The Importance of the Endgame!


Report compiled by Sean Hewitt with games annotated by Sunil Weeramantry. 


The 7th Gibtelecom Chess Festival is being again being played at the picturesque Caleta Hotel which overlooks Catalan Bay on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar.



The accelerated pairings used at Gibraltar meant that , even though 200 players were playing, there were a number of GM v GM clashes in Round 2.  Several of these games from the most prestigious open swiss in the world showed why you should always study your endgames as several games were decided by endgame technique (both good and bad).



On top board Russian superGM Peter Svidler (2723) had to negotiate a tricky pairing against Hungarian GM David Berczes (2513).


After black had played 48...Rc5 Berczes was faced the following position



The black c pawn looks pretty huge here.  After the Hungarian played 49 Rc2 the Russian SuperGM cashed in his advantage for a full point with 49...Kc6 50.Rc1 Kb5 51.Rb1 Rc8 52.e5 fxe5+ 53.Kxe5 Ra8 54.f6 Rxa2 55.Rf1 Ra8 56.f7 c2 57.Ke4 Rf8 58.Kd3 Rxf7 59.Kd4 0-1


Whilst on board 2 reigning champ Hikaru Nakamura faced the ever popular Swede Pontus Carlsson.


Carlsson playing black has just played 32...b5.  What was Nakamura's reply?  What would you have played?



Nakamura played the remarkable 33.Re1! [How many players would have considered swapping into this opposite coloured bishop ending? Nakamura has clearly judged that his 4 v 1 kingside majority is irresistible, whilst believing that he can hold the queenside] Rxe1 34.Kxe1 Kf7 35.Bc3 Ke6 36.f5+ Kd5 37.Kd2 Ba2 38.h4 Bb1 39.h5 Kc6 40.Ke3 Kb6 41.f6 1-0

GM elect Keti Arakhamia-Grant was in trouble early on against India's Pentala Harikrishna

Harikrishna,Pentala (2673) - Arakhamia-Grant,Ketevan (2500) [E92]

Gibtelecom Masters Gibraltar (2.4), 28.01.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 Ng4 8.Bg5 f6 9.Bc1 Nc6 10.d5 Ne7 11.h3 Nh6 12.h4 Nf7 13.h5 f5 14.hxg6 Nxg6 15.Qc2 f4 16.Bd2 a6 [Black has a terrible score in the games that have reached this position.  Damljanovic,B (2559)-Nevednichy,V (2582)/Novi Sad 2000/ continued 16...c5 17.dxc6 bxc6 18.c5 d5 19.Bd3 d4 20.Na4 Bf6 21.0-0-0 Kg7 22.Rdg1 Ng5 23.Nxg5 Bxg5 24.b3 Qe7 25.Bc4 Bg4 26.f3 Bd7 27.Be1 Rh8 28.Rh5 Be8 29.Rgh1 Nf8 30.R5h2 Nd7 31.Kb1 and was drawn after 58 moves, whilst 16...Ng5 17.Nxg5 Qxg5 18.g3 Qf6 19.0-0-0 Bd7 20.Kb1 a6 21.Bc1 Rab8 22.Rh2 b5 23.Rdh1 h6 24.Rg1 b4 25.Nd1 c6 26.Qa4 Be8 27.dxc6 Ne7 28.gxf4 Nxc6 29.Bh5 Bxh5 30.Qxc6 Rbc8 31.Qd5+ Bf7 32.Qd2 Bxc4 33.f5 was played in Popov,V (2545)-Solovjov,S (2430)/St Petersburg 2001 which white won after 41 moves) 17.0-0-0 Bd7 18.Rdg1 b5 19.g3 Qf6 20.Bd3 Nh6 21.gxf4 Nxf4 22.Ng5 b4 23.Ne2 c5[The final mistake, but it was difficult to see how black could survive anyway after 23...Nxe2+ 24.Bxe2 Kh8 25.Rg2 a5 26.Rgh2] 24.Nxf4 exf4



25.Nxh7! The point. Of course, the knight cannot be taken du to the resultant deadly discovered check. 25...Qd4 26.Rxh6 1-0


Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov (2657) faced English IM Lawrence Trent (2487).  The Englishman had the better of the game early on, sacrificing material, but eventually his attack petered out and an interesting K+2N+B -v- K+R+2P was reached after black played 62...Ra5

The game continued 63.Nxf4 Ra7 64.Bc6 Ra6 65.Bd5 Ra5 66.Kf2 Rxd5! Simplifying into a book win for white - but not one that can be won in 50 moves with best play!! 67.Nxd5 Kg6 68.Nh4+ Kg5 69.Kg3 h5 70.Kh3 Kh6 71.Kg2 Kg7 72.Kf3 Kf7 73.Ke4 Ke6 74.Kd4 Kd6 75.Nb4 Ke6 76.Nd3 Kd6 77.Ne5 Ke6 78.Nc4 Kf6 79.Nd2 Ke6 80.Ne4 Kd7 81.Kd5 Kc7 82.Kc5 Kd7 83.Ng5 Ke7 84.Kd5 Kf6 85.Ngf3 Ke7 86.Ne5 Kf6 87.Neg6 Kg5 88.Ke5 Kg4 89.Kf6 Kg3 90.Kf5 Kf2 91.Ke4 Kg3 92.Kf5 Kf2 93.Nf4 Kg3 94.Nfg2 Kf2 95.Kf4 Ke2 96.Ke4 Kd2 97.Kd4 Kc2 98.Ne3+ Kd2 99.Nf1+ Ke1 100.Ng3 Kd2 101.Ne4+ Ke2 102.Nd6 Kd2 103.Nc4+ Kc2 104.Na5 Kd2 105.Nb3+ Ke2 106.Nc5 Kf2 107.Ne4+ Ke2 108.Ng3+ Kd2 109.Nf1+ Ke1 110.Ng3 Kd2 white has made no progress ½-½


England's David Collier (2083) will be delighted to have beaten Qatari IM Hussein Aziz Nezad (2403), also as black.  Collier played 70...Ra2+ and must have been counting the half point, and wondering what to have for dinner.

He must have been amazed at whites reply of 71 Kc3?? [white draws trivially after 71 Ke1] and won with 71...Rxa7! 72 Re8 Ra1 1-0


One of the more interesting struggles took place a few boards away as the 2003 co-champion, Greek GM Vassilios Kotronias (2603) was pitted against the veteran Spanish GM, Juan Bellon Lopez (2440). 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 This position has been played by many of the world's elite players including World Champion Anand and former World Champions, Kasparov and Kramnik. 8...b5 [Bellon Lopez chooses the road less travelled. The immediate 8...Bb4 is more popular by far.] 9.f3 Bb4 10.Nb3 Ne5 11.Qe1 Rb8 12.Qg3?! [Although this gets White out of the pin, his queen turns out to be more vulnerable on g3. It would have been preferable to play 12.a3 Be7 13.f4 Nc4 14.e5 with good chances.] 12...0-0 13.Bd4 Bd6 14.f4 Nh5 15.fxe5!? [Kotronias realizes that his best practical chance is to surrender his queen for three minor pieces as the alternative 15.Qh4 Nxf4 leaves him down a pawn for no compensation in light of 16.Qxf4?? Nd3+ winning.] 15...Nxg3 16.exd6 Qxd6 17.hxg3 Qxg3



A difficult position for both sides. White does not have any immediate targets to attack. Black, however, will need some time to activate those rooks.18.Rh3 Qg5+ 19.Be3 Qe5 20.g3 Qc7 21.Bf4?! [A more accurate continuation would have been 21.Bc5 Rd8 22.Bd6 Qa7 23.a3 Bb7 24.Bxb8 Qxb8 25.Nc5 with sufficient compensation for the queen.] 21...Qb6 [Black should not have feared 21...e5 as 22.Nd5 Qd8 23.Be3 d6 24.Rh4 f5 assures him a comfortable game.] 22.Nc5? [White overplays his hand. The direct 22.Bxb8 Qxb8 23.a3 is better.] 22...e5 23.Bxe5 Qxc5? [Black returns the favour by missing the powerful 23...d6! 24.Bxd6 Rd8 25.Bxb8 Rxd1+ 26.Kxd1 Bxh3 27.Bxh3 Qxb8 when White's minor pieces are no match for the versatility of Black's queen.] 24.Bxb8 d6 25.Bxd6 Qe3+ 26.Kb1 Bxh3? [The game would have still been in the balance had Black seen 26...Bg4 27.Rc1 Bxh3 28.Bxh3 Ra8] 27.Bxf8 Now it is White that holds the upper hand. 27...Qg5 28.Rd5 Qf6 [White's rook cannot be allowed to get to the eighth rank. 28...Qxg3? 29.Rd8 Qc7 30.Be7+ Qxd8 31.Bxd8 Bxf1 32.e5 lets White have all the fun.] 29.Bxh3?! [Even more convincing is 29.Bc5 Qxf1+ 30.Rd1 Qf6 31.Nd5+-] 29...Kxf8 30.a3 Qf3 31.Bc8 Qxg3 32.Bxa6 g5 33.Bxb5 h5 34.Ne2 Qe3 35.Nd4 Qxe4 36.Bc6 Qf4 37.b4 h4 38.Nf5 Kg8 39.b5 Qc7 40.Rd7 Qa5 41.Kb2 h3 42.Nh6+ Kg7 43.Nxf7 h2 44.Ne5+ Kg8 45.Bd5+ Kf8 46.Rf7+ Ke8 47.Bc6+ Kd8 48.Rd7+ Kc8 49.Bb7+ 1-0


Frits Obers (2107), a regular visitor to Gibraltar from The Netherlands will be pleased with his effort today when he drew with the black pieces against Spanish GM Gabriel Del Rio (2532).