Ivanchuk Leads Gibraltar Chess Festival and Korchnoi Is Unbeaten

Vassily Ivanchuk and Nigel Short at the start of their game in Round 6.

After a surprising start in which several lower ranked players took the lead of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, the tournament’s top seed, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, took the lead Sunday by beating Nigel Short of England.

Short, who had a perfect score until he lost, was probably not surprised by the result. He said in the tournament bulletin after Round 5 that he had ““a very long shot for winning this tournament, and I say that as someone who has, in my three years here, won it twice, and come second, once.” As he explained, “The tournament has improved and there are some really top class players, and there are a lot of them.”

Ivanchuk has 5.5 points, followed by Short, Victor Mikhalevski of Israel and Daniel Fridman of Germany, who each have 5 points.

Several of the women in the tournament (there are special prizes for them, giving them more incentive to play) have continued to perform extremely well. Sunday, Nana Dzagnidze of the Republic of Georgia beat Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain, who is ranked No. 40 in the world.

Dzagnidze has 4.5 points, as does Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia.

Another player having a great tournament is Viktor Korchnoi of Switzerland. Through six rounds, Korchnoi is undefeated, with two wins (one over Fabiano Caruana of Italy, ranked No. 25 in the world) and four draws, including a draw in Round 6 against Krishnan Sasikiran of India, who is ranked No. 45.

Korchnoi is profiled in Sunday’s Chess column. Though he is almost 80 years old, he continues to be an active and successful tournament player, which is extraordinary.

The only people in history who approached Korchnoi’s long career at such a high level are Emanuel Lasker, the second world champion, who placed third at a world-class tournament in Moscow in 1935, when he was 66, and Vasily Smyslov, the seventh world champion, who made it to the finals of the candidates…

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