World’s top players clash in Sochi
The world’s top team championships traditionally bring together so many of the elite players that otherwise great contests like Gibraltar’s TradeWise Festival and Wijk aan Zee’s TataSteel Festival can often look like poor cousins in comparison. This year’s Russian Team Championship (Sochi, May 1 to 10) pits 8 super-teams (8 players each, but only 6 can play in any given match) against each other in an all-play-all format.
Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov has come out of retirement especially for this event! Here we can see him in action in round 4 (Friday) against Peter Svidler. The game ended in a draw
There are 33 players higher rated than 2600, of which 10 are higher rated than 2700. The top-3 rated teams can field line-ups on any given round with no one rated under 2600; the top team can field a line-up with no one rated less than 2700! The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game (plus 30′ per move). The official website is HERE and the reader can find a wealth of photos.
Top three teams:
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Karpov with FIDE prez Kirsan Ilyumzhinov(?!)
gm Karpov – gm Svidler
Russia Tch 5.5
gm Dubov – Elistratov
Russia Tch 1.5
A29 (1 – 0)
gm Grischuk – gm Timofeev Russia Tch 1.5
B43 (1 – 0)
Featuring the Grunfeld Defence, Svidler’s favourite against 1d4, but against the experienced Karpov Svidler finds himself struggling for a draw. An inaccuracy allows Black to achieve his goal, but 30.Be2! followed by Nc5 could have seen a different result.
A nice English Opening for White. Black taking White’s d-pawn was suicide, instead of retreating to f7. The pin on the Bishop and Queen cost Black material. Did Black see this? Probably not! The game ended fast enough to make it a miniature.
Grischuk’s games are always fun to watch! I did not like White’s h5, as it leads to exchanges. White was only a tiny bit better when Black played the horrible 27…Ka8 which lost immediately. Perhaps Black did not see 30.Qc7, crushing at once.
gm Rodshtein – gm Alekseenko Russia Tch 1.5
D20 (1 – 0)
gm Kramnik – gm Shirov
Russia Tch 2.5
gm Riazantsev – gm Mamedyarov Russia Tch 2.5
D85 (0 – 1)
A very unusual but popular line by Black leads to a very unclear game. Surprisingly, Black then immediately miscalculated with his Bb4. After some precise play Rodshtein fully deserved the victory. Exciting finale!
Kramnik has recently started to play 1e4. Here a rather boring Spanish soon heats up and we witness a temporary Queen sac which leads to a drawish Rook and Pawn ending. Fun for the spectators!
Not at all surprising that when two uncompromising players meet the result is rarely a draw. Mamedyarov is the man of the moment, after winning the Gashimov Memorial last week.
To be continued…but first a short break!