GM Hikaru Nakamura (2776)
The Gibraltar Masters is coming into its final lap with 7 rounds already played and 3 more games to go. GM Hikaru Nakamura is leading the tournament by half a point, followed by Yu Yangi, Axel Bachman, Daniel Naroditsky and David Howell, all with 6 points.
Naka’s form in this tournament has been quite impressive. He won the first six games including a clean victory against the number 1 seeded Veselin Topalov. Yesterday he was very close to make it 7 out of 7 but was unable to convert a better rook endgame into a full point against GM David Howell. So far, Nakamura is going up 14.5 rating points and if he keeps this form in the next three games he could end up the tournament very close to 2800 or even get there.
Big time favorite Veselin Topalov is not having his best tournament. After an unexpected draw from a better position in round two, he went back to winning ways. However, the loss against Nakamura in round 6 and the draw against the young american Alexander Lenderman yesterday have left him one and a half points behind the leader.
The spanish GM Renier Vazquez was having a great tournament but the last two games have been a nightmare. He lost to Yu Yangi (2724) after achieving equality in a position with queens and four rooks on the board. A bad move 34…Qf8? cost him the game. Instead, 34…Rc4 was better and it would have been very difficult for white to achieve more than a draw.
Instead he played 34…Qf8? and after 35.hxg6! hxg6 36.Rh4 it’s definitely too late, as black is unable to trade white’s rook and the attack along the H file is decisive.
But the real drama was yet to come for Renier Vazquez. In yesterday’s round he basically outplayed Richard Rapport (2716). A game in which the strong hungarian GM may have been overcreative. After 23 moves the following position was on the board:
Here was the first opportunity for Vazquez to put and end to this game and walk away with a nice victory. He missed it, however the game went on and, on move 32, the following position arose:
Another big chance to finish it right there. Vazquez missed it again, very rare of him to miss such easy wins. The game later drifted into an endgame and white eventually lost (!) . Tragic.
Pairings for today: