The 2018 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival (www.GibChess.com) ended in an exciting seven-player tie for first, with Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Richard Rapport, Nikita Vitiugov, Michael Adams, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and Quang Liem Le all at 7.5/10. Given the tie-breaking rules the organizers have come up with, the top four players using the tournament performance rating number were seeded into the final series of rapid/blitz matches. These were Nakamura, Aronian, Rapport, and Vachier-Lagrave. Vachier-Lagrave surprisingly beat Nakamura; Aronian beat Rapport; and then Aronian managed to beat Vachier-Lagrave in their first blitz game to be declared overall winner of the event. Aronian won $25,000, while the other six ended up with $10,500. Pia Cramling won the women’s prize with 6.5/10, earning $15,000.
The tournament had a rocky start for many. Aronian was drawn in the first round by a much lower player. The up-and-coming Russian Daniil Dubov actually lost in the first round. Two other top 10 players were held to draws, Le and Pentala Harikrishna. Another interesting highlight was the always entertaining and erratic Vassily Ivanchuk, who ended up in 35th place with three draws and two devastating losses.
Nakamura, the defending champ, started out like a house on fire with 5/5 but then slowed down, drawing his next five games and finishing in the tie. Rapport was a bit of a surprise, playing very solid chess that brought him into four-player tie-breaking matches. Dubov managed to overcome his first round loss by going 7/8, and then was very much in the running till he blundered badly to Le in the last round. Only two other US players had plus scores, Varuzhan Akobian and Gregory Kaidanov, both with 6.5/10. Local Cambridge player Marc Esserman finished with 4.5/10.
Recent results: Wachusett’s Reggie Boone Memorial, 1st: 1st-2nd: Roger Cappallo & Bruce Felton, 4/5; Metro West’s New Year’s Swiss, (74 players) Open: 1st, Denys Shmelov, 5/5, U2000, 1st: Neil Cousin, 4.5/5, U1700; 1st– 2nd Gordon Weast, Zukui Song, 4/5.
Answer to today’s problem: 1.Nxd5! exd5 (If 1...Qxc5 2.Ne7+ Nxe7 (2...Kh7 3.Rh3+ Nh4 4.Rxh4+ Qh5 5.Rxh5#) 3.Rxg7+ Kf8 4. Qd8#; 1...Qd7 is the best defense but after 2.Bxg7 exd5 3.Bxh8 Kxh8 4.Qh6+ Kg8 5.h4 Qd8 6.h5 White is winning) 2.Re8+ Kh7 (2...Nf8 3.Rxg7#) 3.Rxh8+ Kxh8 4.Qh6+ Kg8 5.Qxg7#Chris Chase can be reached at BostonGlobeChessNotes@