The Ukrainian grandmaster edged out the top seed by half a point.
Despite a loss in Round 7, Anton Korobov scored 3.5 points in the last five rounds of the Poikovsky Karpov tournament to clinch first place, with a final score of 6 points. He edged out Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland, the No. 1 seed, by half a point. Three Russians, Dmitry Andreikin, Maxim Matlakov and Dmitry Jakovenko, tied for third, with 5 points each, with Andreikin, the No. 2 seed, having the best tie-breakers.
Earlier in the tournament, Korobov, the third-lowest seed, was really lucky to have beaten Viktor Bologan of Moldova after Bologan spoiled a masterful game with a tragic blunder. In the second part of the tournament, Korobov didn’t need any such luck. He played more aggressively and grabbed the lead after beating the two Israeli players in the field, Emil Sutovsky and Ilia Smirin, in Rounds 5 and 6, respectively.
It wasn’t just Korobov who took a more aggressive approach in the second part. It was as if all the players heard my complaint about there being a bit too many unfought draws. After the rest day following Round 4, there were barely any such draws, and there were more decisive games.
Korobov set the tone by beating Smirin with the Black pieces:
14. Bf4e5Smirin wanted to provoke this move as now the scope of the bishop on g7 is limited by its own pawn. 15. Bg5Again, Smirin tries to misplace a Black piece at the cost of losing a move. With hindsight, he may not have been so happy with encouraging the Black pieces to move.
( 15. Be3Be6and Black will soon try to play d5. )
15... Nh716. Be3Be617. a5Controlling the b6 square for the his bishop. White continues to try to create a solid positional edge, but 17... f5!Black muddies the situation. 18. Qd3Nf619. Bb6Qe720. Qg3Kf7!The king isn't really in danger on the f-file, and now Black has created the possibility of playing Rh8 and creating an initiative on the h-file. 21. exf5gxf522. Bd3e423. Be2The third time Smirin has provoked Black to make some weakness at the cost of losing a move! This time I think it is more justified as Bd4 is a good square for the White bishop. 23... Rh824. Rad1d525. Na4On this square, the knight is out of the flow of the game. White should have been more worried about the kingside.
( 25. Bd4seems like a better move but I think Black's position was still better: 25... Rag8 )
25... Nd7!Bd4 is no longer possible. 26. Bc7
( 26. Bd4Bxd427. Rxd4Rag828. Qe3Qh429. Qf4Qxf430. Rxf4Kf6And there is no way to prevent the Black pawns from advancing as White can't keep both his rooks where they are. 31. Rd1Ke532. Rff1f4 )
26... Rag827. Bd6Qf628. Bf4Bf829. Qe3Bh6!Exchanging White's best defensive piece. 30. Bxa6A plan that is too slow. 30... Qh431. h3Bxf4The move gives White some chances, but I think that the position is still too hard for White to play.
( 31... Rg4!was even stronger 32. Bxh6Rxh6and f4 can't be stopped. )
32. Rxf4Qg533. Bf1Nf634. Kg1Rxh3!It is all over. 35. Qxh3Qxf436. a6Rg337. Qh2Qe3+38. Kh1Rg739. Ra1Rh740. Qxh7+Nxh741. Nb6Nf642. Ra3Qe1
Smirin, 48, isn’t in his prime, so he struggles more than he used to in complicated positions. But that didn’t prevent him from continuing to play creatively in the rest of the event. In particular, he showed what he is still capable of when he sacrificed a pawn for a long term initiative against Alexander Motylev of Russia in Round 7:
Bg4This is a tough position for White. There doesn't seem any way to hold on to the center, so Smirin decides to just give up a pawn instead! 14. h3!Bxf315. Qxf3exd416. Nf5!White is aiming for long-term compensation for his pawn deficit. There are no immediate tactical threats, but the open files and clear diagonals should give White something. There are also possibilities like sacrifices on h6 which
Black must constantly be guarding against. 16... Ne5
( 16... dxc317. bxc3 )
( 17... d3!This move was more solid, but Black clearly didn't expect to have any problems and plays more ambitiously. 18. Bf4The pawn on d3 won't survive for long. White continues Qd2-Rad1 and perhaps
then Bxe5, but Black should be safe in that position as well. )
18. bxc3Bc519. Bf4Qd720. Qc2!White continues to develop, not worrying that
he is down a pawn. That is the best way to play after a sacrifice. For now, it is not obvious why his queen is on c2. 20... Rae821. Rad1Kh822. Bb1!?There are no immediate threats, but White's plan is eventually to knock off the knight on e5 and then the bishop and queen combination will be deadly. Overall, Black's position is difficult as he doesn't actually have any plans and White's threats are hanging in the air. 22... Qe623. Ba2
( 23. Kh1with the idea of moving the bishop on f4 and then playing f4 was also possible, but Smirin finds a stronger and more direct path. )
23... Qd724. Be3!Bxe325. Rxd6Qc726. Rxe3now White has restored material equality and he is dominating the board. 26... Nh527. Qd1Nf428. g3!Nxh3+
( 28... Nfg629. Qh5is obviously bad. )
29. Kg2and the knight is trapped. 29... Nxf230. Kxf2Black has a bit of compensation but not enough. He doesn't last long: 30... Rd831. Rd4Qb632. Kg2g633. Nh4h534. Nf3Ng435. Re2Kg736. Qd2c537. Rxd8Rxd838. Qf4Rd739. Ne5Re740. Nxg4
In Round 6, Sutovskyused his trusted Grunfeld Defense against Korobov, but Korobov surprised him in the opening with a slightly unusual idea and it was surprising how quickly Sutovsky’s position collapsed after that.
With three wins and no losses after six games, Korobov seemed to be comfortably on his way to the title. But in Round 7, it was Korobov’s turn to be surprised as Andreikin employed an unusual opening. Korobov ended up in a slightly passive position, and quickly lost a pawn, and later the game. It was a typical Andreikin-style win.
This meant a host of players, including, Wojtaszek and Andreikin, were trailing Korobov by just a half point. Wojtaszek particularly seemed as if could have done better. Though he often managed to create problems for his opponents, his positional style did not yield enough chances.
For example, in the penultimate round, Wojtaszek completely outplayed Motylev. Several times, Wojtaszek was more-or-less one move away from beating Motylev, but he kept letting Motylev off the hook. They finally arrived at the following position:
78. Nf4Black has had a seemingly decisive edge for quite some time, and he had already missed some easier ways to convert his advantage. At this point, the game has become a tricky rook and knight endgame where Black needs to play accurately if he is to win. But fatigue begins to set in for both players: 78... Kb3?Heading in the wrong direction.
( 78... Kd4!and Ke4 next followed by Ne5 will protect the king against any checks. Then the White knight is dislodged and its game over. )
( 79. Re7!the knight is ideally placed on f4! It is harder and harder
For Black to win. 79... Kxa380. Nd5 )
79... Rf280. Nd4+Kc381. Ne6Black now had an amazing study like win: 81... Ra2
( 81... Kd2!!82. Rxc4e2and there is no way to defend against the e-pawn promoting to a queen! )
82. Nf4the knight is back where it should be and White is going to be able to play Kf3, too. There is no longer any way to win. 82... Kd483. Ne6+Kd584. Nf4+Kd485. Ne6+Kc386. Nf4Rc287. Rc5Kd488. Rxf5Nd289. Rf8Nf1+90. Kg4Rf291. Rd8+Kc492. Rc8+Kb393. Re8Rd294. Re5Kxa395. Nd5Rg2+96. Kf3Rf2+97. Kg4Nh2+98. Kg3Nf1+99. Kg4
Wojtaszek missed a pretty easy win, but, to be fair, after five hours of play these endgames can be tricky to play accurately.
In the last round, Wojtaszek had a smooth positional victory over Bologan, but Korobov matched his effort by beating Igor Kovalenko, a fellow Ukrainian.
Overall, I think it was an excellently well played event. None of the players gave away easy points and even Bologan, who finished tied for last, played exciting chess, including two wins in the second half.
For Korobov, this tournament will come as a welcome relief. A few years ago, he was rated over 2700. He hasn’t had good results or been very consistent recently, but perhaps this victory will turn things around.
Parimarjan Negi is an Indian grandmaster who is the second-youngest ever to earn the title (at 13 years 4 months and 22 days). Ranked No. 90 in the world, he just finished his sophomore year at Stanford University. He can be found on Twitter at @parimarjan.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players