Two Chinese players set records in the early rounds of the 13th Tradewise Gibraltar Masters.
Wei Yi, at 15, became the youngest player ever to cross the 2700 rating threshold – his victory over Bela Khotenashvili took his live rating to 2701.7.
This made headlines in the Norwegian newspapers, as the record was previously held by Magnus Carlsen.
Women’s world chess champion Hou Yifan joined Wei Yi on 2/2 and in the process took first place on the women’s world ranking list, ahead of the now retired Judit Polgar, who has topped the women’s rankings for 25 years.
Polgar was past her peak when she retired this year; nevertheless, this was a significant achievement and it should be remembered that Hou Yifan’s lifetime best result came at Gibraltar in 2013 when she defeated Nigel Short and Polgar.
Hou’s choice of opening, 7.Nb3, was last played in the Eighties.
Hou Yifan – M. Al-Sayed
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 b5 10.a4 b4 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Qxd5 Ra7 13.Be3 Be6 14.Qd3 Rb7 15.f4! Qc8 16.Na5 Rc7 17.f5 Bc4 18.Nxc4 Rxc4 19.Rfc1 d5?! (Black needs activity to counter White’s bishops and queenside pawn majority 19…Nd7 20.Bf1 Rc6 21.c3 bxc3 22.b4! Rc7 23.b5 axb5 24.axb5 h6 25.h4 d5) 20.exd5 e4 21.Qb3 Bc5 22.f6! (A good investment of a pawn) 22…gxf6 23.Kh1 Bxe3 24.Qxe3 Re8 25.Re1 Kg7 26.Rad1 Rxc2 27.Rf1 Qg4 28.Rde1 Nd7 29.Rf4 Qh5 30.h3 Kh8 31.Rxe4 Rxe4 (31…Re5! is far from clear) 32.Qxe4 Qe5 33.Qxb4 Qxg3 34.Rg1 Qc7?? (34…Ne5 35.Qf8+ Qg8 36.Qxg8+ Kxg8 37.Be4+ Kf8 38.Bxc2 wins, but the computer proposes the suicidal-looking 34…Kg7 35.d6 Ne5)
White to play and win
Interestingly, Boris Spassky did not allow his queenside pawns to be attacked, and played 9…b6.
W. Unzicker – B. Spassky
2nd Piatigorsky Cup 1966
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.g3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Bg2 0–0 9.0–0 b6 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.Qxd5 Ra7 12.Be3 Be6 13.Qd3 Nd7 14.Nd2 Qc8 15.c4 Rc7 16.b3 Nc5 17.Qe2 Qb8 18.Rfc1 Rfc8 19.a4 Qb7 20.Qd1 h6 21.h4 Qb8 22.Rcb1 draw
35.Qe7! Kg7 1–0 With the queen on c7 not g3, Be4 is check.