Chess Piece

Gibraltar Masters 2020
Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar
Jan. 21-30, 2020

Final Top Standings

1-7. David Paravyan RUS 2629, Andrey Esipenko RUS 2654, Wang Hao CHN 2758, Daniil Yuffa 2566, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave FRA 2770, David Navara CZE 2717, Mustaf Yilmaz TUR 2607, 7.5/10

8-23. Parham Maghsoodloo IRI 2674, Jan Werle NED 2545, Veselin Topalov BUL 2738, Aryan Chopra IND 2562, Mikhail Kobalia RUS 2609, Murali Karthikeyan IND 2606, Michael Adams ENG 2694, Le Quang Liem VIE 2713, Gawain Jones ENG 2679, Ivan Saric CRO 2655, Krishnan Sasikiran IND 2648, Jules Moussard FRA 2600, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa IND 2602, Bogdan-Daniel Deac ROU 2626, Tan Zhongyi CHN 2493, Daniele Vocaturo ITA 2622, 7.0/10

Total Participants: 250 players

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 clock after every move starting move 1.

Winner of the “Best Game Prize” and £1,000 (about P66,000) was GM Anna Muzychuk, the older of the Muzychuk sisters of Ukraine. Born Feb. 28, 1990, she is the fourth woman, after Judit Polgar, Humpy Koneru and Hou Yifan, to cross the 2600 ELO rating mark. Until recently she had always been higher rated than her sister, and that says a lot, for Mariya Muzychuk was the 2015 World Women’s Chess Champion.

Muzychuk, Anna (2539) — Kobo, Ori (2445) [B47]
18th Gibraltar Masters Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar (10), Jan. 30, 2020

Before we start I should emphasize that there is no “Best Game” prize for men and another for women. Just a “Best Game” prize overall, so for Anna Muzychuk to win over the entire field in Gibraltar, well, that’s impressive.

Her opponent is a 22–year old Grandmaster from Israel. He doesn’t play so much, but invariably places well when he does.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Qc7 6.f4

The most aggressive line. The more “normal” line is 6.Be2 a6 7.0–0 and now either 7…Nf6 or 7…b5. There are a lot of very interesting games in these lines. We should go over them some day.

6…a6 7.Nxc6

White resolves the situation in the center so that she can concentrate on developing her pieces and perhaps building up a kingside attack without having to worry about Black’s …Nxd4 subtleties.


Usually followed up with …b7–b5. 7…bxc6 is also certainly possible, but 7…dxc6 is considered less good because after the continuation 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Qf3 White is going to castle queenside and then g2–g4–g5. Black lacks any real counterplay.

8.Bd3 b5 9.Qe2 Bb7

On this and the next move 9…b4?! is met by 10.Nd5! and the knight is immune to capture because of discovered check on the e-file.

10.Bd2 Bc5 11.a3 Ne7 12.0–0–0 0–0 13.h4

Just caveman style attacking. This system has an 88% success rate.


Another try is 13…b4 14.axb4 Bxb4 15.h5 Rfc8?! In the game Kriebel, T-Jan Werle Novy Bor 2019 White wasted his initiative with 16.Qg4?! f5! and Black managed to hold the game (1/2 36). Instead, the straightforward 16.h6! g6 17.Qf2 would have been very dangerous for Black.

14.g4 d5

The standard break in the center to respond to a flank attack.

15.gxf5 exf5 16.exd5 Nxd5 17.Nxd5 Qxd5 18.Rhe1

Now White’s idea is to take over the long diagonal with 19.Bc3 and target the g7 square. Black cannot counter with 19…Bd4 because of 20.Bxb5! taking advantage of the pin down the d-file.

18…Qf7 19.Bc3 Rfe8 20.Be5 Re6 21.Qf1!

To be followed up with Qh3.

21…Rf8 22.Qh3 Rh6? <D>


Overlooking Anna’s tactical resource. Correct is 22…h5 followed by Kh7 and Black is still fighting.

23.Bxf5!! Qxf5 24.Rd7! Rg6

The queen is immune to capture as 24…Qxh3 25.Rxg7+ Kh8 26.Rg6+! Rf6 27.Bxf6#

25.Qb3+ Kh8

[25…Rf7 26.Rxb7 just the same]

26.Rxb7 Bf2 27.h5!! Rg3

[27…Bxe1 28.hxg6 Rg8 29.Bxg7+! Rxg7 30.Rb8+ followed by mate; Or 27…Qxh5 28.Qf7! Rg8 29.Rb8 Rxb8 30.Bxb8 and wins]

28.Qd5! h6

[28…Bxe1 29.h6! threatening mate on g7 and Black has no defense, e.g. 29…Rg8 30.Bxg7+ R3xg7 31.hxg7+ Rxg7 32.Rb8+ and mate]

29.Re2 Rg1+ 30.Kd2 Bh4 31.Qd4

Attacking g7 and g1 at the same time.

31…Rc8 32.Bxg7+ Kg8 33.Qxg1!

Needless to say, White had to make sure that she is not mated by Black’s queen and rook.

33…Rxc2+ 34.Ke3 Qh3+

[34…Rxe2+ 35.Kxe2 Qe4+ 36.Kd2 Qxb7 37.Bf6+ wins the bishop on h4]

35.Kd4 Bf2+

If 35…Rc4+ 36.Ke5 Bg3 (no choice, Black has no more checks) 37.Bf6 followed by Rg7+

36.Rxf2 Rc4+ 37.Kd5 1–0

Black resigns as 37.Kd5 Qd3+ 38.Bd4+ leads to forced mate.

Veselin Topalov won the world title in the 2005 San Luis Championship. It was a double-round event between Topalov, Anand, Svidler, Morozevich, Peter Leko, Kasimdzhanov, Michael Adams and Judit Polgar. Topalov scored a mind-boggling 6.5/7 in the first cycle and then drew every one of his games in the second cycle, clinching the victory with one round to spare.

In the next year he lost the title to Vladimir Kramnik in the 2006 reunification match (there was this infamous “toiletgate” scandal, but we won’t go into that).

Even after losing the title Topalov continued to compete:

He played another match for the world title in 2010, this time losing to Vishy Anand 5.5-6.5.

His peak rating was 2816 in July 2015. This puts him among the Top Ten highest rated player of all time.

The past few years though we have seen Topalov’s chess intensify go down a bit and it appears that he is already taking it easy and has no more ambition to contend for the title.

Every once in a while though we get to see what a brilliant attacker he is. The coordinated piece play he often brings to bear against the enemy king is among the most impressive ever seen. We got to see a sample in Gibraltar. His opponent is the 16-year-old IM Sankalp Gupta, another very promising up-and-comer from India. He calls Nagpur (the so-called “Orange City”) his home.

Topalov, Veselin (2738) — Sankalp, Gupta (2400) [C11]
18th Gibraltar Masters Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar (1), Jan. 21, 2020

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Be7

One of the former main lines here, 7…cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 0–0 10.0–0–0 a6 has come under a cloud because of Kramnik’s 11.Qf2! (instead of the usual 11.h4) with which he defeated Radjabov in Linares 2003 and Shirov in Monte Carlo of that same year. The idea is clear enough — White wants to play Bd3 and Qh4 after suitable preparation. If we have enough readers interested in that line please let me know at and we can discuss it in more detail.


Don’t forget to exchange pawns first on c5 before castling queenside. Here is what might happen if you don’t: 8.Qd2 0–0 9.0–0–0? c4! 10.f5 (10.Kb1 Going defensive is not a good choice: 10…b5 11.Nxb5 Rb8 12.Nd6 Bxd6 13.exd6 Nf6 Black is clearly better. Petrov,M (2490)-David,A (2568) Kavala 2008 0–1 39.) 10…b5! 11.fxe6 fxe6 12.Nxb5 Rb8 13.Nd6 Bxd6 14.exd6 Nf6 Black has …Ne4 coming up with serious problems for his opponent. Szelag, M (2478) — Gurevich, M (2627) Warsaw 2007 0–1 37.

8…Nxc5 9.Qd2 0–0 10.0–0–0 a6 11.Qf2 Qa5 12.Kb1 Bd7 13.f5!? exf5 14.Rxd5!

Taking with the knight makes no impact: 14.Nxd5 Ne4 15.Qe1 (15.Qe2 Be6 turns over the initiative to Black) 15…Qxe1 16.Nxe7+ Nxe7 17.Rxe1 Rfe8 Black has the edge because of the vulnerable white pawn on e5.

14…Ne4 15.Rxa5 Nxf2 16.Rd5 Nxh1 17.Rxd7 b5 18.Bd3! f4?

Definitely a mistake although I would be at a loss to suggest something better.

19.Bb6! Rab8 20.Nd5! Rfe8 21.Nd4! Nxe5

[21…Nxd4 is not an improvement: 22.Nxe7+ Kf8 23.Bxd4 Rxe7 24.Bc5 Rbe8 25.Be4! Black is paralyzed]

22.Rxe7 f6

[22…Rxe7 23.Nxe7+ Kf8 24.Bc5 Nxd3 25.cxd3 Ke8 26.Ndf5 Black’s knight on h1 is still imprisoned]

23.Bc7 Ra8 24.Bxh7+! Kh8 25.Bf5 1–0

Black resigns as he doesn’t see any hope for salvation. Let’s play on for a few more moves: 25.Bf5 Rxe7 26.Nxe7 Re8 27.Bxe5 fxe5 28.Ng6+ Kg8 29.Bd7 Rd8 30.Nxe5 Nf2 31.Ne6 Rb8 32.Ng5 Rd8 33.Kc1 b4 34.h3 a5 35.Kd2 Black is just powerless.


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 (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.