John Saunders reports: The pace hotted up in the third round of the 2010 Gibtelecom International Chess Festival as the leaders were whittled down to three, consisting of an Englishman, a Frenchman and a German (sounds like the start of a tired old music-hall joke but we’re being deadly serious here).
The Englishman is Michael Adams, who was the long-time English number one – and indeed the world number four for some time in the 2000s. Nigel Short took back the English number one spot a few months ago but Michael Adams’ recent fine run of form may seem him regain the top spot and also his 2700 rating status. In the tournament so far Michael has beaten Woman Grandmaster Dagne Reizniece, Indian International Master (and also Woman Grandmaster) Harika Dronavalli and now Greek Grandmaster Stelios Halkias.
Michael Adams - 3/3 (photo Zeljka Malobabic)
The Frenchman is Laurent Fressinet, who has beaten Belgian International Master (and Woman Grandmaster) Anna Zozulia, German Grandmaster Sebastian Siebrecht and Greek International Master Spyridon Kapnisis. 28-year-old Laurent was to come to Gibraltar with his chess (and poker) playing wife Almira Skripchenko but Almira unfortunately had to drop out. Laurent seems to be doing very well in her absence.
Laurent Fressinet (photo John Saunders)
The German Grandmaster sharing the lead with Michael Adams and Laurent Fressinet is Jan ‘Gusty’ Gustafsson, who only entered the tournament field very late in the day. So far Jan has beaten Gordon Andre, also of Germany, International Master Drasko Boskovic of Serbia and Georgian Grandmaster Nana Dzagnidze who, incidentally, won the Gibtelecom Festival women’s first prize in 2009. In tomorrow’s fourth round games Laurent Fressinet will have the advantage of the white pieces against Michael Adams, while Jan Gustafsson will have the black pieces against Grandmaster Paco Vallejo Pons, who heads the Spanish contingent in Gibraltar.
Jan Gustafsson (photo John Saunders)
One of the joys of open competition is the element of surprise when an unfancied player stands up to a seasoned grandmaster. The third round of the Gibtelecom Festival had a wonderful example of this (in fact, it was quite reminiscent of the third round of the English FA Cup which also throws up amazing upsets). Ivan Cheparinov is a very strong grandmaster from Bulgaria who has been rated above 2700 and spends most of his time seconding former FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov at major events. In a few months he will almost certainly be the leading figure in Topalov’s support team when he challenges current World Champion Vishy Anand for the World Chess Championship.
But today Cheparinov faced a humble amateur – 31-year-old Victor Havik from Norway. Victor doesn’t have a chess title and his rating (whisper it softly) is even lower than the current writer. And I haven’t pushed a pawn for a few years now. With a 567 rating difference this should have been a walk in the park for the higher rated player. But maybe the Norwegian amateur had one thing going for him – the Magnus Carlsen factor. Norwegian chess has had an almighty shot in the arm with the advent of the teenaged genius.
Victor Havik (left) and Ivan Cheparinov (photos John Saunders)
It was a very long game but Victor kept Ivan at bay for more than six hours. Even so, wise heads were still predicting ultimate victory for the Bulgarian when Victor found an improbably beautiful queen sacrifice. It didn’t win the game (that would have been too much of a fairy story) but it did hold a draw.
8th Gibraltar Chess Congress Gibraltar, Round 3, 28.01.2010
Ivan Cheparinov - Victor Havik
In fact, other moves should also hold a draw but super-grandmasters have a way of playing on and winning if you allow them to play on and on. The beauty of this move is that it is forcing.
Some incredulous spectators, watching the game on the electronic chess displays scattered around the hotel, though that Black had taken leave of his senses and thrown away the game.
62...Ng4+ 63 Kh3 Nf2+ 64 Kh2 Ng4+ 65 Kh3
If 65 Kh1, Black simply plays a perpetual check with 65...Nf2+, etc, and if White were rash enough to try escaping the checks with 66 Kg1?? then Black would even win with 66...Ne4+, discovering a check on the king and winning the queen for nothing.
65...Nf2+ 66 Kh4
Now for the clever sting in the tail...
Now White has no choice but to play 67 Kxg5 when 67...Ne4+ forks king and queen. Then, after 68 Kf4 Nxd6 69 Ke5 Nxc4+ 70 Kd5, the king eliminates the final pawn and secures a draw.