Ivanchuk leads in Gibraltar
After six rounds Vassily Ivanchuk is leading the Masters tournament of the 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. Yesterday the Ukrainian beat English grandmaster Nigel Short, who had started with 5 out of 5. The playing field includes many top women, like both Kosintseva sisters, and the legendary Viktor Korchnoi plays as well. He's still undefeated, and beat Fabiano Caruana in round 2.
The 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival takes place from Monday 24 January to Thursday 3 February 2011 at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. It is the ninth in the series of major international chess events held on "the Rock" but the first one to be sponsored by Tradewise Insurance.
This year there are 52 Grandmasters playing in the Open Masters with 298 players from 46 countries. The top five seeds in the men's are: Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Michael Adams (England), Fabiano Caruana (Italy), Paco Vallejo (Spain) and Victor Bologan (Moldova). In the women's they are: Tatiana Kosintseva (Russia), Nadezhda Kosintseva (Russia), Nana Dzagnidze (Georgia), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) and Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania).
The Masters is played over 10 rounds. The rate of play is 40 moves in 100 minutes plus 20 moves in 50 minutes plus 15 minutes for all remaining moves with 30 seconds per move added from the start. Draws by mutual agreement in fewer than 30 moves are not allowed.
Live streaming with commentary is available every afternoon with the new commentator for the festival Grandmaster Simon Williams, who is joined by tournament director GM Stuart Conquest.
Unfortunately Hou Yifan, the current Women's World Chess Champion, had to pull out of the tournament at the eleventh hour. The young Chinese player informed the organizers of her decision, due to personal reasons because of critical illness in her family. Tournament organizer Brian Callaghan, obviously disappointed at the news, nonetheless said he understood her decision: “Here in Gibraltar like in many other countries family comes first; and we fully understand Hou Yifan’s decision not to travel. Our thoughts and best wishes are with her at this time.”
With very few surprises in the first round, already the next day the tournament had a splendid story to tell the world: Viktor Korchnoi, who will turn 80 in March, beat Fabiano Caruana with the black pieces. Before this game Korchnoi's score against Caruana was 0-4 with no draws. One might remember their encounter at the 2009 NH Chess Tournament, where Korchnoi wasn't too friendly after losing against the Italian. One and a half years later the grumpy legend finally got his win.
29...Bxd3! 30.Kg1 e4 and after many more complications Black won.
After three rounds GMs Viktorija Cmilyte, Deep Sengupta and Nigel Short and IM Nadezhda Kosintseva were still on a 100% score. In that round top seed Vassily Ivanchuk was held to a draw by GM Ruben Felgaer from Argentina.
Short nicely outplayed Tatiana Kosintseva in a Ragozin. "I'm old enough to play 1 d4! When I was a teenager, I told myself I would start playing 1 d4 when I was thirty but it didn't happen. It has now happened in my forties," said Short afterwards in the commentary room.
In the next round Nadezhda Kosintseva beat Viktorija Cmilyte. This meant she would be playing Nigel Short the next day, as the Englishman defeated Deep Sengupta. Against Viktor Erdos, Vassily Ivanchuk managed to break through with a rook sac:
Both players had manoeuvred for many moves behind their respective barriers and a draw was the expected result, but now Black left open a sacrificial possibility. We don't know whether this was by design or accident. 39...Qa7 40.Rxd5! There was a cry of "bravo" in the commentary room when Vassily played this enterprising move. It is probably the only move which could lead to a decisive result - though not necessarily a win for White. 40...exd5 41.e6+ Kh6 42.Rxd5 Rbd8 43.Rxd8 Rxd8 44.Bxf5 It gradually becomes clear that the sacrifice is sound, though Black might have put up a better defence to this point. 44...Qc7 45.g3 Rd1+ 46.Kf2 Qd8 47.Bc2 Now f5+ is a devastating threat, so Black has to give up the exchange. 47...Rd3 48.Bxd3 Qxd3 49.f5+! Qxe3+ 50.Kxe3 Ne7 51.Ke4 Bc6+ 52.Ke5 Nd5 53.b5! Nxc3 54.bxc6 Nb5 55.e7 Nc7 56.Kd6 Ne8+ 57.Kd7 Nf6+ 58.Ke6 Ne8 59.Kf7 Nc7 60.e8Q 1–0 [Notes by Stewart Reuben]
In the fifth round Nigel Short also beat the other Kosintseva sister, Nadezhda. This puts the English grandmaster half a point ahead of top-rated Vassily Ivanchuk and Daniel Fridman going into round six.
Ivanchuk had been on the verge of losing against the other "Vassyl": Vassilios Kotronias from Greece.
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 [Notes by John Saunders]
In round six Nigel Short suffered his first defeat. With the black pieces he couldn't hold things together against Vassily Ivanchuk.
This round included two wonderful games which you shouldn't miss below in the game viewer: Akobian-Mikhalevski and Dzagnidze-Vallejo.
We finish this first report on Gibraltar by noting that after six rounds Viktor Korchnoi hasn't lost a game yet. In rounds 3-6 he drew with a number of strong GMs: Akobian, Bologan, Sandipan and Sasikiran.
Here's a video created by Zeljka Malobabic, with highlights from the tournament so far.The musician in the video is Maria Yarur from Chile, who is playing in the Amateur competition.
Selection of games rounds 1-6
Game viewer by ChessTempo
During the tournament tournament photo/videographer Zeljka Malobabic together with tournament director Stuart Conquest, and a handful of players visited the top of the Rock and Gibraltar's most famous Rock Apes in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
Gibraltar Apes are a species of tailless monkeys called Barbary Macaques. These Macaques can be found in Morocco and Algeria, with those in Gibraltar being the only free-living monkeys in Europe today.
The group also took the opportunity to visit two other popular attractions. St Michael's Cave has interested visitors to Gibraltar ever since the Romans. The Cathedral Cave was long believed to be bottomless, probably giving birth to the story that Gibraltar was linked to Africa by a subterranean passage over 15 miles (24 Km) long under the Straits of Gibraltar. The Great Siege Tunnels meanwhile, a labyrinth of tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar, was used as a defence system devised by man.
Chess players Inna Gaponenko (Ukraine), Natalija Pogonina (Russia), Natalie Zhukova (Ukraine), Salome Melia (Georgia), Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania), Achim dr Illner (Germany), Yerazik Khachatourian (Norway), and Milad Memarian (Iran) all had a great time, before getting down to battle as play continued in the Gibraltar Masters.
Inna Gaponenko (Ukraine)
Yerazik Khachatourian (Norway)
Salome Melia (Georgia)
Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania)
Natalija Pogonina (Russia)
Natalijna Zhukova (Ukraine)
Group photo with Stuart Conquest and these five ladies on the Rock
Photos © John Saunders & Zeljka Malobabic
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