Svetozar Gligorić Transatlantic Cup: UT Dallas wins!

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Opening Ceremony-UT Dallas

November 9th was the first game of the 2018 World Chess Championship, a 115-move draw. At the same time that Fabiano Caruana and Magnus Carlsen played that marathon-length game, 16 students from The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) took on their counterparts from the University of Belgrade. The Svetozar Gligorić Transatlantic Cup is played via the Internet Chess Club and the games are available here.

The Svetozar Gligorić Transatlantic Cup is an annual fall tradition. This year, the 13th in the series, UT Dallas won 12.5 to 3.5. Wins count as one point, draws as .5 points each. In this year’s match, UT Dallas lost only one game, drew five games, and won 10 games. A big improvement for UT Dallas from last year, which was an 8-8 tie!

UT Dallas Chess Program Director Jim Stallings noted that the match was the United States versus Europe, just like Fabiano Caruana (U.S.) is facing off against a European, Norwegian Magnus Carlsen. Could the stunning victory of the U.S. university in the Svetozar Gligorić Transatlantic Cup be a good omen for Caruana in his match?

In this article, I will take a close look at a game that UT Dallas player International Master Emil Stefanov drew as White, playing on Board 12 of the 16-board match. However, due to a blunder, he might have lost  to Branislav Kiproski. White’s FIDE [World Chess Federation] rating is 2389 and Black’s FIDE rating is 2287. What move would you play for move 43 for White?

[pgn][Event “UTDUB-13th”]
[Site “Internet Chess Club”]
[Date “2018.11.09”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Stefanov, Emil”]
[Black “Kiproski, Branislav”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]
[ECO “B07”]
[WhiteElo “2389”]
[BlackElo “2287”]
[PlyCount “168”]
[EventDate “2018.??.??”]
[TimeControl “2400+5”]
[Setup “1”]
[FEN “8/2r3k1/p2r3p/3B1RpP/6P1/1Pp1R3/P1Pn4/2K5 w – – 6 43”]
{[#]} 43. Be4 {This move erases White’s advantage, which according to the “Fritz” engine was about a two-pawn advantage. White walks into a pin.}

({Here is what White should have played to increase his advantage.} 43. Re8 Ra7 44. Rg8+ Kh7 45. Rc8)

43… Re7 {With this move, the black rook pins the white bishop to the white rook on e3. That is, if the bishop were to move, then the black rook on e7 would capture the white rook on e3.[#]}

44. Rxc3 {Since there was no way to further protect his bishop, White gives up the bishop and gains a pawn in return.} Nxe4

{[#]}

45. Rc8 Nf6 46. Kb2 Nxg4 {After this move, things look very bleak for White. Fritz evaluates Black’s advantage as 3.5 pawns. Black’s pawns on the kingside are getting ready to move. White’s only hope is to likewise activate his queenside pawns.[#]}

47. a4 Nf6 48. Rfc5 Nxh5 49. R5c6 Rxc6 50. Rxc6 Nf4 51. Rxa6 g4 {It’s a pawn race now, but Fritz gives Black a seven-pawn advantage in this race. Black’s g-pawn is closer to promoting than any of White’s pawns. Moreover, Black has a knight and White does not![#]}

52. Rd6 g3 53. a5 g2 54. Rd1 Nh3 {A mistake, putting the Black knight away from stopping White’s pawns. Better was 54…h5[#]}

55. a6 g1=Q 56. Rxg1+ Nxg1 {Even with the prior mistake, Black is still completely winning here. He should be able to stop White’s three pawns.[#]}

57. b4 h5 58. b5 h4 (58… Ra7 {is necessary. This rook move slows down the progress of White’s pawns. Now 59. b6 is not possible because of 59…Rxa6.} 59. c4 Nf3 60. c5 Ne5 61. b6 Rxa6)

59. b6 {Now White has equalized! Two connected passed pawns on the sixth rank are stronger than a rook. Moreover, Black’s knight is out of play.} h3

{[#]}

60. a7 Re8 61. b7 h2 62. b8=Q Rxb8+ 63. axb8=Q h1=Q 64. Qe5+ Kg6 65. Qe6+ Kg7 66. Qe7+ Kg6 67. Qe6+ Kg5 68. Qe5+ Kg4 69. Qg7+ Kf4 70. Qf6+ Kg3 71. Qg5+ Kf2 72. Qc5+ Kf1 73. Qf5+ Nf3 74. Qd3+ Kf2 75. c4 Qh8+ 76. Qc3 Qb8+ 77. Qb3 Qe5+ 78. Qc3 Qc5 79. Qc2+ Kg3 80. Qg6+ Kf4 81. Qf6+ Ke4 82. Qe6+ Ne5 83. Qd5+ Qxd5

84. cxd5 Kxd5 {Game drawn because neither player has mating material} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

As I annotated in the game, White blundered on move 43. He gave up a piece for a pawn. But in a great show of resilience, White managed to still draw the game.

To learn more about the students who played in this 13th annual match, go to the Web site for the UT Dallas Chess Program and click on “Our Top News” and the The 13th Annual Svetozar Gligoric Transatlantic Cup – November 9, 2018 link. The linked PDF gives the names, chess titles, ratings, and university majors of the student chess players for UT Dallas and for the University of Belgrade.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.