw of securing outright first at the Gibletelcom Masters. In the eighth round against Moldovian grandmaster Viktor Bologan he went in for a position known to theory as an endgame with a slight advantage in a Kings Indian fianchetto variation. Although 20.Rd3 seems to be new it was 22.Re3 with the idea of 23.Rd5 that won a pawn with continued pressure that decided the game. Here 23.Rd5 wins a pawn in broad daylight.
Efimenko vs Socko
Ukrainian GM Zahar Efimenko was within striking distance of Bu but could not make any progress against Polish GM Bartosz Socko who played an unusual French defence but was never in any danger. In the end it was Efimenko who had to force the repetition of moves to share the point. In the ninth round Efimenko will have white in what maybe the final attempt to stop the man from Beijing!
Simen Agdestein vs Tigran Petrosian
Simen Agdestein did what every chessplayer hates more then anything, blunder on move 40 and therefore the final move of the time control. After 40.K2, f4 Tigran Petrosian must have thought he was in complete control but the Norwegian legend is known as a fantastic fighter. Somehow Norwegian Simen Agdestein survived the position after 40…f4.
Viktorija Cmilyte beat Varuzhan Akobian
The womens prize is heating up with 2 rounds to play. Viktorija Cmilyte has gained the lead with a pretty game against US GM Varuzhan Akobian. In fact she liked it so much she has entered it for the best game prize which carries a one thousand pound reward for the best game played at the festival.
The critical position, after 17.b4, the natural ..,Nb7 looks terrible after 18.b5 so it is here that black had to think about 17..,e5 or 17..,f4 as an option. After this all the tactics worked in white favour, definitely a game to download and play through and enjoy.
Another women making her move was Slovenian top female Anna Muzychuk. She managed to win a pawn ending against Lithuanian GM Sarunas Sulskis with a nice trick in a pawn ending.
After the fatal error 32..,h5 white plays 33.f5! with a winning advantage.
The women’s prize is still unclear and as in previous years it will be the critical last round that will decide the winner amongst this strong female contingent of stars in Gibraltar.