Nigel Short Recovers From Covid, Dodges Bullet In Italy

Shortly after recovering from Covid, GM Nigel Short is back at the board in a tournament in Italy. He survived a lost position against a 14-year-old 1900-player whose phone went off. Meanwhile, top seed GM Anton Korobov has been showing some nice chess.

Twice vaccinated earlier in the year, Short was diagnosed positive for the coronavirus in the second week of December. Soon, he ended up in a London hospital where he was put on oxygen and from where he provided almost daily updates on social media.

After about a week, Short was discharged although far from fully recovered by that point. However, by the end of the month, he was traveling again and on January 2 of the new year, he took place behind the board and pieces for the first time in three months. The English grandmaster is one of the participants at the Vergani Cup, a Swiss tournament in Cattolica, a town along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, just south of Rimini.

Whether it was rustiness, the recovery from Covid or something else, Short’s start in the tournament wasn’t great. After drawing with a 2200 player in the first round, he faced 14-year-old Lorenzo Candian from Italy in the second round, rated 1966 (“that’s a date of birth, not a rating, in my opinion” – Short on Facebook) .

Playing the French, something went horribly wrong early in the game for the former world championship contender, who ended up losing an exchange for no compensation. Candian had a great chance to score a major upset but suddenly, while he still had a winning position, “0-1” appeared in the online game viewer.

Short explained what happened: “I had two choices: either resign, or play on stubbornly and wait for his phone to ring. I chose the latter, and he was instantly forfeited.”

Phones should normally be switched off and put in a bag or given to the organizers before the round; players are not allowed to have it with them even when it’s off. Interestingly, at a small open tournament currently underway in Germany, players are allowed to keep their phones on—in silent mode—so that the corona app, which provides a notification in case someone comes close to a person tested positive, still works.

After this angel on Short’s shoulder, he scored a regular win in the next round and the end of that game was quite interesting:

Korobov, the top seed from Ukraine, was facing stiff resistance in round two as well. He found an impressive idea that kept his opponent under pressure. Even though it was still a draw objectively speaking, Black’s amazing and unexpected pawn push was definitely the reason why Korobov won this game:

Anton Korobov
Anton Korobov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Korobov’s win in round three was quite pretty. It’s not every day that you get to play a Puzzle Rush-like queen sacrifice to force checkmate:

At the moment of publishing, round five is underway in Italy.

Round 4 Standings (Top 20)

rc. SNo Fed Title Name rtg pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 8 GM Bernadskiy, Vitaliy 2589 4.0 9.5 2384 9.50
2 3 GM Tabatabaei, Amin 2643 3.5 11.5 2413 9.75
3 13 GM Lodici, Lorenzo 2524 3.5 11.0 2366 9.25
4 1 GM Korobov, Antony 2699 3.5 10.5 2437 8.75
5 9 GM Lalith, Babu MR 2548 3.5 10.5 2379 8.75
6 24 IM Pantzar, Milton 2434 3.5 9.5 2413 7.75
7 18 GM Kotronias, Vasilios 2485 3.5 9.5 2320 7.75
8 25 CM Prraneeth, Vuppala 2417 3.0 10.5 2263 7.75
9 22 IM Ioannidis, Evgenios 2466 3.0 10.0 2444 6.00
10 2 GM Niemann, Hans Moke 2645 3.0 10.0 2368 7.00
11 21 IM Bharath, Subramaniyam H 2476 3.0 9.5 2282 6.00
12 6 GM Lagarde, Maxime 2632 3.0 9.0 2361 5.50
13 11 GM Arjun, Kalyan 2532 3.0 9.0 2340 6.50
14 15 GM Alsina Leal, Daniel 2507 3.0 9.0 2337 6.25
15 5 GM Short, Nigel D 2633 3.0 9.0 2219 5.75
16 7 GM Thybo, Jesper Sondergaard 2592 3.0 8.5 2363 5.75
17 17 GM Dvirnyy, Danyyil 2492 3.0 8.5 2241 6.00
18 27 FM Pasti, Aron 2411 3.0 8.5 2168 6.25
19 29 IM Gilevych, Artem 2407 3.0 8.0 2187 4.50
20 30 FM Hess, Max 2404 3.0 8.0 2003 4.50

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