Historic 15th Annual Gligoric Transatlantic Cup goes to UTD

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Transatlantic Cup Logo

 

The Gligoric Transatlantic Cup is an annual 16-board match between the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Belgrade. This year’s 15th edition of the event was held November 20 and won by UTD by a score of 10-6, marking the eighth time the school has won the Cup. Belgrade has won the match four times, with three draws. 

Even though the event typically takes place online, the 2020 version of the Transatlantic Cup was impacted by COVID just like all other major chess events this year. Normally, both teams would gather at their respective university locations for the internet match, but since gathering in large groups was not permissible this year, members of both teams were playing from different locations. The Belgrade team recruits players from across their Serbian campuses, while the UTD team had players scattered throughout the U.S. and even some in different countries.  

 

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2020 Transatlantic Cup Zoom

 

This program book lists the players and pairings from this year’s event, though Belgrade made two last-second adjustments to its lineup by using two of its alternates: Adela Velikic was substituted with Aleksandar Markovic on board 11, and Mila Zarkovic gave way to Milun Zajic on board 15. Time control was 40 minutes plus a 5-second increment, with all games played on the Internet Chess Club where the event has been hosted since its start.  

Of the 16 games played, 12 were decisive and 4 ended in a draw. The event began with UTD jumping out to a 3.5-0.5 lead, mostly monopolized on the lower boards. From there, Belgrade stayed competitive but UTD never lost its grip on the early lead. The match was much closer than the score indicated. Here is a summary page with game results and match history, and below are a few of the most-exciting games from the 2020 Gligoric Transatlantic Cup.  

 

[pgn][Event "Gligoric Transatlantic Cup Board 8"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.11.20"] [Round "?"] [White "HilbyUTD"] [Black "DimicP-10"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B69"] [WhiteElo "2432"] [BlackElo "2310"] [Annotator "Craig Hilby"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "2400+5"] {[%evp 0,97,19,31,72,67,54,14,40,30,58,53,73,49,99,48,47,52,49,47,66,24,7,17, 19,-26,-18,-17,9,3,2,-27,-21,-16,76,58,31,56,90,97,71,71,65,70,70,69,93,93,93, 63,81,58,56,67,70,100,86,48,89,118,26,26,26,19,122,122,122,177,266,293,293,282, 442,397,521,656,627,614,706,695,741,730,730,710,806,710,796,860,868,1167,1625, 2011,29991,1617,1844,1427,1427,1093,2338,2373]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 {I had expected Classical Sicilian before the game, so I had looked at my lines and was prepared for it.} 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O Bd7 9. f4 Be7 10. Nf3 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. f5 {White has more space in the center and will try to poke weaknesses in Black's center. Specifically, White will try to prove that e6 is weak. If the e6 pawn moves to e5, then the d5 square will be weak. In exchange, Black has a bigger pawn center, more space on the queenside, and the bishop pair. It can be a common theme for Black to push the c3 knight away from the d5 square with b5-b4 before committing to creating the d5 weakness with e6-e5.} Qb6 13. Kb1 (13. Qh6 {Upon further investigation, this move might be more testing}) 13... O-O-O 14. g3 Kb8 15. fxe6 fxe6 16. Bh3 Na5 {Certainly the best move, and the one I expected while preparing for the game.} 17. Nd4 {Putting more pressure on the key e6 pawn} b4 18. Nce2 e5 19. Bxd7 Rxd7 20. Nf5 {I have succeeded in my positional goal of trading light squared bishops, forcing the e6 pawn to move up to e5 (thus creating weaknesses on the d5 and f5 squares), and planting a knight on d5. However, Black does have good queenside counterplay in return.} Nc4 21. Qd5 Rc8 22. Nc1 Rdc7 {This was the first new move for me. I had only expected Qc7} 23. Nd3 $6 {Not a great move - the knight has little future from this square.} (23. Nb3 {Was better, aiming to bring the knight to d2 to trade off Black's nice c4 knight.} Qf2 24. Nd2 $14) 23... Bf8 24. h4 {A multipurpose move, to gain space on the kingside and also to give space for my h1 rook to defend the second rank from h2.} (24. Rc1 {It was probably best to switch to defensive mode now and focus on protecting my king} a5 25. Ka1 a4 26. c3 $11) 24... a5 25. Rh2 a4 $17 {Already, my position is uncomfortable. My pieces look pretty on the light squares, but I don't actually have any plan and just have to react to Black's threats.} 26. g4 b3 $6 {Kind of just makes it easy for me to react, as now at least I have something concrete to calculate. It was more prudent for Black to keep improving his pieces before striking with b3} (26... Ra7 $17 {[%cal Yb4b3, Ra7a5]}) 27. cxb3 (27. c3 $1 bxa2+ (27... a3 28. axb3 Qxb3 29. Nc1 Qb6 30. b4 $13) 28. Ka1 a3 29. bxa3 $13) 27... axb3 28. a3 {Now, the game gets much more concrete than Black needed to make it a couple moves ago. My knight on d3 now has a nice outpost on b4, and White will end up better if he is able to consolidate. Therefore, Black is forced to come up with a good plan} Qa6 (28... Ra7 $1 {was a good move, threatening Ra5 to remove my queen from its nice post on d5.} 29. g5 Ra5 30. Qe6 Qa7 $40 {[%cal Yc4a3]} (30... Qb7 $40 {[%cal Yb7e4]} )) (28... Bh6 {is a tricky move, the point being that the bishop is immune due to Ne3 forking my queen and rook. However, I do have a response that is just as tricky,} 29. g5 $1 fxg5 30. Nb4 {I am now threatening the bishop again, because Ne3 can be met by Qxb3 protecting my rook and saving enough material. Black would have to retreat with his bishop} Bf8 {but White is fine after} ( 30... gxh4 31. Nxh6 Ne3 32. Qxb3 Nxd1 33. Na6+ (33. Qxd1 $4 Rc1+ 34. Qxc1 Rxc1+ 35. Kxc1 Qg1+ $19) 33... Ka7 34. Qxb6+ Kxb6 35. Nxc7 $11) 31. hxg5 $13) 29. Nb4 $2 {The natural move, but not best.} (29. Re2 {[%cal Yf5e3] was much better and gave me the best defensive chances}) 29... Nxa3+ $2 (29... Qa4 $1 $19 { [%cal Yc7b7,Yb7b5] The queen is actually really good here, keeping constant threats of Nxa3+ alive. Black's next moves will be Rb7 (threatening Rxb4 and forcing my knight back to d3) and Rb5 to kick my queen out. Black has a winning advantage.}) 30. bxa3 Qxa3 31. Rb2 (31. Qb5+ {I'm not really sure what my opponent missed. I'm totally fine after this move too} Rb7 32. Nc6+ Rxc6 33. Qxc6 b2 34. Qxb7+ Kxb7 35. Rxb2+ $11) 31... Ra7 $2 {The losing move} (31... Qxb4 {was necessary} 32. Rxb3 Qxb3+ 33. Qxb3+ Rb7 34. Kb2 Rxb3+ 35. Kxb3 $11) 32. Na2 {Stopping the mate and simply winning} (32. Na6+ {comes close to working, but does not} Qxa6 33. Rxb3+ Rb7 $11) (32. Nc6+ {also comes close to working} Rxc6 33. Rxb3+ Rb7 $1 $13 {Black has this pin though}) (32. Nc2 { is the closest to working. However, Black has the beautiful resource} Qxb2+ $1 33. Kxb2 bxc2 34. Rc1 Rb7+ 35. Ka2 Ra7+ 36. Kb2 Rb7+ $11 {With a draw}) 32... Rb7 33. Nc1 Rc5 34. Qxb7+ $1 Kxb7 35. Rxb3+ Rb5 36. Rxb5+ Kc6 37. Rb8 {I am up a lot of material with White, my pieces are better coordinated, and my king is safe, so the rest is just a matter of conversion.} Qa4 38. Rd3 Qxe4 39. Rxf8 d5 40. Rxf6+ Kc7 41. Rf7+ Kb6 42. Kb2 Qg2+ 43. Ka3 d4 44. Rb3+ Kc5 45. Nd3+ Kd5 46. Rd7+ Ke4 47. Nc5+ Kf4 48. Ne6+ Ke4 49. Ng3+ 1-0 [/pgn]

 

[pgn][Event "Gligoric Transatlantic Cup Board 11"] [Site "lichess.org"] [Date "2020.11.20"] [Round "?"] [White "Markovic, Aleksandar"] [Black "Stefanov, Emil"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C27"] [Annotator "Emil"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Nxe4 4. Qh5 Nd6 {So far according to my preparation. } 5. Bb3 Nc6 $6 (5... Be7 {Is what I had prepared. However, during the game, in my head the moves Be7 and Nf3 were already played.} 6. Nf3 Nc6 {Is what I had prepared with an equal, but playable and rich position for both sides, although I do prefer playing from the black side more.}) 6. Nb5 {It took me some minutes to fully realize that I was no longer in my lines and I have to improvise. Mentally, it took me a minute or so to calm down. Not panicking is crucial in such situations!} g6 7. Qf3 f5 8. Qd5 Qf6 {Finally I have to use my queen to protect the f7 square. I could have done that before but the inclusion of g6-f5 and the white queen being on d5 is better for me.} 9. Nxc7+ Kd8 10. Nxa8 b6 {I have sacrificed a whole rook but plan on winning back some material with Bb7. During the game I thought I have some sort of compensation but objectively speaking white should be in a slightly better position.} 11. d3 Bb7 12. h4 $2 (12. Nf3 {Is the best move in the position.} Nd4 {It seems like white's queen is trapped but there is small tactic that works.} 13. Qxd4 $1 exd4 14. Bg5 Qxg5 15. Nxg5 Bxg2 {And White is slightly better, although there is still a lot of play left.}) 12... Ne7 $1 {White's queen is trapped in the middle of the board!} 13. Bg5 Nxd5 {Now my knight protects my queen in case of Bxf6.} 14. Bxd5 {First I have to deal with the g5 bishop.} Qxg5 15. hxg5 Bxd5 { After all the exchanges I have two bishops for a rook and a knight but I will be winning the a8 knight on next move.} 16. Nxb6 {My opponent at least tries to take a pawn in the process.} axb6 {Now I have two bishops for a rook and a pawn. In this particular position, the bishops have more potential than my opponent's rooks so I am in a better position.} 17. f3 Nf7 {Now the g5 pawn is weak.} 18. Nh3 Be7 {The g5 pawn will fall and with that I will have kingside majority to use in the endgame.} 19. Ke2 Nxg5 {It is better to keep the advantage of the two bishops.} 20. Nxg5 Bxg5 21. a4 {My opponent is trying to open up files for his rooks.} h5 {Freeing my rook from responsibilities.} 22. a5 Kc7 23. axb6+ Kxb6 24. c4 Bb7 {Now it is all about preventing opponent's activity on the a-file and I will go back to my plan of pushing the pawns on the kingside.} 25. Ra3 Be7 {Rerouting the bishop.} 26. Rb3+ Kc7 27. Ra1 Bc5 { Controlling the important a7 square which deprives my opponent from active play.} 28. Ra5 d6 29. Ra1 h4 {Finally, the time has come. Trying to play h3 and open up the kingside and attack the weak king on e2.} 30. Rh1 g5 31. Rb5 Ra8 {Ironically, my rook now controls the open a-file.} 32. Rb1 Bc6 33. Rb3 Rh8 {Back to finish what I have started.} 34. Rc3 h3 35. gxh3 Rxh3 36. b4 Rh2+ { White resigned as I will be able to pick up the b1 rook or give checkmate with the help of my bishops.} 0-1 [/pgn]

 

[pgn][Event "Gligoric Transatlantic Cup Board 12"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2020.11.20"] [Round "1"] [White "Yim, Sungho"] [Black "Matovic, Mihajlo Z"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E67"] [WhiteElo "2281"] [BlackElo "2214"] [Annotator "Yim,Sungho"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "2400+5"] {My opponent usually plays the King's Indian, so I prepared the Fianchetto Variation to take the game towards a position that suits my play, which was to avoid any direct attack on the king and to play more positionally} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O Nbd7 7. Qc2 ({The main line is} 7. Nc3 e5 8. e4 {where White puts the rook on e1 and a pawn on h3. Both setups are playable (Qc2+Rd1 or Re1+h3) and is a matter of taste.} c6 9. h3) 7... e5 8. Rd1 exd4 $6 {This somewhat surprised me; the release of tension is completely unnecessary at this point, even if Black usually plays this move later on. Although it probably transposes to other lines, this significantly reduces the options that Black had at his disposal. This is also a sign that Black is not quite familiar with the opening line as this is rarely played.} ({ I was expecting something along the lines of} 8... Re8 9. Nc3 c6) 9. Nxd4 Re8 10. Nc3 c6 {Now I have the backward d6-pawn to target, and the rook on d1 is excellently placed to target it. Of course, this is common for this opening line, where Black will try to compensate for his structural weaknesses with piece activity with the open e-file, the open diagonal for the Bg7 (which had been opened up with ...exd4) and the queen coming to b6 or a5.} 11. b3 { White opens up the possibility of playing Ba3 (or Bb2).} a5 12. e4 {I decided to be flexible with the placement of the dark-squared bishop; I did not want to commit it to a particular diagonal yet.} ({I was not sure that} 12. Ba3 { would be the best placement for the bishop because maybe Black can block the bishop's scope with ...Nd7-Nc5 at some point.} {For example, something like} Qe7 13. e4 Nc5 {and the bishop on a3 feels misplaced.}) 12... Nc5 13. Bf4 { I finally decided to commit the bishop to this square, where it directly pressures the sensitive d6-pawn. After this move, my opponent spent 13 minutes and played} Nh5 $6 {,which I thought was inaccurate because the knight has to come back to f6 eventually. Maybe my opponent could not cope with the increasing pressure on d6 and was desperate to remove the pressure.} 14. Be3 Nf6 $4 {But the knight cannot be put back on f6 right away. This was played very quickly by my opponent.} 15. Nxc6 Qb6 16. Nd4 $18 {After an elementary blunder, White is completely winning as not only is Black down a pawn, he also has an enormous amount of weak squares. The rest should deserve no commentary.} Ng4 17. Nd5 Nxe3 18. Nxb6 Nxc2 19. Nxc2 Ra6 (19... Bxa1 20. Nxa8) 20. Nd5 Bxa1 21. Rxa1 $4 {Except for this moment right here. Somehow I thought that Black could not escape a knight fork on the next move by simply moving the rook on e8.} (21. Nc7 $18 {was necessary. White will win back the rook.}) 21... Kg7 $4 {Black blunders right back, as he had the same oversight as me. He played this very quickly.} (21... Rf8 $14) (21... Rd8 $14) 22. Nc7 $18 {Now White is winning again, and there were no difficulties to convert afterwards.} Re7 23. Nxa6 bxa6 24. f3 a4 25. b4 Nd3 26. Rd1 Ne5 27. Ne3 Be6 28. Rxd6 Nxc4 29. Rxe6 Rxe6 30. Nxc4 Rc6 31. Bf1 a3 32. Kf2 Rc7 33. Ne3 Rb7 34. Nd5 a5 35. b5 f5 36. e5 Kf7 37. Ke3 Ke6 38. Kd4 g5 39. Bc4 Rd7 40. f4 g4 41. Kc5 {Black resigns} 1-0 [/pgn]

This year’s Transatlantic Cup was honored to have the professional broadcasting skills of GM Robert Hess, who co-hosted along with UTD Coach GM Julio Sadorra. Watch a replay of the event here. 

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