A chess game... by postcards

I started a correspondence chess game (by postcards) this August and I'm going to make my second move. The duel is supposed to last about 20-25 years: we can make moves only when we go on holiday... Yes, I'm leaving again (for Wien, Austria), but I will come back soon (even too much!): you will read my next post on Sunday evening. Meanwhile, the Castione and Porto San Giorgio festivals will be finished: You can follow them on their official sites: www.scaccobratto.com and www.torneoscacchi.it.
In both tourneys anything can still happen: Polish GM Pawel Jaracz leads the field in Castione with 4.5/5, but eleven players follow on 4: GMs Sergei Tiviakov, Vladimir Epishin, Vladimir Burmakin, Erald Dervishi (last year winner) and Italian IM Fabio Bruno are among them. The first of two collateral blitz tourneys took place on Sunday evening: IM Daniele Vocaturo from Rome scored 8/9 and edged out by a full point GMs Alberto David and Michele Godena; Hungarian GM and Elo favorite Csaba Horvath was placed only fifth on 6.5.
English GM Gawain Jones and Spanish IM Sergio Estremera Panos are the surprising leaders in Porto San Giorgio: they share the first place on 6/7 and they will play each other today. Estremera, in particular, beat three GMs in a row (Komarov, Hamdouchi and Korneev) and should perform a GM norm.
Well, goodbye now. It's time to prepare my luggage. Before leaving, I've annotated for you a nice win by Estremera in Porto San Giorgio.

Hamdouchi,H. (2576) - Estremera Panos,S. (2375) [B63], Porto San Giorgio 26.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 Be7
The immediate 7...a6 is the most popular continuation.
8.0–0–0 a6
Estremera is mixing up different plans, but he is not the first one. 8...0–0 is the standard line after 7...Be7.
9.f3 0–0
And now 9...Bd7 is the main choice!
10.h4 Qc7
10...Nxd4 11.Qxd4 b5 12.Kb1 Qc7 has been played by Anand, Gulko and Kotronias among the others.
11.g4 Rd8 etc. is a more common continuation.
11...h6 12.Bh4
This looks to be a new move: 12.Be3 was played in Peptan-Roos, Berlin 1997, which continued 12...Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Rd8 14.g4 e5 15.Be3 d5 16.exd5 Be6 17.Bd3 Nxd5 and Black has a slight edge.
12...Nxd4 13.Qxd4 b5 14.g4
14.Kb1 is probably more safe.
Black starts fighting for the initiative! 14...e5 15.Qd3 b4 16.Bxf6 Bxf6 17.Nd5 Bg5+ 18.Kb1 Qb7 intending ...Be6 and ...Rfc8 was a good alternative.
A poor move. The "brave" 15.Qxb4 is absolutely playable and probably the best choice for White, e.g.: 15...d5 16.Qd4 e5 (16...Bb7!? 17.exd5 Bc5 18.Qd3 Nxd5 19.Nxd5 Bxd5 20.Kb1 a5 and Black has some compensation) 17.Nxd5 Nxd5 18.Qxd5 Be6 19.Qd2 Rfd8 20.Bd3 Bxh4 21.Rxh4 Bxa2 22.g5!? Bc4 23.Qc3 Qe7 24.Rg4 Bxd3 25.Rxd3 hxg5 26.Rd5 f6 and the position is about equal.
15...Rb8 16.b3 Bd7 17.Nb2 Rfc8
Now Black has a strong attack without any material loss.
Another weak move, although after 18.Bc4 d5!? White faces some troubles anyway, e.g.: 19.exd5 exd5 20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Qxd5 and now both 21...Bb5 and Be6 give Black a strong initiative in return for the pawn.
A natural and strong move.
19.Bxa6 Re8 20.Bd3 Ra8 is good for Black as well.
19...Bd6 20.Kb1 Bf4 21.Qe1
21.Qe2 looks more precise.
21...Be5! 22.Ka1
What does this move mean? 22.Rg1 makes more sense.
22...a5 23.exd5 exd5 24.Rg1
Too late.
24...Re8 25.Qd2?
25.Bg3! is the only way to put up some resistance: after 25...a4 (25...Bxb2+? 26.Kxb2 Rxe1? 27.Bxc7 Rxg1 28.Rxg1 Ra8 29.g5 and White is even better) 26.bxa4 Bxa4 27.Bxe5 Rxe5 28.Qd2 Bc6 29.g5 hxg5 30.Rxg5 Rxg5 31.Qxg5 Qh2 Black has some winning chances, but White holds on.
25...a4 26.bxa4 Ra8!
Now White is in deep trouble.
27.Kb1 Qc3 28.Qc1 Rxa4! is not promising for White, e.g.: 29.Be1 Qc5 30.Nxa4 Qxg1 31.Bc3 Qa7 32.Bxe5 Rxe5 33.Nb2 Re8 intending ...Ra8 and Black wins.
27...Nxh5 28.gxh6
Losing on the spot, but there were not many alternatives. 28.Kb1 would prolong the agony some more moves, e.g.: 28...Bf4 29.Qxb4 Rxa4 30.Nxa4 Rb8 31.Qxb8+ Qxb8+ 32.Nb2 Be5 33.c3 Nf4–+
28...Rxa4 29.Kb1 Rxa2!
The decisive blow.
30.Kxa2 Qa5+ 31.Kb1 Ra8 0–1
White can't avoid mate or huge material losses, so he resigns. A very convincing win by Spanish IM Sergio Estremera.


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.


Waiting for Mexico City

The Mexico City tourney will start on September 13. Waiting for the world championship, some interesting events are taking place (or have just finished) all over the world. GM Vladislav Tkachiev, winner of the 2007 European championship, and 17 y.o. GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will play tomorrow a rapid play-off: the winner will be crowned new French chess king. They both scored 7.5 points out of 11 in the National championship, which ended today in Aix-les-Bains, edging out by half a point GM Andrei Sokolov. Official site: http://www.echecs.asso.fr.
Another king was crowned yesterday afternoon: Czech master Jaroslav Olsar won the IBCA European championship, which took place in Durham (England), with 8 points out of 9. Russian IM and Elo favorite Yuri Meshkov was placed second on 7.5, Ukrainian master Sergey Grigorchuk came in third place on 7. The only player from Italy, Mauro Fratini, scored 4 points. Official site: http://www.braillechess.org.uk/.
The fourth China vs Russia chess match takes place until August 31 in Nizhniy Novgorog, Russia. After 5 rounds of 10 China leads by 5 (!) points, 27.5-22.5. Dmitry Jakovenko (2735) and Wang Yue (2696) are the top rated players of the two teams. Official site: http://russiachess.org/.
In the Dutch city of Arnhem, famous for the "Bridge Too Far", a ten-player round robin is under way, led by 25-year-old Zambian IM Amon Simutowe: he has 6.5 points after 7 rounds, a half more than Indian GM Dibyendu Barua. The event is being staged in the NH Rijnhotel, which is also hosting an interesting exhibition on Chess and Art. Official site: http://www.euwe-stimulans.nl/.
The 2007 Presolana chess festival started yesterday in Castione della Presolana, Italy. After a quiet first round, without astonishing results, some surprises happened in round 2: Italian 17 y.o. FM Denis Rombaldoni from Pesaro, for example, beat Hungarian GM Csaba Horvath (ranked #5) with Black pieces, while his brother Axel, a master himself, won against Philipino IM Roland Salvador. Congratulations! Denis is fighting for his third and last IM norm: this undoubtedly is a good base... Official site: http://www.scaccobratto.com/2007.shtml.
Three players have a perfect score in the 2007 Porto San Giorgio (Italy) festival after 4 rounds: they are GMs Ante Brkic (CRO), Gawain Jones (ENG) and Ivan Farago (HUN). Nine players are just half a point behind; Elo favorite GM Sergei Fedorchuk from Ukraine lost to Romanian IM Andrei Nestor Cioara in round 3 and follow on 3. Official site: http://www.torneoscacchi.it/.
And now here is a nice (annotated) game from Porto San Giorgio, followed by the win by D. Rombaldoni against Horvath in Castione (no annotations).

Bontempi,Pi. (2349) - Rotstein,Ar. (2515) [B22], Porto San Giorgio 23.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.Bd3
3.e5 is the most popular alternative, but Bontempi doesn't want to test his opponent's opening preparation.
3...Nc6 4.Nf3 d5 5.e5 c4
The immediate 5...Ng4 and 5...Nd7 are more common.
6.Bc2 Ng4 7.Ba4 Qc7 8.Qe2 Bd7
8...Bf5 was played in Sebag-Toma, Oropesa del Mar 1999; the game continued 9.Nd4 Bxb1 10.Nxc6 bxc6 11.Qxg4 Bd3 12.Qg3 Rc8 13.b3 Qa5 14.Ba3 h5 15.Bb4 Qa6 16.Qe3 e6 and a draw was agreed 30 moves later.; 8...g6 has also been seen in Mueller-Lampe, Oberliga Nord 1998; the game soon ended in a draw: 9.h3 Nh6 10.d4 Bf5 11.Bc2 Bxc2 12.Qxc2 Bg7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Bf4 e6 15.Qd2 Nf5 16.Na3 a6 1/2–1/2.
9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.h3 Nh6 11.b3
Finally a new move in a very rare variation! 11.g4 g6 12.d4 cxd3 13.Qxd3 Bg7 14.Bf4 e6 15.Qd2 Ng8 16.Na3 h5 17.Rg1 hxg4 18.hxg4 c5 19.0–0–0 Bc6= was played in Pickersgill-Avari, Hastings 2000.
11...cxb3 12.axb3 Rb8 13.b4 c5 14.bxc5 Qxc5
It looks like Black has a full equality, but he must pay attention anyway...
15.0–0 e6?!
Probably the first inaccuracy. 15...Nf5 16.Ba3 Qb6 17.Kh1 h5 looked more precise.
16.Ba3 Qa5
There are no better alternatives, e.g.: 16...Qb5 17.c4! Qxc4 18.Qxc4 dxc4 19.Bxf8 Kxf8 20.Rxa7 Ke7 21.Nc3 Rhd8 22.Rfa1 and White has a better endgame; 16...Qb6 17.Bxf8 Rxf8 18.Na3 intending Nd4 or Rab1 and White is good.; 16...Bb5 17.d3 Qc7 18.Bxf8 Rxf8 19.Na3! Nf5 20.Rfb1 with a strong initiative.
17.c4 Bxa3 18.Nxa3 0–0 19.Rfc1 was good as well, but Bontempi wants more.
17...Qxa1 18.Na3 Qa2
18...Qxf1+? 19.Qxf1 Rxf8 20.Qa6 was good... but only for White.
19.Bd6 Rb2?!
Another dubious move. After 19...Rb6 20.Bc5 Rc6 21.Qb5 Rc8 22.Qb4 White has more than enough compensation for the sacrificed exchange, but Black can survive.
20.Nd4 was probably even stronger.
This should be the decisive mistake. After 20...Nf5 21.Bb4 Ne7 22.Nd4! (22.Qxa7 Nc6 23.Qa8+ Nd8) 22...Nc8 23.d3 White has a strong initiative, but Black hold on.
21.Bb4! Qa4 22.Qd6 Rxb4
Forced. 22...Kd8 23.Qb8+ Bc8 24.Nb5+-
23.cxb4 Qc6?
23...Rf8 was a sad necessity. Now White wins almost immediately.
24.Qb8+ Qc8 25.Qxa7 0–0 26.b5 Nf5
26...f6 was not much better, e.g.: 27.b6 Nf7 28.exf6 gxf6 29.Rb1 Nd6 30.b7 Qb8 31.Qb6+-
27.b6 h5 28.Rb1 h4 29.b7 Qb8 30.Qb6 g6
30...Ba4 31.Nb5 Bxb5 32.Rxb5 followed by Ra5 was winning for White anyway.
31.Nc2 1–0
Too many treats: Ra1–a8, Nb4-a6. Black resigns. A very convincing win by FM Piero Bontempi from Ancona.

Horvath,Cs. (2558) - Rombaldoni,De. (2383) [A13], Castione 24.8.2007
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 6.Qxc4 c5 7.0–0 a6 8.Qb3 Qc7 9.d4 b5 10.Bf4 Bd6 11.dxc5 Bxf4 12.gxf4 Qxc5 13.Ne5 Rb8 14.Nd2 Nxe5 15.Rac1 Qd4 16.fxe5 Qxe5 17.Nf3 Qf4 18.e3 Qa4 19.Ne5 0–0 20.Rc7 Qh4 21.Qd1 Bb7 22.Rxb7 Rxb7 23.Bxb7 Qg5+ 24.Kh1 Qxe5 25.Qd4 Qc7 26.Bf3 Rd8 27.Qb4 g6 28.Kg2 e5 29.a4 Rb8 30.Qc3 Qxc3 31.bxc3 bxa4 32.Ra1 e4 33.Be2 Rb2 34.Kf1 Nd5 35.Bxa6 Nxc3 36.Bc4 Rb4 37.Ba2 a3 38.Ke1 Rb2 0–1


Fire on the board in Porto San Giorgio

The battle has started. 16 GMs and 16 IMs are playing in Porto San Giorgio (315 participants), where the traditional chess festival began yesterday. Some surprising results occured in the first round: Ukrainian GM Dimitri Komarov and last year winner, English IM Lawrence Trent, drew against CMs Pietro Ruggeri and Giampaolo Manganelli respectively, while Bulgarian IM Nikolai Ninov and Croatian IM Milan Mrdja lost to CMs Matteo Rotoni and Sergio Faccia. The day before the event start a blitz tourney (10 minutes per player, 80 participants), the 3rd Lanfranco Bombelli Memorial, took place in Porto Sant’Elpidio: Italian master Ettore Stromboli scored 7/8 and edged out by half a point IM Trent, Russian GM Igor Naumkin (Elo-favorite) and Giulio Calavalle from Bologna. Official site: www.torneoscacchi.it.
IM Daniele Vocaturo gave a simul to inaugurate the 2007 festival in Castione della Presolana, not far from my home town Bergamo. The young talent from Rome won 13 games on 14, with only one draw against candidate master Gian Marco Marinelli from Modena; there were five more CMs among his opponents. The first round of the A group (Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov is the top seed) will be played tomorrow, the remaining groups will start on Friday. Official site: www.scaccobratto.com.

Daniele Vocaturo interviewed
by a journalist of a local Tv channel
(my thanks to Matteo Alborghetti for the photos)

The young IM from Rome in action!

Daniele Vocaturo in action - part 2

And now here is the surprising and brilliant win by candidate master Matteo Rotoni from Macerata (who also made a very good performance in Falconara last month) against Ninov in Porto San Giorgio.

Rotoni,Mat. (2074) - Ninov,Nik. (2536) [B21], Porto S. G. 21.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.d4
No fear of a stronger opponent: Rotoni wants to fight for the initiative since the very begin!
2...cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6
5...e6 is a popular alternative, but the text move is more frequent.
6.Bc4 a6
6...e6 is now the most common reply.
7.0–0 Nf6 8.Bg5
8.h3 and the immediate 8.Qe2 are well-known alternatives. The text move is less popular.
8...e6 9.Qe2 h6
9...Be7 is good as well (and probably less risky).
10.Bh4 g5 11.Bg3 Nh5 12.Rad1
12.Rfd1 was played in Smith-Evans, San Antonio 1972; the game continued 12...Nxg3 13.hxg3 g4 14.Ne1? Ne5 15.Bb3 h5 16.Nd3 (16.f4 looks better) 16...Bg7 17.Nf4 h4 18.Qd2 hxg3 19.fxg3 Qb6+ 20.Kf1 Bd7! and Black won the game 20 moves later.
12...Nxg3 13.hxg3 Bd7
A new move. 13...Qf6 was played a couple of times before, with Black winning in both cases: 14.Nh2 (14.e5!? dxe5?! (14...Nxe5) 15.Ne4 Qg7 16.Qd2? (16.Nd6+ Bxd6 17.Rxd6 is unclear) 16...f5 17.Nc3?! Bc5 18.Rfe1?! e4 19.Nxe4 fxe4 20.Rxe4 0–0 21.Qc2 Be7 22.Bxe6+ Bxe6 23.Rxe6 Bf6–+ Costa-Gallagher, Lisbon 2000) 14...Be7 15.f4 gxf4 16.gxf4 Qg7 17.Kh1 Bd7 18.Qe3 Rc8 19.Be2 Rg8 20.g4 Nd8 21.Bf3 Bc6 22.Rfe1 e5 23.Nd5?! (23.f5) 23...Ne6 24.f5 Nd4 and White resigned on move 44, Lendwai-Lutz, Graz 1993.
14.e5 looks interesting, e.g.: 14...g4 (14...d5? 15.Bxd5! exd5 16.Nxd5 Bg7 17.Nf6+ Bxf6 18.exf6+ Kf8 19.Ne5 Nxe5 20.Qxe5 and White gains the piece back by Qd6+ or Qd4 (20...Qc8 21.Qe7+) with a huge advantage) 15.Nh2 Nxe5 16.Nxg4 Nxc4 17.Qxc4 Rg8 18.Rfe1 intending Nd5 and White has the control of the board.
Why not the immediate 14...Rc8 ?
15.Nxc6 Bxc6 16.Bd5 Rc8 is not dangerous for Black.
15...Rc8 16.Bb3 Be7
16...Bg7 was also possible, but White can take a strong initiative by playing the immediate 17.Nf5 , e.g.: 17...exf5 18.exf5+ Kf8 19.Rxd6 Bxc3 (19...Be5 20.Rxc6 Bxc6 21.Qxe5 with a good compensation) 20.bxc3 Qc7 21.Qd2 Re8 (21...Bxf5? 22.Rf6 Bg6? 23.Qxg5 with a very strong attack) 22.Rxe8+ Bxe8 23.f6 Rg8 24.Qd5!? and Black doesn't have an active plan to play.; 16...Nxd4 17.Rxd4 h4 had to be considered.
17.Qd2 Qb6?
A serious mistake. 17...h4 was strong and natural. Now White takes the initiative by playing a brilliant (and virtually forced) move.
Excellent! White opens the "e" file and starts the attack.
18...Qd8 19.Nxd6+ Bxd6 20.Qxd6 Qe7 was too sad to be taken into consideration, but it probably was the most stubborn continuation.
19.exf5 Bxf5
19...Kd8 was not better, e.g.: 20.Nd5 Qb5 (20...Qc5 21.Rxe7! Nxe7 22.Qxg5 Re8 23.Re1 with a decisive attack; 20...Qa5 21.Qxa5+ Nxa5 22.Rxe7 with excellent winning chances) 21.Nxe7 Nxe7 22.Qxg5 Re8 23.Rxd6 f6 24.Qf4 and White must win.
20.Qxd6 Qa5?
A losing move, but Black didn't have many drawing chances anyway, e.g.: 20...Be6 21.Rxe6 Qd8 22.Qc5 fxe6 23.Rxd8+ Rxd8 24.Qe3 e5 25.Nd5+-; 20...0–0 21.Rxe7 Qb4 22.Qxb4 Nxb4 23.Nd5! Bc2 24.Bxc2 Nxc2 25.Rxb7+-
What a pity! This move is probably enough to take the full point, but 21.Nd5 wins on the spot, e.g.: 21...0–0 (21...Be6 22.Rxe6 fxe6? 23.Nf6+ Kf8 24.Qxe6+-) 22.Rxe7 Nxe7 23.Nxe7+ Kg7 24.Rd5 Qe1+ 25.Kh2+-
Black's last chance was 21...Be6 22.Rxe6 Qc7 23.Re3 Qxd6 24.Rxd6 Rd8 25.Rf6 and White is very close to victory, but Black can still fight.
Now it is all over.
22...Rxd5 was more precise, although after 23.Bxd5 0–0 24.Qxf5 Kg7 25.Rxe7 Nxe7 26.Qe5+ (see game) Black is lost anyway.
23.Rxe7! Rxd5 24.Nxd5 is much stronger, but the text move wins anyway.
23...Rxd5 24.Bxd5 Kg7
Forced. 24...Qb4 25.Be4+-; 24...Kh8 25.b4 Bxb4 (25...Qxb4 26.Be4+-) 26.Qf6+ Kg8 27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Qxh5+ Kg8 29.Qxg5+ Kh8 30.Re4+-
25.Rxe7! Nxe7 26.Qe5+ Kh6 27.Qxe7 Qd8 28.Qxd8
28.Qxb7 was faster.
28...Rxd8 29.Bxb7 Rb8 30.Bxa6 Rxb2 31.a4 Rc2 32.Nd5
Black is completely lost now.
32...f5 33.Bb5 h4 34.gxh4 gxh4 35.Ne3 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 f4 37.Ng4+ Kg5 38.f3 Ra1 39.Nf2 Ra2 40.Ne4+ Kf5 41.Kh3 Ke5 42.Nc5 Kd4 43.Nd3 Ke3 44.Ne5
Intending Ng6-Nxh4.
44...Ra1 45.Ng4+ Kd4 46.Kxh4 Rg1 47.Kg5 Rxg2 48.Kxf4 Rc2 49.Nf6 Rc5 50.Nd7 Rd5 51.Nb8 Kc5 52.Nc6 Rd7 53.Ke4 Rh7 54.f4 Rh8 55.f5 Kd6 56.Kf4 Rg8 57.f6 1–0
And finally Black resigned.


Tiviakov, Fedorchuk & co. in Italy

We have to wait until Mexico City to see superGMs in action again, but a couple of strong opens are going to start in Italy in the next few days: the first in Porto San Giorgio (tomorrow) and the second in Castione della Presolana (on Thursday), not far from my home town, Bergamo. The Porto San Giorgio open will see more than 40 titled players in the main A group: among them you can find GMs Sergey Fedorchuk (UKR - 2618), Hichem Hamdouchi (MAR - 2576), Vladimir Georgiev (MKD - 2567), Oleg Korneev (RUS - 2565), Ante Brkic (CRO - 2558), Dmitri Komarov (UKR - 2550), Nenad Sulava (CRO - 2544), Gawain Jones (ENG - 2526), Normunds Miezis (LAT - 2524), Igors Rausis (CZE - 2524), Felix Levin (GER - 2521), Arkadij Rotstein (GER - 2515), Ivan Farago (HUN - 2501), Sergei Krivoshey (UKR - 2500) and the young English IM Lawrence Trent, who was the surprising winner of the 2006 edition. A blitz tourney will be played along the tourney. Official site: http://www.torneoscacchi.it/.
The Castione open will be even stronger, with more than 50 titled players (this is probably the strongest edition ever of this tourney) in the main A group. Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov (2648) is the top seed, but he will have to fight hard to take the first place: among his opponents there are GMs Igor Khenkin (GER - 2602), Vladimir Epishin (RUS - 2587), Vladimir Burmakin (RUS - 2581), Csaba Horvath (HUN - 2558), Erald Dervishi (ALB - 2553), Michele Godena (Italian champion - 2547), Oleg Romanishin (UKR - 2546), Miso Cebalo (CRO - 2533), Alberto David (LUX - 2529), Gyula Sax (HUN - 2522), wGM Marie Sebag (FRA - 2495) and IM and British champion Jacob Aagard (SCO - 2467). Italian 18 y.o. IM Daniele Vocaturo will give a simul on August 22 to inaugurate the event; two blitz tourneys will be played on August 26 and 29 (both starting at 9.45 pm) and two books will be presented on Sunday (at 10.30 a.m.): "La mia Siciliana" ("My Sicilian") by GM Michele Godena and "La regina degli scacchi" ("The chess queen") by Walter Tevis. Official site: http://www.scaccobratto.com/2007.shtml.
Before going to bed, I put to your attention an article about Italian young talent Marco Codenotti from Pisa, posted by Tom Panelas on "The Knights of Castle Kimbark" blog. He writes: "Marco Codenotti, the former Ray School chess star who returned to his native Italy two years ago, has been seen in Chicago, where he is spending the summer. He is of course active in chess, training with local GM Dmitry Gurevich and playing in the odd tournament, most recently the August 12 Third Coast Challenge by Renaissance Knights in Northbrook". You can read the full story at http://raychess.blogspot.com/2007/08/marco-sighted-in-chitown.html. A post-script for Tom: I will reply to your e-mail as soon as possible!
A final note for Italian readers mainly: the poll for "The 2007 Queen - July" is open, so you can watch and vote your favorite game at http://www.messaggeroscacchi.it/regina2007/index.html.


Mainz, Vishy takes revenge on Aronian

The World chess championship in Mexico City is approaching very fast and two of the main favourite were the protagonists of the Mainz Chess Classic, which ended this evening. Immediately after the end of the Ordix Open (762 participants!), won by Czech GM David Navara with 9.5/11, the event finished with another highlight: the match for the Grenke Leasing Rapid Chess World Championship between Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian. Three days ago the same players had played the final of the FiNet Chess960 World Championship: the Armenian super GM had won 3.5-2.5 after a blitz-tiebreak. This time Anand took revenge: after three draws, he won the fourth and decisive game with Black pieces to take first place. Both players looked to have the coming World Championship in mind: the didn't reveal too much of their preparation for Mexico, but the match was tense and exciting anyway. You can find all informations, reports and games on the official site: http://www.chesstigers.de/ccm7.php?lang=1.
In the past week some interesting tournaments took place around the globe: one of them was in my beloved London. Here the 5th Staunton Memorial, held in a very central location at Simpsons in the Strand, saw six Dutch and six English players compete in a single round robin event, supported by the Dutch chess enthusiast Jan Mol. A local player won at last: Michael Adams scored 8.5 points out of 11 and took clear first place by a point from Ivan Sokolov and Loek van Wely. Official site: http://www.howardstaunton.com/hsmt2007/index.shtml. Another notable event, the 5th Gyorgy Marx Memorial, took place in Paks (Hungary): Peter Acs and Pentala Harikrishna finished on 6/10 with Acs taking first place as he scored the most wins. Viktor Korchnoj, who was in sole lead after the first part of the tourney, collapsed with only a half from 4 in the final rounds. Official site: http://www.ase.hu/marxgy/2007/index_eng.html.
And now here is a nice win by young English GM Gawain Jones over the most experienced Dutch GM Loek Van Wely in London.

Jones,G (2526) - Van Wely,L (2680) [B23], London 17.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3
The closed Sicilian. This opening choice doesn't mean that Jones wants to play a closed and positional game...
2...Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0–0 a6
The main line is 6...Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d6 (7...d5!? 8.e5 a6 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.d4 cxd4 11.Qxd4 e6=) 8.d3 Nf6 9.Qe1 0–0 10.Qh4 Qd7 11.Nc3 Qg4= and Black has nothing to be afraid of.
7.Bd3 b5
A rare move and probably not the best. 7...d6 is a much more common alternative: even Anand and Bacrot has opted for it.
8.e5 looks interesting.
8...cxd4 has also been played. After 9.Ne2 Ivan Ivanisevic tried 9...Bb7 and won a blitz game on ICC against Wippermann in 2003.
9.Kh1 Bb7
The game Rumens-Kennedy, Duesseldorf 1997, continued 9...c4 10.Be2 Bb7 11.Bf3 e5?! (11...Qc8) 12.d3 with a slight edge for White.
This looks to be a novelty. 10.Ne2 was played in Wippermann-Bogorads, Duesseldorf 1997, with the continuation 10...Bg7 11.c3 d5 12.e5 e6 13.Qe1 h5 14.Qf2 Bf8 15.Bb1 Nh6 16.d4 Ng4 17.Qg3 Be7=
10...Qc7 was a playable (and more precise) alternative: after 11.Be4 Bxc3 12.Bxb7 Qxb7 13.dxc3 Nh6 the position is completely equal.
11.Be4! Bxc3 12.Bxb7 Bxb2 13.Bxb2 Rxb7 14.f5!
White has lost a pawn, but he can now start a strong attack!
There were not many alternatives...
15.Qf3 Qb6?
A bad inaccuracy. After 15...Qc7 16.e6 f6 17.fxg6 hxg6 18.Bxf6 exf6 19.Qxf6 Qxh2+ 20.Kxh2 Ng4+ 21.Kg3 Nxf6 22.Rxf6 White has the iniatiative, but Black has good surviving chances.
16.e6 f6 17.fxg6 hxg6 18.Bxf6!
Simple and (almost) decisive.
18...Rf8 is also hopeless, e.g.: 19.Qg3 Rxf6 (19...Qxe6 20.Qxg6+ Kd8 21.Bxe7+ Qxe7 22.Qxh6 Rxf1+ 23.Rxf1+-) 20.Rxf6 exf6 21.Qxg6+ Ke7 22.Qg7+ Kxe6 23.Rf1 Nf5 24.Qg8+ and White must win.
19.Qxf6 Rg8 20.Rae1 d5
What else?
21.Qg5 Re7 22.Qxh6 Qa5?
The last mistake. 22...Qd6 was more stubborn. 22...Rxe6 loses immediately: 23.Qh7+-
23.Rf6 Qxa2
23...Qc7 was forced. Now White has a forced mate.
24.Rxg6 Rf8
If 24...Rxg6 then 25.Qh8+ Rg8 26.Qxg8#
25.Qxf8+! 1–0
The last blow: 25.Qxf8+ Kxf8 26.Rf1+ Rf7 27.Rxf7+ Ke8 28.Rg8#.


Chess greetings from holidays

Yes, I'm back, but I haven't unpacked my luggage, since I will leave for Wien on August 28. I've spent a lot of holidays this year and I hope to play at least one chess tourney in 2008, if I will be so lucky again. I was in Dorf Tirol, a little and nice mountain place near Meran, where Karpov and Korchnoj played their world championship match in 1981. There was only one Internet point (and not a cheap one...) in the neighbourhood, so it was a bit difficult to have chess news. But echoes of Caruana's first place in Vlissingen arrived even in Dorf Tirol (the news were on the Italian Teletext). This has probably been his most prestigious victory up to now, with a 2715 performance and a final draw, with Black pieces, against former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov. About his only loss in round 7, with Tiviakov, he didn't lost on time (as I previously reported), but resigned in a drawn position (he was in terrible time trouble). In Vlissingen Fabiano scored his fourth GM norm in six months, so nobody can say he doesn't deserve the GM title now :-) His rating is growing and growing (he is now between 2585 and 2590, I think) and he could soon break the 2600 wall - he would be the first Italian player in chess history, if I don't mind -. In the meantime, his participation to the C-group in Wijk aan Zee next January has been confirmed: this will be a IX or X category event with 14 players; GM Efstratios Grivas (GRC), GM Pascal Charbonneau (CAN), IM Pontus Carlsson (SWE) and IM Irina Krush (USA) will be some of his most dangerous opponents. Official site will be: http://www.coruschess.com/.
Coming back to holidays, I post here my "chess postcard" from Meran and I wait for photos and "chess postcards" of your holidays from all over the world: write your first and second name, country and the place where the photo has been taken and, if you want, a short message.

Dario Mione, Italy
Chess greetings from Meran!

I will create a special section on www.messaggeroscacchi.it ("Chess holidays" would be the title) or post them here. You can send your photos in .JPG format both to dario(at)strababos.it and redazione(at)messaggeroscacchi.it.
I will annotate a "serious" chess game tomorrow. Now I just report a blitz game I played in Meran against a friend (a 2100+ player: the final score of our "match" was 3-2 in my favor :-) ).

Mione,D - PA [C00], Meran (blitz game) 12.8.2007
1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Ne2 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.d4 Be7
7...cxd4 8.cxd4 f6 is the main alternative.
Inspired by Caruana's victory over Barua in Vlissingen (round 8).
8...cxd4 9.cxd4 Nb6?!
9...Qb6 looks more precise.
10.Bd3 0–0 11.h4
White is now ready to demolish Black's castle.
The decisive mistake. Black could only survive by playing 11...f5 , although after 12.exf6 Bb4+ (12...gxf6 13.Rh3 Kh8 14.Ng5! with a crushing attack) 13.Kf1 Qxf6 14.Qc2 g6 15.h5 White is better.
Starting the fireworks...
13.Ng5+! Kg8
13...fxg5 14.hxg5+ Kg8 15.Qh5+- is only a postposition.
14.Ngxe6? is bad: 14...Bxe6 15.Nxe6 Qd7 16.Nxf8 Rxf8 and Black is much better.
What else? If 14...Bb4+ then 15.Kf1 fxg5 16.hxg5 Ne7 (16...Rf5 17.Qh8+ Kf7 18.g6+ Ke7 19.Qxg7+ Ke8 20.Rh8+ Bf8 21.Qh7+-) 17.g6 Nxg6 18.Qh7+ Kf7 19.Qxg6+ Ke7 (19...Kg8 20.Rh7 Rf7 21.Qh5 Kf8 22.Rh8+ Ke7 23.Rxd8 Kxd8 24.Qxf7+-) 20.Qxg7+ Ke8 (20...Rf7 21.Ng6+ Ke8 22.Rh8+ Bf8 23.Rxf8++-) 21.Qg6+ Kd7 22.Nxe6 Rg8 23.Rh7+ Be7 24.Qh6 Qe8 25.Bg5+-
15.hxg5 Bxg5
If 15...Nxe5 then 16.dxe5 Bxg5 17.Qh7+ Kf7 18.Qg6+ Kg8 19.Nh5 Qc7 20.Bxg5 Qxe5+ 21.Kf1 etc. - see notes on move 18.
16.Qh7+ Kf7 17.Qg6+ Kg8
17...Ke7 leads to an even spectacular ending: 18.Nxd5+! Kd7 19.Bxg5 Qe8 (19...Nxd5 20.Bxd8 Rxd8 21.Qxg7+ Nce7 22.Rh8+-) 20.Qxg7+ Qf7 (20...Ne7 21.Nf6+ Rxf6 22.exf6 Nbd5 23.f7+-) 21.Qxf8! Qxf8 22.Rh7+ Ne7 (22...Ke8 23.Nc7#) 23.Bxe7 Qf5 24.Bd6+ Qxh7 25.Nf6+ Kd8 26.Nxh7+-
18.Nh5 1–0
White is two pieces down, but has a crushing attack, so Black resigned. E.g.:18.Nh5 Qc7 (18...Rf7 19.Bxg5 Ne7 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 21.Nf6+ Rxf6 22.exf6 Qxf6 23.Qe8+ Qf8 24.Rh8++-) 19.Bxg5 Nxe5 (19...Nxd4 20.Nf6+ Rxf6 21.exf6 Nc2+ 22.Kd2 Nc4+ 23.Kc1+-) 20.dxe5 Qxe5+ 21.Kf1 Nd7 (21...Qxb2 22.Bf6 Qxf6 23.Nxf6+ Rxf6 24.Qe8+ Rf8 25.Rh8++-) 22.Re1 Qxb2 23.Bf6 Qxf6 24.Nxf6+ Rxf6 25.Qe8+ Nf8 26.Rc1+-


Caruana superstar in Vlissingen

Great Fabiano! Italian top rated player is the sole leader of the HZ open tournament, which takes place in Vlissingen (Holland): he has 7 points out of 8 with only one round to go. His last two games were very exciting. After saving a desperate position, Caruana lost on time to GM Sergei Tiviakov in round 7. He was two pawns down, but he continued fighting and got some initiative; the Dutch GM finally blundered a piece on move 53 and Fabiano got some winning chances, then they both made some mistakes in mutual time trouble. Tiviakov won on time on move 73, in a totally drawn position. Caruana took revenge in round 8 by beating Indian GM Dibyendu Barua: the latter played a French defence, which is probably Fabiano’s favorite opening... on White side :-) The Italian prodigy won an exchange after a tough middlegame tactical battle, then he outplayed his opponent in the endgame; his last round game will be very hard: he will face former world champion Rustam Kasimdhzanov with Black pieces. Good luck! As I’ve already written, Caruana will probably play the 2008 Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee (Holland) next January. An article about him was published four days ago on the official site of the event: http://www.coruschess.com. I suppose he would play for sure if invited to the “B” group (whose winner can play the main “A” supertourney the following year), while he would have to consider the strength of the competition (the average rating of his opponents) if invited to the “C” group. Let’s cross our fingers... Official site of the HZ open: http://www.hztoernooi.nl/index_en.html.
From one prodigy to another. Magnus Carlsen stroke back in the Arctic Chess challenge: the Norwegian wunderkind won against his father Henrik in round 6 and then beat Ukrainian GM Vladimir Burmakin in round 7: he now shares third place on 5.5/7 with many other GMs, while his compatriot GM Kjetil A. Lie is in sole lead with 6.5 points. Official site: http://www.arcticchess.org/engindex.htm.

Caruana vs Stellwagen in round 6

Before leaving for holidays (again :-) – I will be back to you on Sunday 19) I annotate here the victory by Caruana against young Dutch GM Daniel Stellwagen in Vlissingen.

Caruana,F. - Stellwagen,D. [B54], Vlissingen 8.8.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 d6
5...Qc7 is more common in top level games.
An aggressive move. 6.Be3 leads to a well known variation: 6...Nf6 7.Bc4 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.0–0–0 Qc7 10.Bb3 0–0 etc.
6...Nf6 is the main alternative
7.Be3 Nge7 8.Nb3 b5 9.f4 Bb7 10.Qd2
Probably not the best. 10.Qf3 was Shirov's choice against Kasparov (in Novgorod) and J. Polgar (in Buenos Aires) in 1994.; 10.Qe2 has also been played.
10...Na5 11.Nxa5 Qxa5 12.Bg2 b4
A new (and accurate) move, according to my old database. 12...d5?! was played in the game Ponomariov-Bacrot, Enghien les Bains 1999, which continued 13.Qf2 dxe4 14.f5?! (14.0–0–0 Qc7 15.Bb6 Qc4 16.f5 and White is better) 14...Nd5 15.fxe6 0–0–0 16.0–0 Nxe3 17.Qxe3 Qb4 and a draw was agreed on move 39.
13.Ne2 h5 14.h3 Ng6
Black is playing the most accurate moves.
15.0–0 hxg4 16.hxg4 Nh4 17.Bh1 Rc8 looks promising for Black.
15...Be7 16.g5
16.0–0–0 is an interesting alternative: 16...Qxa2 is not possible because of 17.Qxb4 followed by Nc3.
Forcing the following exchanges.
17.f5 Nf4 18.Nxf4 Bxg5 19.Qxd6
19.a3 exf4 20.Qxb4 Qxb4+ 21.axb4 Bf6 22.c3 Kd7 looks good for Black.
And not 19...Bxf4?! 20.Bh4 f6 21.Bf2 with a slight edge for White.
20.0–0 Rd8 21.Qc5 Qxc5 22.Bxc5 Rc8 23.Bxb4 Rxc2 24.Rf2 Rxf2
24...Rc4 25.Bd6 Bxe4 26.b3 (26.Re2 Kd7) 26...Rc6 27.Bxf4 (27.Rd1!? Bxg2 28.Kxg2 f6 29.Re2+ Kf7 30.Re7+ Kg8 31.Rc7 Rxc7 32.Bxc7 Kh7=) 27...Bxg2 28.Re1+ Kf8 29.Kxg2 Bxf4 30.Rxf4 Rhh6 was safer for Black and a draw looked unavoidable.
25.Kxf2 Rh6 26.Bc3 Rc6?!
First inaccuracy: 26...Rb6 was more precise, e.g.: 27.Rd1 (27.Bxg7? f6 and White's bishop is trapped) 27...g6 28.Bf3 Bh4+ 29.Kg2 Be7 intending ...g5 with chances for both sides.
The immediate 27.e5 was inaccurate: after 27...Bh4+ 28.Kg1 f3! 29.Bxf3 Rxc3! 30.Bxb7 Rxh3 31.Bxa6 Re3 Black would have excellent drawing chances.
Second inaccuracy, probably the decisive one. Now 28.e5 is very strong. A better choicewas 27...Rc5 and now after 28.a3 a5 Black can fight for a full equality, e.g.: 29.Bxg7?! (29.Bf3 Bh4+ 30.Ke2 Ba6+ 31.Kd2 g6 32.e5 a4 33.fxg6 fxg6 34.Be4 Kf7 35.Kc2 Bc8=) 29...f6 30.Bf3 Rc2+ 31.Kg1 Ke7 with a dangerous initiative.
28.e5 Bh4+ 29.Kf1!?
A smart move, although 29.Kg1 was strong as well, e.g.: 29...Rb6 (29...f3 30.Bxf3 Rxc3 31.Bxb7 Rc2 32.f6 Bf2+ 33.Kh1 Bb6 34.Bxa6 Rxb2 35.a4 and White is much better) 30.f6 f3 31.Ba5 f2+ 32.Kf1 Bxg2+ 33.Kxg2 Rb8 34.b3 with excellent winning chances.
Desperation. Now after 29...f3 30.Bxf3 Rxc3 31.Bxb7 Black has to play 31...Rc7 , but 32.fxg6! fxg6 33.Be4 is almost decisive in White's favor. 29...Rb6 looks to be Black's better chance, but after 30.Bxb7 Rxb7 31.fxg6 fxg6 32.Rd6 g5 (what else? 32...f3 33.Rxa6 Rd7 34.Rd6 Rxd6 35.exd6 Kd7 36.Be5 g5 37.a4 g4 38.hxg4 hxg4 39.a5+-) 33.Rxa6 f3 34.Re6+ Kd8 35.Rd6+ White should win, e.g.: 35...Ke8 (35...Rd7 36.a4 Rxd6 37.exd6 Kd7 38.Be5 g4 39.hxg4 hxg4 40.a5+-) 36.a4 g4 37.hxg4 hxg4 38.Rh6 Bg5 39.Rh8+ Kd7 40.Rg8 Bc1 41.a5 Ke6 42.a6 Rh7 43.Bd4+-
30.bxc3 f3 31.Bh1 gxf5?
Losing on the spot. 31...g5 was more stubborn, although after 32.c4! Be4 33.f6 Bg3 34.Rd4 Bc6 35.a3! a5 (35...Bxe5? 36.Rd3 Bb2 (36...g4? 37.Re3; 36...Bxf6? 37.Rd6) 37.Bxf3 Bd7 38.Bd5+-) 36.a4! White must win.
32.Rd4 f4
32...Bd8 was slightly better, but after 33.Kf2! Bb6 34.Bxf3 White wins anyway, e.g.: 34...f6!? (34...Bxd4+ 35.cxd4 Bc8 36.Bxh5+-) 35.Bxh5+ Ke7 36.Kg3 Bc7 (36...Bxd4 37.cxd4 Bd5 38.a3 Ke6 39.Kf4+-).
Simple and brilliant.
33...Bxf3 34.Rxf4 Bg3 35.Rxf3 Bxe5 36.c4 h4 37.Ra3 1–0
Black is going to lose another pawn, so he resigned. A deserved and impressive win by Caruana against the young (20 y.o.) Dutch rising star.


Hard life for superGMs

SuperGMs often have a really hard life in open tournaments. See, for example, the Norwegian “wunderkind” Magnus Carlsen: he has just won the Biel supertournament and he is the clear favorite of the 2007 Arctic Chess Challenge, which takes place in Tromsø (Norway) until Sunday 12, but he has only 3.5 points after 5 rounds, the same of his father Henrik, who is 621 rating points under him in the July Fide list. Magnus drew his first round game against an unknown compatriot, Brede Hagen (2034), against whom he was even slightly worse in the middlegame; then he shared the point with Danish FM Karsten Larsen (2325) in the third round and his position was almost lost at a certain point. In the fifth round he drew with his mentor Simen Agdestein, so that he is not even in the first ten positions at the moment. Official site of the tourney: http://www.arcticchess.org/engindex.htm.
And what’s about former world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov? The Uzbek player lost to French wGM Marie Sebag in the 4th round of the 11th Hogeschool Zeeland open, which takes place in Vlissingen (Holland) until Saturday 11; in the same tourney and round, German outsider and master Ilja Zaragatski beat Dutch GM Sergey Tiviakov. On the other hand, Italian fans can be proud of their #1 player: 15 y.o. GM Fabiano Caruana beat Zaragatski in the 5th round and Dutch GM Daniel Stellwagen in the 6th and is in sole lead with a perfect score: 6/6! Go Fabiano! Official site: http://www.hztoernooi.nl/index_en.html.
Do you remember the blitz tourney in Torre Boldone? Mida :-) won it with a 8.5/9 score (with one undeserved victory - on time - against a lower rated opponent in round 8); candidate masters Andrea Pirola and Stefano Ranfagni were placed second and third on 7.5 and 6.5 respectively. Thanks to “Heart feast” (“Festa del Cuore” in Italian) organizers for the beautiful prizes. Here are some photos from the tourney.

Ileana Meli (only female participant)
against Paolo Giardina from Pavia.

A decisive game: Ranfagni vs Mida

Andrea Pirola (left), 2nd placed

And the winner is... Mida :-)

At last I report the kilometrical (107 moves) and thrilling win by Caruana against Zaragatski in Vlissingen, with some annotations.

Caruana,F. (2549) - Zaragatski,I. (2480) [C04], Vlissingen 7.8.2007
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5
French defence is often a bad choice against Caruana... See, for example, his win against Neubauer in Szeged last May: http://midaschess.blogspot.com/2007/05/stubborn-resistance-and-awful-defence.html.
3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Bd3
6.Nb3 and 6.Be2 are more popular variations.
Probably not the best continuation: 6...Nb4 7.Be2 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.0–0 cxd4 10.cxd4 f6 is safer for Black.
A sharp line in pure Caruana's style.
Correct. After 7...fxg5 White got a huge advantage in Chiburdanidze-Zatulovskaya, Tbilisi 1976: 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Bxg6+ hxg6 10.Qxg6+ Ke7 11.Ne4! Bh6? (11...Ndxe5 is better, although after 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qf6+ Kd7 14.Qxe5 Bb4+ 15.c3 Bd6 16.Nxd6 cxd6 17.Qxg5 White is better anyway) 12.Bxg5+ Bxg5 13.Qg7+ Ke8 14.Qxh8+ Nf8 15.Qh5+ Kd7 16.Nc5+ Ke7 17.Qxg5+ Kf7 18.Qf4+ Ke8 19.h4 etc. (1–0 at move 40).
8.dxe5 fxg5 9.Qh5+ g6
The immediate 9...Kd7 has also been played (with awful results for Black).
10.Bxg6+ Kd7 11.f4
The best. White opens the "f" file and (after 11...gxf4) will protect his "e5" pawn with the Queen.
11...gxf4 12.Bd3 Qe8
12...Nb4 is more common. After 13.0–0 Nxd3 14.cxd3 Qe8 Black has an almost equal game: he has the bishops pair and his King is safe, after all.
Probably a new move, although it is very natural. The game Ristic-Elbilia, France 1997, continued 13.Qg5 Be7 14.Qxf4 Rf8 15.Qa4 Qh5 16.Nf3 and now after 16...Kd8 Black would have a completely comfortable position.
13...Nb4 14.0–0 Nxd3 15.cxd3 b6 16.Rxf4 Ba6
The position now looks about equal, but Black must be careful, since White retains some attacking chances...
17.Rf6 Rg8
After 17...Bc5+ 18.Kh1 Be7 19.Nf3 c5! Black has nothing to be afraid of. The text move is not bad, anyway.
18.Nf3 Qh5 19.Bf4 Qg4 20.Bg3 Be7
20...Re8 intending ...Kc8 would probably be even better.
21.Qc2 Bb7
Obviously not 21...Bxf6?? , as 22.exf6 wins on the spot, due to the double treat Qxc7+ and Ne5+.
22.Rf7 was an interesting alternative.
22...c6 23.d4 h5
23...Raf8 was probably even better, while 23...Bxf6? is still bad: after 24.exf6 Qe4 (what else?) 25.Ne5+ Kc8 26.f7 Rf8 27.Qc3! c5 (Nxc6 is too strong) 28.Re1 Qxd4+ 29.Qxd4 cxd4 30.Rc1+ White wins easily.
24.Rf4 Qg6 25.Bh4 Raf8 26.Bf6
The best.
26...Qxc2 27.Rxc2 c5 28.Rf2 cxd4 29.Nxd4 Bc5 30.h3??
A careless move that should cost the game. 30.b4 Bxb4 31.Nxe6 Kxe6 32.Rxb4= was an alternative to be considered.
Giving the favor back! 30...Rxf6 wins on the spot: 31.exf6 (31.Rxf6 Bxd4 32.Rf7+ Kc8 33.Kh2 Bxf2 34.Rxf2 Rg5–+) 31...e5 32.Nb3 exf4 33.Nxc5+ bxc5 34.Rxf4 Ke6 and Black wins easily.
A nice counter-trick...
...but Black doesn't feel the danger! 31...Bxd4 32.Rxd4 Rfg8 33.Kh2 Ba6 was drawish.
That's obvious! Now White wins a piece and the game.
32...Ra3 33.Rxb4 Rxa2 34.Nd4
34.Rh4 was stronger.
34...Rxf2 35.Kxf2 Rc8 36.Rb3 Rc4 37.Ke3 Rc1 38.g4 hxg4 39.hxg4 Re1+ 40.Kf3 Rd1 41.Ke3 Re1+ 42.Kf3 Rd1 43.Nb5 d4+ 44.Ke2 Rg1 45.Nxa7
Why not 45.g5 ?
45...Rg2+ 46.Ke1 Rg1+ 47.Kd2 Rg2+ 48.Ke1 Rg1+ 49.Kf2 Rg2+ 50.Kf1 Rxg4 51.Rxb6 Bd5 52.Rb4 Re4 53.Nb5 d3 54.Rxe4 Bxe4 55.Nd4 Bd5 56.Ke1 Kc7 57.Kd2 Bc4 58.Be7 Kb7 59.Bb4 Kb6 60.Kc3 Bd5 61.Kxd3
Black could resign, but he probably wants to see if his opponent can win an endgame with only one extra-piece :-)
61...Kc7 62.Ke3 Kd7 63.Kf4 Ke8 64.Kg5 Kf7 65.Kh6 Bc4 66.Nf3 Bb3 67.Ng5+ Ke8 68.Kg7 Kd7 69.Kf6 Ba2 70.Ba3 Bb3 71.Nh7 Kc6 72.Nf8
The winning manoeuvre is now completed.
72...Kd5 73.Nxe6 Bc4 74.Nf4+ Ke4 75.Nh3 Bb3 76.Ng5+ Kd4 77.e6 Bxe6 78.Nxe6+
Will White be able to win a K+B+N vs K endgame?
78...Ke4 79.Bf8 Kd5 80.Ng5 Kd4 81.Ke6 Ke3 82.Ke5 Kd3 83.Kd5 Ke3 84.Bd6 Kd3 85.Be5 Ke3 86.Kc4 Ke2 87.Kc3 Ke3 88.Bg3 Ke2 89.Kd4 Kd2 90.Nf3+ Ke2 91.Nh2 Kd2 92.Bf4+ Ke2 93.Be3 Kd1 94.Kd3 Ke1 95.Bd4 Kd1 96.Nf3 Kc1 97.Nd2 Kd1 98.Bf2 Kc1 99.Nc4 Kd1 100.Nb2+ Kc1 101.Kc3 Kb1 102.Kb3 Kc1 103.Be3+ Kb1 104.Na4
104.Nc4 was one move quicker: 104...Ka1 105.Bf4 Kb1 106.Na3+ Ka1 107.Be5#
104...Ka1 105.Bc1 Kb1 106.Ba3 Ka1 107.Bb2+ 1–0
And finally Black resigned!


Chuky, future new number 1?

I'm back! But don't worry... I will stay at home just a few days :-) Yes, I'm going to leave for South Tyrol on Saturday, to spend eight more days of total relax. Sardinia was beautiful (with a wonderful sea), a part from the fact that the apartment where we (me and my fiancée) stayed was probably a meeting point for mosquitos of the whole planet. And they didn't let us sleep very much...
Well, now it's chess time. Many events finished during the past ten days and they are too many to tell about all of them here. So, let's see the most interesting. Vassily Ivanchuk won his third tourney in a row in Montreal, Canada: he scored 7 points out of 9 and edged out by a full point Dutch GM Sergey Tiviakov. Chuky looks still at his best and should reach the top of the Fide list by going on this way: he gained 13 points in Yalta, 14 points in Odessa and 10 points in Montreal. This means, if I don't mind, he is now at 2799: 9 points more than Anand (who lost a couple in Dortmund)! The Mexico City tournament will probably be decisive: if Anand won't win it in a very convincing way he should lose the #1 place of the Fide list... Go Chuky, go! Official site of the Montreal tourney: http://www.fqechecs.qc.ca/index.php?typ=actu&id=1760&categorie.
Norwegian wunderkind Magnus Carlsen won his first suprtournament ever in Biel, Switzerland. Magnus scored 5.5 points out of 9 and beat American GM Alexander Onischuk in a rapid-blitz playoff to take the first place. Local idol Yannick Pelletier, Hungarian GM Judit Polgar, Russian GM Alexander Grischuk and top rated Azeri GM Teimour Radjabov (who lost his last round game against the winner) were placed third on 5. Official site: http://www.bielchessfestival.ch.
Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexey Dreev and Veselin Topalov shared first place in the strong Villarobledo Rapid tournament: they all scored 7.5 points out of 9 and edged out by half a point Ivan Sokolov, Predrag Nikolic, Vassily Ivanchuk, Vadim Milov and Zvulon Gofshtein. Alexei Shirov couldn't get more than a sad 14th place on 6.5. Official site: http://www.ajedrezenvillarrobledo.com/.
And now some good news for cheaters all over the world :-) The chess program Pocket Fritz 3 made a 2481 performance in the 11th "Copa Puma Mercosur" and was placed fourth on 5.5/10; GM Andres Rodrigues (URU) won the tourney with 7.5, edging out by half a point IM Pablo Lafuente and by one IM Damian Lemos, both from Argentina. So, if you love cheating, you now have one more weapon to use; better if you do in a toilette :-) Official site of the tourney: http://www.ajedrezmartelli.org.ar/.
Last but not least, Italian baby GM Fabiano Caruana is playing the 11th HZ open in Vlissingen (Holland). He has a perfect score after 4 of 9 rounds and shares the lead with GMs Michal Krasenkow (POL), Daniel Stellwagen (NED) and Fernando Peralta (ARG) among the others; Fabiano will play German master Ilja Zaragatski (2480) in the next round. Official site: http://www.hztoernooi.nl/index_en.html. Caruana will be one of the main guests of the 2007 Trieste chess festival (September 1-8 - http://www.sst1904.com/pagine/index.html), where GMs Sergey Tiviakov (NED), Vladimir Baklan (UKR) and Dusko Pavasovic (SLO) will be the top rated players, and of the 2007 Rocca di Papa rapid tournament (October 21 - http://asd.caissa.it/index.php?cont=TORNEO&id_torneo=6), where Gata Kamsky (USA) will play his first Italian rapid competition ever.
Well, it's time to say goodnight. See you tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at the blitz tourney in Torre Boldone, near Bergamo. Don't you remember? Read the last part of my previous post, immediately!
And now here is our game of the day: the decisive win by Carlsen against Radjabov in Biel.

Carlsen,M (2710) - Radjabov,T (2746) [B07], Biel 2.8.2007
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5
What a strange opening choice for such an important game!
The two guys are just kidding... 4.Nf3 is much more popular.
4...Nbd7 5.g3 c6 6.Bg2 b5 7.a3 Be7 8.0–0 0–0 9.h3 a5
9...Bb7 is the main alternative.
10.g4 Ba6 11.Ng3 b4 12.Nce2 bxa3
A new move according to my database. 12...d5 13.exd5 Nxd5 14.Re1 bxa3 15.bxa3 Bf6 has been played a couple of times before: Black's position looks completely comfortable.
13.bxa3 would lead to the position seen in the previous note: 13...d5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Re1 Bf6.
A natural move.
14.Re3 dxe4 15.Re1! Qc7
The first inaccuracy. 15...Re8 16.Nxe4 Nd5 17.Rg3 Qc7 would be more precise.
16.Nf5 Bd8?
And this is a tempo loss. After 16...Rfe8 17.Nxe7+ Rxe7 18.g5 Nd5 19.Rxe4 Rae8 Black has not much to be afraid of. Now White gets - instead - a strong initiative.
17.g5 Nd5 18.Rxe4 f6 19.Neg3 g6
19...Kh8 20.g6 hxg6 21.Nh4 is not better for Black.
20.Nh6+ Kg7?
20...Kh8 21.dxe5 fxe5 22.Ng4 Be7 would put up a more stubborn resistance, although after 23.c4 Nb4 24.Bf4 Bc5 25.Qxd7 Qxd7 26.Bxe5+ Qg7 27.Bxg7+ Kxg7 28.Bf1 White retains some winning chances anyway.
21.dxe5 fxg5?!
21...fxe5 is more precise, even if 22.c4 Nb4 23.f4 is good for White anyway.
22.e6! Kxh6?!
22...Qa7 is probably the better alternative: now after 23.e7 Qxf2+ 24.Kh2 Kxh6 25.exf8Q+ Nxf8 26.h4 White is winning, but Black can hold on some more moves.
23.e7 Qb6
Black has no defence, e.g.: 23...Nxe7 24.Rxe7 Bxe7 25.Rxe7 Rae8 26.Bxg5+ Kxg5 27.Qg4+ Kf6 28.Rxd7+-
24.exf8Q+ Nxf8 25.c4 Nf4 26.Qd6 Kg7 27.Bxf4 gxf4 28.Re7+ 1–0
Black can't avoid mate in a few moves, so he resigned. A really bad defeat for Radjabov.