Reports Feb 6, 2014 | 8:39 PMby Colin McGourty

Cheparinov triumphs in Gibraltar

After three wins in a row and a play-off victory against Nikita Vitiugov Bulgaria's Ivan Cheparinov has won the 2014 Tradewise Gibraltar Masters. IM David Martínez provides express analysis of an enthralling final day's play.

The day started with high excitement as Ukraine's Vassily Ivanchuk needed to fend off a ferocious attack from Frenchman Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in order to ensure he would at least tie for first place. He was joined in a play-off by last year's winner Vitiugov and Cheparinov, who both won on demand.

Ivan Cheparinov began his remarkable late run in Round 8, when he scored the first of three consecutive victories

1. c4 ♘f6 2. ♘c3 c5 3. ♘f3 d5 4. cxd5 ♘xd5 5. g3 ♘c6 6. ♗g2 e6 7. 0-0 ♗e7 8. ♘xd5 exd5 9. d4 0-0 10. dxc5 ♗xc5 11. ♗g5 f6 12. ♗d2 ♗e6 13. a3 ♗b6 14. b4 ♘e5 15. a4 a6 16. ♖b1 ♕d7 17. a5 ♗a7 18. b5 ♖ac8 19. ♗b4 ♘xf3+ 20. ♗xf3 ♗c5 The isolated pawn on d5 seems to be Black's obvious weakness, but Vitiugov manages to create a second weakness and exploit it to perfection i.e. he captures it!

21. bxa6 bxa6 22. ♕d3 ♗xb4 23. ♖xb4 ♖c6 24. ♖b6 ♖a8 25. ♖fb1 ♖ac8 26. h4 Avoiding any back-rank surprises.

26... ♖c3 27. ♕xa6 Putting an end to Black's counterplay and making sure of the full point.

27... ♗g4 28. ♗g2 d4 29. ♖b8 ♕e8 30. ♕d6 h5 31. a6 ♕a4 32. ♗b7 ♔h7 33. ♗xc8 ♗xc8 34. ♕d5 ♔g6 35. ♖8b5 ♗g4 36. ♖b7 ♕e8 37. a7 ♗f5 38. ♖xg7+ Nice work!


1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 a6 5. ♘c3 b5 6. ♗d3 ♗b7 7. 0-0 ♘c6 8. ♘xc6 ♗xc6 9. ♖e1 ♗c5 10. a4 b4 11. ♘d5 ♘e7 12. ♗e3 ♗xe3 13. ♘xe3 a5 14. ♕h5 ♘g6 15. b3 0-0 16. e5 ♕e7 17. ♘g4 ♕c5 18. ♕h3 f5 19. exf6 gxf6 20. ♕g3 ♔g7 21. ♖ad1 ♖f7 22. ♗e4 ♖c8 23. ♗xc6 ♖xc6 24. ♘e3 h5 25. ♕f3 h4 26. ♖d2 f5 27. ♘c4 ♔h6 28. h3 ♔g7 29. ♖de2 ♖f6 Although White's position looks favourable it's difficult to imagine how rapidly Black collapses.

30. ♕h5! f4 31. ♖e5! It's not so often you see a rook attack like this on the 5th rank!

31... ♕f8 32. ♖g5 d6 33. ♕xh4 Now the weak position of the black king is compounded by a pawn deficit... Although Kamsky puts up heroic resistance Cheparinov converts his advantage.

33... e5 34. ♕g4 ♕c8 35. ♕f3 ♔h6 36. ♖h5+ ♔g7 37. ♖d1 ♕e8 38. ♕e4 ♘f8 39. ♖g5+ ♘g6 40. ♘xa5 ♖c5 41. ♘c4 ♕c6 42. ♕xc6 ♖xc6 43. h4 ♔f7 44. g3 ♔e6 45. ♖e1 ♔f7 46. ♖d1 ♔e6 47. a5 ♖a6 48. h5 ♘e7 49. gxf4 ♖xf4 50. ♔g2 ♖f6 51. ♖h1 ♘f5 52. ♘e3 ♘xe3+ 53. fxe3 ♖h6 54. ♖a1 ♔f6 55. ♖g6+ ♖xg6+ 56. hxg6 d5 57. ♔f3 ♔xg6 58. e4 d4 59. ♔g4 ♔f6 60. ♔h5 ♖a7 61. a6 ♖h7+ 62. ♔g4 ♖g7+ 63. ♔f3 ♖a7 64. ♖a5 ♔e6 65. ♔e2 ♔d6 66. ♔d3 ♔c7 67. ♔c4 ♔b6 68. ♔xb4



One of the traditions in Gibraltar is that first place can't be tied (something chess24's Jan Gustafsson knows to his cost...), so if players are locked on equal points after 10 rounds they have to battle things out in play-offs. 

The luck of the draw meant that Cheparinov got a pass straight through to the final and could leave it to Vitiugov to eliminate Ivanchuk. After drawing the first two rapid games they played an unforgettable blitz game that could be the subject of hours of analysis:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. ♘f3 ♘f6 4. e3 e6 5. ♗xc4 c5 6. 0-0 ♘c6 7. ♕e2 a6 8. ♖d1 b5 9. ♗b3 The most common move is 9. dxc5, but Vitiugov has other ideas.

9... c4 10. ♗c2 ♘b4 11. e4! ♗b7 12. d5 The fun and games begin!

12... ♘xc2

12... exd5 was an alternative. White would end up a pawn down but the compensation would at the very least have made for an entertaining game! For example: 13. ♗g5 ♗e7 14. ♘c3 0-0 (14... ♘xc2 15. ♕xc2 0-0 16. e5 followed by recovering the pawn on d5.) 15. ♗b1 and, at least in a rapid game, I'd rather be White.

13. dxe6! ♘xa1 14. ♖xd8+ ♖xd8 Two rooks and a piece for the queen, but the black king is very weak and the knight on a1 is one of those knights which although hard to capture isn't going anywhere either.

15. exf7+ ♔xf7 16. ♘g5+ ♔g8 17. e5 ♘e4 18. ♘e6 ♖e8

18... ♖d3 is preferred by the engines, when after a murky line things end in perpetual check and 0.00 - though that could be summarised as: "I haven't got a clue what's going on!"

19. ♘xf8 ♔xf8 20. f3 ♘c5 21. ♗e3 ♘d3 22. ♗d4 ♖d8 23. ♗b6 ♖d5 24. f4 The knight is still alive on a1 but the rook on h8 is half-dead! Vitiugov wants to open the position before Ivanchuk sacs any pieces...

24... ♔f7? It would be unfair to criticise such a natural move, although the king really is misplaced here.

24... ♘xf4 25. ♕f3 ♔e8 26. ♘c3 (26. ♕xf4 ♖d1+ ) 26... ♖f8 27. ♘xd5 ♗xd5 was the correct line, after which the only certainty is that anything could happen! I'd nevertheless say that it would be easier to play as Black.

25. ♘c3 The rook has nowhere to retreat to.

25... h5 Desperation, but alternatives would change little.

25... ♖e8 26. ♕h5+

25... ♖d7 26. e6+

26. e6+ ♔e7 27. ♘xd5+ ♗xd5 28. f5 ♔d6 29. ♗d4 ♖g8 30. ♕xh5 ♘c2 31. ♗b6 ♔c6 32. ♕f7 ♖c8 33. ♕d7+ ♔xb6 34. ♕xc8 ♘d4 35. h3 ♘xf5 36. e7 ♘xe7 37. ♕d8+ ♔c6 38. ♕xe7 ♘xb2 39. ♕xg7 ♘a4 40. h4 c3 41. h5 c2 42. ♕g6+ What a game!


In the final Cheparinov beat his rival in the first game. In a Queen's Gambit he had pressure against Vitiugov's isolated pawn, then a better bishop and finally won a pawn and forced simplifications to finish things off. 

1. d4 ♘f6 2. c4 e6 3. ♘f3 d5 4. ♘c3 ♘bd7 5. cxd5 exd5 6. ♗g5 c6 7. e3 ♗e7 8. ♗d3 ♘h5 9. ♗xe7 ♕xe7 10. 0-0 0-0 11. ♕b1 Going for the most typical plan in this structure - a minority attack.

11... ♘hf6 12. b4 a6 13. a4 ♖e8 14. ♘d2 ♕d6 15. ♖e1 ♘f8 16. b5 axb5 17. axb5 ♖xa1 18. ♕xa1 ♘e6 19. ♘f3 c5 Vitiugov prefers to be left with an isolated pawn on d5 rather than a weakness on c6. It's always hard to choose between those two structures. In either case Black aims for activity in the centre and on the kingside as compensation.

20. dxc5 ♘xc5 21. ♗f1 ♗g4 22. ♘d4 ♘e6 23. h3 ♘xd4 Now both sides have isolated pawns.

24. exd4 ♖xe1 25. ♕xe1 ♗e6 But this bishop remains bad.

26. ♕a1! ♕d8 27. ♕a7 b6 28. ♘a4 ♘d7 White applies persistent pressure.

29. ♕b7 h5 30. ♗e2 h4! This advance is very useful in order to get play against the white king in future.

31. ♕c6 ♕b8 32. ♗g4! Removing the bishops from the board as the priority now is the d5-pawn.

32... ♗xg4 33. hxg4 ♕a7

33... ♕e8! Activating the queen immediately would have guaranteed a draw. 34. ♔f1 ♕e4! 35. ♕xd7 ♕b1+ 36. ♔e2 ♕e4+=

34. ♘c3 ♘f6? The knight finds no peace on this square.

34... ♕a1+ 35. ♔h2 ♘f8 would still have maintained the balance.

35. ♕c8+ ♔h7 36. g5! ♘e4 37. ♘xe4 dxe4 38. ♕f5+ ♔g8 39. ♕xe4 Although still by no means easy Cheparinov has got what he wanted - the d-pawn is hard to stop.

39... ♕d7 40. ♕e5 h3 A logical attempt to get counterplay against the white king, but this allows immediate simplification into a pawn ending.

41. gxh3 ♕xh3 42. ♕b8+ ♔h7 43. ♕h2! ♕xh2+ 44. ♔xh2 ♔g6 45. f4 It's a close-run thing, but this ending is won for White.

45... f6 46. gxf6 ♔xf6 47. ♔g3 ♔e6 48. ♔f3 ♔d5 49. ♔e3 ♔c4 50. ♔e4 ♔xb5 51. ♔d5 ♔a4 52. ♔e6 b5 53. d5 b4 54. d6 b3 55. d7 b2 56. d8Q b1Q 57. ♕a8+ ♔b3 58. ♕b7+


In the second game Vitiugov had to play for a win. It looked as though he might have chances against his opponent's King's Indian, but Cheparinov managed to simplify into a drawn rook ending. Congratulations to the Bulgarian, who picks up the £20,000 first prize!

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