Raymond Keene

Chess on the Rock

Chess on the Rock
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The Armenian Grandmaster Levon Aronian has won first prize of £25,000 in the important Tradewise Masters which has just finished in Gibraltar. Britain’s Mickey Adams also shared first place, but due to the exigencies of the tie-breaking system it was Aronian who progressed to the play-off, where he defeated the leading French representative Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

Here are some extracts from an event which has consistently been voted the world’s best open competition.

Aronian-Hoolt: Gibraltar Masters 2018

(See diagram 1)

Black is a pawn up but White has tremendously active rooks and a juicy square on e5 for the knight. 34 Nf6! This proves remarkably awkward. Black cannot capture as 34 ... gxf6 35 Qxf6+ Rg7 36 Rd7 Reg8 37 Rcc7 wins. 34 ... Rc8 35 Rcd1 White now has numerous threats including the beautiful 36 Qg6! 35 ... Rf7 36 Nd7 36 Nxh7 was also very strong as 36 ... Kxh7 37 Rd7 Rcf8 38 Rxf7 Rxf7 39 Rd8 wins. 36 ... Rg8 37 Rh3 h6 38 Ne5 Rf6 39 Rxh6+! Rxh6 40 Nf7+ Kh7 41 Nxh6 Bf3 A last gasp try. 41 ... gxh6 42 Rd7+ mates. 42 Nf7 Rf8 43 Qh4+ Black resigns After 43 ... Kg8 44 Ng5 wins.

Moussard-Adams: Gibraltar Masters 2018

(see diagram 2)

This position is equal but Black has a very slight advantage in piece activity and White must play accurately to neutralise it. Adams is deadly in such situations as he is very good at finding the most accurate moves and setting opponents difficult problems 22 ... Ng4 23 Rb4 Rc5 24 h3 Ne5 25 f4 This is too loosening. 25 Kf1 was better, planning 25 ... Rc2 26 Ke2. 25 ... Nd3 26 Nb3 Rc2 Now this rook is just too powerful. 27 Rxd4 Rxd4 28 Nxd4 Rxb2 29 Rd1 Nf2 White resigns

Le Quang Liem-Dubov: Gibraltar Masters 2018

(See diagram 3)

This position looks blocked and therefore drawn, but now White uncorks an unexpected breakthrough. 45 d4!! exd4 46 e5 Rdd8 47 Rxb6 Bxb6 48 Rxb6 Nf4 49 Rxf6+ Kg7 50 Bxf4 gxf4 51 Kxf4 d3 52 Ke3 Rb8 53 Rg6+ Kh7 54 e6 Rg8 55 Rxg8 Black resigns