Italy: chess at high... altitude

264 players in the same hall are always a great show. That’s what I saw yesterday (Saturday 25) in Castione della Presolana, a nice mountain place not far from my home twon Bergamo (Italy), where the 2007 chess Festival is taking place in the local indoor stadium. There were not too many exciting games on top boards, to be honest: Siebrecht-Tiviakov (board 1), Godena-Borgo (3) and Schaefer-Hoffman (6) soon ended in draws; but there was some fire, anyway, in many other battles: British champion Jacob Aagaard beat Italian IM Fabrizio Bellia in a tough endgame after sacrificing an exchange in return for two pawns; IMs Roberto Mogranzini and Fabio Bruno, both with Black pieces, won the Italian derbies against 18 y.o. IM Sabino Brunello and FM Denis Rombaldoni. Only one unexpected result on the main boards in round 4, played today: Bulgarian GM Ljuben Spassov (ranked #35) won against German GM Igor Khenkin (ranked #2). Czech GM Pawel Jaracz, who beat Bruno, is in sole lead with a perfect score (4/4). You can see here some photos I took yesterday and some more taken by IM Roberto Messa today: he was a speaker in the press conference to present "La mia Siciliana" ("My Sicilian"), a book written by Italian champion GM Michele Godena (Roberto wrote the preface) and published by Caissa Italia.

Denis Rombaldoni and Jacob Aagaard

Roberto Mogranzini and Fabrizio Bellia

Tiviakov and Siebrecht (r. 3): a short draw

Master open: top boards from upper floor

Playing hall: a panoramic view

Young talent from Rome: Adriano Testa

Chess professional: Zdravko Muha and his stand

Fresh air: Dervishi and Isonzo analysing their game

Fabio Bruno and Vladimir Epishin

"Please do not disturb": Oleg Romanishin

GM Michele Godena presenting his book

Many more pictures can be found on the official site of the event, www.scaccobratto.com.
Meanwhile, Italy has been chosen as venue of the 2009 Youth European championship: the event will take place in the to be province of Fermo (this province doesn’t exist at the moment: it will born that same year), where the 2007 Porto San Giorgio festival is under way. English GM Gawain Jones is the sole leader after 6 rounds with 5.5 points; Elo favorite Sergey Fedorchuk (Ukr), Oleg Korneev (Rus), Ante Brkic (Cro), Normunds Miezis (Lat), Ivan Farago (Hun), Sergei Krivoshey (Ukr), Ivan Zaja (Cro) and Sergio Estremera Panos (Esp) follow half a point behind. Official site: www.torneoscacchi.it.
Two more tourneys ended in the last few days. 16 y.o. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave won a blitz play-off against Elo-favorite GM Vladislav Tkachiev to become the second youngest French champion in history; GM Andrei Sokolov was place third. WGM Silvia Collas beat WGM and Elo-favorite Sophie Milliet and took the female title. Official site: http://www.echecs.asso.fr/.
Israeli GM Ilia Smirin won the 22nd edition of the Acropolis international tournament, which took place in Athens (Greece) in August 14 to 22. Smirin scored 7 points out of 9 (with a 2748 performance) and edged out by half a point Kiril Georgiev of Bulgaria and Mircea Parligras of Greece. 82 players took part in the event, including 19 GMs. Official site: http://www.chessfed.gr/Acropolis2007/default.asp.
And now here is the interesting Brunello-Mogranzini game from Castione della Presolana.

Brunello,S. (2475) - Mogranzini,R. (2411) [B77], Castione 25.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6
Dragon is not dead!
6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0–0 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.Bc4 Nd7
A rare but interesting variation against the Yugoslav attack.
10.0–0–0 Nb6 11.Bb3 Na5 12.Qe2 Nxb3+ 13.axb3 a5 14.Ndb5 a4!
This looks to be a new move (and a really strong one!). The immediate 14...Be6 and 14...Bd7 have been played before.
Probably not the best choice. Now Mogranzini gets the initiative. 15.Qf2 is an alternative to be considered: after 15...Ra6 16.Bxb6 Rxb6 17.bxa4 Bd7 Black has enough compensation, but his Rook is not on the "a" file and White has one extra time to defend his position.
15...Qxb6 16.bxa4
After 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.Ndc7 Bd7!? 18.Nxa8 Qxa8 intending ...axb3, ...Qa5 (or ...Rc8) and ...Ra8 Black has the initiative anyway.
16...Be6 17.b3 Rfc8 18.Nd5 Qd8 19.c4 Bd7 20.Ndc3 Qa5 21.Kc2 Rc5
It looks like White can easily hold on the position, but he has to be very careful...
22.Rb1 Qb4
Probably not the most precise, but this is the only move which puts some pressure on White's position.
And White's nerves collapse! This looks to be the losing move: after 23.Qd2 White has nothing to be afraid of, e.g.: 23...Bxb5?! 24.Nxb5 Rxa4 25.Qxb4 Rxb4 26.Nc3 e6 27.Ra1 and Black has to defend to get an equal game.
23...Bxb5 24.Nxb5 Rxb5! 25.cxb5
25.axb5 Ra2+ 26.Kd1 Bh6 is hopeless for White.
25...Rc8+ 26.Kd1 Bh6 27.e5
White has nothing better.
27...Rc3 28.Qd5 Rc5 29.Qd3 Rc3 30.Qd5 Rc4!
The killer move. Black treats ...Rd4+ and White can't take the Rook with his Queen because of the mate on "d2".
A sad necessity.
31...Qxb1+ 32.Ke2 Qxh1 33.Kf2 Qxh2
White is lost now.
34.e6 Qh4+ 35.Ke2 fxe6 36.Qxe6+ Kf8 37.a5 Qd4 38.f4
38.a6 can't be played: 38...Qd2+ 39.Kf1 Be3 and mate in a few moves.
38...Qxf4 39.a6 Qd2+ 40.Kf3 bxa6 41.bxa6 Qd3+ 0–1
The first time control has passed and White finally resigns. This game won the round 3 brilliancy prize.

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