Report compiled by Sean Hewitt with games annotated by Sunil Weeramantry.
The top board in the Gibtelecom Masters saw the two top seeds Peter Svidler and Vugar Gashimov slug it out. As both players are rated 2723 this was the strongest game ever played in Gibraltar. Svidler sacrificed his queen for a rook, bishop and pawn but could find no way to win what looked like a good position and the players had to agree a draw after 66 moves.
Peter Svidler v Vugar Gashimov
Board 2 saw Indian team mates Surya Ganguly (2614) and Pentala Harikrishna (2673) face off against each other. Black equalised early on and easily held the position to draw in 42 moves.
Surya Ganguly v Pentala Harikrishna
On board 3 the highest rated player from Switzerland, GM Vadim Milov (2669) took full advantage of the board 1 result by defeating the early leader, GM Vasilios Kotronias (2603). Milov has posted many tournament victories in his career, the most memorable being the 2005 Corsica Masters where he eliminated current World Champion, GM Viswanathan Anand. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0–0 5.Nge2 The Rubinstein variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence. 5...d5 6.a3 Bd6 7.c5 Be7 8.b4 Nbd7?! [This was previously played in Dmitry Gurevich-Dzindzichasvili, USA op, Fort Worth 1984. A more reliable idea for Black, one that has been used successfully by the world's strongest players including Kasparov, Anand and Topalov, is to place pawns on b6 and c6 before embarking on any adventure in the centre. In fact, the 2004 game Milov-Topalov, Ajaccio Masters rapid continued 8...b6 9.Nf4 c6 10.Be2 Nbd7 11.Bb2 bxc5 12.bxc5 Qc7 13.0–0 Rb8 14.Rb1 e5=] 9.Ng3 a5 The point of ...a5 is to secure queenside play by forcing a trade of pawns. But the immediate ...a5 without ...b6 allows White to keep the position closed to his advantage. 10.b5 e5 11.Be2 exd4 12.exd4 Re8 13.0–0 b6 14.c6² The queenside is now closed. 14...Nf8 15.f4 Ne6 [An alternative to developing the knight to e6 is 15...h6 16.f5 N8h7 17.Bd3 Bd6 18.Bf4 Qe7 19.Qd2 but it appears that Black's c8 bishop will suffer the same fate as in the game.] 16.Kh1 Ne4 17.Ncxe4 dxe4 18.Be3 Bf6
19.f5! The key move. Unless Black is able to eliminate this pawn later on, he will have to play the rest of the game without the services of two pieces. 19...Nxd4 20.Bc4 a4 [Black may have been concerned that White would lock down the queenside with a4, but this gives White a free attacking move on the other wing. It is not clear how Black should proceed as defending the f7 pawn with 20...Rf8 , for example, would still lead to a clear advantage for White after 21.Rc1 Be5 22.Qg4! Bxg3 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Qxg3 Qd6 25.Qxd6 cxd6 26.Rcd1 Rd8 27.Rd4± Ultimately, the immobility of the c8 bishop will seal Black's fate.] 21.Qh5+- Qe7 22.Bxd4 Bxd4
23.Rae1 [White gets his rook out of the line of fire but misses the most incisive continuation. 23.Nxe4! Bxf5 (23...Bxa1 24.Ng5 Bxf5 25.Rxf5+-) 24.Rxf5 g6 (24...Qxe4?? 25.Bxf7+ Kh8 26.Qxh7+ Kxh7 27.Rh5#) 25.Rxf7 gxh5 26.Rxe7+ Kh8 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Re1+-] 23...e3 24.Rf4 Rd8 25.h3 [Once again, White misses the sharpest line. 25.Rd1 Bf6 26.Rxd8+ Qxd8 27.Qxf7+ Kh8 28.Bd5 wins convincingly.] 25...Bc3 [Somewhat better is 25...Qf8 26.Rd1 e2 27.Qxe2 Re8 but the outcome will be no different after 28.Qxe8 Qxe8 29.Rfxd4 Bxf5 30.Nxf5+-] 26.Re4 Qf6 27.R1xe3 g6 28.fxg6 Kf8 Black decides to put himself out of his misery. 29.gxf7 1–0
Vadim Milov v Vasilios Kotronias
The last of the players on 5½/7 Josep Manuel Lopez Martinez (2540) and Alexander Beliavsky (2646) halved in 46 moves.
A familiar face creeping up the leader board is defending champion, GM Hikaru Nakamura (2699) of the USA. His exciting eighth round win against Israeli GM Vitali Golod (2575) propelled Nakamura into a seven-way tie for third place - just half a point behind the joint leaders - and could well be a contender for the £1000 best game prize. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Nb8 The Breyer Defence to the Ruy Lopez, a favourite of former World Champion, GM Boris Spassky, who visited Gibraltar in the early rounds of the tournament. 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.b3 Bg7 16.d5 The Ruy Lopez is well known for long theoretical debates. All this has been played many times before and has been studied extensively by members of the Israeli team. 16...Rc8 In the critical encounter between the Ukraine and Israel at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad, GM Michael Roiz played 16...Qe7 against GM Sergey Karjakin. Roiz helped Israel to a major upset by winning this game. 17.Be3 c6 18.c4 Nb6 19.Qe2 cxd5 20.cxd5 Nbxd5!? This idea of sacrificing a knight for two or three pawns was tried in a similar situation by another former World Champion, GM Mikhail Tal, against the German GM Wolfgang Unzicker back in 1960. 21.exd5 Nxd5 We have now arrived, by transposition, to the game Judith Polgar-Spassky, Budapest (match) 1993. 22.Rac1 [An attempt by Nakamura to improve on Polgar's 22.b4?! which gave Black ample compensation for the sacrificed piece after 22...Nxb4] 22...Nc3 23.Qd2 Nxa2 Black picks up the third pawn... 24.Ra1 Nc3 25.b4 ...but White fixes the b5/a6 pawn duo, temporarily taking Black's queenside majority out of the equation. 25...d5 26.Bb3 Qe7 [Black targets the b4 pawn. Instead, he might have tried 26...d4 27.Bh6 Bxf3 28.gxf3 Rc6 29.Ne4 Nxe4 30.Rxe4 with a complex game.] 27.Bh6 [Nakamura commented that he first entertained the idea of 27.Bc5 but rejected it on account of the exchange sacrifice 27...Rxc5 28.bxc5 Qxc5 with a position that he found difficult to assess accurately.] 27...Bh8
The critical position. It appears as though White is in some serious trouble. 28.Nxe5! Nakamura spent over 45 minutes on this move. 28...Bxe5 29.f4 Ne4? [This move looks natural but plays into White's hands. Black's best bet was to try 29...Qh4 but after 30.fxe5 Qxg3 31.Qd4 Re6 White can simplify with 32.Re3 Ne2+ 33.Rxe2 Qxb3 34.Qa7 . Then, Black will have to give up his queen for rook and bishop in order to ward off the mating attack 34...Qc3 35.Rc1 Qxc1+ 36.Bxc1 Rxc1+ 37.Kh2 Bc6 38.Qxa6 and the position is balanced.] 30.Rxe4! dxe4 31.fxe5 Qxe5 32.Rf1 Re7 [32...Rc4 33.Bxc4 bxc4 34.Qe3 appears to give White the better chances as he retains the extra piece.] 33.Rxf7! Rxf7 34.Qd7 Black can only watch helplessly as White begins winning back material. 34...Qe8 35.Qxb7 Rc4 36.Bxc4 bxc4 37.Qxa6 Rc7 38.Qd6 Rd7 [38...Re7 is met simply by the advance of the b-pawn. 39.b5 e3 40.b6 e2 41.Nxe2 Rxe2 42.b7 winning easily.] 39.Qc5 c3 This makes White's task even easier as two more of Black's pawns fall immediately. 40.Qc4+ Rf7 41.Nxe4 Qd8 42.Qxc3 Qb6+ 43.Qc5 There is no need to continue playing for mate when you can trade down into a winning endgame. 43...Qxc5+ 44.bxc5 Re7 45.Nd6 Re5 46.c6 Rc5 47.Nc8 Kf7 48.Na7 The c-pawn is unstoppable. 1–0
Hikaru Nakamura v Vitali Golod
Amongst those fighting for the £6,000 first prize available for the leading female player are Antoaneta Stefanova (2557) and Monika Socko (2449) who played each other today.
Stefanova,Antoaneta (2557) - Socko,Monika (2449) [A45]
Gibtelecom Masters Gibraltar (8.15), 03.02.2009
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c5 3.Bxf6 gxf6 4.d5 Qb6 5.Qc1 f5 6.g3 Bg7 7.c3 Na6 [In Akopian,V (2660)-Atalik,S (2595)/New York 1998/ black played 7...h5 and the game continued 8.h4 Qh6 9.e3 d6 10.Qc2 Na6 11.Qa4+ Bd7 12.Qb3 Nc7 13.Qxb7 Rc8 14.Nh3 0–0 15.Nf4 e5 16.dxe6 fxe6 17.Be2 e5 18.Nxh5 Kh8 19.c4 d5 20.cxd5 Qd6 21.Qb3 Rb8 22.Qc2 with white going on to win in 41 moves] 8.Bg2 Nc7 9.Nd2 Qh6 10.e3 10...0–0 11.Ne2 e5 12.a4 d6 13.b4 f4 14.gxf4 cxb4 15.cxb4 Na6 16.b5 Nc5 17.Ra3 Qg6 [Probably better was 17...exf4 18.Nxf4 Bf5 19.Nc4] 18.Rg1 exf4 19.Nxf4 Qh6 20.Ne4 Nxe4 21.Bxe4 Re8 22.Rc3 Bd7 23.Qb1 Kh8 24.Rc7 Rad8 25.Ne2 Qh4 26.Ng3 Re7 27.Qc2 Rde8 28.Rxb7 f5
29.Rxd7 With the removal of the light squared bishop the pawn on f5 falls when the pressure on black becomes impossible to defend 29...Rxd7 30.Bxf5 Rdd8 31.Be6 Already, the point is in the bag. There really is no good way left for black to play this positon. 31...Be5 32.Kf1 Rf8 33.Kg2 Rde8 34.f4 Bg7 35.Nf5 Rxf5 36.Qxf5 Qd8 37.Kf3 Rf8 38.Qh5 Qf6 39.Qg5 Qc3 40.Qe7 h6 41.Qxd6 1–0.
Stefanova is now tied with Nana Dzagnidze as the highest ranked female player. In the event of a tie after 10 rounds, the tie break is Tournament Performance Rating (TPR).
Antoaneta Stefanova (right) v Monika Sosko