Saturday, 31 January 2009

Boris Spassky in Gibraltar

by Stewart Reuben, photo by Zeljka Malobabic of Monroi

People often say to me, “Grandmasters are very stand-offish.” My response is usually, Have you ever approached one?” “Oh, no I couldn’t do that.” “Well,” I respond, “Is it not you who is being hard to talk to?” One of the glories of the Gibraltar Chess Festival is that not only play takes place in the Caleta Hotel, but also that is where most of the players stay. Thus you can meet socially players from all over the world from many different backgrounds.

(left) GM Boris Spassky with Stewart Reuben

This year Boris Spassky, World Champion 1969-72, was a guest of the hotel for three days. It was his defence of the title against the American, Bobby Fischer, which caught the interest of the general public more than any other in the 1500 year history of chess. It is true that Bobby won their epic clash, but that in no way detracts from the status of Boris as one of the great icons of the game ... (read more)

Friday, 30 January 2009

7th Gibtelecom Chess Festival 2009

Born in 1970, Gary Quillan from Merseyside (pictured left below) is a very experienced and popular member of the English chess scene. He has been the strongest untitled player in the country for some time now (he could become an FM any time he likes, of course, having a rating well in excess of 2300); he has a couple of IM norms to his name.

Gary plays for Waterloo Chess Club who compete in division 2 of the MCA League. At the 2007 UK vs China match in Liverpool, there was an entertaining photo-shoot set up with Gary and England no.1 Mickey Adams, which mimicked a similar photo of the two of them which had been published in a UK newspaper 25 years earlier when the two of them had been playing in the National Primary Schools Championship - click here to see the 1982 and 2007 photos (navigate to the bottom of the page). Neither of them has changed a bit!

Round one
On top board, first out of the hat Gary (2357) played GM Vugar Gashimov who outrated him by nearly 400 points.

Quillan,Gary (2357) - Gashimov,Vugar (2723) [A00]
Gibtelecom Masters Gibraltar (1.1), 27.01.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.exd5 Nf6 7.Nc3 0-0 8.Bc4 Nbd7 9.0-0 Nb6 10.Bb3 Nfxd5 11.Re1 Be6 12.Bg5 Re8 13.h3 Nc7 14.Bf4 Ncd5 15.Be5 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Bd5 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Ne5 Rc8 19.Qd2 Rc7 20.Ng4 Qd6 21.Re5 Rec8 22.Rae1 h5 23.Qh6+ Kg8

Gary pondered a while and then played the crushing 24.Re6!! hxg4 25.Rxd6 exd6 26.hxg4 Bxb3 27.axb3 Rxc3

So, how does White win this position? Stuart Conquest, commenting on the game in Gibraltar, found the winning idea of 28.g3!! followed by Kg2, Rg1 and Black is lost as he is unable to defend the mating threat. Unfortunately, Gary was unable to find this move and instead played 28.Re3. Now the game continued 28...Nd5 29.Rxc3 Nxc3 30.Kf1 a5 31.f4 d5 32.f5 Rc6 33.Qf4 Ne4 34.Qb8+ Kg7 35.Qxb7 Rc1+ 36.Ke2 Rc2+ 37.Ke3 Rc3+ 38.Ke2 [Fritz prefers 38.Kf4 here but after g5+ 39.Ke5 Nf6 it's difficult to see how white can make progress] Rc2+ 39.Ke3 Rc3+ 40.Ke2 draw.

John Saunders - 'Who's who' Gibraltar website
Chessbase article - 28 Jan 2009
Game annotations by FM Steve Giddins

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

High quality, entertaining league chess

The Najdorf is one of the most complex of all chess openings. It remains one of Black's most popular responses to 1.e4 and is named after the Polish-Argentinian GM Miguel Najdorf 1910 - 1997. The oldest and easily the sharpest response by White is an immediate 6. Bg5, generally countered by 6...e6, followed by 7. f4, hoping to exploit the pin on the knight. The most well known response by Black is 7...Be7, when the main line continues 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0-0-0 Nbd7 and now 10.g4 or 10.Bd3. In this game both players demonstrate their knowledge of the Najdorf main line and produce a fine example of high quality, entertaining chess.

Mizanur Rahman E163 (Atticus 1) - Stuart Smiley A147 (Wallasey A) [B99]
MCA League, Div1, Bd3, 26.01.2009
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. 0–0–0 Nbd7 10. Kb1

10...b5 11.e5!?N [more usual is 11.Bd3 or 11.g4] Bb7 12.Qg3 dxe5 13.fxe5 Nh5 [13... >= Qxe5!? 14. Bf4 Qh5=/+ 15. Be2 Qg6 and Black is fine] 14.Qg4 Bxg5 15.Nxe6! fxe6 16.Qxh5+ g6 17.Qxg5 b4?? [17... >= O-O was necessary 18. Qe7 Rf7 19. Qxe6 Qxe5 20. Qxe5 Nxe5 gives Black good practical chances] 18.Bb5 bxc3 19.Bxd7+ Qxd7 20.Rxd7 Kxd7 21.Qf6 Bd5 22.Qf7+ Kc6 23.Qe7 Rad8 24.b4 Rc8

25.Rf1 Rc7 26.Qd6+ Kb7 27.a4 Bxg2 28.Rf6 Bd5 29.a5 Bc4 30.Qb6+ Kc8 31.Rxe6 Rf8 [both players were now in something of a time scramble but still alarmingly for the spectators, quite preoccupied with keeping the score! 31... Bxe6? 32. Qxa6+ Rb7 33. Qxe6+ Kb8 34. Qd6+ Ka7] 32.Rf6 Rd8 33.Rd6 Rf8 34.Rf6 Rd8 35.Rd6 Rf8 36.Rd1 Re8 37.Qd4 Be6 38.Rd3 Bf5 39.Rxc3 Rxc3 40.Qxc3+ Kb7 41.Kb2 Re6 42.Qd4 g5 43.c4 Rh6 44.Qd2 Rh4 45.Qxg5 [again >= 45. Qd5+ makes for a quicker finish but again both players were in serious time trouble at the very end of the second time control 45... Kc8 46. e6 Bxe6 47. Qxe6+ Kc7+-] 45...Rxh2+ 46.Kc3 Rc2+ 47.Kd4 Bd7 48.Qe7 Kc8 49.Kc5 1–0 [A highly enjoyable game (for the spectators!) played with courage and exemplary use of the clock.]

Click here to see additional comments and play through the game move by move.