Making Moves on the Rock

The Gibraltar tournament has established itself as one of the leading tournaments in the world. It features an incredibly strongĀ  Swiss tournament along with some side tournaments for the not quite so gifted. There are also a bunch of social activities which add to the atmosphere. For example I played against Wesley So and Kateryna Lagno in a tandem simul the day before the tournament started.

I had the consolation of being one of the last few games to finish but the result was never really in doubt.

There are so many grandmasters there that you are almost guaranteed to bump into someone like Ivanchuk at the breakfast buffet. Chester 1 stalwart Steve Connor was also there in an official capacity doing something very important connected with the website.

I played in the Challengers A tournament. My first moment of fame came when I was paired against top seed Melissa Castrillon from Colombia in round one. That meant that my game had the ceremonial opening move played on it and Melissa, the dignitary and my hands made it into the global media reporting (see the final photo on the link):


In this first game it started quite well as my almost sound pawn sac led to the following position:

As Black to play I thought for quite a while but meekly retreated my knight as I failed to find any appealing active line. However, the computer immediately spots a clear advantage with 19..Bh2+ 20Kf1 Ne5 21Qe2 d4! exploiting the possibility of a ..Bc4 pin.

Nothing really went particularly well from a results perspective after this point and I ended on 2/5 after a diabolical final round blunder:

As Black I just played 30..Rd8-d3 to encourage 31 Qg3-g6 with an amazing move in mind. See if you can spot Black’s 31st which seemingly threatens unavoidable mate but actually leads to mate in 4 for White! (Answer at the end of the report). I’d love to say I was short on time but in truth I tool several minutes checking and re-checking my analysis before playing my move. Nobody wants to be the idiot who plays a really flashy sacrifice which doesn’t work, right?

I was a touch dejected after this but thought I might at least get away without anyone in Chester noticing a poor move played many miles away. That thought was shortly dashed when Dave Robertson, who had seen it live online, emailed me to say that I was actually in contention for a ‘prize’ for a WMOTB.

If like me you’ve never heard of a WMOTB, it stand for worst move on the board. Now we’ve all doubtless played some terrible moves in our time but it is rare that one gets the chance to play the very worst move which also looks quite plausible. As forum poster Justin Horton clarified:

“It’s a winner if we can’t cook it. All kinds of ways to lose a queen for nothing, but none of them nearly as bad a move.”

Despite the mixed results I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Gibraltar and would recommend playing there if you get a chance. There are convenient low cost flights from Manchester to Gibraltar and plenty of accommodation options.

In between games I climbed the Rock several times. There are several points of military historical interest to see together with the famous monkeys. The monkeys aren’t too dangerous, but as Malpas and Gibraltar regular Richard Bryant can explain, they are quite partial to Magnum ice cream. Anyway, a few photos I took climbing up the Rock before the answer to the WMOTB puzzle:

Answer: 31..Rg5 32Qe8+ Kh7 33Nxg5CHECK 33..hg 34 hg+ mating. Instead 33..Qb3 threatening ..Rg3 should be winning for Black.


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