Round 3 report

In the third round of A-tournament 32 players were fighting for the right to stay in A-group.  All players who lost their matches today were redirected to B-tournament and will play the third round in B-group tomorrow morning on 31st of December. 16 players, including all GMs rated over 2700, continue their participation in the A-group till the end of the tournament. Four matches were decided on tie-breaks (rapid chess) today: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sebastian Maze, Sebastien Feller, Kamil Milton  defeated Fabian Libiszewski, Loek Van Wely, Sergey Fedorchuk, Tigran Gharamian accordingly and proceed playing in A-tournament. All 16 players from A-group had already guaranteed their first tournament prizes in New Year.

The top players continue sharing their impressions about the tournament and games.

GM Etienne Bacrot: Yesterday it was quite easy match because I played against opponent with 1700 elo. Today the match was complicated. At the end I’ve got two slightly better positions and had more time but before it was unclear. I was trying to play fast today but let’s see what will be in the next matches. I didn’t have any special preparation for this tournament because I didn’t have time. I think it’s not a bad idea to play here – one game can be boring but with two games we’ll have some fun (laughing). It’s also nice to have New Year Eve here.

GM Alexander Moiseenko: The system of the tournament is unusual but interesting. It’s difficult to adapt to those matches because on the one hand you have time to think deeply on positions but on the other hand your attention switches to another game. I think one game becomes more important in one moment. Probably I will face the clearest experiment in time troubles or during the blitz match but until now I didn’t have that possibility and won both matches quietly. It happened to me twice that I started to write moves in different score sheets but in general I don’t feel confused during the games.

In the first match against Darovin Komljenovic I’ve got a comfortable position with Black and a slightly better position with White. Normally I would try to play for victory in such position with Black pieces. Even so when the position, where I had White pieces, became winning I preferred to secure the drawish result in the second game in order to fix the general victory in the match.

The practice shows that weaker players rarely get extra chances playing unusual chess against strong opponents. I think that the top-rated players will show good results here as well because this Basque system doesn’t look too different compare to “normal” one. I can not say that I came here because of the new system. The main reason to participate in the event was an impressive prize fund of course (laughing)! I don’t think that so many strong players will come only because they like the new system. Still I don’t regret to have chance to check that format. I can also say only good words about the tournament organization.

Round 2 report

The second round (which followed the first preliminary round) appeared to be not an easy one as most of the players faced the new “Basque system”, which allows participants to play two simultaneous games with different colors against the same opponents, for the first time in their lives.

After the second round only 32 players, who won their matches, continue their participation in A-group while the others keep on playing in B-group. Most of the rating favorites won their matches but some of them had to play the tie-breaks (two simultaneous games with 15 min+10 sec per move and in case of draw, two simultaneous blitz games with 5 min+3 sec and an Armageddon game in case of drawish result of previous matches) in order to pass. 3 matches were decided during blitz games: Felix Izeta defeated Eric Prie, Christian Bauer won against Sarhan Gashimov and Fabien Libiszewski was stronger in the match against Daniel Almeida Toledano.

On the second board Shakhriyar Mamedyarov took an upper hand on the local player IM Inigo Argandona Riveiro (2381 Elo). Even so the match went difficult for the player fromAzerbaijanas the first game, where he had white pieces, was drawn in 16 moves and the result of the second one was unclear till the end.  The third round will start at 3 p.m. local time. 32 players will fight for 16 places in A-group.  All players who lose will be redirected to Tournament B.

After the matches some players shared their impressions about their games and expressed their attitude to “Basque system”.

Former World Champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova:

“Actually it was quite funny to play two games against the same opponent. I can say that I enjoyed it. It went well from the beginning. I was playing fast and put some problems to my opponent. After the match my opponent Stefan Loeffler said that in both games he mixed moves in the variations. Still it’s difficult to make conclusions – only one round passed. I’ve never played the tournament like that before, so I expected to be more confused with all those actions – playing, writing moves in different score sheets, pushing buttons on clocks. Loek Van Wely told me he had played the tournament on the six boards against the same opponent. So since we have only two here it can not be so difficult. After playing blindfold games inChinanothing can scare me! As long as I can see the board I can play 10 games at the same time.”

GM Sergey Fedorchuk (Ukraine):

“I participate in such tournament for the first time. I think it’s a very unique tournament and nothing like that had ever happened before. I felt mixed-up at the beginning of the match. I lost the concentration but later on I found the rhythm. I was lucky to play with not a very strong opponent today because I’m afraid it would be more difficult for me. During the game I was confusing moves, score sheets…I was writing wrongs moves, correcting them and of course it distracted me. At least I pushed clocks correctly. I was playing very fast at the beginning thinking that my time will finish very soon but in fact 2 hours are enough even for two games. I believe it’s just new type of game just different one if we compare to “normal” chess. Some players can play better rapid chess; some of them play better blitz, so there will be some players who can play better with that format as well. Some poker players open many tables in computer screen. They play simultaneously everywhere and can control the situation.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan)

I’m playing with such format for the first time. It was very difficult to play today but it was an interesting experience for me. In the first game I made a huge mistake. In fact I underestimated my opponent at the beginning. In the second game I had black pieces and had to change queens and play the endgame. I believe White had very good chances even in the end. In the most critical moment, when I played Ng1, my opponent could have chosen Rh7 Bh7 and Rg2. He threatens to take my knight on g1 and play Rg7 at the same moment. I have to play Nf3 Rg7 Kf6 Rh7 and during the game the final position of that variation looked drawish.

I had chance to follow the games of the other players and their matches seemed to be also tough. Vugar Gashimov won easily the first game but had hopeless position in the second one. I think that it doesn’t meter here if you play Black or White. Only if someone manages to make a draw with Black than he might have some advantage. I think it was a good idea to organize a tournament with such system especially during the holidays. Players can enjoy playing chess and have some rest here as well. I think this Basque system is very competitive. I like this format and that’s why I’m here. The idea was created by David Bronstein and if I’m not mistaken he was playing against Mikhail Tal crazy matches on eighth boards simultaneously. I don’t know if this format can be popular in the future but in my opinion to organize this event is already a big success!

Preliminary round on 28 of December

According to the rules only 64 players can participate in A-group but 79 players showed their will to play there. Thus the last 15 participants of the A-group were decided during the preliminary round on 28th of December. The players who lost their games will participate in the B-group. The first round of A, B tournaments will start at 3 p.m. (local time) on 29th of December.

Opening ceremony on 27th of December

During the opening ceremony a friendly match between French and Basque players was held. Each team had 6 participants. Basque team was represented by Felix Izeta, Unai Garbisu, Alex Franco, Mikel Huerga, Santi Gonzalez, Patrice Etchegaray and French team consisted of Sebastian Mace, Fabien Libiszewski, Eric Prie, Alex Delorme, Christophe Philippe, Jean Baptiste Mullon. Despite the tough struggle both matches were drawn. Results: The main organiser of the tournament in San Sebastian GM Felix Izeta was playing on the first board for Basque team and won both games against French GM Sebastian Mace.