Capablanca Memorial

Chess Piece
Bobby Ang

Posted on May 23, 2014

49th Capablanca Memorial
Havana, Cuba
May 7-18, 2014

Final Standings

1. GM Wesley So PHI 2731, 6.5/10

2. GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista CUB 2682, 5.5/10

3. GM Leinier Dominguez Perez CUB 2768, 5.0/10

4-5. GM Francisco Vallejo Pons ESP 2700, GM Zoltan Almasi HUN 2693, 4.5/10

6. GM Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 2753, 4.0/10

Ave. Rating 2721 <=> Category 19

Che Guevara (born June 14, 1928; died Oct. 9, 1967) was a physician who traveled throughout South America and was radicalized by the poverty, hunger and disease he witnessed. He perceived this to be capitalist exploitation of Latin America by the United States and this prompted him to become involved in several revolutionary movements. He joined Fidel Castro as his second-in-command and went to Cuba to help him overthrow the Batista government. After this was accomplished one of the roles he took over in the new government (aside from spearheading the nationwide literacy campaign, instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, etc etc) was President of the national bank and the Minister for Industries.

Che was taught chess by his father and started participating in tournaments when he was 12 years old. This passion for the game never left him and in 1962 he organized the first Capablanca Memorial international chess tournament. It became at that time the highest-paying tournament in the world, sponsored by the Cuban national bank. He is reported to have told one of the participants of his tournament: “You know, comrade Pachman, I don’t enjoy being a Minister; I would rather play chess like you, or make a revolution in Venezuela.”

Che Guevara was arrested and executed for fomenting revolution in Bolivia in 1967, shortly after the 5th edition of the Capablanca Memorial, but many other organizers came forth and made sure that the tradition was continued, and it has continued up to the present day with names like Najdorf, Korchnoi, Smyslov, Larsen, Uhlmann, Kholmov being among the winners of the various editions. A lot of people think that Bobby Fischer won this tournament in 1965 -- he actually tied for 2nd place with Efim Geller and Borislav Ivkov -- it was Vassily Smyslov (who he defeated in their individual encounter) finished first.

Except for Wesley, all the other participants in this year’s 49th edition had won it previously -- Ivanchuk is a six-time winner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012), Dominguez won it thrice (2004, 2008 and 2009), while Vallejo (2001), Bruzon (2002) and Almasi (2013) each won it once.

Now it is with great pride that I announce that Wesley So has joined the august list of winners of the Capablanca Memorial. He was undefeated with three wins and seven draws. This victory bumps his rating up to FIDE 2744 and 15th place overall in the world ranking list. Wow -- the highest-ever ranking reached by a Filipino. Eugene Torre reached 20th and I do not know of any other Filipino to be even in the top 90.

Wesley’s most valuable win was against the Cuban no. 1 GM Leinier Domínguez Pérez (born Sept. 23, 1983 in Havana, Cuba) who, with a FIDE Rating of 2768, is ranked as the no. 10 best chessplayer in the world. He is known as a fantastic player in fast time controls and in fact won the World Blitz Chess Championship in 2008.

Earlier this year Dominguez needed only 21 moves to beat Wesley in Wijk aan Zee. I never did show this to our readers for it was too painful to bear. But now I can.

* * *

Dominguez Perez, Leinier (2754) -- So, Wesley (2719) [C42]
Tata Steel-A 76th Wijk aan Zee (8), 21.01.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 b6

A surprise. The usual moves here are either 8...Nc6 or 8...Nd7.

9.0-0-0 Bb7 10.h4

This is the usual attacking formation against Black’s setup. Bd3 and Ng5 will follow.

10...Nd7 11.Bd3 Nf6 12.Bd4

White is also thinking about Qf4 to shift his queen over to the kingside.

12...c5 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Qf4 d5 15.h5 Re8 16.g4 g6?

A mistake after which White’s attack becomes overwhelming. I looks like Black’s once chance is to keep his pawns where they are and try to break through in the center with 16...d4! for example 17.g5 Bxf3 18.gxf6 Qxf6 19.Qxf6 gxf6 20.Rdg1+ Kh8 21.Rh3 Be4 the endgame looks equal.

17.hxg6 hxg6 18.g5! Bg7 19.Rh7!

Probably what Wesley overlooked.


[19...Kxh7 20.Qxf7 with forced mate]

20.Bc4 Qe7 21.Qh4! 1-0

It is hopeless: 21...Bxf3 22.Rxg7+ Kxg7 23.Qh6+ Kg8 24.Qxg6+ Kf8 25.Qh6+ Kg8 26.g6 etc.

Here is Wesley taking revenge on his tormentor.

* * *

So, Wesley (2731) -- Dominguez Perez, Leinier (2768) [B90]
49th Capablanca Elite 2014 Havana CUB (8.2), 16.05.2014

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 Nf6 8.f3 e5 9.Nb3 Be6 10.Be3 h5

The name most closely associated with this move is that of former world champion Veselin Topalov. It is not an attacking move -- it is actually defensive to preven White from advancing his g-pawn.

11.Nd5 Bxd5 12.exd5 Nbd7 13.Qd2 g6

There are two main lines now -- White can either castle queenside or kingside.

14.Be2 Qc7

Black is provoking c2-c4.


Incautious would be 15.0-0? Nb6! 16.c4 (16.Bxb6 Qxb6+ 17.Kh1 Bh6 White will sorely miss his dark-squared bishop) 16...Nxc4 17.Bxc4 Qxc4 18.Rfd1 Qb5 Black is a pawn up and White’s initiative is not enough.

Dominguez has experience with this line. In Khanty-Mansiysk GM Bologan tried 15.Na5 and after 15...b6! The knight had to return to b3 as 16.Nc6? Nxd5 17.Qxd5 Nf6 wins back the piece with a pawn to the good. For example: 18.Qc4 b5 19.Qc3 Nd5.

15...Bg7 16.0-0 0-0 17.c4 b6 18.Na1!

The plan is to bring this knight to c6 via c2 and b4.

18...Kh7 19.h3 Ng8 20.g4 Qd8

Dominguez intends to transfer his queen to the kingside. Another move to consider is 20...Bh6 and now

1) 21.gxh5 Ndf6! (21...gxh5? 22.Kh2 Bxe3 23.Qxe3 Nh6 24.Qg5 is dangerous for Black) 22.hxg6+ fxg6 23.Nc2 Nh5 with the open f-file for his rook and his pieces in good positions it is Black who is playing for the win;

2) 21.g5 Bg7 22.b4 Rfd8 Black is ok]

21.gxh5 Qh4 22.hxg6+ fxg6 23.Bd3 Bh6!

Now this is an excellent move. Black exchanges off the dark-squared bishops so that his pieces can take control of d4 and f4.

24.Rf2 Bxe3 25.Qxe3 Ne7 26.Rg2 Nf5 27.Bxf5 Rxf5 28.Nb3 Kg7 29.Nd2 Qxh3 30.Kf2 Raf8?

Here is the mistake. Better is 30...e4! 31.Qxe4 (31.Nxe4) 31...Ne5.

31.Rcg1 R8f6 32.Ke2 e4?

Black really cannot make do without this move, but Wesley has already plotted out a forced tactical sequence which transposes to a won end game.

33.Nxe4 Rxf3 34.Rxg6+ Rxg6 35.Rxg6+! Kxg6 36.Qxf3 Qxf3+ 37.Kxf3 Ne5+ 38.Kf4 Nxc4 39.b3! Ne5 40.Nxd6 Nd3+ 41.Ke4 Nc1 42.Ke5 Nd3+

Alas! 42...Nxa2 43.Nb7 Nb4 44.d6 Nd3+ 45.Ke4 Nf2+ 46.Kd5 the pawn queens.


[43.Ke6 Nf4+ 44.Ke5 Nd3+ is back to the same position]


[43...Nc5 44.Nc4 wins the b6-pawn]

44.Nc8 Kf7 45.Ke5 Ke8 46.Ke6 Kd8 47.d6! Nd3

[47...Kxc8 48.Ke7]

48.Nxb6 Nf4+ 49.Kf5 Ne2 50.Ke6 Nf4+ 51.Kf6

The winning procedure is to push the pawn to d7, protect it with the king, and then Nb6-a4-c5 followed by a check on b7 or e6, and then game over.

51...Ne2 52.d7 Nc3 53.Ke6 Nb5 54.Na4 Nc7+ 55.Kd6 Nb5+ 56.Kc6 Nd4+ 57.Kd5 Nb5 58.Nc5 Kc7 59.Ke6 Nd4+ 60.Ke7 Nf5+ 61.Ke6 Nd4+ 62.Kf7 Nf5 63.Kf6 Ne3 64.Ke6 1-0

Wesley is threatening either Nb7 or Ke7. There is no longer any defense.

And oh yes! To continue the story I started at the beginning of this article -- what do Che Guevara and our former President Corazon Aquino have in common? Well, believe it or not the World Chess Federation awarded Her Excellency Corazon Aquino the title of “Grand Knight of FIDE” for organizing the 1992 Manila Olympiad. Other winners in the succeeding years were Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union), James Callaghan (United Kingdom) and, guess who, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

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