Players from Wales include Rudy van Kemenade, John Thornton, David Jameson and Richard Jones.
We sincerely thank Rudy for his excellent reports on each round.
Report 10 by Rudy van Kemenade
Rd10 started at 11 am instead of the usual 3 pm, to allow time for any necessary playoffs amongst the Tournament winners. [In this case Nikita Vituigov triumphed in the final against Nigel Short to win overall.]
Richard (5) got drawn against Luis Javier Sanchez Botella (2196). A Slav Defence by Richard led to a very complex game, mainly centred on queen side play. Just as it seemed that white had won, a piece sacrifice switched play to the king side, and some careful analysis led to the white king being hunted down by queen and knight.
David (4.5) got to play IM Claude Adrian (2260) who responded with an Albin Counter Gambit. Slightly surprised David began to consume lots of time. Black continued adventurously, even playing Qxa3 because of a mate. In the end David's queen side, where his king was, proved impossible to defend.
John (3.5) played Dragan Dimitrijevic (1896), who despite a Serbian name has an Italian registration. An extremely complex French led towards a complex double rook and pawn ending, where ultimately the Welsh player triumphed in a long rook and pawn game ending.
Rudy (3.5) versus Manfred Herbold (2164) got a reasonable position in a slightly unusual Philidor's Defence, but went into too much of a defensive mode, allowing the white pieces space to deliver a mate.
Szilvia (3) against Ali Janooby (2178) had a good position with an early b3 & Bb2, however she didn't anticipate the dangers along the “g” and “h” files and had to concede a loss.
Vaness (2.5) played an unrated Enrigue Villa Armenta, getting an extremely good variation of a Queen's Gambit Declined. She seized a chance of picking up a pawn on the queen side, and brought matters to fruition on the queen side.
A difficult tournment, but enjoyed by those taking part.
Report 9 by Rudy van Kemenade
Another set of mixed blessings.
Richard(4.5) played against the Caro-Kann of the teenage Aryan Tari (2268), who had in earlier rounds disposed of John & Rudy. Would Richard be able to salvage the honour of Wales? Only partially. Despite getting a queen side majority, then weakening pawns, before finally winning one; the resultant king and pawn ending was too blocked to be won. So a draw.
John (3.5) was paired with white against FM Francis Javier Garcia (2278). The English gave a mulitude of flexible alternatives, black knights retreating to c8 & d8 for a while. White tried to open the king side, but after some developments a passed queen pawn was the decisive factor in black’s favour.
Rudy (3.5) tried to shake the orthodox play of his FM opponent Gerald Loew (2231), by trying a rare version of a Bird's Opening played as if it were a Budapest, temporarily giving up an e pawn (a variant of this line happened in the internet game between Craig Evans-Paul Tew, IECC CL3-2004 email, 2003, ½-½). Rudy gained an enormous amount of time, leaving his opponent with 3 mins & 1 min increment for another 26 moves. The game even transposed into something resembling a King's gambit, of help to white since his opponent was versed neither in this nor in Budapest type positions. At the crucial point however, Rudy began to think, not playing the first idea, which would most likely have been a perpetual, but a second 'improved' idea, which lead to a loss of queen instead.
David (3.5) had a slightly easier time as this was the 3rd time against the same opponent, Chino Nwachukwu (1962) from Nigeria [the two previous ones in the two Challengers morning tournaments]. A open Ruy led to a quasi Exchange variation, but black retained a king side initiative, leading to a neat forced mate.
Szilvia's(2.5) Queen’s Indian against Eduardo Viana (1600) from Portugal, led to nothing much at first, though eventually she won an exchange. However dogged defence on white’s part led her to decide she was tired and not continue to press for a win with only a pawn each left besides the slight material inbalance.
Vaness(2.5) defended a Caro-Kann against Ellisev Reppen (2005) of Norway. Getting the usual slight defensive position, black seemed alright for a long time, until a sudden tactic yielded white an exchange, which encouraged resignation.
Report 8 by Rudy van Kemenade
Mixed results in this round.
Richard (4.5) faced the highest opponent GM Stephen Gordon (2553). In a “Schlechter Grunfeld/Slav” Richard as black looked safe enough though rather passive. After a little repetition, white engineered a central break, to which attempts at getting play backfired.
David (3.5) played FM Ralf Bergstrom (2286) from Sweden. Playing against a “Philidor” David kept a solid position, even winning a pawn when black tried to sow some confusion in the centre, though the white pawns were a little weakened. Eventually Ralf won the pawn back, and David set up a fortress with rook and knight, repeating moves with his king. However then an incautious knight move, trying for a mate, led to a rook swap. In the resultant position, black’s active king, bishop and a pawn outran the knight and “g” pawn.
The 4 others were gathered together on the number highlighted in the previous report, namely 2.5.
John played the Czech Jaroslav Pribyl (1932) and got a Tarrasch Defence. Playing dxc5 early, white gave black a little developmental lead, and difficulties with getting the queen bishop out. Perhaps there was a piece to be had, but John saw a king side attack, netting first one pawn, then another. White overstepped the time limit when black, with pawn on d3, tripled on the e file, also threatened a final king side invasion.
Szilvia and Rudy played one another, and the latter inveigled her into abandoning her standard London System, for an e4 setup against the a6 modern. An early g4, with which Szilvia had three successes in the Bavarian Women's Championship back in 1999, was less useful here as there was no knight to attack on f6. Rudy blocked the position on the king side, and forced a knight to a2 by an advance on the other side. Provoked into a sacrifice on h5, white found that the black pieces could form an active defence, based on the white king still being on the “g” file. However, Rudy missed the most accurate trying to play safe, giving Szilvia one chance, which she failed to take. The rook and knight ending was good for black, who forced a pawn through for a back-rank mate, the white king now on b1.
Vaness against Sandhu Ungareanu (2019) from Romania played a “Samisch” against the “King's Indian”. With a blocked position on the queen side, Vaness opened up on the king side to attack. Black countered there as well, eventually leading to a general swap of pieces. With pawn chain six lines across and three pieces left, Vaness swapped off her bad king’s bishop, but then on move 47 played the knight to exactly the wrong square allowing a black win of the base f3 pawn.
Report 7 by Rudy van Kemenade
A day of various ups and downs.
Richard (3.5) played black against Andrei Olhovik (2246) from Belarus. Black got the better of a Slav Exchange, and then collected a pawn on the c3 square after a knight swap there. Despite white attempts at king side play, more swaps occurred. The last chance for white lay in a pawn on h6, after an Rxh7, but a black pawn would queen first, with check.
John (2.5) defended against a Schliemann f5 in the Ruy v Carlos Vinas Guerero (2167) from Spain. White gained a pawn, but needed to return it, and then gradually got forced onto the back foot. Defending against rook, opposite colour bishop and very active black king proved too much, and John resigned when mate was imminent.
Rudy (2.5) played the Columbian Alexander Pena Riasco (2156) and got a favourable position from his Leningrad Bird. Unfortunately, playing positionally, he missed a forced loss of the exchange. [Fritz, of course, insists that a little earlier a deliberate exchange sacrifice would have given white a near winning position]. White managed to regain the exchange after a black inaccuracy, but the Columbian was fortunate that this resulted in a winning position for him with queen, rook and opposite coloured bishops.
David (2.5, the favourite number) had a short game against Ellisev Reppen (2005) from Norway. Playing against David’s “Open Ruy” setup, she played an early Bf4 move, which after g5! won the e pawn for black. Faced with several black pieces near her king, she tried to attack with her queen, but the weakness on f2 proved fatal. David had seen the mate coming up on move 22, but on getting there, forgot about it, choosing to win the queen instead.
Szilvia (2.5, there it is again) played Jorgen Karlsson (2165) from Sweden. She held her own for a long time against an English setup, and it looked as if her queen side majority of 3 to 1 might pay dividends. However white was able to mass against the king side and force a break through with the rooks.
Vaness (1.5) outplayed Emilia Georgieva (1949) from Bulgaria. A Slav exchange, but with Vaness as black doing the exchange, as white had gone 3. c3. Similar to Richard's game, eventually Vaness won the pawn on c3, and despite white’s attempts at king side distractions, black ended up with two queen side pawns marching through.
So, in the next report, 2.5 will again feature prominently.
Report 6 by Rudy van Kemenade
In chess one would think that life would become easier, once you have gained a certain amount of experience of it. But that is just when the difficulties (fun?) begin. The last game to finish in the Masters was a nearly 7 hour long battle with the experienced GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Scotland) battling to save the half point against a much lower rated opponent Jan -Olof Lind (who had beaten John Thornton in Round 4). The play revolved around rook and opposite coloured bishops with Jan-Olof a pawn ahead, and whose king kept threatening to penetrate the black position. Drawn finally.
Richard (3.5) playing against a higher rated IM, Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez (2538) was another form of complexity. In an unusual Rubinstein Sicilian (2..Nf6) Richard as white quickly won an exchange, but had to move his king to f1 with his rooks still undeveloped. All this had been played before, up until move 15, not least by Richard v Matthias Bach, Budapest 2009, in databases. Black now came up with a new move, 15..e6, though Richard should still have been fine if, according to Fritz he had returned the exchange on move 26. As it was two connected passed pawns on the queen side won for black.
Rudy (2.5) faced the young Aryan Tari (2268) whom John had lost to in Round 3. White decided to avoid the extensive Petroff experience shown in databases as frequently played by Rudy, so branched out into the English, newish for him, though not to Rudy. White exchanged rooks on the “a” file, then moved in with his queen to a8, giving black excellent attacking chances against the king. Unfortunately Rudy missed a tactic, dropped a piece, and, despite getting several pawns, was unable to hold. His first loss since round one.
Vaness (1.5) was unfortunate to have to play George O'Toole (2204). (In every tournament there always seems to be one very strong player lurking amongst the lower boards after an upset or two, and then out for revenge). In an unusual Benko Gambit, (black allowed a Bxf6 exf6) somehow the white pieces were unable to generate sufficient activity to resist a black invasion.
David (1.5) had an easier opponent in Emilia Georgieva (1949). Starting with 1.c3, David was able to transpose back to his favourite London System, with black wasting a move with a6. Trying to attack, black lost an e6 pawn, gave an exchange to try for some activity, but compounded things by getting a bishop trapped.
Szilvia (1.5) v Jack Hutton (2017) from USA, featured yet another London System (the opening most commonly referred to in these reports). She got a good position, a temporary bishop sac on f7 unsettling the black king. White castled, and black tried to activate with an exchange sac in return, but in the long run the queen and rook v queen and bishop won the last two black pawns, leaving a simple king and two pawns endgame in prospect.
And lastly John (1.5) playing a Stonewall Dutch against Heinz Boesch (1904) who seemed to be at a loss as to how to defend against it. John built up a massive attack; even giving up a pawn to stem the tide only gave black a nasty pawn on f3. A further Bxg3 won the white queen and soon after the king got mated as well.
Report 5 from Rudy van Kemenade
Sunny again, but with a strong wind, so that the cable car up “The Rock” was out of action. Plenty of action though on the 122 games this afternoon in the Masters tournament.
Richard on 2.5 points played white against the Czech, Jaroslav Pibyl (1932). A classical Caro-Kann ensued, and black successfully ganged up against the h5 pawn, but lost his own on f7 in consequence, leaving the remaining one on e6 weak. Richard wrapped up neatly with an exchange sac for a mate.
On 2 points, Rudy faced Toomas Valgmae (2218 from Estonia), who clearly tried to avoid playing any of his more normal lines, by reverting to the French Defence he played when younger. However this steered towards a line from the Steinitz line Rudy has been playing for nearly 50 years. A sharp king side attack , allowing a powerful black knight to settle on c4 led to a double edged position, where the black attempt at a queen side entry always had to take account of white's threat of pushing on with g6 on the king side. An unstable equilibrium meant a draw resulted.
On 1.5 points David had black against WFM Meri Grigoryan (2025). She also plays the London System that David and Szilvia like, and black tried too hard to unbalance the position, leading to a distinct weakening of the king side, which the white pieces then found easy to infiltrate and ensure the win.
John (2053) was drawn against Szilvia (1923), both on 1 point. John’s English opening overextended leading to a black advantage. But an overestimate of chances in tactics led to white having two pieces for a rook. A further white inaccuracy placed two pieces in the firing line, net result - an extra pawn for Szilvia. Time shortage especially on her part led to an agreed draw.
Vaness (0.5) had her first win, white against Neil Savage (1620) of South Africa. An unusual French Winawer, early Bd3, led to a large scale clearance of pieces in the centre. Equality seemed in reach, but white allowed there to be an isolated queen pawn, which was compounded by reaching an ending of bad bishop v knight. White resigned when the bishop was lost to a fork.
Report 4 from Rudy van Kemenade
Perhaps it may be some consolation for those facing bad weather, that the day of Round 4 was wet as well in Gibraltar.
On 1.5 points Richard faced a London System v his Slav setup in the game against Alexander Lipecki (2138). White tried to swap off as much as possible at first, but then placed both his rooks on the king side for an 'attack' that was never really there. Black calmly opened up the “b” file, infiltrated with his rooks, and was easily winning pawns with the white rook stranded on h3.
Also on 1.5, Rudy faced an IM, Canadian Leon Piasetski (2310), who played against the King's Indian setup with an early h3 and g4.Rudy had been expecting his opponent's more usual b4 attack on the other side, but fought back with h5, and also c6. Black was losing if Leon had played the most accurate g6 to open the g file as well. As it was black managed to distract by playing a4, a3 and axb2, then giving up the exchange, before pushing through an e pawn. A drawn rook and pawn ending was the final result.
On 1 point John faced Jan-Olof Lind (2217) who tried for a King's Attack against the customary French. What happened was a rather unusual setup with the black bishop landing on b6, and a knight on c6. Having then to play f6 to get play, John was left with a hole on e5 from whence a powerful knight helped marshal white's rooks onto the 7th rank, leading to mate when the queen arrived as well.
Also on 1 point Szilvia got a promising position from her London System against Kai Jie Edward Lee (2164). Unfortunately then it wasn't very clear how to make further progress. Trying to infiltrate onto the 7th rank with her queen and rook, she had overlooked that the loose rook behind meant first a loss of an exchange, followed soon after by a bishop as well. So the promise was unfulfilled.
On 0.5 Vaness faced WFM Meri Grigoryan (2025), who played a very aggressive Albin Countergambit. Black got the pawn on e5 back quite soon and the d pawn looked dangerous. White dealt with this effectively, leaving what appeared to be levellish. But Meri found a tactical way into the king position, finishing several pawns up.
Also on 0.5 David played Heinz Boesch (1904). Another London System by David led to his opponent seeking to eliminate play by swapping off anything that moved. By move 32 this left white with a superior bishop v knight ending; and bit by bit black was outplayed for a second Welsh win of the day.
Another 6 rounds to go.
Report 3 from Rudy van Kemenade
It was actually overcast, but still quite warm. A day of mixed fortunes.
Richard faced his second GM, Emil Sutovsky(2684). In a complex Najdorf with early Bc4, white tried for a king side attack, but the GM bided his time, took some queen side pawns, and Richard resigned when his flagpole f6 pawn also went.
John played the 14 year old Aryan Tari (2268), and got a reasonable position. However, because the junior had changed his opening style white got very short of time from the opening, and got into difficulties. An exchange sacrifice played by John should have held, but the time shortage meant that less accurate moves ran into a loss.
Rudy had a slightly weaker opponent, Moritz Nazarenus (2248). A sharp advance variation against a Caro-Kann (Moritz was unable to trace some games Rudy had played in a Welsh Championship and elsewhere) gave white an advantage in the opening, but Rudy misplayed a little to allow equality. In a complex late middle game, white won two pieces for a rook, but again didn't find the win Fritz insists is there. In the end a draw resulted from a pawn and white bishop v pawn and rook (Nalimov Tablebases agree)
David v Sergjs Gromov (2001) obtained an excellent position from his Tartakover defence to the Queen's Gambit, but tried switching to a king side attack to win, sacrificing a knight to gain entry for the queen. However, despite several pawns compensation, in the end the white queen and knight got to David's king.
Vaness played a solid Caro-Kann against Roman Freuler (2098) from Switzerland. Despite white trying for a breakthrough, black’s heavy artillery resisted all attempts, and a draw was offered and accepted.
Szilvia played a Kan Sicilian against Ewa Kazmierczak (1512) from Poland. Against an opponent determined to swap everything off, it seemed nothing much was happening. However, when an endgame of knight v Szilvia's bishop resulted, as usual the bishop proved superior, netting an extra queen side pawn, for Szilvia's first win in the Masters. (She and David are also playing in the morning Challengers A, but readers will have to look that up for themselves)
Report 2 from Rudy van Kemenade
A bright and sunny day, though with a chilly wind (there is snow on one of the mountains in Spain visible from the hotel).
Richard Jones, had black against Mateusz Bartel GM (2629) [with Gawain Jones on the board next to him]. Black played an opening, but the GM found a temporary pawn sacrifice to open up the game, eventually leading to Richard being a pawn down. However , black had some play. getting the pawns to one side only, and forcing piece swaps. Finally this led to a drawn endgame of bishop and three pawns v bishop and two.
Down in the basement several levels down, John Thornton after the GM of the previous day, faced a much weaker Per Tseten (1597). In an English v Sicilian setup, white soon got a backward d3 pawn, which John ganged up against, eventually marching the king in via d4 to c3, winning the pawn and leading to rook loss for white.
Rudy faced with black the unrated but dangerous (3 out of 3 in the Amateur U1850 running in the morning) Sergei Denisik from Belarus. When white played a slow setup with d3 v the Petroff, black began an early g5 push ,getting a knight onto f4. When white tried some tactics in the middle, black was ready and won an exchange on the king side. After ensuring a queen swap, Rudy finished by a sequence that had an "a" pawn queen.
Szilvia Lochte was less fortunate. Getting a good position with a Colle setup against Martin Burrows(2153) she got active piece play, but allowed a piece to drop later in a flurry of complexities.
Vaness Reid v Ruben Valhondo Morales(2136) was a Slav, with an early Nc3 and e5 counter. Vaness got as good a good position as black, but was gradually forced into defence on the queen side where some tactics led to the loss of two pawns there, which led to resignation.
The Welsh game of the day was David Jameson against Vassily Ivanchuk (2759), which gained quite a few spectators. Playing an OLD Indian setup, with early e5 and queen swap, Ivanchuk set to outplay David. Undeterred white grabbed a risky h pawn while holding up black's play on the queen side and centre. Still a pawn up after some complex tactical ideas (and in his usual extreme time trouble) David missed that a black "a" pawn advance netted black a piece. Despite getting his own "h" pawn to queen as well, David was still down the piece, and got mated on move 48. A game well worth playing through when it becomes available.
[For those interested, use is made by most of the Monroi system, where players record their moves on a little tablet, thus appearing live on the internet at www.monroi.com. People can subscribe free to access these. David was using this system. The top 10 boards play on electronic boards available at www.gibraltarchesscongress.com
Report 1 from Rudy van Kemenade
Escaping from the snow in the UK eventually (the Heathrow plane was delayed by 2 1/2 hours), Gibraltar is very sunny. The Masters tournament is very strong, out of 240 odd players, there is a cast of 50 GMs, headed by Ivanchuk, Shirov, Adams, Short etc.
In previous years accelerated pairings were used, but this year a straight Swiss, so some of us ended up against GMs in Rd 1.
Most successful was David Jameson drawing with black against GM Sebastien Maze (2546) by judicious swapping off into a drawn queen and pawn endgame. His prize is to be playing Ivanchuk in the next round!
Less successful were John Thornton and Rudy van Kemenade. John got a good game in a complex Winawer against Hoang Thanh Trang, (GM 2459), but she broke through in complications when the white queen was overloaded, though there were still chances of survival. Rudy faced GM Ralf Akesson (2441) but over enthusiastically placed a rook on h3 against a Sicilian, anticipating having to sacrifice the exchange, but didn’t get enough play for it.
Further down in the basement Richard Jones broke through with a concerted pawn advance against the English Defence of Juan Campos Calvo-Sotelo (1978).
Both Vaness Reid and Sylvia Lochte got good English and closed Sicilian setups against their higher rated opponents Eric de Haan FM (2303) and Manuel Fenollar Jorda FM (2325) respectively, but the higher rated players were able to ways of entry and inflict heavy losses.
As can be seen there is a wide range of nationalities, and the play list includes many of the top women players in the world.
Some are mad enough to play in the morning Challengers as well as the afternoon Masters. (and here David Jameson is on 100% after 2 rounds. Play in the Masters begins at 3 pm, 2 pm UK time.