John Saunders reports: After the third round of the 2019 Gibraltar Masters, played on 24 January at the Caleta Hotel, we are now down to five players on the maximum score, only one of whom could be regarded as a member of the elite group from whom the winner would be expected to come. The five who have emerged from the mayhem are David Navara (Czech Republic), Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Romania), Gabor Papp (Hungary), Rinat Jumabayev (Kazakhstan) and the de facto leader in the hunt for the women’s first prize, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran), who is 94th in the tournament ranking.
The top of the results list for round three has a curious aspect. There was just one decisive result on the top 12 boards, which was reminiscent of (if not quite identical to) the results of the recent Carlsen-Caruana match. The next 14 boards were the opposite of that match – 14 straight decisive results. Weird – how is it to be explained? The cut-over from defensive supremacy appears to occur when the higher rated player weighs in around the 2640s, or maybe it is when the lower rated player reaches 2480. Well, OK, not a representative sample but at least it’s a reminder that open tournaments have an advantage over small-scale closed events as far as the spectators are concerned; when the top guys don’t deliver decisive results, you only have to dig down to the lower boards to enjoy the chess equivalent of goal-mouth action.