A Day in Gibraltar


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


The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is steeped in history - much of it military.  The name Gibraltar comes from the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq meaning "mountain of Tariq" named after the Berber Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial Moorish incursion into the Iberia peninsular in 711.  


The Battle of Gibraltar occurred in 1607 during the 80 years war, which saw the entire Spanish fleet destroyed by the Dutch in a little over 4 hours.  Then, in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession British and Dutch troops captured The Rock in the name of the Hapsburg claimant to the throne, Archduke Charles.  However, Gibraltar was eventually ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 - and has remained in British hands ever since.


Since then, Gibraltar has been the subject of many sieges but its geography makes its military capture difficult.  Indeed, The Rock was vital to the Allies Mediterranean and North African campaign in the second world war.  The Axis plans to take The Rock, codenamed Operation Felix, never came to fruition.

So perhaps it is fitting that a fighting game such as chess should find a home in Gibraltar - I'm sure that many players wish their defences were as impenetrable as The Rocks!


There are no players left on maximum points after Vassilios Kotronias drew with Michael Roiz.  But this was no "Grandmaster" draw as peace only broke out after 76 moves.  Slovenian GM Alexander Beliavsky joined Kotronias in the lead on 4½/5 by defeating Nana Dzagnidze by proving that his bishop was better than her knight in the endgame.  There are no fewer than 12 players just half a point behind the leaders.  Joining Roiz on 4/5 are Bartosz Socko and Vugar Gashimov (draw in 30) and Vitali Golod and Boris Avrukh (draw in 77).


Others made it to the 4 point score group in emphatic fashion. On board 7, Swiss GM Vadim Milov (2669) took advantage of some over-ambitious play by IM Mohamad Al Sayed of Qatar (2488) to score a resounding victory. 1.c4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg4 5.cxd5 Bxf3 6.gxf3 cxd5 7.f4 Nc6 8.Bg2 e6 9.0–0 Bd6 10.b3 A fairly pedestrian opening has brought about an even position. 10...Qa5 11.a3 d4?! While there is nothing wrong with this move, it does betray a certain reluctance on Black's part to castle short and continue to build his position patiently. 12.Ne2 d3 13.Ng3 h5 The second indication that Black may be looking for a quick knock-out. 14.Bb2 h4 15.Ne4 Nxe4 [Black would do better to pull back with 15...Be7 although White could well exploit Black's over-extended pawn structure with 16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 17.b4 Qb6 18.Bxf6 gxf6 19.Rc1 h3 20.Bxc6+ bxc6 21.Qf3 Rc8 22.Rc5] 16.Bxe4 Qb5 17.a4 Qa6 18.Rc1 f5 19.Bf3 White is in no hurry to trade on c6. 19...Rg8 20.Kh1



20...g5? White's patience is rewarded with another questionable pawn advance. [Had Black castled long, it is White who would have broken through first. 20...0–0–0? 21.b4 Bxb4 22.Qb3 Qb6 (22...Bd6 23.Qb5) 23.Qxe6+ Kb8 24.Rxc6! bxc6 25.Be5+ Kb7 26.Rc1 Rc8 27.Bd4 Qa6 28.Rxc6! winning.] 21.fxg5 Rxg5 22.Bf6 Rg8 23.Bxc6+ bxc6 24.Qh5+ The premature pawn advances have taken their toll. Black's king is defenceless. 24...Kf8 25.Rg1 Black resigns. 1–0


And on board 10, the highest rated Swedish player, GM Emanuel Berg (2606), scored a comfortable win against Theo Hommeles (2410) of the Netherlands. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 The Richter/Rauzer Attack. 7...a6 8.0–0–0 Bd7 9.f3 b5 10.Nxc6 Bxc6 11.Ne2 Rc8 12.Nd4 Bb7 13.Kb1 Be7 14.h4 h6 15.Be3 Nd7 16.g4 Ne5 17.Be2 Bxh4?!



[The more reliable continuation is 17...d5 18.exd5 Bxd5 19.Nf5 0–0=] 18.Rxh4!? An interesting exchange sacrifice that gives White active play. 18...Qxh4 19.Nxb5 0–0 [Black is worried about getting his king caught in the centre. Still, 19...axb5 20.Qxd6 Nc4 21.Qd7+ Kf8 22.Qxb7 Rd8 23.Rxd8+ Qxd8 would let his king reach safety.] 20.Nxd6 Rc7 21.c4 White is putting his faith in his queenside pawn majority and the pair of bishops. [21.Bf4 Ng6 22.Nf5 exf5 23.Bxc7 fxe4 24.fxe4 Bxe4 25.Ba5 is another option.] 21...Rd7 22.c5 Bc6?! [Black's best chance at counterplay lies in applying immediate pressure to the base of White's pawn chain with 22...Qh3 . This also sets up a combination based on the bishop check on e4 if White chooses to defend passively. 23.Rf1?! Rxd6 24.cxd6 Nxf3= Instead, White should opt for 23.Qc3 Qg2 24.Re1 Nxf3 25.Bxh6 gxf6 26.Bxf3 with a slight advantage.] 23.Bd4 Qh2 24.f4 Bxe4+ Black has no choice but to go for this forcing line. The resulting queen trade increases the power of White's connected passed pawns. 25.Nxe4 Nc6 26.Nd6 Nxd4 27.Bxa6 Qxd2 28.Rxd2 Nc6 29.Bb5



29...Rc7 30.Bxc6 Rxc6 31.b4± White judges correctly that the queenside pawns cannot be stopped. 31...Rb8 32.Rb2 Kf8 33.a4 Ke7 34.Kc2 h5 35.gxh5 Rh8 36.Kb3 Rxh5 37.a5 Rh4 It is too late. Nor would blockading the a-pawn have been any better as White will simply support his pawn advance with Kc4 and Kb5. 38.Ra2 Rxd6 39.cxd6+ Kxd6 40.a6 Rh8 41.Rc2 Drives the final nail into Black's coffin. 1–0

Two boards farther down, two of the strongest women players, GM Pia Cramling (2548) of Sweden and IM Jovanka Houska (2392) of England were locked in a titanic struggle which saw the following position appear after White's 47th move.



47...Nxa5 Black sees the opportunity to create a fortress and sacrifices her knight to eliminate two more pawns. 48.Qxa5 Rxf4 49.Qd2 g5 50.g3 Re4 51.Qb2 White is threatening to penetrate into f6 causing Black's position to crumble. Black prevents this with 51...d4 52.Kg2 Kg7 53.Kf2 e5?! [More accurate is 53...h5 54.Qb5 Kg6 55.Qe8 h4 56.Qg8+ Kf6 One way or other, Black will now seize control of f4 thereby completing the fortress.] 54.Qb7 Re3 55.Qe7 Re4 56.Qd7 Re3 57.Qc7 Kg8 58.Qc8+ Kh7? [White would find it impossible to make progress against correct defence after 58...Kg7 59.h4 gxh4 60.Qg4+ Kf6 61.gxh4 e4 62.Qf4+ Kg6 63.Qd6+ (63.h5+ Kxh5 64.Qxf7+ Kg4 65.Qd7+ Kg5 66.Qxd4 Rf3+ 67.Ke2 Kf5 68.Qd5+ Kf4 69.Qd6+ Kf5 70.Qxh6 Ke5=) 63...f6 64.Qxd4 Rf3+ 65.Ke2 f5 Diagram # 66.Qd6+ Kh5 67.Qf6 f4 68.Kd2 Rf2+ 69.Kc3 e3 70.Kd4 e2 71.Qe7 f3=] 59.Qf8 Kg6 60.Qg8+ Kf6 61.Qh7 Ke6 62.Qxh6+ The loss of this pawn is critical as White can now create a passed h-pawn. 62...f6 63.Qf8 e4 64.Qe8+ Kd6 65.Qb5 Rc3 66.Qb4+ Kd5 67.Qb7+ Ke5 68.Qe7+ Kd5 69.h4 Rf3+ 70.Kg2 gxh4 71.gxh4 White's h-pawn is on its way. 71...d3 72.h5 Kd4 73.h6 d2 74.h7 Ke3 75.Qc5+ Ke2 76.Qc4+ Ke3 77.Qd5 Rf2+ 78.Kg3 Rf3+ 79.Kg2 Rf2+ 80.Kg1 Rf5



81.Qxf5! An elegant finish. Black ends up with an extra pawn but cannot stop the h-pawn from queening. 81...d1Q+ 82.Qf1 Qg4+ [82...Qh5 83.Qf2+ Kd3 84.Qg3+ Kd4 85.Qg7+-] 83.Kh2 Qg7 84.Qg1+ Black resigns. 1–0


Peter Svidler won nicely against Mikhail Gurevich, whilst French GM Arnaud Hauchard will no doubt be delighted to have defeated reigning champ Hikaru Nakamura.  GM Berkes and GM Del Rio also won to complete the twelve on 4/5


Caleta Hotel, Venue of 7th Gibtelecom Chess Festival
Caleta Hotel, Venue of 7th Gibtelecom Chess Festival


 Plaque Commemorating Operation Torch, the Allies campaign in North Africa
in which Gibraltar was key


Some things in Gibraltar have a distinctly British look!


Although the main street is definitely Mediterranean.


Round 6 Games

Table White Score Fed. Rating Black Score Fed. Rating
1 GM Beliavsky, Alexander G 4.5 SLO 2646 GM Kotronias, Vasilios 4.5 GRE 2603
2 GM Gashimov, Vugar 4 AZE 2723 GM Berg, Emanuel 4 SWE 2606
3 GM Socko, Bartosz 4 POL 2631 GM Svidler, Peter 4 RUS 2723
4 GM Hauchard, Arnaud 4 FRA 2497 GM Milov, Vadim 4 SUI 2669
5 GM Del Rio De Angelis, Salvad 4 ESP 2532 GM Berkes, Ferenc 4 HUN 2651
6 GM Roiz, Michael 4 ISR 2647 GM Golod, Vitali 4 ISR 2575
7 GM Avrukh, Boris 4 ISR 2645 GM Cramling, Pia 4 SWE 2548
8 GM Berczes, David 3.5 HUN 2513 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 3.5 FRA 2696
9 GM Harikrishna, Pentala 3.5 IND 2673 IM Cmilyte, Viktorija 3.5 LTU 2497
10 GM Sokolov, Ivan 3.5 NED 2657 IM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 3.5 SCO 2500
11 GM Gurevich, Mikhail 3.5 TUR 2624 IM Kiik, Kalle 3.5 EST 2466
12 GM Dzagnidze, Nana 3.5 GEO 2518 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.5 USA 2619
Caleta Hotel