Saturday, 30 January 2010

A Story to Inspire Us Club Players All ......

The 2010 Gibtelecom International Chess Festival is an annual chess festival on the English island of Gibraltar (smack in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea). It is also home to the famous Gibraltar monkeys. Of course for Australian chess players, the 2008 edition was where our Australian Champion, GM Zhao ZongYuan, obtained his third and final norm.

But to show that fairytales exist comes a story from this year's edition. Here is English writer, John Saunders, writing on the official website (here):
One of the joys of open competition is the element of surprise when an unfancied player stands up to a seasoned grandmaster. The third round of the Gibtelecom Festival had a wonderful example of this (in fact, it was quite reminiscent of the third round of the English FA Cup which also throws up amazing upsets). Ivan Cheparinov is a very strong grandmaster from Bulgaria who has been rated above 2700 and spends most of his time seconding former FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov at major events. In a few months he will almost certainly be the leading figure in Topalov’s support team when he challenges current World Champion Vishy Anand for the World Chess Championship.

But today Cheparinov faced a humble amateur – 31-year-old Victor Havik from Norway. Victor doesn’t have a chess title and his rating (whisper it softly) is even lower than the current writer. And I haven’t pushed a pawn for a few years now. With a 567 rating difference this should have been a walk in the park for the higher rated player. But maybe the Norwegian amateur had one thing going for him – the Magnus Carlsen factor. Norwegian chess has had an almighty shot in the arm with the advent of the teenaged genius.

It was a very long game but Victor kept Ivan at bay for more than six hours. Even so, wise heads were still predicting ultimate victory for the Bulgarian when Victor found an improbably beautiful queen sacrifice. It didn’t win the game (that would have been too much of a fairy story) but it did hold a draw.

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