Gibraltar: Battle of the Sexes, Vitiugov in the lead (VIDEOS)
Nikita Vitiugov, Russia's 12th grandmaster, is the sole leader in Gibraltar after 7 rounds with 6.5 points. Three players follow close behind, with 6 points: Le Quang Liem, Gata Kamsky and Nigel Short. We've produced a number of videos at the tournament, and one of them is about what was called the "Battle of the Sexes"!
On one of the nights, two players playing in the Amateurs and Challengers tournaments, Tormund and Odin Blikra Vea from Norway, brought out their guitars to the delight of everyone adding a jazzy atmosphere to the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. As in previous years singer songwriter Maria Jose Yarur from Chile, playing in the Amateurs, played songs from her latest album singing and playing the ukulele. Her artistic name is Juga di Prima and her latest album released in Chile is called Cada isla un tesoro | Photos © Zeljka Malobabic, Monroi
Whereas the Tata Steel chess tournament has finished, the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival is well under way as we've reached the 7th (of a total of 10) round on Monday. We have already covered the event until round 3, and so today we'll bring you up to date of the developments of rounds 4-7. Warning: very big report! :-)
Let's start with our short video of the Team Blitz event that took place on the evening of the 3rd round:
The four leaders with a 4/4 maximum score were Eduardo Iturrizaga from Venezuela, Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Nikita Vitiugov of Russia and Dariusz Swiercz of Poland. The group of seventeen players on 3.5 included Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky, who recovered from their slow starts.
Former World Junior Champion Dariusz Swiercz, aged 18, from Poland, beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in a superb game, full of elegant moves.
Le Quang Liem, with his previous successes at Aeroflot 2010 & 2011, is one of the most successful open tournament players in the world, and the Gibraltar Masters title would be a big feather in his cap. In the fourth round he came up against Iván Salgado López of Spain and won with smooth positional chess, capitalising on his opponent’s entombed bishop.
Le Quang Liem (Vietnam)
23-year-old Eduardo Iturrizaga is Venezuela’s first and as yet only GM, who first served notice of his strength when he defeated Sergei Tiviakov in the first round of the 2009 FIDE World Cup. He outplayed former women’s prize winner Nana Dzagnidze but still the position was not entirely clear when Nana made an error at the end.
Nikita Vitiugov comes from St Petersburg, where he was born in 1987 when it was still in the Soviet Union. Like Le Quang Liem, he is something of an open tournament specialist and he tied for first with the Vietnamese super-GM at the 2011 Aeroflot Open. He beat the Estonian GM Kaido Kulaots.
The next day, Eduardo Iturrizaga might have been better in the early part of the game against Le Quang Liem. As so often, the fateful move was made right before the time control and the killer move was a Zwischenzug, or intermezzo move, depending on your preference for chess jargon.
The game between 100-percenters was won by Nikita Vitiugov of Russia in what was quite a smooth positional style against the teenage Polish GM Dariusz Swiercz. It was a good demonstration of the quiet but venomous strength of the English Opening.
That left Nikita Vitiugov and Le Quang Liem as the two remaining players on 5/5, with six players on 4.5, namely Yu Yangyi, David Navara, Vassily Ivanchuk, Gawain Jones, Kiril Georgiev and Vladislav Tkachiev.
And now for something completely different...
During the afternoon, between 3pm and about 8pm, the playing area is a serious place of work, as befits a major international tournament, but from 9pm onwards players and spectators can relax and let their hair down. The other night we had the team blitz event, in which players make up adhoc teams of four to play against each other. A lot of fun, though played with some intensity.
The "Battle of the Sexes" | Photo © John Saunders
On Saturday night the tournament hosted a new event called the "Battle of the Sexes" rapidplay match, held on a single giant-sized board in the restaurant of the Caleta Hotel, with two teams of six – men versus women – taking turns to move, without colluding. Given that it was a new idea, we didn’t know how it would work, but it went down a storm with the watching audience in the room and on the balcony. The two teams, had they been representing one country, would have been good enough to be strong contenders for the gold medals at an Olympiad. The men were Gata Kamsky (USA), Maxime Vacher-Lagrave (France), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam), Kiril Georgiev (Bulgaria), Emil Sutovsky (Israel) and Gawain Jones (England), and the women were Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), Valentina Gunina (Russia), Zhao Xue (China), Victoria Cmilyte (Lithuania), Jovanka Houska (England) and Tania Sachdev (India).
It was designed as a bit of fun and the players entered into the spirit right away. Most photos you see of Gata Kamsky and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave sitting at the board show them to be poker-faced but here they were clowning around like schoolkids and playing to the crowd, while the women players were being sisterly and giving each other encouragement, and squealing with glee when they beat the men in the second game.
Here's our 25-minute video that shows all three games between the Ladies and the Gentlemen:
Maybe soon the more competitive participants of six-a-side chess (shouldn’t it be seven-a-side?) will be dreaming up new types of tactical tricks to bamboozle the opposition. For example, it is important to think whereabouts on the board you want your opponent to have to make their next move, and see whether you can arrange for them to have to walk the longest distance and lift the heaviest piece. Have you seen how big these pieces are? At my time of life I’m not sure I could play the move ‘Qa1x(Q)h8’ without straining my back and getting a little out of breath. Another case of modern chess favouring younger players, dammit.
It is certainly great fun. Grandmaster of ceremonies Stuart Conquest, armed with a microphone and a wicked sense of humour, entered into the spirit with his running commentary, which wasn’t always as even-handed as it might have been. Take the following position...
Battle of the Sexes
The women have just played Qd3. Stuart’s helpful piece of advice to the men’s team: "Guys, your d6 pawn is under attack!" This got a big laugh from the watching audience who, like Stuart, were hoping that they would miss the threat of Qxh7 mate. (Sadly, they didn't.) This was the deciding game of three and, surprisingly in view of what looks like a great position for White, the men won. Boo! But the good news was that the event helped raise £1,000 for charity, and winning captain presented the cheque to Shirley Callaghan, wife of tournament organiser Brian Callaghan.
Below are all three Battle of the Sexes games for replay.
As the Swiss pairings system dictates, the two tournament leaders faced each other in the 6th round on Sunday. And what a fight it was! In a Ragozin Defence the Vietnamese grandmaster got a slight plus, and going into the ending the Russian had to say goodbye to one of his pawns. His bishop was strong though, strong enough to commit suicide for White's remaining two pawns, leaving the RN vs R ending to play for. Le Quang Liem tried it for a while before he agreed to a draw at move 86.
Vlad Tkachiev played a good game and also reached an ending with an extra pawn against top seed Vassily Ivanchuk, but here too the defending side managed to hold the draw. Gawain Jones got under pressure against David Navara, but after checking theory and Houdini's evaluations, it seems that the Englishman was always more or less in control:
Gawain Jones (England)
Kiril Georgiev is one of several representatives of the "older generation", to which Vassily Ivanchuk, Nigel Short and Artur Jussupow belong as well here in Gibraltar. The 47-year-old Bulgarian became World Junior Champion in 1983 and was the strongest Bulgarian grandmaster until Veselin Topalov appeared on the scene. He won a good game against one of China's most promising players, 18-year-old Yu Yangyi.
Gata Kamsky beat Kaido Kulaots of Estonia with a nice central breakthrough tactic:
Michael Adams also played a nice tactic in his game against Nana Dzagnidze. Look at the difference in harmony – beautiful for the black pieces, completely absent for the white pieces.
After this round Le Quang Liem, Nikita Vitiugov and Kiril Georgiev were tied for first place with 5.5 out of 6. A group of 11 player followed with 5 points.
After the 7th round we have a sole leader, as Nikita Vitiugov ground down Kiril Georgiev in 77 moves and almost 7 hours of play while the third leader, Le Quang Liem, had drawn quickly with Vassily Ivanchuk. Too quickly, in fact. It was the story of the day: The Ukrainian and the Vietnamese shook hands after 14 moves, apparently not aware of the fact that the Gibraltar Masters has a "no draws before move 30" policy.
Incidentally, exactly the same thing happened at a much lower level but in the same round: two players from Venezuela were paired against each other on board 67 an also drew "too quickly". In both cases the players were asked to replay their game, and the two Venezuelans duly made 30 moves in no time.
Le Quang Liem was happy to cooperate as well, but Vassily Ivanchuk didn't really feel like returning to the chess board, arguing that the 30-move rule hadn't been communicated to him clearly enough. The organizers thought he had a point there, and went for a compromise: they let the draw stand, but agreed with the players that they'd be fighting hard in their last three rounds! (On top of that, Vassily Ivanchuk gave a wonderful masterclass in the evening – see below.)
Here's Vitiugov's win on Monday:
After his disappointing draw in the first round, Gata Kamsky is back in contention. The American won a good game against Eduardo Iturrizaga:
Gata Kamsky (USA)
The same can be said of Nigel Short, who suffered a loss in the second round but is now also in shared second place. He beat Spanish IM David Lariño from an unusual Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defence.
Speaking of Spanish speaking players; the best so far is Ivan Salgado, who was better against David Navara but eventually had to settle for a draw. The Czech grandmaster showed encyclopedic endgame knowledge during and after the game!
David Navara (Czech Republic)
Commentary & Masterclasses
We'll mention once more that the tournament is providing live online commentary by GM Simon Williams (ENG) and IM Irina Krush (USA) which can be followed here. And if you have even more time, you shouldn't miss the masterclasses either. There have been three sessions, by Anna Zatonskih, Gata Kamsky/Jovana Vojinovic and Vassily Ivanchuk, and you can still watch them online here!
Gibraltar Masters 2013 | Round 7 standings
|2||GM||Le Quang Liem||VIE||2705||6.0||2869||2857||13.0|
|4||GM||Short Nigel D||ENG||2690||6.0||2707||2686||1.4|
|6||GM||Jones Gawain C B||ENG||2632||5.5||2743||2735||10.7|
|13||GM||Salgado Lopez Ivan||ESP||2606||5.5||2702||2696||9.1|
|26||IM||Larino Nieto David||ESP||2497||5.0||2566||2556||9.0|
|27||IM||Ibarra Jerez Jose Carlos||ESP||2538||5.0||2564||2563||4.1|
|31||IM||Nezad Husein Aziz||QAT||2394||5.0||2489||2488||10.0|
|34||GM||Vazquez Igarza Renier||ESP||2565||5.0||2429||2427||-8.7|
|38||IM||Aloma Vidal Robert||ESP||2389||4.5||2546||2544||15.7|
|47||GM||Gordon Stephen J||ENG||2533||4.5||2468||2467||-4.0|
|52||FM||Fenollar Jorda Manuel||ESP||2325||4.5||2451||2450||19.0|
|54||GM||Gallagher Joseph G.||SUI||2499||4.5||2442||2442||-2.5|
|57||IM||Jones Richard S.||WLS||2393||4.5||2419||2408||7.3|
Thanks to John Saunders for his notes on rounds 4 and 5
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