Gibraltar is always noteable for the special events put together during the tournament, a spectacular highlight this year was the visit to St. Michael’s Cave after the first round, I had visited the caves before but sightseeing on a wet day with the water dripping though the cracks couldn’t compare to the dinner hosted by Brian Callaghan with music, lighting and drinks. A very memorable occasion.
Although as usual I enjoyed my stay, at the board my play could have been better: despite remaining undefeated, I could easily have lost 4 of my games. After a convincing win in round two against Mohamad Al Sayed (this worked out better for my opponent who gradually overtook me to end on 7.5), I got involved in a very random but extremely complicated game with Alexandr Fier, to my great surprise this error strewn encounter won the best game prize. I suppose this is very much a matter of opinion as my games that I considered worthy of such prizes were always roundly rejected by the judges. Assessing the wreckage with the computer later I realised that in spite of my relative optimism during the game I was lucky to acquire half a point. The next day was worse as I blundered away a very pleasant edge versus Aleksandr Lenderman and the game completely turned and I was again very fortunate not to lose. The next couple of games went better and I reached a promising 5/6.
For no clear reason, I was then dealt a double White and a less than ideal upfloat to Vassily Ivanchuk and a solid draw killed my momentum. I was again fortunate to make two draws in my next games although I did initially get a promising game against Baskaran Adhiban in the penultimate round. In my last game I was paired with the Chinese super kid Wei Yi. Somewhat bizarrely he chose a forced drawing line straight from the opening in impressively cynical style for a 14 year old.
Most things about the Gibraltar event are excellent but a continual flaw has been the playoff system in the event that three players tie for first. It is clear in this eventuality, the fairest option is an all play all between the three players, if necessary with a quicker time limit. John Saunders in his report suggested that this injustice was less important as the Swiss system is intrinsically imperfect. However the pairing system is designed to be as fair as is possible and so should the playoff system which was not the case this time.