In a surprise, the 31-year-old won his first title ahead of many better-known and higher-ranked players.
In an upset, Alexander Riazantsev won the Russian Championship on Thursday. Riazantsev, 31, had started as the eighth seed in the 12-player, round-robin tournament. Alexander Grischuk and Evgeny Tomashevsky tied for second and third, a half point behind the winner.
Riazantsev did not emerge as the leader until the very end. Indeed, as I wrote in my report after six rounds, half the players were tied for the lead. Rounds 7 to 10 produced only four decisive games out of 24. So, with two rounds to go, it was really still anyone’s tournament to win.
Riazantsev started his run to the title with a win in Round 8 over Dmitry Kokarev:
Riazantsev, Alexander vs. Kokarev, Dmitry
Russian Chess Championship |Novosibirsk, Russia |Round 8 |27 Oct 2016 |1-0
( 25... e5!Black should be able to hold a draw. )
26. Ne8!And despite being down two pawns, White's activity is causing a lot of problems. 26... Rb427. Re3Bb7?A bad move, but it's a tough position to play for Black.
( 27... Ba6Was a more resilient move. 28. Rxd6Rb1+!29. Kd2Rb6! )
28. Rxd6Rd429. Bg5!Winning material. 29... Rxd6
( 29... Rc830. Rxd7! )
30. Nxd6Rb831. Re7Bc632. Bh6Kh833. Nf7+Kg834. Ng5Black has to give up his knight to avoid getting mated. A nice win by Riazantsev. 34... Ne535. Rxe5Rb1+36. Kd2
In round 10, Vladimir Fedoseev scored a key victory over Dmitry Bocharov to catch Riazantsev and share the lead going into the final round:
Fedoseev, Vladimir vs. Bocharov, Dmitry
Russian Chess Championship |Novosibirsk, Russia |Round 10 |27 Oct 2016 |1-0
17. dxe5Ndxe5?!The wrong knight. Now c5 is very vulnerable
( 17... Ngxe5I'd prefer to be White, but the game would continue. )
18. Nfd4!Qd619. Nc5!White's knights are beautifully positioned. 19... Rf720. Nf5!Qf821. f4!Energetic and strong. Black is losing. 21... Nd722. Nxb7Bb223. Rb1
( 23. Nfd6!Was even stronger 23... Bxc124. Qxc1Rf625. Qxc6 )
23... Rxf524. Rxb2Qf6?
( 24... Qb8!25. a6Nxf4Black would have some counterplay, although he'd definitely still be struggling. )
25. Qc1Everything is protected, White is up a pawn, and Black's position is in shambles. The rest was child's play for Fedoseev. 25... Nh426. g3Re827. Rf2Rxe228. Rxe2Nf3+29. Kg2Nd430. Re8+Kf731. Re1Ne532. a6Rh533. a7Ndf334. Rxe5Nxe535. Bc3Be4+36. Kf1Bd3+37. Ke1Nf3+38. Kd1d439. a8=Qdxc340. Qe3Re541. fxe5cxb242. Qa2+
Both Fedoseev and Riazantsev had Black in the final round, but Riazentsev rose to the challenge against Dmitry Jakovenko, while Fedoseev had a rough day against Grigoriy Oparin:
Jakovenko, Dmitry vs. Riazantsev, Alexander
Russian Chess Championship |Novosibirsk, Russia |Round 11 |27 Oct 2016 |0-1
30. h3h5!Black wants to start a kingside attack, so he does not
worry about the pawn on g5. 31. Ne3?
( 31. Bxg5?Bxh3!32. gxh3Rg733. h4Nd2!34. Qb2Bf4And Black would have had a huge edge. )
( 31. Bxc4!Was the only move to try to hang on. It's a strategically dubious looking move, but if Black cannot recapture on c4 with his queen, it is obviously justified. 31... dxc432. Qb5g433. h4And White is more or less okay )
31... Nxe3!32. Bxe3g4!Black's attack will be decisive. 33. h4g3!34. Rb2
( 34. f3Bf4!And Black will soon win the pawn on h4. )
Russian Chess Championship |Novosibirsk, Russia |Round 11 |27 Oct 2016 |1-0
a5Black looks fine, but White finds a way to make progress. 12. g4!Starting an attack. White is planning to play Nf5. 12... a413. a3!White makes a prophylactic move before continuing with his own attack because a4-a3 would be dangerous and must be prevented.
( 13. Nf5?a314. b3Bxf515. gxf5Qf6And White would be losing. )
13... Re814. f3
( 14. Nf5also looks very strong. )
14... Bd715. h4More pawns join the attack. Black has basically no counterplay as White's attack builds. 15... Qe716. Kb1Ra5
( 16... Nd5Trading some pieces might have provided Black with a little relief, but Black would still definitely be worse. )
17. h5Be5?A bad move but it's hard to suggest something better. 18. f4!Bd619. h6g620. Rhg1Preparing to play Nf5. 20... Ra621. Qd3Nd522. e5f623. Nf5!Bxf524. gxf5Nxe325. Ne4!?
( 25. Qxe3This move would have been good enough but the move White played is flashier )
( 25... Nxd126. Nxf6+Kh827. fxg6And Black will be checkmated. )
Riazantsev was once rated over 2700 and I didn’t understand why he had dropped so far below his peak (2651 at the start of the tournament). Perhaps winning such a strong event (with a score of +3) will get him back on the right track and he will climb over 2700 again.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.
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