Gibraltar Round Up

Hello all,
After feeling guilty not having posted myself while Sue somehow finds time to update despite working 12 hour days. Here I’ll comment on the Gibraltar tournament round by round and try to explain what went wrong.

Round One: Black vs Eesha Karavade IM

This game set the tone for the tournament. After playing a sideline of the Kings Indian which I’ve had good success with (a position the computer assesses as clear edge to White but it doesn’t seem easy to play). I won a pawn and had a choice of very pleasant options. I chose to exchange into an endgame but a strong exchange sacrifice complicated the issue and I had to be accurate not to be worse. We reached a curious position where I had two rooks and two pawns against rook, bishop and three pawns but her three connected passed pawns were very dangerous. I managed to outplay her and reach a position with 2R+P vs RB+P but after 109 moves and over 7 hours I couldn’t manage to convert and had to acquiesce to the draw.
I finished after 10pm and, rather annoyed at myself for throwing away the win, got into an argument with the waiters who told me dinner had finished at 9.30pm. I told them I had just finished my chess game that I’d been playing since 3pm but they simply replied that dinner had been open since 6.30pm, as though I should have gone then! However finally managed to get some food.

Round Two: White vs Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez GM

The peculiarities of the Accelerated Pairings favoured by the British Arbiters promised me no respite and I was paired against the experienced Spanish Grandmaster and husband of one of the top female players of all time, the Swedish Pia Cramling. I decided it was time for a Grand Prix Attack. We went down the mainline (5.Bb5 Nd4 6.0-0 Nxb5 7.Nxb5 d5 8.e5). I reached a dream position with a great knight on d4 versus a terrible light squared bishop, managed to dissuade him from castling kingside and suddenly his king was running naked on the queenside.

Then disaster happened. After deciding that I threw away the full point in the first game by playing too carelessly I focused trying to find a direct win. My original idea was to open up the position, trade my knight for the bishop and surely it would be mate very soon. However I couldn’t quite calculate for mate and, perhaps as my knight had previously been so strong, decided to keep it on the board. This was stupid. The board was now open and the bishop suddenly wasn’t such a terrible king while my king was also somewhat vulnerable. To make matters worse my knight even got in the way of my attack. Still clearly better but getting short on time I decided to play a quick safe move which kept my position intact. Unfortunately it wasn’t safe and blundered a piece and I didn’t really have any chances in the ensuing ending.

Already it felt the tournament was a nightmare. I’d thrown away half a point in the first game by not concentrating 100% and thrown away the entire game in round two by putting too much pressure on myself. I now committed the cardinal sin of thinking about my rating (-10.5 from those two games if you’re interested) and so much hard work from the previous months thrown away. Of course as a chess professional you have to be able to take these losses and something I have to work on as it’s unrealistic to expect that I won’t ever have any setbacks.

Round Three: Black vs M.Montabord (2063)

In this round against a French amateur I just had to make sure to get my first win on the board. Interestingly he played 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5, a sideline which has risen in popularity in the past few years and I’m the strongest regular player on the White side. I think the line is generally referred to as Modern Grand Prix these days but English IM Richard Palliser suggested I name it the Jones Variation in my Starting Out: Grand Prix Attack book in which I gave it two chapters. My opponent played the opening inaccurately however and I got an edge out of the opening. He played well and my play wasn’t perfect but I kept everything tight and eventually won a positional game in 45 moves.

Round Four: White vs L.Sanchez FM

This was my opportunity to bounce back to a plus score against another French player. I tried out an interesting idea which my good friend Tom Rendle had sent me before the game. My opponent played the most principled line and we traded queens immediately but I believe I had a small edge and wanted to try play safely and slowly outplay him, especially as I wasn’t feeling confident in my tactics after blundering in round two. However my artistic temperament got the better of me and I played this beautiful idea sacrificing a piece and pawn in the ending to get an unstoppable pawn. I calculated the line nine moves deep to a winning position but unfortunately I missed it was discovered check in the resulting position and I was actually lost. I saw it after playing three moves but couldn’t see a good way of backing out and decided to try bluffing it. Unfortunately there weren’t really any options available to my opponent and I was forced to grovel in an endgame two pawns down. I must have been losing but managed to grovel a draw but certainly felt my glass was half empty rather than half full!

Round Five: Black vs Hristos Zygouris (2215)

I had met my opponent while playing the Corsican tournament back in October. We were staying at the same hotel and often had breakfast together. In Gibraltar he was playing in the Challengers tournament and so didn’t have much time to prepare. I had decided to play the Caro-Kann (I wanted to avoid the drawish tendencies of his typical Bb5+ Sicilian). After 1.e4 c6 he sunk into thought for almost 20 minutes and eventually played the Kings Indian Attack. Personally I don’t think that that’s very scary against any Black opening in which he can go …e7-e5 in one go. I took over the initiative and played the first game I was happy with in the tournament. I’ve tried to attach it here ( bear with me as I haven’t used this app before). To see this game (and my last round) fully annotated check out my Chesspublishing column!
###pgn###[Event “Gibraltar Classic”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.01.29”] [Round “5”] [White “Zygouris, H.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “B10”] [WhiteElo “2215”] [BlackElo “2595”] [Annotator “GJ”] [PlyCount “70”] 1. e4 c6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 e5 4. Ngf3 Bd6 5. g3 (5. Qe2 Nf6 6. g3 (6. exd5 cxd5 7. Nxe5 O-O $44) (6. d4 dxe4 7. Nxe5 Bf5 8. h3 h5 9. Rg1 $6 h4 10. g4 hxg3 11. Rxg3 $13 {Ljubojevic,L-Karpov,A/Linares/1992/0:1 (60)/Inf 54/129/})) 5… Nf6 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8. Re1 Re8 9. b3 (9. c3 dxe4 10. dxe4 Qc7 11. Qc2 $6 ( 11. b4 $5) 11… a5 $1 12. Nc4 Bf8 13. a4 b5 14. Na3 (14. axb5 cxb5 15. Ne3 Bb7 16. Nd2 Rad8) 14… Ba6 15. Bf1 Reb8 $36 16. b3 h6 (16… Nc5 17. axb5 cxb5 18. Bg5 Nfd7 19. b4 Na4 20. Be2) 17. h3 bxa4 18. bxa4 Bxf1 19. Kxf1 Nb6 20. Kg2 Nfd7 (20… Rb7 $5) 21. Nd2 Qd6 22. Nac4 Nxc4 23. Nxc4 Qe6 24. Qe2 Nb6 (24… Nc5 25. Ba3) 25. Nb2 $1 (25. Nxb6 Rxb6 26. Be3 Rb3 {/Rab8-/+/}) 25… Qb3 26. Be3 {/Bb6,Nc4/} Qxc3 27. Nd3 $1 (27. Rec1 Qb4 $1) 27… Nc4 (27… Qc4 $6 28. Bxb6 Rxb6 29. Nxe5 $14) 28. Rec1 Nxe3+ 29. Qxe3 (29. fxe3 Qb3 30. Rxc6 Rc8 31. Nxe5 f6 $15) 29… Qd4 30. Qxd4 exd4 31. Rxc6 Rb3 32. Rd1 Rc3 (32… Ra3 33. Rc4) 33. Ne5 $1 (33. Rxc3 $2 dxc3 $17) 33… f6 34. Nc4 $10 d3 35. Nxa5 $1 (35. Kf3 Bb4) 35… Rxc6 36. Nxc6 Rxa4 37. Rxd3 {1/2-1/2 Ljubojevic,L (2590)-Karpov, A (2725)/Buenos Aires 1980/MCL/[Chekhov]}) (9. exd5 cxd5 10. c4 Nc5 11. Nb3 Nxd3 $1 12. Qxd3 e4 13. Qf1 dxc4 14. Qxc4 exf3 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. Bxf3 Be6 ( 16… Qe1+ 17. Kg2) 17. Qd3 Rd8 $15) 9… a5 10. a4 (10. a3) 10… Bb4 11. Bb2 d4 12. Rf1 b5 13. Bh3 Rb8 14. Ra2 bxa4 15. bxa4 c5 16. Nh4 Ba6 17. Nf5 c4 18. Nxc4 Bxc4 19. dxc4 g6 20. Nh6+ Kg7 21. Ng4 Nxe4 22. f4 f5 (22… Bc3 23. Bc1 exf4 24. Bxf4 f5 $17) 23. fxe5 (23. Nxe5 Nxe5 24. Bxd4 (24. fxe5 Nc3 (24… Bd2 ) 25. Bxc3 dxc3 (25… Bxc3)) 24… Qc7 (24… Bc5 25. Bxc5 Nxc5)) 23… Nc3 ( 23… fxg4 24. Qxg4 Ndc5) 24. Bxc3 Bxc3 25. Nf6 Nxf6 26. exf6+ Qxf6 27. Bg2 Re3 28. Ra3 Qe5 29. Rb3 Rxb3 30. cxb3 d3 31. Bd5 Rxg3+ 32. Kh1 Rh3 33. Rf2 Re3 34. Kg2 Qd4 35. Bf3 Re1 0-1%%%pgn%%%

Round Six: White vs Dr Achim Ilner FM

My main preparation for this game was checking the internet for news on Sue’s flight. She’d decided to come over and see me on her day off and was only to be here for a little over 24 hours. After getting up at 4am she’d arrived at the airport in plenty of time and boarded the plane to find that air traffic control at Gibraltar (hardly the biggest airport in the world) was down due to a power failure. After a delay of three hours or so they eventually took off and thankfully the airport was open by the time they landed. My chess preparation was calling Tom as I walked over to the airport for his opinion (he’s one of the leading authorities on the Leningrad Dutch which was my opponent’s main defence) and reading a recent New in Chess Yearbook while waiting to cross the runway (Due to Gibraltar’s rather constricted size and the fact that it is mainly a big rock, there isn’t much room for development. The main road on the peninsula, bizarrely named Winston Churchill Avenue, crosses the runway and is closed whenever flights are leaving or arriving).

Sue and I walked around Gibraltar for around an hour before eating at the Morrisons – most places were closed as it was a Sunday. The Morrisons is scarily identical to any that might be found in an out of town shopping centre in the UK and the stock is virtually identical. I believe it is very popular with the British ex-pats living in Spain who swarm across the border to stock up on their essential supplies. I ways sharing a room with Swedish Grandmaster Emanuel Berg and I introduced him to sausage rolls there!

I arrived at the board and played 1.d4 but my opponent, smelling a rat, played 1…d5, which I’d never seen him try before. I tried to recall what I had looked at when coaching Ross back in Wellington before he played an eighth move I hadn’t seen before. I tried to play logical moves and he collapsed rather quickly, losing on time in a lost position after 22 moves. Of course this was excellent news as it meant I could spend more time with Sue on her only day in Gib. Later in the evening my opponent and I examined the game in the commentary room (run excellently by the entertaining Ginger GM himself Simon Williams). To much hilarity my opponent said that after my eighth move the position was “of course a mathematical draw”, certainly not my view of the position.###pgn###[Event “Gibraltar Masters”] [Site “Gibraltar”] [Date “2011.01.30”] [Round “6.25”] [White “Jones, Gawain C B”] [Black “Illner, Achim Dr”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “D37”] [WhiteElo “2593”] [BlackElo “2345”] [PlyCount “43”] [EventDate “2011.01.25”] [EventRounds “10”] [EventCountry “ENG”] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Bf4 Nf6 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 b6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Nxd5 exd5 9. Bd3 c5 10. Ne5 cxd4 11. exd4 Bb4+ 12. Kf1 Qf6 13. Qh5 h6 14. g3 Nc6 15. Nxc6 Qxc6 16. Kg2 Rd8 17. a3 Bf8 18. Rac1 Qa4 19. Bc7 Re8 20. Be5 Bd7 21. Rc7 Rac8 22. b3 1-0%%%pgn%%%

Round Seven: Black vs Aziz Husein Nezad IM

After a couple of wins I was back in the running with 4/6 and hoped to beat my Qatari opponent to jump towards the leaderboard. Unfortunately Sue had had to go back to work and so I was back on my own. My opponent played a sideline against my Kings Indian which is rather annoying when Black is playing for a win. I’d drawn comfortably with the very strong Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov but also lost to Kiwi FM Mike Steadman. I decided to deviate from those games and played an aggressive line. I put some pressure on my opponent who sacrificed a pawn and I thought my position very strong. However again I got into some time trouble – generally a sign that something isn’t ticking, when I’m in top form I play pretty quickly. I scorned a line which would have resulted in a draw thinking my attack too strong but couldn’t follow up with a kill and lost too much material. The end of the game particularly disturbed me as again I played a simple blunder although the game was already gone.

Furious at myself I went back to the room and checked the game over with the computer program Rybka but in fact my position was better visually than it actually was and I should have taken the draw. Another loss to a 2400 and another big disappointment – perhaps if I hadn’t had such a bad start I would have been more objective and taken the draw but was trying to claw it all back at once and, to borrow the poker term, tilting.

Round Eight: White vs Andrie Zeramba FM

Despite my pleasant position against Bellon I decided not to repeat the Grand Prix Attack and instead played my suggested repertoire in my new book: How To Beat The Sicilian. I didn’t play the opening as incisively as I should have done but somehow I kept a small advantage in a very dry position. I played a couple of slightly strange moves, 20.g4?! in particular, but claimed a clear advantage just before the time control. However time trouble reared its ugly head again and I tried to play it safe, exchanging queens into a double rook endgame a pawn up but he could regain the pawn. I kept an edge and we reached a fascinating rook and pawn endgame. Again I didn’t play as well as I could have done but found a pretty tactic to finish. I’m not sure how to insert a diagram so added in the entire game but the relevant bit is after Black’s 52nd move.
###pgn###[Event “Gibraltar Classic”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.02.02”] [Round “8”] [White “Jones, G.”] [Black “Zaremba, A.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “B52”] [WhiteElo “2593”] [BlackElo “2339”] [Annotator “GJ”] [PlyCount “119”] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. O-O Nc6 6. Qe2 e6 7. Rd1 Nge7 8. b3 (8. d4 {looks better} cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nxd4 10. Rxd4 Nc6 11. Rd1 Be7 12. c4 O-O 13. Bf4 $14) 8… d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Bb2 Be7 11. Na3 (11. c4 Nf4 12. Qe4 Nd3 13. Bxg7 Rg8 14. Qxh7 O-O-O 15. Nc3 f5 {is extremely scary}) 11… Bf6 ( 11… f6 12. Nc4 e5 $11 {is more pleasant for Black}) 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. d4 cxd4 14. Nb5 O-O 15. Nbxd4 Nd5 16. Qd2 (16. Rd2 Nxd4 17. Rxd4 Qc7 18. c4 Nf6 19. Qe5 $14) 16… Nxd4 17. Qxd4 Qc7 18. c4 Nb4 19. Qe4 h6 (19… Rad8 20. Ng5 g6 21. Qh4 h5) 20. g4 $6 {Objectively probably dubious but I couldn’t resist} (20. a3 Nc6 21. b4 Rad8 22. c5 Rxd1+ 23. Rxd1 Rd8 24. Rxd8+ Qxd8 25. g3 Qd1+ 26. Kg2 Qb3 $11) 20… Qc6 21. Qf4 (21. Qxc6 Nxc6 22. Rd7 Rab8 23. Rad1 Rfd8 24. g5 $14 {was my original idea and should have been played}) 21… Rad8 22. a3 Nd3 $6 ( 22… Nc2 23. Rac1 Nxa3 24. Ne5 Qc7 25. Qe4 {was my idea but realistically I don’t have much for the pawn}) 23. Qe3 Nc5 24. Ne5 Qc7 25. b4 Na4 (25… Nb3 26. Rab1 Nd2 27. Rxd2 Rxd2 28. Qxd2 Qxe5 29. Rd1 $11) (25… Nd7 26. Nxd7 Rxd7 27. Rxd7 Qxd7 28. Qxa7 e5 29. h3 f5 $1 {gives Black dangerous compensation for the pawn}) 26. c5 Nb2 27. Rdb1 Rd5 28. f4 g5 29. Rxb2 gxf4 30. Qxf4 Rxe5 31. Rf1 Rd8 32. Rbf2 Rd7 33. Qxh6 Qd8 34. Qf6 $6 {Short on time but this might throw the win away} (34. h3 Red5 35. Rf6 Rd1 36. Qg5+ Kf8 37. Qe5 $16) 34… Qxf6 35. Rxf6 a5 36. R6f4 Re3 37. R1f3 Rxf3 38. Rxf3 axb4 39. axb4 Rd4 40. Rb3 Rxg4+ 41. Kf2 (41. Rg3 $11 Rxg3+ 42. hxg3 Kf8 43. g4 f6 $1 (43… Ke7 44. g5 Kd7 45. b5 e5 46. Kf2 Ke6 47. Kf3 Kd5 48. c6 bxc6 49. bxc6 Kxc6 50. Ke4 Kd6 51. Kf5 Kd5 52. Kf6 $11)) 41… Kf8 $2 (41… Rc4 42. Ke3 Kf8 43. Kd3 Rh4 44. b5 Ke7 45. c6 Kd6 46. cxb7 Kc7 47. Rb2 Kxb7 48. Rf2 $11) 42. b5 Ke7 43. c6 bxc6 44. b6 Rg8 45. b7 Rb8 46. Ke3 Kd6 47. Kd3 $2 (47. h4 c5 (47… Ke5 48. h5 f5 ( 48… Kf5 49. Kd4 Kg5 50. Kc5 Kxh5 51. Kxc6 f5 52. Kc7 Rxb7+ 53. Rxb7 e5 54. Kd6 $18) 49. h6 Kf6 50. Kd4) 48. h5 Ke5 49. Kd3 Kd5 50. Rb1 f5 51. h6 $18) 47… f5 48. h4 e5 49. Rb1 (49. h5 Ke6 50. h6 Kf7 51. Kc4 f4 52. Kc5 e4 $11) 49… e4+ 50. Kc4 e3 (50… Ke5 51. h5 Kf6 52. Kd4 Kg5 $11) 51. Kd3 f4 52. h5 Ke7 (52… c5 53. h6 Kd5 54. h7 c4+ 55. Ke2 Ke4 56. h8=Q Rxh8 57. b8=Q f3+ 58. Kd1 Rxb8 59. Rxb8 e2+ 60. Ke1 c3 $11) 53. h6 Kf8 (53… Kf6 54. Rh1) (53… Kf7 54. Rg1 $18) 54. Ra1 $1 Rxb7 55. Ra8+ Kf7 56. h7 Rb3+ 57. Kc2 e2 58. h8=Q e1=Q 59. Rf8+ Kg6 60. Rf6+ 1-0%%%pgn%%%

My opponent had just played 52…Ke7? which actually loses as after 53.h6 he has no way to stop the pawn. My threat is simply h7-h8 distracting the rook. 53…Kf6 loses to 54.Rh1! when he cannot get his king into the corner and so is powerless to prevent h7-h8. 53…Kf7 also loses to 54.Rg1! when the b7 pawn is taboo due to Rg7+ and so he cannot prevent h7 and Rg8. He tried 53…Kf8 but now I have 54.Ra1!! and following 54…Rxb7 55.Ra8+ Kf7 56.h7 Black cannot stop the pawn and he resigned a few moves later.

I was of course very happy with the win but also I felt that finally my luck had turned which is an important feeling. If I’m honest with myself a run of bad luck was to be expected after some rather fortunate results in London, but it is still unpleasant!

Round Nine: Black vs Ram Soffer GM

This game was rather frustrating. Needing 2/2 for a prize I hoped my Israeli opponent would play for a win but he played an extremely dull game which I couldn’t enliven. He exchanged pieces and offered a draw at the earlier opportunity (there is a rule at Gibraltar that no draw offers are allowed before move 30). I declined the draw offer but there wasn’t really any play left in the position. In my opinion, when you’re a Grandmaster, you should at least try to win with the White pieces against anyone in the world. This lack of ambition, especially when 2/2 was needed is perplexing.

I heard an interesting story about my opponent. Once he was playing a game and his opponent found a clever piece sacrifice completely blocking the position when there was no way to make progress. He had only one pawn he could move but declined the draw and manoeuvred the pieces around for 49 moves. When his opponent was about to claim the draw he moved his pawn one square forward. It was past midnight at this point and his exasperated opponent couldn’t take any more and leant over the board and gave him a punch. Violence at the board! Anglo-Swiss GM Joe Gallagher relayed another story in which Soffer doesn’t come out too well. They were playing in a qualifier for the World Blitz Championships 15 years or so in which Soffer employed very bad manners offering Joe a draw on 15 consecutive moves (for non-chess players this is the height of bad manners). It seems he’s good at annoying his opponent!

Round Ten: White vs Kjetil Stokke FM

I had played Kjetil before and knew he is a very well prepared player. Although only an FM his rating is above 2400 and will surely be an IM very soon. He played the Caro Kann and I tried a line I had looked at before the tournament. He played the unusual 4…Qb6 which I had only vaguely looked at. I found a creative way of playing sacrificing a few pawns to keep his king in the centre and ensure he had chronic light square weaknesses. My favourite move in the game was 11.Rh3! developing my rook like an absolute beginner but in the present position it worked very well. Again here is the game without annotations but if you’re interested you’ll see the annotated game at ChessPublishing.
###pgn###[Event “Gibraltar Classic”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.02.??”] [Round “10”] [White “Jones, G.”] [Black “Stokke, K.”] [Result “1-0”] [ECO “B12”] [WhiteElo “2593”] [BlackElo “2413”] [PlyCount “41”] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. h4 Qb6 5. Ne2 h6 6. c4 dxc4 7. Nd2 Bd3 8. e6 Nf6 9. Nf4 Qxd4 10. Nxd3 cxd3 11. Rh3 fxe6 12. Rxd3 Qb6 13. Nc4 Qc7 14. g3 Nbd7 15. Bf4 e5 16. Bh3 exf4 17. Rxd7 Qb8 18. Qd3 Nxd7 19. Qxd7+ Kf7 20. Qf5+ Ke8 21. O-O-O 1-0%%%pgn%%%

I put the game forward for game of the tournament but that went to Mikhalevski for his win against Akobian on the Black side of a Kings Indian/ Benoni – a well deserved victory.
Overall I finished on a slightly disappointing 6.5/10 but was very happy with the creativity I showed in the last round and, coupled with the luck I felt I got in round 8, am hoping that I’m ready for my next tournament to bounce back.

It only leaves me to thank Stuart Conquest for a great job at his first attempt as Tournament Director, thanking Tradewise and all the sponsors and Brian Callaghan the owner of the Caleta Hotel for a very enjoyable tournament to play, even if the chess isn’t always going the way we might hope! I probably won’t be able to return to Gibraltar next year as I’m playing in the Queenstown tournament but hopefully I’ll return shortly!