It is perhaps fitting that, after six rounds of the Gibtelecom Chess Festival, a Slovenian player leads the way? Why? Well, the main sponsor Gibtelecom is half owned by the Gibraltarian government, but also half-owned by Telekom Slovenije, the main telecom company in Slovenia!
The top two boards both saw decisive results and, coincidentally, both featured instructive rook and pawn endgames. On board 1, former World Junior Champion, Slovenian GM Alexander Beliavsky (2646) demonstrated his technical prowess against the co-leader, Greek GM Vasilios Kotronias (2603) to take the full point and move into clear first.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.0–0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nbd7 9.a3 Ba5 10.Qd3 a6 11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.Qxd8 Bxd8 13.b4 Nce4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Bb2 b5 16.Bd3 Bb7 17.Rfc1 Bd5 18.Ne5 f6 19.Nc6 Nd2 20.Rc2 Nc4 21.Nxd8 Rfxd8 22.Bd4 e5 23.Bc5 e4 24.Be2 Ne5 25.Bd4 Bb3 26.Rc7 Bc4 27.Kf1 Rac8 28.Bxe5 Bxe2+ 29.Kxe2 fxe5 30.Rd1 Rxc7 31.Rxd8+ Kf7
32.Rd6 Rc2+ [Passive defence with 32...Ra7 should be a matter of last resort as it allows the opponent the freedom to manoeuvre at will. Although White's king does not presently have a clear path to enter the game, a judicious trade of pawns in the centre will expose the weakness of Black's remaining centre pawn.] 33.Ke1 Ra2 34.Rxa6 Ra1+ 35.Kd2 Ra2+ 36.Kc3 Rxf2 So far, Black is handling his defence accurately. 37.a4 bxa4 38.b5 White's passed pawn appears more dangerous at first as his king is well placed to stop his opponent's rook from attacking the pawn from behind. 38...Re2 39.Rxa4 Rxe3+ But Black chooses the right plan by eliminating White's e3 pawn and creating a passed pawn of his own. 40.Kc4
40...Rd3?? [An unfortunate mistake. The correct strategy would have been to create more space for the rook to operate from behind enemy lines with 40...Re1 . Then, the advance of White's b-pawn could be countered by the advance of Black's e-pawn creating a dynamic balance. For instance, 41.b6 e3 42.Rb4 Rd1 43.Rb2 (43.b7? Rd4+ 44.Kc3 Rxb4 45.Kxb4 e2 46.b8Q e1Q+–+) 43...Rd2 44.Rb1 e2 45.b7 e1Q 46.Rxe1 Rb2 47.Rxe5 Rxb7=] 41.b6 Rd8 42.Kc5 Rc8+ 43.Kd6 Rd8+ 44.Kc7 Rd2 45.Rxe4 Rxg2 46.Rb4 Rc2+ 47.Kd6 Rd2+ 48.Kxe5 Re2+ 49.Kd6 Rd2+ 50.Kc6 Rc2+ 51.Kb5 Rc8 52.b7 There is no stopping this pawn. 52...Rb8 53.Kc6 Black resigns. 1–0
Alexander Beliavsky v Vasilios Kotronias
On board 2, Azeri GM Vugar Gashimov (2723) and Swedish GM Emmanuel Berg (2606) manoeuvred their pieces around for a good 30 moves without any significant advantage to either player.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 exd4 5.Nxd4 Be7 6.Bd3 0–0 7.0–0 Re8 8.h3 c6 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.Nf5 Bf8 11.Bg5 Ne5 12.Ne3 b5 13.a3 Bd7 14.Nf1 h6 15.Bh4 a5 16.Nd2 Be7 17.Bg3 Qb6 18.Bf1 Rad8 19.Kh1 Bc8 20.f4 Ng6 21.Bd3 Nd7 22.a4 b4 23.Ne2 Bf6 24.Rb1 Qc7 25.Rf1 Nc5 26.b3 Ba6 27.Bxa6 Nxa6 28.Bf2 c5 29.Bg1 Nb8 30.Ng3 Nc6 31.Qg4 Qd7 32.Qxd7 Rxd7 33.Rbd1 Bd4 34.Nc4 Nge7 35.Rfe1 Bxg1 36.Kxg1 Nd4
37.Rd2 Nd5? [Black chose to make this rather extravagant move. It is difficult to see how White could make any progress if Black were to play more conservatively with 37...Nec6 38.Re3 g6 39.Kf2 Kg7=] 38.Nf5 Nxf5 39.Rxd5 This indirect trade of knights allows White to exert more pressure on Black's weak d-pawn. 39...Nd4 40.Nxd6 Re6 41.e5 Nxc2 [Instead, Black might have tried 41...f6 42.Re4 fxe5 43.fxe5 Kh7 but White's better rook position and more active king give him excellent winning chances. 44.Rg4 Rc7 45.Nb5 Nxb5 46.axb5 Rb6 47.Kf2 Rxb5 48.Ke3 Rb8 49.Rc4 Rbc8 50.Ke4 Kg6 51.Rd6+ Kf7 52.Kd5±] 42.Rb1 Nd4 [42...Rc7 does not save the c-pawn. 43.Rc1 Ne3 44.Rdxc5 Rxc5 45.Rxc5+-] 43.Kf2 Nf5 44.Rbd1
44...Nxd6 Tradng off the second set of knights only helps White reach a strategically winnning rook and pawn endgame. 45.exd6 g6 46.Rxc5 Rexd6 47.Rxd6 Rxd6 48.Ke2! White denies Black any entry squares along the d-file. As passive defence of the a6 pawn will lose in the long run once the White king invades through c4 and b5, Black has to seek whatever counterplay he can find. 48...Re6+ 49.Kd2 Rd6+ 50.Kc2 Re6 Black threatens to penetrate to e2, but it is too late. 51.Rxa5! White is more than happy to jettison a kingside pawn or two in return for obtaining connected passed pawns on the other side. 51...Re2+ 52.Kd3 Rxg2 53.Rb5 Rg3+ 54.Kc4 Rxh3 55.a5 h5 56.a6 The White pawns are faster. Black resigns. 1–0
Gashimov v Berg
Joining Gashimov in second place on 5/6 is Boris Avrukh after he defeated Pia Cramling nicely in a Queen and Pawn ending. Then an amazing 17 players are tied on 4½/6. Socko and Svidler played out an interesting draw in 32 moves, whilst Nakamura's conqueror Arnaud Hauchard gained another good result, this time a draw with Vadim Milov (53 moves). Del Rio v Berkes and the all Israeli clash between Roiz and Golod both ended in draws after 31 moves.
However, the game on board 12 between many time US Women's Champion, IM Irina Krush (2457) and Indian GM Sandipan Chanda (2568) was a long awaited rematch from Gibraltar 2007. In the last round of that tournament, Irina had needed only a draw for her second GM norm and for a share of the Women's prize. Chanda defeated Irina to rob her of both. Could revenge be in the air? 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 0–0 5.f4 The Four Pawns Attack against the King's Indian Defence. Irina is out for blood! 5...d6 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 The aggressive line, inviting complications with 9...Re8 10.e5 9...Bg4 But Sandipan decides to sidestep into a more sedate variation. 10.0–0 Nbd7 11.Re1 Re8 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 a6 14.a4 Rb8 15.Be3 [The most popular alternative is 15.a5 . Irina selects a move that has not met with much success in the past.] 15...b5 16.axb5 axb5 17.Bf2 b4 18.Na4 Nb6 19.Nxb6 Qxb6 20.e5
20...Nd7? [It would be better to trade pawns before retreating the knight so that the e5 square would be available to the knight when attacked. 20...dxe5 21.fxe5 Nd7 22.e6 Ne5] 21.e6 Nf8 Suddenly, Black's knight is confined to the back rank. 22.Qe2± Qc7 23.Ra6 Qe7 24.Bg3 f5?! Releasing the tension makes it more difficult to get the knight back into action. 25.b3 Ra8 26.Qb5 Bd4+ 27.Kh2 h5 28.Re2 h4 29.Be1 Rab8 30.Qc6 Rec8? [More accurate is 30...Red8 31.Kh1 Rbc8 32.Qa4 . Sandipan sacrifices a pawn hoping to create winning chances by advancing his queenside majority.] 31.Qxd6 Qxd6 32.Rxd6 c4 33.bxc4 b3 34.e7 b2 35.Rxb2! An unexpected resource! Irina sacrifices an exchange to eliminate all of Black's pawns. 35...Bxb2 36.Bxh4 Ba3 37.exf8Q+ Kxf8 38.Rxg6 Rxc4 39.Rf6+ Kg7 40.Rxf5
and then there were none! 40...Bc5 41.Kg3 Rc2 42.Kg4 The avalanche of pawns and assorted pieces is too much to handle. Black resigns. 1–0
Krush v Sandipan - The Rematch!
Pairings round 7 (Monday, 02 February 2009)
|1||GM Gashimov, Vugar||5||AZE||2723||GM Beliavsky, Alexander G||5.5||SLO||2646|
|2||GM Harikrishna, Pentala||4.5||IND||2673||GM Avrukh, Boris||5||ISR||2645|
|3||GM Svidler, Peter||4.5||RUS||2723||GM Stefanova, Antoaneta||4.5||BUL||2557|
|4||GM Milov, Vadim||4.5||SUI||2669||GM Del Rio De Angelis, Salvad||4.5||ESP||2532|
|5||GM Kotronias, Vasilios||4.5||GRE||2603||GM Sokolov, Ivan||4.5||NED||2657|
|6||GM Berkes, Ferenc||4.5||HUN||2651||GM Lopez Martinez, Josep Manu||4.5||ESP||2540|
|7||IM Hammer, Jon Ludvig||4.5||NOR||2532||GM Roiz, Michael||4.5||ISR||2647|
|8||GM Golod, Vitali||4.5||ISR||2575||GM Socko, Bartosz||4.5||POL||2631|
|9||GM Gurevich, Mikhail||4.5||TUR||2624||GM Hauchard, Arnaud||4.5||FRA||2497|
|10||IM Krush, Irina||4.5||USA||2457||GM Ganguly, Surya Shekhar||4.5||IND||2614|
|11||IM Nemeth, Miklos||4||HUN||2472||GM Nakamura, Hikaru||4||USA||2699|
|12||GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime||4||FRA||2696||IM Zatonskih, Anna||4||USA||2462|