Vitiugov wins play-off to clinch title at 11th Gibraltar Masters
In a thrilling play-off, together with Chanda Sandipan, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Nigel Short, it was Nikita Vitiugov who proved to be the strongest chess player at the 11th Tradewise Gibraltar Festival. The Russian grandmaster beat Chanda Sandipan in the "semifinals" and then Nigel Short in the final, both times by winning the first game and drawing the second. Short had beaten Vachier-Lagrave in the semis. The best female player this year was Zhao Xue from China.
Nigel Short resigns his first play-off game against Nikita Vitiugov
It's not something chess players are fond of, but it's a necessary evil at chess tournaments: getting up early for a last round. At 11:00 CET the players were behind the chess boards again for a final decisive round that... wouldn't be decisive, but more about that later.
The round took off in spectacular fashion as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave uncorked a theoretical novelty as early as move 3, something extremely rare these days. (Well, in fact it wasn't a novelty strictly speaking, as it has been played in 1934 already in a Soviet Championship, but since then only two amateur chess players had repeated it in modern times.) What followed was a spectacular game on board 1 where it was the Frenchman who missed his chances at the end, as he completely overlooked 34.Qd6+.
The start of Vitiugov-Vachier-Lagrave, with the remarkable 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.f3 e6!?
Board 2 also ended in a draw but here the fun part lasted only a few moves:
This meant that Vitiugov, Vachier-Lagrave and Short ended on 8 points and Navara on 7.5. Le Quang Liem, Adams, Georgiev, Ivanchuk, Sandipan and Zhao Xue could still catch the leaders.
Zhao Xue managed to hold Vassily Ivanchuk to a draw and this way the Chinese won the top women's prize of £12,000 (€13,970). In the end only Sandipan joined the leaders.
Alexei Shirov finished his tournament with one of his typical, hyper-sharp, amazing games. It was not 100% correct, but who cares? The finish was beautiful.
Gibraltar Masters 2013 | Round 10 standings (top 40)
|4||GM||Short Nigel D||ENG||2690||8.0||2730||2715||7.0|
|11||GM||Salgado Lopez Ivan||ESP||2606||7.5||2698||2693||13.1|
|14||GM||Le Quang Liem||VIE||2705||7.0||2726||2717||4.3|
|15||GM||Jones Gawain C B||ENG||2632||7.0||2678||2672||8.1|
|23||GM||Gallagher Joseph G.||SUI||2499||7.0||2538||2538||7.9|
|30||IM||Ibarra Jerez Jose Carlos||ESP||2538||6.5||2569||2569||5.8|
|31||IM||Larino Nieto David||ESP||2497||6.5||2562||2554||11.1|
|36||GM||Gordon Stephen J||ENG||2533||6.5||2517||2517||-0.2|
|38||GM||Hoang Thanh Trang||HUN||2469||6.5||2512||2510||7.3|
According to the tie-break rules, in the event of a tie for first place, a tiebreaking playoff would be held to determine the winner of the first prize. A maximum of 4 players could be qualified for this play-off. The qualifiers were to be determined by the best performance ratings of the tied players. In this case it was easy, as exactly four players finished on 8/10: Chanda Sandipan, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Nigel Short and Nikita Vitiugov.
The drawing of lots paired Sandipan and Vitiugov together, and Vachier-Lagrave with Short. This play-off was planned for 17:30 CET, but one game was still in progress at that point: Sutovsky-Ju Wenjun. They had no problem finishing their game in another room!
The rate of play was 10 minutes plus 5 seconds increment and in case of 1-1 the players would continue with blitz games. Fortunately for the organizers, who saw their perfect schedule for the evening already in danger, this wouldn't happen. Vitiugov and Short won the first game, and drew the second to reach the final. Here are the games of this "semifinal":
In this final, especially the first game was a thrilling affair. Vitiugov started with the white pieces and didn't get much of an advantage in a Nimzo-Indian. However, then he won a pawn, then another one, then he lost one, the rooks went off and the Russian had a queen, knight and four pawns against queen, bishop and three pawns.
Having almost no time left, and playing on the increment, Vitiugov gave an enormous amount of checks with his queen, which at some point prompted Short to offer a draw. (The Englishman could indeed have successfully claimed a draw somewhere; White went Qh5+ three times.) But the Russian showed cojones and went on to win with good technique. In the second game Short couldn't break his opponent's defence and the tournament was suddenly over. Well, almost.
After the play-off a dinner was served to all participants, attended by many sponsors and other officials, including Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo. The best game prize was awarded to Dariusz Swiercz for his win over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, which we showed earlier. Vitiugov said he liked Gibraltar, "especially because he won"!
12 hours 48 min ago
1 day 12 hours ago
2 days 8 hours ago
3 days 5 hours ago
3 days 13 hours ago
3 days 14 hours ago
4 days 2 hours ago
5 days 6 hours ago
6 days 2 hours ago
1 week 1 day ago
1 week 1 day ago
1 week 2 days ago
1 week 3 days ago
1 week 3 days ago
1 week 4 days ago
1 week 5 days ago
1 week 6 days ago
1 week 6 days ago
2 weeks 11 hours ago
2 weeks 1 day ago