2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival
Round 9 Report
John Saunders reports: Vassily Ivanchuk and Nigel Short both won their games for the second successive day, so the tournament looks increasingly like a two-man shoot-out between the Ukrainian and the Englishman. Late in the round the darkness returned for the second time in three days as the power failed at 8.20pm, five hours twenty minutes into the session. It returned some forty minutes later but by then the few remaining games had been restarted in what had until now been the commentary room.
"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the petunias as it fell was ‘Oh no, not again’.” (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams) These same words (or at least the final four of them) echoed around the Caleta Hotel as the power failed again as it had on Monday. The arbiters are evidently familiar with the same book as they heeded its well-known advice - ‘don’t panic’.
Fabiano Caruana found Vassily Ivanchuk as much a handful as he had Viktor Korchnoi. The Ukrainian gradually outplayed his opponent who fell for the same mini-combination losing a pawn that Roiz had allowed against him in the previous round.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0–0 f6 6.d4 Bg4 7.c3 Qe7!? This is an oddity. 7...Bd6 is the usual move of choice. 8.dxe5 fxe5 9.Re1 Nf6 10.Nbd2 0–0–0 Black castles as soon as possible - a move facilitated by White's last move. 11.Qe2 Qe6 12.h3 Bh5 13.Nf1 Bc5 14.Ng3 Rhf8 15.Be3 A difficult decision but perhaps White might have played 15.Nxh5 to be rid of the turbulent priest on h5. As played, the pressure against f3 becomes a problem. 15...Bxe3 16.Qxe3 Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Rd2 White has maintained the integrity of his pawn structure but Black has obtained a small but nagging initiative for his pieces. 18.Re2 Rfd8 19.Qe3 R2d3 20.Qa7 Qc4 21.Re3 21.Qa8+? Kd7 22.Qxb7 Rxg3! would lose. 21...Rxe3 22.Qxe3 g6 23.Qa7 Nd7 24.Qe3 If 24.Rd1, White sidesteps the problem of the d-file with 24...Rf8 and has a reasonable position. 24...Qb5 25.b3 Qc5 26.Qd3 Nf8 27.Qc2 Ne6
28.Nf1? White is on the defensive but this is a bad blunder. 28.Rc1 is an ungainly move but perhaps White can hang on. 28...Nd4! 29.Qd1 29.Qb2 is answered in exactly the same way. Curiously, this is virtually the same combination which Ivanchuk used to win his previous game against Roiz. 29...Qxc3 30.Rb1 h5 31.Ne3 b5 Ivanchuk deprives his opponent of further escape squares, leaving White with a miserable position. 32.Qf1 Qd2 33.a3 Rf8 34.Rd1 Qb2 35.b4 Ne2+ 36.Kh2 Nc3 It's all over. 37.Rc1 Rxf2 38.Qe1 Rd2 39.Qf1 Kb7 40.a4 Rf2 41.Qe1 Nxa4 0–1
On the second board, Nigel Short maintained his pursuit of the top seed with a win against the affable Israeli GM Victor Mikhalevski.
Nigel Short v Victor Mikhalevski
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Ba4 Nxf3+ 6.Qxf3 c6 7.0–0 d6 8.h3 Be7 9.Ne2 0–0 10.c3 h6 10...d5 and 10...b5 have been played here previously. 11.d4 d5 12.exd5 e4 13.Qg3 Bd6 14.Qh4 cxd5 15.f3 Be7 16.Bb3 b6 17.Qf2 Ba6 18.Be3 Nh5 19.fxe4 Bh4 White tempted Black to try the immediate 19...Bxe2? 20.Qxe2 Ng3 21.Qg4! Nxf1 22.Bxh6 Bf6 23.Bxd5 when the knight will be captured and White will have more than sufficient compensation for the exchange. 20.Qf3 Bxe2 21.Qxe2 Ng3 22.Qg4 Deliberately provoking Black's next (which is probably forced) in order to weaken his kingside pawn structure. 22...h5 23.Qd1 Nxf1 24.Kxf1 Short felt that, with the two free-range bishops, he was better. 24...dxe4 25.Qxh5 Bg3 26.Bd5 Rc8 26...Qf6+ 27.Ke2 Rad8 28.Rf1 leads to a comfortable advantage for White. 27.Bxe4 g6 28.Qf3 Qh4 29.Ke2 Rce8 30.Kd3 Re7 31.Bc6 Kh7 32.Qg4 Qxg4 33.hxg4
33...f5? As in Ivanchuk's game, the player under pressure blunders. 33...Kg7 34.Rh1 Rh8 is tough but at least Black is alive. 34.Rh1+ Kg7 35.Bh6+ Kf7 36.Bd5+ Ke8 37.Bxf8 Kxf8 38.gxf5 gxf5 39.Rh8+ 39.Rh8+ Kg7 40.Rg8+ wins more material. 1–0
WHERE EAGLES DARE
When the daily tournament bulletin is looked at from a naturalist’s point of view, I would say it is divided roughly 90:10 between Homo sapiens and Macaca sylvanus (with perhaps a little more emphasis on the latter category when the GMs fail to strike sparks at the board). Intelligent readers that you are, you will have figured out that Macaca sylvanus is the formal species name of the Rock monkeys which gambol about the precincts of the hotel and provide living headwear for elite women chessplayers.
This loses sight of the fact that there are many other creatures to be found here within easy walking distance of the Caleta Hotel. Let’s start with the humble House Sparrow. These are less familiar than they were in Britain although there are still plenty around if you look for them. There is a large flock of them around the Caleta Hotel. They flit about the tables on the bar balcony, looking for scraps at tables. They are brave enough to perch on your hand if you hold out titbits, and even come into the bar itself to forage if someone leaves the balcony door open long enough.
Outside the hotel the range of birds becomes more exotic. Even in January it is quite possible to see swallows flying up and down, which we Brits would only see some months later in the year. Either side of the road leading south from the hotel, quite common species are the Sardinian warbler and the Redstart - both very elegant little birds which fly around the scrub near the road.
Look up towards the rock and there is one bird you cannot miss: the Herring gull. There must be countless thousands of them, wheeling above the rock and roosting on its slopes. Of course, they are found on the coast all over Britain too.
I recall in Port Erin, Isle of Man, during the Monarch Assurance International some years, the late John Robinson sitting down to enjoy his well-earned lunch at the Cosy Nook Café. Suddenly there was a flurry of feathers and John’s lunch had been scooped up and carried off in its entirety by a herring gull. Slightly off topic, another Isle of Man tournament official who failed to observe the maxim ‘caveat arbiter’ was our own David Welch. David stooped down to stroke a Manx cat (for those who don’t know, these have no tail) and was rewarded for this friendly gesture by being bitten. However, the same cat treated another arbiter, Peter Purland, with rather more respect, submitting to being stroked without sinking his fangs into him. Perhaps the cat recognised that this was a man mountain of a physical education teacher who was not to be messed with.
I happened to be outside the hotel today for my lunchtime walk, looking up to see if there were any other interesting birds to spot. I bumped into arbiter Stephen Boyd whilst doing this but it was Stephen who first spotted a large shape gliding high up amongst the smaller herring gulls. Note that these gulls are not small themselves so we knew we looking at a substantial bird of prey. I think it might have been something like a Booted Eagle or perhaps an Osprey. I took a fuzzy photo of it but cannot be any more specific. I’m told there are plenty more eagles and large birds of prey to be seen in the vicinity. Gibraltar is a good place if you want to combine chess with bird-watching.
I shall refocus my gaze on the chessboard for the moment. I have the first few norm achievements to announce. Nadezhda Kosintseva today complete her requirement for the GM title, so very well done to her. Also, IM norms (not sure which ones) have been achieved by Toomas Valgmae of Estonia, Espen Forsaa of Norway and Tom Weber of Luxembourg. Congratulations to them too. Of course there may be more norms to celebrate tomorrow.
As regards the last round, with a number of draws amongst the other leaders, there are now just two contenders for first place since Vassily Ivanchuk can no longer be caught by anyone other than Nigel Short. But Short is only half a point adrift so there is everything to play for. More fun tomorrow.
Leaders: Vassily Ivanchuk 8/9, Nigel Short 7½, Viktor Bologan, Pentala Harikrishna, Victor Mikhalevski, Kaido Kulaots, GN Gopal, Viktor Erdos, Michael Roiz, Romain Edouard, Salome Melia 6½, etc.