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Mon 28 January 2013




John Saunders reports: At long last we have a sole leader. Nikita Vitiugov outplayed Kiril Georgiev in a long technical struggle in which the Russian was a pawn up and eventually snared his opponent in some endgame tactics. He leads with 6½/7, ahead of Le Quang Liem, Gata Kamsky and the resurgent Nigel Short, who scored his fifth successive win.



Vitiugov’s win turned on a suspect rook move right at the end.

Gibraltar Masters 2013, Round 7

N.Vitiugov (2694) - K.Georgiev (2643)



68...¦a6? A small but fatal slip by the older player. After 68...¦a4, if White plays 69 ¢g3, Black has 69...¥e6 when White still has to prove he is winning. 69 ¢g3! This is pretty good but analysis engines find 69 ¤b5!? which threatens to invade the black king’s inner sanctum via d6 and e8 and give mate. Then 69...f6 70 ¤c7 fxe5+ 71 ¢g3 wins material for White. The lines look rather inhuman, however. 69...¥e6 69...¥f1 70 ¤f5+ ¢h7 71 ¤d6 sets up the mating net indicated above. 70 ¦d6! ¥c8 Black has the choice of the devil and the deep blue sea. 70...¦xd6 71 exd6 ¥d7 72 ¤b3 ¢f6 73 ¤c5 ¥f5 74 ¢f4 ¥c2 75 ¢e3 looks hopeless in the long run. 71 ¤f5+! ¢h7 72 ¤e7 ¥b7 72...¦xd6 73 exd6 ¥e6 74 ¢f4 f6 75 ¢e4 ¢g7 76 ¢d4 is an easy win. 73 ¦d7! ¦b6 74 e6! Either capture of the e6 pawn allows the win of major material, so it is effectively all over. 74...¦b3 75 exf7 ¦xf3+ 75...¢g7 76 ¤f5+ ¢f8 77 ¤d4 wins, e.g. 77...¦b6 78 ¦xb7! ¦xb7 79 ¤e6+ ¢xf7 80 ¤d8+ and takes the rook with a won endgame. 76 ¢g4 ¢g7 76...¦xf7 77 ¦xb7 ¦g7+ 78 ¢f5 wins. 77 ¦xb7 1‑0




The game between Ivanchuk and Le Quang Liem caused some controversy but was quickly resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The players agreed a draw after 14 moves and left the playing area. However, there is a tournament bye-law (i.e. not a FIDE law) which prohibits draws in fewer than 30 moves, so the initial decision was that the players should return to play a new game which complied with the rule. However, after discussions with the players, it was felt that the players had been given incomplete notice of the local rule and that the result should stand.



Though Chucky had no interesting moves to show us in the tournament room, he was sufficiently mollified to agree to give a master class later the same evening. His stories and expressive gestures kept the audience spellbound. The video of this master class, like all the others, is still available for viewing at the website.







Two rivals from way back were hacking their way through the pack. Gata Kamsky beat the Venezuelan GM Iturrizaga, generally outplaying him towards the end of the game. Nigel Short gained a measure of revenge for his earlier humbling at the hands of one Spanish IM by beating another, 23-year-old David Lariño Nieto, who won the 2008 Spanish Championship. Instead of the patriotic English opening, Nigel opted for “singeing the King of Spain’s beard” with the Spanish national opening. Sir Francis Drake couldn’t have done it better.



Gibraltar Masters 2013, Round 7

N.Short (2690) - D.Lariño Nieto

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nd4 4 Nxd4 exd4 5 0‑0 c6 6 Ba4 Nf6 7 Re1 d6 Black is a known Bird’s Defence aficionado, it seems. He played 7...h5 8 e5 Ng4 9 g3 d3 here in a Spanish Championship game in 2012. 8 d3 Bg4 Unusual. Black has played 8...Be7 here. 9 f3 Be6 10 c4 g6 11 f4 Bg4 12 Qd2 Bc8 13 b4



For some bizarre reason, White’s odd configuration of pawns and pieces around the axis of d2-d4 reminds me of a hanukkah candle, though the bishop on a4 slightly spoils the effect. 13...Bg7 14 h3 Nd7 15 Bd1 Even more hanukkah-ish. 15...Qb6 16 Na3 0‑0 17 Rb1 f5?! This looks suspicious as White is able to open up the a2-g8 diagonal to his advantage and the kingside looks vulnerable. 18 exf5 gxf5 19 c5! A pawn sacrifice, which Black doesn’t accept, but the open lines gained would have been worth it. 19...dxc5 20 bxc5 Qd8 Probably better than 20...Qxc5 21 Bb3+ Kh8 22 Nc4 Nb6 23 Ne5 when White dominates the position and gets ready for a final attack. 21 Qb4 21 Nc4 is also very good, as in the previous note. 21...b6 22 cxb6 axb6 23 Bf3 Bb7 24 Nc4 24 Bxc6 Bxc6 25 Qc4+ Kh8 26 Qxc6 is also possible but Short prefers to keep more pieces on the board. 24...Kh8 25 Nd6 25 Qe7 is also very strong, setting up the threat of Nd6 and Nf7+. If, for example, 25...Qxe7 26 Rxe7 Rad8 27 Nxb6 regaining the pawn and maintaining the attacking momentum. 25...Ba6 26 Bxc6 Rb8 27 Re8 Qc7 27...Rxe8 allows 28 Nf7+, winning the queen. 28 Rxb8 28 Nf7+ Kg8 29 Rxf8+ and, for example, 29...Bxf8 30 Qb3! and White is having all the fun. 28...Nxb8 29 Bb5 Bxb5 30 Nxb5 Qf7 31 Qb3 Qg6 32 Ba3 Rg8 33 Qd5 Bf6 34 Bd6 Qg3 Black has more or less given up and is trying a last throw. 34...Qg7 35 Be5 Bxe5 36 fxe5 and White will soon be a safe two pawns up, if not more. 35 Bxb8 Qxd3 35...Rxb8 allows the fork 36 Qd6. 36 Rb3 1‑0


Play through the games from this round.


Photos by John Saunders



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