John Saunders reports: The 2020 Gibraltar Masters, the 18th in the series, got underway on Tuesday 21 January 2020 at the Caleta Hotel. The entrants include seven players rated 2700+, and a further 27 rated 2600 or more, with 248 players in all vying for the increased first prize of £30,000 (roughly equivalent to US$39,000).
Round one was the usual slaughter of the innocents, with rating differentials of around 300 points per board for the most part. This year’s joint top seeds, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) saw off their opponents efficiently, as did the next six players in order of rating. The 2700+ player who perhaps had to work the hardest was David Navara, who ground down Jovanka Houska in 61 moves in an opposite-coloured bishop endgame which, unluckily for the British Women’s Champion, turned out not to be as drawn as they often are.