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Gibraltar has been one of the top world open tournaments for nearly two decades, and its 2020 edition kept up its high reputation. After a close race, a seven-way tie was resolved by a speed play-off.

David Paravyan, 21. was the surprise winner. The Russian is a new name, and the £30,000 first prize is by far his biggest success to date. Luck favoured him against Andrey Esipenko, 17, a rising star who has been compared to the legendary Anatoly Karpov.

The next major chess event is the eight-man world championship candidates at Ekaterinburg starting March 15. The favourites are the world Nos 2 and 3, Fabiano Caruana of the US and Ding Liren of China, and the winner will meet Magnus Carlsen for the global crown over 14 games in November.

There must be a slight question mark over Ding and his candidate compatriot Wang Hao, who also reached the final against Paravyan in Gibraltar. Six weeks away, could the coronavirus epidemic affect their participation?

If any player at Ekaterinburg should withdraw, the replacement would bring a change of fortune for France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The world No9 from Lyon narrowly missed qualifying by three different routes for the candidates, and had more bad luck when he missed the Gibraltar tie-break by a fraction.

2353

White mates in four moves. Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk has defeated many grandmasters with this puzzle, which has just a single forced line of play and no side variations. Can you crack it?

Click here for solution

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