As the tournament is drawing to an end, we witnessed another round of action-packed and hard-fought chess at the Villa Marina yesterday.
The top board clash between Vachier-Lagrave and Sargissian was a fairly short draw. As Maxime confessed after the game, the opening had gone horribly wrong for him and he was forced to exchange all the pieces in order to avoid being worse.
On the other hand, board 2 saw an entertaining exchange of blows between England’s number 3, Gawain Jones and current joint British Champion David Howell. According to David, Gawain played the opening well and got a nice positional advantage (the computers suggests his edge might even have been decisive when he countered the dubious 19...Qf8 with 20.g4!). However, 25.Nf4 let White’s advantage slip, before the blunder 29.Bf5, losing a whole piece, determined the outcome of the game.
The bishop on f5 is lost after 29...Be8
Board 3 and 4 were both draws, but while Fridman and Tiviakov agreed a draw in a symmetrical position on move 33, Popilski and Fressinet battled it out for 85 moves, in what was one of the very last games to finish. Although the third seed was 2 pawns up at some stage, his Israeli opponent always had strong counterplay and a draw was a fair result.
Board 5 saw Nigel Short continue his comeback as he scored yet another victory, this time at the expense of Alon Greenfeld. However, Nigel benefited from a little luck as his opponent blundered just when he had the draw within reach, after defending flawlessly for many hours.
After 74.Nb5 both 74...Rxd6 and 74...Nxd6 would have led to an immediate draw
With only 2 rounds to go, English GMs Short and Howell have fought their way to the top with 2 consecutive wins and now share the lead with Vachier-Lagrave and Sargissian, all on 5.5/7. However, 6 players are still within striking distance on 5/7: Fressinet, Tiviakov, Jones, Fridman, Gupta and Popilski.
Nigel Short David Howell
On today’s penultimate round we can look forward to the leaders’ clashes between Howell and Vachier-Lagrave on the top board, while Sargissian and Short will battle it out on board 2. Another promising encounter will take place on board 6, where top seed Mickey Adams faces the best women player of the tournament, Harika Dronavalli.
As usual, the games kick off at 13.30pm and you can watch here: http://www.iominternationalchess.com/live-games.html
Fiona Steil-Antoni (Press Officer)