Final report by Stewart Reuben
There is often an end-of-term feel at the conclusion of chess tournaments. Players have made friends and agree quick draws. There was no air of this here. Perhaps that is because of the size and depth of the prize list, or perhaps because the organisers work so hard to encourage attractive players to attend the tournament.
The last round started at 11am. This was partly to enable a play-off to take place if necessary (we don’t like a shared first place) and also to enable the venue to be re-set for the magnificent gala dinner at the Caleta Hotel.
“Can the next victims step forward please?” The two executioners Ivanchuk and Short await their next victims.
Vassily Ivanchuk had a very smooth win against Daniel Fridman. Viktor Bologan and Nigel Short went over their game in the commentary room. I thought this most sporting of the Moldovan after losing. Apparently White stood much better but went horribly wrong around move 39.
Thus the Ukrainian and Englishman finished first and second respectively, both in an extremely convincing fashion. Nigel finished half a point behind Chucky, but a full point ahead of the nearest rivals. The veteran Viktor Korchnoi had a fleeting opportunity to defeat Paco Vallejo Pons with a brilliancy, but the moment passed and eventually he lost.
Vassily Ivanchuk’s rating performance was 2968 with 9/10. This shows how difficult it is to achieve a 3000 rating performance. Nigel Short’s was 2883 with 8½/10. The English hope is that this wonderful result will lead to a resurgence in form.
Nadezhda Kosintseva drew her last round game, thus cementing her GM norm (that is a performance of 2600 or higher) and she will be awarded the Grandmaster title after all the paperwork and bureaucracy is completed.
Salome Melia drew her last round game and also achieved a GM norm. As far I know this was her first and she will need to repeat this twice in order to gain the title. I am old enough to remember the time when there were no female grandmasters. Perhaps it is time for FIDE to consider doing away with separate women’s titles. Is it not somewhat condescending?
Other people who achieved international master norms (2400 or higher) included Toomas Valgmae (Estonia), Espen Forsaa (Norway) and Tom Weber (Luxembourg).
The Tradewise Gibraltar Masters has the highest rating prizes in the world. The top band is 2500-2599 and those players compete, not only for the main prizes, but also a first of £3000 and second of £2000 in that range. But even that pales into insignificance by comparison with the women’s prizes. There is a first of £10,000 and they can win a prize in open competition if good enough. We look forward to the day a woman sweeps the two top prizes and leaves everybody else green with envy.
Salome Melia seemed likely to take the top prize but she was ousted from the top spot by her fellow countrywoman Nana Dzagndize in the final round. This was the second time she had won the top women’s prize in the past three years.
Ivanchuk,Vassily (2764) – Fridman,Daniel (2655)
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bg5 This leads to different lines when the knight goes to d2 rather than c3. 4…Be7 5.e3 h6 6.Bh4 Ne4 7.Bxe7 Qxe7 8.Bd3 c5 9.0–0 Nc6 9…cxd4 In the commentary room Vassily looked at 10.cxd5 (10.Bxe4!? dxe4 11.Nxd4) 10…exd5 11.Nxd4, which he thought would lead to a slight edge for White in both cases. 10.Ne5 Nf6 10…Nxe5 11.dxe5 and the knight is slightly vulnerable on e4. 11.cxd5 Nxe5 11…exd5 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.dxc5 (13.Qc2!? c4 14.b3 cxd3 15.Qxc6+ Qd7 16.Qxa8 is probably very good for White but is a tad messy) 13…Qxc5 14.Nc3 is only a bit better for White. 12.dxe5 Nxd5 13.Nd2 0–0 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Nd6 Ivanchuk didn’t look deeply at 15.Nf6+ gxf6 16.Qg4+ Kh8 17.Qh4 Kg7 18.e4? Qxe5 19.exd5 exd5. This was a suggested line in the commentary room. It’s always easy to sacrifice other people’s pieces. 15…f6 16.Qg4 16.Qh5 fxe5 17.Qxe5 Rd8 18.Nc4 b5! 19.Qxc7 Nxc7 20.Ne5 Bb7 is playable for Black.(20…Rd5? 21.f4 Bb7 22.Be4 Rxe5 23.Bxb7) 16…fxe5 17.Nxc8 Qxc8 18.Qe4 Rf5 19.Bc4 Kh8 19…Qc6 is also possible: 20.Rfd1 Rd8 21.a4 (21.Rd2 b5; 21.g4 Rff8 22.Qxe5) 21…Rd6 22.Rd2 and White has good compensation. 20.Bxd5 exd5 21.Qxd5 Qc7 22.Rfd1
22…Rc8? This is a serious positional error, said Vassily, because White now controls the d-file with his heavy pieces. 22…Rff8 23.Qd7 Rac8 was more solid. 23.Rd2 Ivanchuk wanted to keep the queens on as Black’s kingside is weaker. 23…c4 24.Rad1 Rff8 25.h3 Rfe8 26.Qe4 Qc6 27.Qc2 27.Qg4 is answered by 27…Qe6 27…c3 28.Rd6 28.bxc3 Qxc3 29.Qxc3 Rxc3 30.Rd7± 28…Qc4 29.bxc3 Qxc3 30.Qe4 Qc4 30…b6 is possible because 31.Rxh6+? loses to 31…gxh6 32.Rd7 Qc2! 33.Qh4 Qg6 31.Qxb7 Qxa2 32.Rg6 Rg8? 32…Qg8 is better but it is only a question of degree. 33.Rd7 looks fairly lethal. 33.Rxg7! Qc2 34.Rxg8+ Rxg8 35.Rd6 It is all over. 35…Qh7 36.Qc6 Qb1+ 37.Kh2 Qf5 38.Rf6 Qg5 39.Rxh6+ Kg7 40.Rd6 1–0
Bologan,Viktor (2693) – Short,Nigel (2658)
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Qf3 Bg6 8.Bxf6 Qxf6 9.Qxf6 gxf6 10.Nf3 Nd7 11.g3 Be7 12.Nh4 Nb6 13.f3 a5 14.Kf2 a4 15.Rc1 Nc8 16.Ne2 Ra6 17.Nc3 Ra5 18.Be2 Nd6 19.Rhd1 Kd7 20.Ng2 b5 21.Rd2
At this point, the co-commentators GMs Conquest and Williams told the audience that they were amazed by Black’s next move. “I wouldn’t have played that in a month of Sundays!”, exclaimed Simon (or something to that effect). They then challenged the audience to figure out Nigel Short’s move. Various much too conventional alternatives were suggested until I (JS) dared to put my hand up and suggest “Bf8″. Stuart Conquest looked stunned: “that’s the right answer!”. I explained that, as an accomplished groveller from way back, I quite often return my pieces to the back rank. However, unlike Dr Short, I usually lose. 21…Bf8!? 22.a3 h5 23.Na2 Nc4 24.Bxc4 bxc4 25.Nf4 f5 I’m also quite fond of immolating my bishops in this way but I can’t claim my results have been good. 26.Nc3 Bd6 Ah, so Bh6 wasn’t the plan (it had vaguely been mine). 27.h4 Rg8 28.Rg1 Raa8 29.Ke1 Bc7 30.Kd1 Ba5 31.Nxa4 Bxd2 32.Nc5+ Kd6 33.Kxd2 Rgb8 34.Kc3 Ra5 35.Rc1 Rab5
Had White chosen to do nothing much around here it seems likely that the game would have been drawn. But he decided to be bold. 36.b4?! cxb3 37.Kb2 Ra5 38.Ncd3 Re8 39.Nb4 Rxe3 40.Rxc6+ Kd7 41.Rc1 41.Rc7+!? Kxc7 42.Nbxd5+ Kc6 43.Nxe3 was worthy of consideration. 41…Rxf3 42.Nc6 Rf2+ 43.Kxb3 Rb5+ 44.Ka4 Rb7 45.Ne5+ Kd8 46.Nc6+ Ke8 47.Ka5 47.Nxd5 looks a better bet. 47…Rb3 48.a4 Rxg3 49.Nxd5 f4! 50.Kb6 Kf8 51.a5 Be4 52.Ndb4 Rb2! 53.Kc7 Rgb3 54.d5 Rxb4 55.Nxb4 Rxb4 56.d6 Rb7+ 57.Kc8 Ra7 58.Ra1 f3 59.a6 f2 60.d7 Ra8+ 61.Kc7 Bg2 61…Bg2 62.d8Q+ Rxd8 63.Kxd8 f1Q 64.Rxf1 Bxf1 65.a7 Bg2 wins easily. 0–1
Korchnoi v Vallejo Pons
Korchnoi,Viktor (2544) – Vallejo Pons,Francisco (2698)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 b5 5.dxe6 fxe6 6.cxb5 d5 7.Bg5 Qa5+ 8.Qd2 Qb6 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.e3 Nd7 11.Nc3 f5 12.a4 Nf6 13.Be2 Bd6 14.0–0 Bd7 15.Rfd1 Ke7 16.a5 Qc7 17.h3 Rhg8 18.Nh4 Rab8 19.Kh1 Be5 20.Qc2 d4 21.Na4 dxe3 22.b6 Bxa4 23.Rxa4 axb6 24.f4! This came as a surprise to Paco who admitted he was starting to panic. 24…Bxf4 24…Bd6 is also OK. 25.Nxf5+!? Korchnoi spins the roulette wheel. 25…exf5 26.Qxf5 Be5? 26…Qc6! wins for Black. 27.Bc4! Rg6? “I played 27…Rg6 and realised immediately that I was lost” (Paco) If 27…b5 28.Rd7+! Nxd7 29.Qe6+ Kd8 30.Qxg8+ Ke7 and it is draw by perpetual check. 28.axb6 Rxb6?? “I had to spend 25 minutes at the board because if you leave the board it is suspicious!” (Paco) 28…e2 immediately is probably level.
29.Rda1?? The commentators groaned as this was played. 29.Ra7!! wins the game, and possibly the best game prize: 29…Qxa7 30.Qxe5+ Kf8 31.Rd8+ Kg7 32.Rg8+ (Viktor may have missed this) 32…Kh6 33.Qf4+ and mate follows. A tragic miss for Korchnoi as he now has nothing. 29…Kf8 30.Bd5 “A tricky move” (Paco) 30…e2 31.Qf2 Bd4 31…Rxb2 is also effective. 32.Qxe2 Nxd5 33.Ra8+ Kg7 34.Qf3 Kh6 34…Qf7 also wins. 35.R1a7 Qf4 0–1
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