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    « This Week's ChessVideos Show: Yusupov-Shirov, Gibraltar 2012 | Main | Hou Yifan Leads Gibraltar With A Round to Go »
    Thursday
    Feb022012

    Gibraltar Finale: Short Defeats Hou Yifan in Blitz Playoff to Take the Title

    The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival didn't quite finish with the full fairy tale ending, but it was pretty close. Hou Yifan entered the last round with a half-point lead over her closest pursuers, and her reward was a game with second-seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. They drew after a full and complicated fight, and that gave several other players the chance to catch up with 8/10.

    The only one to succeed was Nigel Short, who defeated Krishnan Sasikiran with Black in a Modern Benoni. It was a gutsy choice that paid off (literally!), and after that it was on to a two game blitz (10 minutes + 5 seconds per move) tiebreak match. Short won the first game - convincingly - in a Grand Prix Attack, and he probably could have won the second game as well, but was content to allow Hou to draw by perpetual check.

    So Short took first, but all the same it was an incredible performance by the 17-year-old women's world champion. She finished with a 2872 TPR, going +4 -1 =2 against 2700s (and beating everyone below that as well). Michael Adams, Mamedyarov, Viktor Bologan and Emil Sutovsky finished half a point behind, and then another 17 players (including Judit Polgar) finished with 7 points apiece.

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    Reader Comments (9)

    Hou is definitely a star already but the future is bright for her. Good to see the Brits doing well too. Honourable mention to Howell who finished on 7 points as well as Short and Adams who obviously had fantastic results too.

    February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIshan

    Did Emanuel Berg win the prize for best game in the end? That was a truly amazing way to beat the Frenchman with three names in the last round. Please check that game out! Berg was also interviewed in the commentary room afterwards.

    [DM: It was a nice game, covered yesterday in Chess Today, but I don't see how that could top Yusupov-Shirov! In Berg - Vachier-Lagrave it was theory through move 14, and V-L followed up his novelty with the losing error on the very next move. Berg really needed to find a grand total of one idea: 16.Nxe6! Ne5 17.Nxf8! It's nice, but hardly even a sacrifice. If you're right that it won the best game prize then Shirov was simply robbed. In Y-S the tension lasted for almost 20 moves, while in B-VL it was about three.]

    February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRandomeister

    Not sure I agree (obviously) and apparently not the organizers either. I have found two accounts that Berg won the "best game" prize, both in Swedish, but nothing yet on the official site. I did find this picture of Berg from the prize giving ceremony on a Swedish blog:
    http://kungstornet.schack.se/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/20120202-230438.jpg

    [DM: In Berg's favor is that he was the lower-rated player notching the scalp. It's not really relevant to the game's quality, but maybe the judge or judges valued the trendier opening. Other than that, I don't see any argument in favor of B-VL over Y-S, though I'm happy to agree that both games were interesting, impressive and well-played by the winner. (But VL did not play well at all, which is a big part of the reason why I greatly prefer the other game.)]

    February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRandomeister

    It is absurd and unfair to give Nigel Short the entire 20,000 pound first prize, versus 12,000 for Hou Yifan, just for winning the blitz playoff. Playoffs should be for indivisible items, like trophies. If they want to give the winner of the playoff a small bonus, as happens at the World Open, that's one thing. But this makes a mockery of the whole event. They play 9 rounds of serious chess at a slow, one round per day schedule, and then base a payout of 8,000 pounds on the results of a couple of 10 minute games. How do they get away with this nonsense?

    [DM: Since the top players didn't pay entry fees (did they?) and knew (or could have known) the prize structure in advance, I don't think there's much of an issue about "getting away" with anything. That said, I agree that the difference is bizarre, absurd and a pity.]

    February 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSParker

    Blitz tiebreaks with lots of money at stake may be absurd or bizarre, but it was often like this in Gibraltar (last year was rather an exception as Ivanchuk finished in clear first place). So the players could have known even if they haven't studied the regulations. I don't remember anyone complaining, also not when Nakamura won blitz tiebreaks (San Sebastian, Rising Stars vs. Experience, something else?) - so this time it may be a matter of the "wrong" person winning!?

    Actually, Short and Hou Yifan got almost the same sum: Hou Yifan also won the Women's Prize (10,000 GBP) and Junior Prize (just 600 GBP), while Short also got the 5,000 GBP Commonwealth Prize. Another "unfairness" might be the rather generous Women prizes: Judit Polgar's 7/10 score was worth 7,000 GBP, while the 16 men with the same score got less than 1,000 GBP per person. Seven women scoring 6.5/10 got about 2,000 GBP each, men with the same score got nothing. But that's also (typical for) Gibraltar and was known beforehand.

    [DM: I don't know if it's "unfair"; in fact, I'm inclined to say it is fair, as the players freely decided to play. But something can be contractually fair but absurd nonetheless. This has nothing to do with the "wrong person" winning (I trust you're not insinuating that I decide what is just by consulting with my preferences about who I want to win), but with a huge gap based on a blitz tiebreak. 1-2000 pounds would be a lot of money as well, but would be more in keeping, percentage-wise, with what could be expected from a tiebreak. But the actual percentage gap is startling.]

    February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    sorry scrap my last post!

    meant to say Hou didn't do too badly as she also got the £10,000 women's prize and £600 junion prize. Short also got a £5,000 Commonwealth prize. Overall:

    Short £25,000 vs Hou £22,600.

    February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

    Dennis, Apparently Hou missed 17...Bh5 in the first game which may be winning. So 'convincingly' may not be the right word.

    [DM: Picky, picky. :) So should we ignore that Short's previous move was also a one-move blunder?]

    February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Boron

    Dennis, I wasn't referring to you - among other things you didn't complain "actively" (in your report) but only as a response to SParker. My point wasn't whether such blitz tiebreaks are "wrong" but when and why people complain about it (here and elsewhere).

    It's speculation, but I guess if Hou Yifan had won the tiebreak people wouldn't write "it's unfair to Short" but consider her the deserved winner. On one hand it would make sense: as an underdog she had to play stronger opposition. On the other hand, she got an extra white (6 times white and 4 times black) which might be taken as a certain "unfair" advantage.

    The overall problem may be the perceived need for a clear winner, and also the rather big difference between first and second prize - which could be unfair even if no tiebreaks were required: a lot can depend on 'luck' with the last-round pairings, e.g. getting a relatively weak opponent or one who also wants to win rather than trying to steer the game towards a draw. Even throwing games can be attractive - it won't happen in Gibraltar but it could happen at lesser events where the difference is 2000 vs. 1200 or 200 vs. 120.

    February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Interestingly, Berg - Vachier-Lagrave was "replayed" today in the German Bundesliga (at 2550 level, Bobras-Maksimenko which was board 4 in a 'minor' match). Black found or knew 19.-Bd8 (only move and about equal according to engines, so Dennis' assessment that black was already lost may be wrong). But he went wrong immediately with 20.-b5 and was still crushed.

    I would presume that (also these) GMs were aware of the predecessor, even though they spent quite some time in the opening.

    [Event "Schachbundesliga 2011/2012"]
    [Date "2012.02.05"]
    [Round "9.4"]
    [Board "4"]
    [White "Bobras, Piotr"]
    [Black "Maksimenko, Andrei"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [WhiteClock "00:00:31"]
    [BlackClock "00:10:02"]
    [WhiteElo "2544"]
    [BlackElo "2553"]
    [WhiteClub "SG Trier 1877"]
    [BlackClub "SF Berlin 1903"]
    [PlyCount "53"]

    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6
    7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Qb6 9. Qd3 Qxb2 10. Rb1 Qa3 11. f5 Be7 12. fxe6 fxe6
    13. Be2 O-O 14. O-O Kh8 15. Kh1 Nbd7 16. Nxe6 Ne5 17. Nxf8 Nxd3 18. Ng6+ Kh7
    19. Bxd3 Bd8 20. Nd5 b5 21. Nge7 Bxe7 22. Nxe7 Bb7 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. Rxf6 Qxa2
    25. Rbf1 Kg7 26. Rg6+ Kh8 27. e5 1-0

    [DM: You just have to push on the engines a little: after 20...Nxd5 21.exd5 Bh4 22.Nxh4+ Kg8 23.Ng6 Houdini 2 suddenly "wakes up" and gives White +3 and change. Or 20...Qxa2 21.e5 dxe5 22.Nxe5+ Kh8 23.c4 Qd2 24.Rbd1 and again it's +3 and change. Or finally 20...Kxg6 21.e5+ Kf7 22.exf6 Qxa2 (22...Qc5!! 23.Ne7 is only +2.46) 23.Ne3 and my tin can again assesses White's advantage at a hair over - you guessed it - +3. If this was preparation, the preparer might want to find a new line of work.]

    February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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