TO paraphrase Life of Brian, what has Italy ever done for us? In the Monty Python film, the Judeans could grudgingly cite the aqueduct, roads, wine, irrigation, public baths, sanitation, medicine, education and security to acknowledge that being part of the Roman Empire was not entirely without its advantages.
Now we can likewise claim the advantages of having truly dedicated Italian chess enthusiasts, who kept alive the Reggio Emilia, a fine year-ending holiday fixture that was originally the brainchild of Italy’s first grandmaster, Enrico Paoli (1908-2005).
The tournament has been around now for over half a century, and reached its zenith in 1991/92 when current World Champion Vishy Anand triumphed over a strong, almost exclusivly Soviet field that included Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Then it almost ended owing to a lack of sponsorship needed for funding such super-tournaments, and only kept alive by Paoli through the lean years when it was reduced in stature to the B- and C-list.
After his death, at the grand old age of 97, the tradition was continued by others in his honour. A good job, because the good times have returned and it is almost ready to again be categorised as a super-tournament. The field for this year’s 54th edition was the strongest since 1991/92, with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), Anish Giri (Netherlands) and Fabiano Caruana (Italy).
N Vitiugov - H Nakamura
54th Reggio Emilia, (1)
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Be7 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 Bf4 0–0 6 e3 Nbd7 7 Be2 c5 8 cxd5 Nxd5 9 Nxd5 exd5 10 0–0 c4 11 b3 Nb6 12 bxc4 dxc4 13 Qc2 Be6 14 Rab1 Rc8 15 a4 a5 16 Ng5 Bxg5 17 Bxg5 f6 18 Bh4 c3 19 Bd3 h6 20 Bb5 Nd5 21 Qe4 Qd6 22 Bg3 Qe7 23 Rbc1 Nb4 24 d5 Nxd5 25 Rfd1 Rfd8 26 Rd4 f5 27 Qe5 Qf6 28 Qxf6 gxf6 29 h3 Kf7 30 Bc4 Ke7 31 e4 Nf4! 32 Rxd8 Rxc4 33 Bxf4 Kxd8 34 exf5 Bxf5 35 Be3 c2 36 g4 Be4 37 Bb6+ Kd7 38 Bxa5 Rd4 0–1