Gashimov managed to come from behind and win on tie-breaks in Italy today, finishing ahead of Vallejo-Pons, who had been the leader for most of the tournament. The tournament began with Nigel Short bursting out of the gates with two convincing wins, but then immediately dropping back into the field after his next few games. Highlights from the tournament can be found on chessvibes.
Tag: Francisco Vallejo Pons
Today, Gashimov picked a point off the leader in a “Vugar display of power” to share first with him at 4.5/7. This morning in my office, I was following the match move by move and upon first seeing 1…g6 I momentarily hoped Gashimov would try the wild and adventurous “North Sea Variation.” Ok, so it’s a straightforward Robatsch, but it still turned out to be an interesting and complex game. After Gashimov was able to pick off white’s far advanced a-pawn, his outside pawn majority proved to give him enough pull to arrive at a winning ending.
Today at the 53rd Reggio Emilia, Ivanchuk picked up a point from Godena in a Ruy Lopez. The move 31.f4 must be a blunder, though white’s position was already under a lot of pressure. It’s good to see Ivanchuk back in form again. This afternoon as the games unfolded however, I was following the Vallejo-Pons – Morozevich game much more closely. It began as a Najdorf, poisoned pawn, but the tension quickly released with a series of exchanges culminating in a quick draw after only 26 moves. Vallejo-Pons still leads the tournament comfortably, but Moro can still catch him.
Short lost a difficult game today with white against Vallejo-Pons, who has really stole the show in Reggio Emilia, taking clear first. In the opening, Nigel again played the Steinitz variation of the French, as he did against Morozevich, but against Vallejo-Pons tried a more ambitious plan than against Moro, where he exchanged in the center with dxc5 on move 6. Perhaps inspired by a few too many glasses of Italian wine, Short tried an interesting but risky idea in this game, playing h4 and Rh3 early to go for quick kingside complications. This rook lift never provided the kingside attack that Nigel was counting on, however, and later in the game it simply looked misplaced as Short’s position came under enormous pressure. I can’t help but see a parallel between this rook lift and the one which Magnus played against Luke Mcshane in London, where the move also seemed dubious if interesting. Perhaps there is something to this idea of pushing a rook pawn and lifting a rook early in the opening to deviate- but to my patzer eyes it looks like a dubious deviation to leave book and create complications at the expense of coming out of the opening with an objectively worse position. I hope we see it work somewhere though- perhaps it will show up in the next Chess Vibes Openings issue.
After Nigel short lost to Caruana in the black side of a French Tarrasch, he slid back to 2nd place in Italy today. Vallejo-Pons stole the show and clear first with a sharp win against David Navara in a Ruy Lopez Exchange. Moro lost again, this time to Gashimov, leaving him in last place with only half a point after round 3, and Ivanchuk played the Dutch again, this time drawing against Onischuk easily after 26 moves.
In the most tactically exciting game of the day, Vallejo-Pons – Navara, it looks as though black could have walked away with a draw after repeating moves at move 16, when white’s queen can only shuttle back and forth. Sensing that his position was superior though, Navara took a risk and played on. Only a few moves later he was up an exchange and seemed to have come out of the opening with an advantage, but Vallejo-pons’ heavy pieces infiltrated and dealt a stylish tactical blow. This is probably the most entertaining game of the tournament so far.