Round 3

After the numerous upsets witnessed in round 2, a more normal service was resumed yesterday. While Vachier-Lagrave ground down Gormally in an endgame after having been slightly better throughout most of the game, Adams took advantage of a tactical oversight by his young opponent Van Foreest to wrap up the game in only 21 moves.


There were however some remarkable exceptions to the favourites’ domination, notably on board 3, where birthday boy Gil Popilski exploited a blunder by Gupta to take his total to 2.5/3.


                          Happy (belated) birthday Gil! J

Down on board 10 Keith Arkell honoured his reputation of being one of the UK’s very best endgame players (have you ever heard of his R+B vs R record!?) as he ground down Hillarp Persson in a dramatic, 80-move long rook and knight ending.

The most striking upset of the round however took place on board 15, where Alan Merry (2269) got the better of Harika Dronavalli (2528), after he showed impressive opening preparation and dominated the game from start to finish.


Back on the top boards, Elisabeth Paehtz continued her good run by holding Tiviakov to a draw in an unpleasant endgame, while on board 6 David Howell couldn’t get past young Nitzan Steinberg either. Sargissian however didn't fail to let the rating difference tell as he won against Williams. Short against Raznikov, Fridman against Nakar and Marin against Skripchenko also all went the way of the higher rated player.

At the end of the day these results mean that we now have a sole tournament leader: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. It is interesting to note that the Frenchman was the top seed for most of the run-up to the tournament, but then Mickey Adams overtook him by just 1 mere rating point on the October list. Maxime lost some points at the Saint Louis super-tournament and the European Club Cup in Bilbao, dropping out of the world's top 10 as a result. However, I am glad to report that thanks to yesterday’s victory he has now reclaimed the number 10 spot. You can follow the live rating evolution of +2700 players on the following website:


Elsewhere in the Villa Marina the Major and Minor sections kicked off yesterday, with the very notable participation of multiple Isle of Man Champion Neville Gill, who started into the tournament with a win over Robin Kirkwood. 14 players are playing in the Major and 20 in the Minor, taking the tournament’s total participants number to 107.   


Round 4 will see Vachier-Lagrave face Hebden on the top board, while board 2 has the interesting confrontation between current joint British Champion Jonathan Hawkins and the UK’s number one player, Mickey Adams. Down on board 5 we find another match-up between two legends of British chess as Keith Arkell faces Nigel Short.

You can of course follow all the action and excitement live here:

Fiona Steil-Antoni (Press Officer)

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GM Hikaru Nakamura
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