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    Chess Notes

    Weekly chess column

    The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival is held in arguably the game’s most scenic places in the world. The snowcapped ledge, ceded permanently to the British in 1713, but now claimed by Spain and operated by its inhabitants, towers over the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. The tournament entrants included American Gata Kamsky, one of the French champions Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and two highly rated veterans, grandmasters Vassily Ivanchuk and Alexei Shirov.

    Ten rounds were sufficient to cut down the large field of 246 players in the Masters section, but at the end four players survived with 8 points. They were Vachier-Lagrave, chess humorist Nigel Short of England, India’s No. 11-rated player Chandra Sandipan, and Nikita Vitiugov, a 26-year-old grandmaster from Russia.

    After an elimination round, Short and Vitiugiov survived. The final two-game playoff was conducted under rapid time limits, won by Vitiugov.


    The first game (Vitiugov as White) turned out to be a very long and of minor historic importance. It was so long that one kibitzer pronounced it the game of the century because it took a century to watch it.

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    White faced a Nimzoindian defense and accepted a position, which most players avoid like the plague. By early exchanges Black forced doubled pawns on the queen‘s bishop file, and then blockaded them with …c5. The doubled pawns held the center, but gave little room for an imaginative attack from White.

    Short emerged in the end game with the better position. A daring thrust by him of his king’s knight pawn allowed a reversal of fortune for Vitiugov, who won a pawn, and Short never recovered. The game, however, with queens still active, went on and on. Another kibitzer observed that Short’s king moved to e8 or e7 30 times.

    A major question in this game became highlighted only after the game was over. It seems that the players repeated moves three times beginning at move 69, but neither player claimed a draw. In the frenetic time trouble atmosphere of a rapid game, it takes ability to spot a three-move repetition, with the claimant to move, and courage to take time out to claim a draw and stall the swift game while the whole world is watching. Short, who had the inferior position, did not even know whether under the rules he could offer a draw. He asked informally in the press section whether he could, but did not get an answer.

    The rapid play rules, which apply to a rapid play finish and not specifically to a rapid from the beginning, provide for a draw claim but do not define a draw. Our view is that the threefold move rule applies and it simply adds to the utter chaos and irrationality of rapid play.


    Brevity: M. Brodsky v. A. Ivanov (2012) 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0–0 0–0 7.a4 c6 8.a5 h6 9.Re1 Nh7 10.Be3 Bf6 11.d5 b5 12.axb6 Nxb6 13.Bxb6 Qxb6 14.dxc6 Qxb2 15.Qd3 Qb6 16.Reb1 Qd8 17.Nd5 a5 18.c7 Qe8 19.Rb8 Ra7 20.Bb5 Qe6 21.Qe3; 1-0

    Winners: 2013 Spiegel Cup: High School; 1st, Mika Brattain, 4-0; 14 & Under, 1st, Andrew Liu, 3.5 -.5; 11 & Under: 1st, Jason Tang, 3-1; 8 & Under: 1st, Alex Yu, 3.5 -.5; Wachusett Quick Chess Championship: 1st, Paul Godin, 4.5 -.5; Boylston CC Super Bowl Octads: 1st, Marc Esserman 2.5 – .5.

    Coming Events:Blackstone Chess Scrimmage Quads, Feb. 23, 250 Main Street, Pawtucket, R.I. ; Boylston Grand Prix Feb. 23, and Scholastic Feb. 24, 240B Elm Street, Somerville;