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Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2011 (1)

Few surprises in Gibraltar Masters Round 1

Jean-Baptiste Mullon got to play Vassily Ivanchuk in Round 1.

Jean-Baptiste Mullon got to play Vassily Ivanchuk in Round 1. |

John Saunders reports on the first round of the Masters where most of the favourites won. The biggest surprise was Monica Calzetta's defeat of US GM Ray Robson which is analysed in depth.

Stuart Conquest tournament director with the Mayor of Gibraltar Tony Lombard, Miss Girbaltar Larissa Dalli and the head of the Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority in the Archie Suite viewing in the games on line. Photo © Gibraltar Website. 2011

The major event of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival - the Gibraltar Masters - got underway at the Caleta Hotel yesterday afternoon. This 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.

For the most part, round one of the Masters saw the big stars defeat their more modestly rated opponents. World number nine Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, making his debut in Gibraltar, was too strong for French IM Jean-Baptiste Mullon, and a similar story continued down the list of boards, with only a handful of the lower-rated players escaping with results against their more illustrious rivals. To find the first major casualty we have to track all the way down to board 28 where GM Alexandr Fier of Brazil lost to FM Tom Weber of Luxembourg. Brazil 0, Luxembourg 1 is not the sort of score you’d expect to see on a football pitch, is it? Elsewhere the theme of Europe beating the Americas continued with experienced Spanish woman international Monica Calzetta defeating 16-year-old US prodigy GM Ray Robson. One possible theory behind these results was jet lag - flying west-east is allegedly the worst form of this affliction. However, this may have been partially refuted by Canadian IM Leon Piasetski’s excellent win against French GM Jean-Pierre Le Roux.


Stuart and new commentator Simon Williams behind the new specially built desk controlling the internet live streaming. Photo © Gibraltar Website. 2011

With Stuart Conquest’s elevation to tournament director, his former role of commentator has been filled by English GM Simon Williams. Simon put in a five-hour stint at the microphone in the specially-equipped commentary room at the Caleta Hotel and did a great job. A couple of those hours he spent in the company of the English super-GM Nigel Short, after the former world championship finalist had won his own game. Nigel was his usual witty and erudite self, entertaining the audience with all manner of anecdotes and advice. If anyone reading this bulletin is cursing their luck because they missed Nigel’s session, we’ve got good news - the session has been recorded for posterity and is still available to listen to at a website near you (check out the links on the website).

The first round of the Masters was formally opened at 3pm by Anthony Lombard, Mayor of Gibraltar, accompanied by Gibraltar Leisure Centre chief Joe Hernandez and the reigning Miss Gibraltar, Larissa Dalli. The VIPs chatted with Vassily Ivanchuk and other leading players before going to watch local boy Stephen Whatley’s first game in the Masters, against English amateur player (and Sun journalist) Tim Spanton. The opening party also visited the commentary suite to follow Simon Williams’ webcast and see the state-of the-art technology which is used to power the event and the webcast.


Blue pieces. Photo © Gibraltar Website. 2011

Anyone who has visited the website should by now have seen the striking animated logo at the top of the each page featuring Tradewise Insurance’s blue pawn. Continuing this theme, there are giant blue pieces in strategic places all around the hotel. We’ve appended a photo to show you what we mean.


Jean-Baptiste Mullon got to play Vassily Ivanchuk in Round 1. Photo © Gibraltar Website. 2011

It wasn’t just the giant pieces that were blue... the last four participants have finally arrived! Krishnan Sasikiran, Giorgi Kacheishvili, Vaibhav Suri and Nida Siddiqui (and Vaibhav’s non-playing sister) were collected at Gibraltar airport on Tuesday night at 11pm by tournament director Stuart Conquest after a soul-destroying trip from hell. On two consecutive days they were not permitted to board the British Airways flight from London to Gibraltar because they do not hold Shengen visas and, in view of the uncertain weather conditions here, BA thought it likely that the flights would have to re-route to Malaga. As it happens, both Sunday and Monday flights did land at Gibraltar. On Tuesday morning they were finally allowed to board a flight - but, contrary to expectations, this plane was diverted to Malaga airport! Oh dear! Irina Krush, who was travelling with the group, now continued her journey to Gibraltar without further delay and arrived in time for the first round. The remaining five people, however, were detained by Spanish authorities while emergency transit visas were processed. This procedure took an excruciatingly long time - some eight or nine hours - until they were finally allowed to travel to Gibraltar. Vaibhav and his sister are staying at the Bristol Hotel and the others are at the Caleta Hotel. These four players have been given a half-point bye in round one.

The "Where's Ulf?" competition. Photo © Gibraltar Website. 2011

Talking of lateness... one game this afternoon (Kulaots-Kolbus) saw one player only cede the right to castle on move 52, and no piece or pawn was captured until move 56. Perhaps not a record but very unusual.

Round 1 reports on Swiss-system tournaments nearly always feature a ‘David versus Goliath’ win by a lower rated player against a higher one. This is no exception (though the parallel shouldn’t be taken too literally in either case). The following game is testament to the determination and experience of Spanish international and several times Spanish Women’s Champion Monica Calzetta.

Round 1, Gibraltar Masters

Calzetta Ruiz,Monica (2284) - Robson,Ray (2532)

French Tarrasch C04

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6

Not the commonest line of the Tarrasch French but very solid.

4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Be2 f6 7.exf6 Qxf6 8.Nf1 Bd6 9.Ne3 0–0 10.0–0 Qg6 11.c4 Nf6 12.c5 Be7

12...Bf4 13.Nc2 Ne4 has been played a few times.


13.Bb5 Bd7 14.Re1 was played by Monica Calzetta in a game she won in the Spanish Women's Championship in 2009, so she was familiar with this line. The text may not be an improvement.

13...Ne4 14.a4 e5!?

Black is starting to take the initiative.

15.Be3 exd4 16.Nfxd4 Bxc5

The weakness of the pawns on c7 and d5 make this a little loose. 16...Bh3 17.Ne1 Nxd4 18.Bxd4 Be6 gives Black a slight edge, while; 16...Nxd4 17.Bxd4 c6 18.b4 a5 19.Bd3 Bh3 20.Ne3 Bg5 21.Qc2 is unclear.

17.Bh5 Qf6

17...Qd6 18.Nb5 Qd7!? amounts to the same thing after 19.Nxc7

18.Nb5 Qd8 19.Nxc7! d4

The main point here is that 19...Qxc7 20.Qxd5+ Kh8 21.Qxe4 leaves White a pawn up with a clear advantage. So Black, conscious of the wide rating disparity decides to stir things up with an exchange sacrifice.

20.Nxa8 dxe3 21.Nxe3 Qxd1

Keeping on the queens with something like 21...Nd4 may be a better bet.

22.Nxd1 Bd6 23.Ne3 Be6 24.Rad1! Bf4

Very annoying for Black. If 24...Rxa8 25.Bf3! forces 25...Bb3 26.Bxe4 Bxd1 27.Rxd1 and White will be a clear pawn to the good.

25.Bf3! Ng5

25...Nc5 26.Nd5! Bxd5 27.Bxd5+ Kh8 28.g3! and Black still cannot capture the knight on a8 without losing his bishop.

26.Bxc6 bxc6 27.Rc1 Rxa8 28.Rxc6 Bb3 29.a5 Rd8 30.Nf5 Rd2 31.h4!? Ne4?!

This turns out to be a slight error. 31...Ne6 seems to hold everything together, though Black cannot claim an advantage.

32.g3 Be5?

Two undefended pieces on the same file spells trouble.

Monica Calzetta Ruiz


Ray Robson

Position after 32...Be5?

33.Re1! Bf6?

After this, Black is quite lost. He might have been put off playing 33...Rd1 34.Rxd1 Bxd1 35.Re6 because White would be attacking the two loose pieces with his other rook. However, Black might have tried this as he has a trick of his own: 35...Nd2! and the bishop cannot be taken because of the knight fork on f3.

34.Rxe4 Rd1+ 35.Kh2 Bd5

Looks like a good riposte but White was ready.

36.Rc8+ Kf7 37.Ne3! Re1 38.Rc7+ Kg6 39.h5+ Kxh5 40.Nxd5?!

40.Rc5 would probably have led to immediate resignation but now the game goes on for a while.

40...Rxe4 41.Nxf6+ gxf6 42.Rxh7+ Kg6 43.Rxa7 Rb4 44.Kg2 Rxb2 45.a6

This is an easily won endgame, requiring just a little care at the right time.

45...Ra2 46.g4 Ra3 47.f3 Ra4 48.Ra8 Ra3 49.Kg3 Ra4 50.Kf2 Ra3 51.Ke2 Kg7 52.a7 Ra4 53.Ke3 Ra3+ 54.Kd4 Ra4+ 55.Kc5 Ra1 56.f4 Rc1+ 57.Kd6 Rd1+ 58.Ke6 Re1+ 59.Kf5 Ra1 60.g5 fxg5 61.Kxg5 Ra4 62.f5 Ra5 63.Kf4 Kf7

Monica Calzetta Ruiz


Ray Robson

Position after 63...Kf7


Not falling for Black's last trap: 64.Rh8? Rxa7 65.Rh7+ Kf6 66.Rxa7 stalemate.

64...Ra4+ 65.Kd5 Kg7 66.f6+ Kf7 67.Rh8 1–0

Now of course there is no stalemate trick.

Gibraltar Masters Caleta ENG Mon 24th Jan 2011 - Thu 3rd Feb 2011
Leading Round 1 (of 10) Standings:
1Ivanchuk VassilyGMUKR27641.00
Adams MichaelGMENG27231.00
Caruana FabianoGMITA27211.00
Vallejo Pons FranciscoGMESP26981.00
Bologan ViktorGMMDA26931.00
Onischuk AlexanderGMUSA26891.00
Nisipeanu Liviu-DieterGMROU26781.00
Georgiev KirilGMBUL26691.00
Short Nigel DGMENG26581.00
Fridman DanielGMGER26551.00
Roiz MichaelGMISR26491.00
Sandipan ChandaGMIND26411.00
Edouard RomainGMFRA26341.00
Berg EmanuelGMSWE26271.00
Akobian VaruzhanGMUSA26181.00
Kotronias VasiliosGMGRE25991.00
Gopal Geetha NarayananGMIND25971.00
Erdos ViktorGMHUN25931.00
Felgaer RubenGMARG25851.00
Andersson UlfGMSWE25791.00
Kulaots KaidoGMEST25771.00
Buhmann RainerGMGER25721.00
Kosintseva TatianaGMRUS25701.00
Kosintseva NadezhdaIMRUS25521.00
Lafuente PabloGMARG25511.00
Dzagnidze NanaGMGEO25501.00
Stefanova AntoanetaGMBUL25461.00
Korchnoi ViktorGMSUI25441.00
Rapport RichardGMHUN25311.00
Sengupta DeepGMIND25301.00
Cmilyte ViktorijaGMLTU25261.00
Cramling PiaGMSWE25161.00
Hoffmann MichaelGMGER25061.00
Gallagher Joseph GGMSUI25011.00
El Debs Felipe De CresceGMBRA24991.00
Zhu ChenGMQAT24951.00
Zatonskih AnnaIMUSA24931.00
Al-Sayed MohammedGMQAT24901.00
Soffer RamGMISR24891.00
Das ArghyadipIMIND24791.00
Bellaiche AnthonyIMFRA24581.00
Battaglini GabrielIMFRA24371.00
Illner Achim DrFMGER23451.00
Weber TomFMLUX23101.00
Forsaa EspenFMNOR23061.00
Piasetski LeonIMCAN23031.00
Calzetta Ruiz MonicaWGMESP22841.00
Avalos Parra JoaoFMCHI22521.00
Urbina Perez Juan AntonioCMESP21891.00
Dougherty MichaelFMCAN21831.00
Aerni AndiSUI21821.00
Lacrosse MarcFMBEL21811.00
Tscharotschkin MichaelGER21811.00
Lochte ThomasGER21731.00
Seyfried ClausGER21731.00
Groffen HansNED21691.00
231 players

Round 2 (of 10) starts at 3pm (GMT+1) today Wednesday 26 January.

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