Artemiev wins in Gibraltar

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Gibraltar Masters 2019
Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar
Jan. 22-31, 2019

Final Top Standings

1. GM Vladislav Artemiev RUS 2709, 8.5/10

2. GM Murali Karthikeyan IND 2570, 8.0/10

3-5. GM Nikita Vitiugov RUS 2720, GM David Howell ENG 2685, GM David Anton Guijarro ESP 2642, 7.5/10

6-22. David Navara CZE 2738, GM Nils Grandelius SWE 2682, GM Lalith Babu MR IND 2547, GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2714, GM Ivan Saric CRO 2690, GM Wesley So USA 2765, GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2764, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2780, GM Michael Adams ENG 2701, GM Kirill Alekseenko RUS 2637, GM Hikaru Nakamura USA 2749, GM Romain Edouard FRA 2643, GM Rauf Mamedov AZE 2703, GM Pavel Eljanov UKR 2680, GM Hrant Melkumyan ARM 2660, GM Maxim Matlakov RUS 2700, GM Tan Ahongyi CHN 2502, 7.0/10

Ave Rating 2753 Category 21

Time Control: 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds added to your time after every move starting move 1

The Gibraltar Masters this year was won by two representatives of the next generation. Twenty-year-old Vladislav Artemiev of Russia finished with an 8.5/10 2941 performance to earn himself £25,000 (roughly P1.7 million) and an extra 27.4 rating points.

The 19-year-old GM Murali Karthikeyan (from Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India) was just as impressive. He started out as the 49th seed but took home £20,000 (around P1.3 million) for solo second. The two-time Indian National Champion (2015 and 2016) started with three out of four, lost to Hikaru Nakamura, then closed with an astonishing five straight wins, the last three to 2700+ GMs Rauf Mamedov, Maxim Matlakov and the biggest fish of all Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Artemiev is a native of Omsk (Southwestern Siberia). He was the 2013 Russian Junior Champion and runner-up in the 2016 World Junior Championship (won by US GM Jeffery Xiong). Previously his biggest tournament win was the 2015 Russian Championship Higher League, a super-strong event which qualified him for the SuperFinals. In this latter event he scored 5.5/11 points and finished in the middle of the crosstable.

Here in Gibraltar Artemiev played against almost all of the top seeds with the notable exception of Wesley So. He drew against no. 1 Maxime Vacher-Lagrave, no. 2 Levon Aronian, and defeated Yu Yangyi (no. 4), Hikaru Nakamura (no. 5) and David Navara (no. 6).

Artemiev, Vladislav (2709) — Nakamura, Hikaru (2749) [A14]
Gibraltar Masters 2019 Caleta, Gibraltar (7.1), 28.01.2019

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 e6 4.0–0 Be7 5.c4 0–0 6.b3 c5 7.Bb2 Nc6 8.e3 b6 9.Nc3 dxc4 10.bxc4 Bb7 11.Qe2 Rc8 12.Rad1 Qc7 13.Ne1

Making room for the f-pawn so it can be pushed forward.

13…Ne8 14.f4 Nd6 15.Nf3 a6 16.a4 f5 17.d3 Bf6 18.h3 Nb4 19.g4

The plan is g4–g5, Kh1 and Rg1.

19…g6 20.e4 fxe4 21.dxe4 Nxe4

Possibly better is 21…Bd4+ White will now have to move his king because 22.Nxd4?! cxd4 23.Rxd4 Qc5 24.Qf2 Rxf4! 25.Qxf4 Qxd4+ 26.Kh1 Nd3 Black is doing very well.

22.Nxe4 Bxb2 23.Neg5! Bxf3

First Nakamura has to remove the defender of the d4 square. If he checks on d4 right away then 23…Bd4+ is refuted by 24.Nxd4 cxd4 25.Bxb7 Qxb7 26.Qxe6+ Kh8 27.Rxd4 White is completely winning.

24.Rxf3 Bd4+ 25.Kh1 Rce8

The f4–pawn is taboo: 25…Rxf4 26.Qxe6+ Kh8 27.Rxf4 Qxf4 28.Qxc8+ Kg7 29.Ne6+


White had to calculate this move carefully because the knight on e6 is now pinned against the queen and if he is not careful it might even be lost.

26…Qc6 27.f5 Qxa4 28.fxg6 Rxf3 29.gxh7+ Kh8 30.Bxf3 <D>

Much stronger is 30.Qxf3. After the game Artemiev was asked about this move and he actually considered this for some time but couldn’t see a win after 30…Rxe6 31.Qf8+ Kxh7 32.Rf1 Qe8 33.Rf7+ Kg6. Actually here White has a forced mate with 34.Rg7+! Bxg7 35.Qf5+ Kh6 36.g5+ Kh5 37.Bf3+ Kh4 38.Qg4#.


White wants to capture the bishop on d4 and then Qe5+, but now Nakamura has a miracle defense.


Nakamura’s reasoning is now after 30.Rxd4 cxd4 the white queen cannot go to e5, but this move is actually a serious mistake. The best defense is the unbelievable 30…Nd3!! The knight must be captured, but 31.Qxd3 (31.Rxd3 Qxc4 and Black is even better here: 32.Rxd4 Qxe2 33.Bxe2 cxd4 34.Nxd4 Re4 35.Bxa6 Rxd4) 31…Rxe6 32.Qf5 Qe8 and Black is still fighting.

31.Nxc5! 1–0

This was Overlooked by Nakamura. After 31.Nxc5! Rxe2 32.Nxa4 Black’s knight and rook are attacked by the f3–bishop, now 32…Re6 33.Bxc6 Rxc6 34.Rxd4 the ending is easily won.

What is Artemiev’s chess style? He is of course equally skilled in all phases of the game but a fine positional feel and excellent endgame technique marks him out against his contemporaries. He was brought up in the Botvinnik school of classical concepts such as “stay patient, create a weakness, fix it, then attack it.” Among modern players his style is akin to Anatoly Karpov and Vladimir Kramnik.

Yu, Yangyi (2764) — Artemiev, Vladislav (2709) [B12]
Gibraltar Masters Gibraltar (10.1), 31.01.2019

1.e4 c6

Artemiev is ranked no. 8 in the world when it comes to rapid chess and no. 5 in blitz. In other words he is a formidable quickplay opponent. The relevance of that to this last round game in Gibraltar is that Artemiev was half a point ahead of the field and a draw was ok with him. Even if someone from the chasing pack should manage to catch up he does not fear going into the rapid and/or blitz tiebreaks. That is why, instead of his usual Sicilian, Artemiev plays the Caro-Kann.

2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nf3 e6 5.Be2 Nd7

This knight will be very busy later!

6.0–0 Bg6 7.c3 Nh6 8.a4 a5 9.Na3

This knight is on its way to d3.

9…Be7 10.Nc2 0–0 11.Nce1 c5 12.Bxh6 gxh6 13.Bb5 cxd4 14.cxd4 Nb8!?

Heading for b4.

15.Qd2 Kg7 16.Nd3 Na6 17.Nf4 Qb6 18.h4 Rfc8 19.Rfc1 Rxc1+ 20.Rxc1 Nb4 21.g3 Na2!

Nice, now the rook has to leave the c-file.

22.Rd1 Rc8

Now there is a perpetual threat of …Rc2.

23.Nh2 Qc7!

Not 23…Rc2?! when 24.Qe3 and it is not so easy to parry White’s threat of Ng4, Nxg6 and Qxh6+.

24.Bd3 h5 25.g4 Nb4 26.Bxg6 hxg6 27.gxh5 Qc2!

Excellently timed, with the idea that 28.Qxc2 Rxc2 29.hxg6 Bxh4! holds for Black. Take note that 30.Rf1 is met by 30…Bg5! followed by Kxg6.

28.hxg6 Qf5 29.Qe3

Perhaps Yangyi didn’t like the position after 29.gxf7!? Bxh4 where the position gets murky and either king might suddenly get mated, but after the text the Black forces start to assert themselves.

29…fxg6 30.Qg3 Rf8 31.Ng2 Qc2 32.Ne3 Qe4 33.Neg4?

White fails to appreciate that Black has completely equalized and it is time to look after the weakness of his pawns. 33.Ng2 is correct. After 33…Nc6 34.Qc3 everything is ok.


The knight’s journey is not yet at an end, it now focuses on d4.

34.Qe3 Rf4! 35.Nf6

[35.Qxe4 Rxe4 is going to lose at least 2 pawns.]

35…Bxf6 36.exf6+ Kxf6 37.Qxe4 Rxe4 38.Nf3 Ne7!

Going to f5 to menace both d4 and h4 pawns.

39.Kg2 Nf5 40.Rd3 Nxh4+ 41.Nxh4 Rxh4 42.Kg3 g5 43.Kg2 Re4 44.Kg3 Kf5 45.Kg2 g4 46.Kf1 b6 47.Kg2 Re1!

This is a deep move with the intention of going to h1 and h3. Watch what happens.

48.b3 Ke4 49.Rd2 Rb1 50.Kg3 Kf5 51.Rd3 Rh1! 52.Kg2 Rh3! 0–1

After 52…Rh3 53.Rxh3 gxh3+ 54.Kxh3 Ke4 is an easy win for Black.

Vladislav Artemiev seems destined to soon be among our most elite players. He has a fine feel for the position and a quick sight over the board. We should all keep an eye out for his name in future events.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.