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Beach parties and upsets at the 2006 Curacao chess festival. Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
July 26, 2006
Rusudan Goletiani in a happy moment. Photo JS

Curucao is a Caribbean island in the shadows of the more popular resorts Aruba, Sean Martin and the Bahamas. Its obscurity is a mystery- because Curacao, just north of the coast of Venezuela, is a gorgeous and large island with great scuba-diving and snorkeling, and most importantly for chess players, a great summer vacation tournament.

Standings after four rounds:

1. GM Jaan Ehlvest 4-0
2. Emory Tate and Rusudan Goletiani 3.5/4
3. GM Alexander Shabalov, GM Jaan Werle, WFM Elizabeth Vicary, IM Anna Zatonksih, FM Alexander Hernandez, Orlando Ossa, and IM Robert Ris. 3/4

Click here for complete standings

Read Jennifer's Blog for more pics and news

Two former U.S. Champions went head to head in round 3.


2.Na3 is a new move, popularized by Vadim Zviagintsev. Shabalov describes it as the "perfect waiting move." Usually the idea is to play c3 followed by d4, but occasionally the f-pawn pushes too, making it superior to Nf3. Shabalov enjoys playing the move immensely, joking that he lives for the chance to play 2.Na3! His score with Na3 before this game with Rusa was 6-0.

Rusa got a bad position out of the opening, not expecting or knowing much about 2.Na3. Rusa has only a few minutes to Alex's 22 at the time of his inspired but inaccurate knight sacrifice on move 36.

Rusa explained that Alex wanted to win very badly, which worked to her advantage. Rusa thinks Alex missed the defensive blow 27...Rd5! which ruins his plan of 28.Re7+ which now loses on the spot to 28...Qxe7!. After this accurate defensive move, White has little compensation for the piece and Rusa won easily.

26-year-old Goletiani was the 2005 U.S. Women's Champion; She just scored an excellent plus five result in the Turino Olympiad. With two IM norms to her credit, could Curucao make the lucky third? Stay tuned....

Photo Gallery

14-year-old Donna Schut and 12-year old Lisa Schut. These serious students of the game came to Curacao with their father and mother, who are also playing in the tournament. Both will represent Holland in the World Youth.

So, Curacao may not be totally cloudless, but it only rains for five minutes at a time.

Tournament organizer Fabio Mensing, also playing in the tournament.

After four rounds, GM Jaan Ehlvest leads the tournament with a perfect score.