2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival
Round 5 Report
John Saunders reports: And then there was one. Nigel Short is the sole leader of the Gibraltar Masters tournament at the halfway stage with 5/5. Today he defeated the second Kosintseva sister, Nadezhda, after beating her younger sister in round three. This puts the English grandmaster half a point ahead of top-rated Vassily Ivanchuk and Daniel Fridman going into round six.
One curiosity is that the Kosintseva sisters share more or less the same opening repertoire, so Nigel found himself again facing the Queen’s Gambit, Ragozin variation. Nigel is gradually coming round to the virtues of 1 d4 - "this becoming a habit ... 1 d4 is a better move because your pawn is protected". He refined his opening line (having decided that his play against Tatiana was slightly sub-optimal). Nigel’s switch to d-pawn openings seems to have changed his playing style and made him more positional. Whether that is true or not, the change seems to be working for him.
Yesterday we had Viktor against Viktor but today the game of the day was Vasilios against Vassily, i.e. Kotronias versus Ivanchuk. Vassily was the clear rating favourite but it was far from one-way traffic as the Greek grandmaster played positively from the start and was arguably winning at one stage. But it was very complex and later in the middlegame Vasilios went astray and blundered. Vassily (often known by his true Ukrainian name Vasyl) joined the audience in the commentary room immediately after his game and treated them to another entertaining session. He was very complimentary about Vasilios’s play. This could be a strong candidate for the best game prize.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0–0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0–0–0 Rb8 On his previous visit to this variation (it is well-known that Ivanchuk plays everything), Vassily played 10...Ne5 11.Bb3 Na5 12.Bh6 Bxh6 13.Qxh6 b5 The signature move of the so-called 'Chinese Dragon'. 14.g4 b4 15.Nd5 Nxb3+ 16.Nxb3! 16.axb3 Nxd5 17.exd5 e5 16...e5!? This has been played once before. 16...Nxd5 has been seen more frequently. 17.Ne3! Praised by Ivanchuk. 17.h4 Nxd5 18.Rxd5 Rb6 19.Rhd1 has been played before in a game in 2006. 17...Be6 18.h4 Kh8 A little joke from Vasyl. Both 19.h5 and 20.g5 lose the queen. 19.Qg5 Rb6 20.Na5!? Kg7 21.Nf5+ Bxf5 22.gxf5 Qc7 22...Nh5 23.Qxd8 Rxd8 24.Nc4 wins a pawn for White. 23.fxg6 23.h5 runs into 23...h6 . 23...fxg6 24.h5 Rc8 25.Rd2 Ra6 26.hxg6 h5 Forced. 27.Nb3 Rxa2
28.Kb1? 28.f4! was proposed by Simon Williams in the commentary room and Vassily agreed that this was excellent and maybe winning for White. 28...Ra6 29.Qf5 Now 29.f4 doesn't work because of 29...Nxe4 and the rook drops with check. 29...Qc4 30.Re1 Rc5!? 31.Rf2?! 31.f4! was still critical, according to Vassily. The problem is that 31...Rca5 (31...exf4 32.e5? (32.Qxf4) 32...Rxe5! 33.Rxe5 Qf1+ 34.Nc1 Qxc1+! 35.Kxc1 Ra1# is a beautiful mate.) 32.Nxa5 Rxa5 33.Rxd6 is winning for White. 31...Rca5! 32.Re3?? 32.Nxa5 Rxa5 33.f4 Qa2+ 34.Kc1 Qa1+ 35.Kd2 Qxb2; 32.f4 Ra1+ 33.Nxa1 Qa2+ transposes 32...Qd4! Suddenly White is lost. 33.Nxa5 Qd1+ 34.Ka2 Rxa5+ 35.Kb3 Qa1 36.c3 Qa4+ 37.Kc4 bxc3+ 0–1
As well as Ivanchuk, the audience later saw Nigel Short’s commentary on his second Kosintseva victory, and then Victoria Cmilyte going through her game. These videos are still available at the website.
The weather cleared today and allowed the now traditional trip to the top of the rock. The party of GMs saw St Michael’s Cave, the siege tunnels and, of course, stopped off to monkey about with the apes. Please visit our website to see some photos of super-grandmasters interacting with super apes. My personal favourite was the photo of Salome Melia apparently wearing a small live monkey as if it were a hat from the latest Paris fashion show. In general I disapprove of the wearing of fur by humans but there can surely be no objection when the fur is still attached to a live and consenting animal.
You may recall that we featured an amusing illegal move in one of the games from the Challengers yesterday and set a little quiz question concerning illegal castling when the king has no legal move is: does the rook have to be moved? The answer is no: this is because castling is deemed to be a move of the king.
Would you believe it, today we had a second illegal move, this time in the Masters. Here is the game.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 5.Nf3 Bc6 6.Neg5 Nd7 7.Nxf7!? Kxf7 8.Ng5+ Ke8 9.Bc4 Qe7?! The first sign that Black is having an off day but this is nothing compared to what is to come. 10.0–0
At this point the young Norwegian FM attempted to play 10...0–0–0, apparently forgetting that two of his previous three moves had been with the king. As oversights go, this was a pretty big one. Unlike the game in the Masters, his GM opponent noticed the illegality and Nicolai found himself obliged to move his king... 10...Kd8 11.Re1 Nb6 12.Bxe6 Nh6 13.Bh3 1–0
Yesterday we said farewell to the competitors of the first week tournaments. Of course, many of them are still here with us, playing in second week events or the Masters. But it seems an opportune moment to catch up on the results and prizes. Mr Joe Hernandez of the Gibraltar Leisure Centre was present to give out the prizes to the winners. First in the Amateur A tournament was Vegard Stene from Norway, who receives the £1,000 first prize. Second equal were Geoffrey Bishop, Alvaro Candano Gonzalez, Armin Gholami who received £400 each. The Gibraltar Prize was shared between Mario Garcia and Stephen Whatley who won £50 each.
In Challengers A, first was shared by Ivan Elishev and Johan Henriksson who received £1500 each. Third equal were Ali R Jaunooby, Hristos Zygouris, Nikita Meskovs, each of whom received £167. Rating 1950-2049: Halvor Haga, Simon Marder (£250 each). Rating below 1950: Mikael Helin, Samuel Flanagan, Emilia Georgieva (£167 each). Unrated: Sandu Ungureanu (£500). Gibraltar Prize: Alan D Gravett (£150).
There was a slight mix-up during the prizegiving at first and Norwegian player Armin Gholami was surprised not to hear his name read out as a prizewinner. He stood up and calmly explained to the organisers in perfect English that his name had not been read out and that he should have received a share of the second prize for the Challengers. He was quite right and the error swiftly rectified. An unremarkable incident, perhaps, but for the fact that Armin is just 11 years old. His calmness, logic and assertiveness were impressive for one so young and a sign of great character. I suspect we may hear more of him.