14th Chigorin Memorial in St. Petersburg
Report by Misha Savinov
For the first time the main tournament moved from the famous Chigorin Club
to the Hotel Karelia, located on outskirts of the city. At the same time the
U-2300 event was played in the Chigorin Club, a few steps away from main tourist
attractions of the Northern Capital. This was done for convenience of the participants,
as the organizers put it – since most titled players including local
residents lived in the Karelia. However, it was disappointing news for international
players. Simen Agdestein, who arrived to St. Pete with his pupils, said that
he’d consider taking part in the Memorial if the venue was in the downtown
venue. "St. Petersburg is such a beautiful city," said the Norwegian
GM, "and I enjoy exploring it." I shall add that Simen wasn’t
staying at the Karelia.
The venue in the Karelia Hotel
...and the late autumn atmosphere outside
Getting to the venue from the city center took about half an hour for me,
using public transportation. The hotel is located in an industrial area of
St. Petersburg, and is rather cheap. In addition, the city chess federation
usually obtains discounts, because late October is not exactly the most attractive
season for tourists. The playing hall was arranged on the first floor of a
billiard club connected to the hotel.
A big hall (normally used as restaurant) was not especially decorated, but
the lighting was way better than in old Chigorin Club.
GM Pavel Smirnov from Mezhdurechensk
As usual, the tournament was attended by a number of strong players, many
of them having rather deflated Elo ratings. Quoting Agdestein: "There
are so many strong players we know nothing about!" There was just one
over-2600 player, grandmaster Pavel Smirnov from Mezhdurechensk. He started
well, but in rounds 6-8 suffered three defeats in a row, which removed him
from contention. Winning in the final round surprisingly gave him and the others
finishing at +2 a share of the last prize. Of course it wasn’t satisfactory
for Smirnov, who arrived to St. Petersburg directly from Austria bearing a
proud title of European Club champion.
Two other high-rated players, Vladimir Belov and Alexander Lastin, showed
their skill in blitz and rapid tournaments that preceded the main one. However,
their fates in the main event were completely different. Lastin failed to catch
up with the leaders and lost his interest in the chess content of the festival,
while Belov regularly played at top tables and in the end shared the second
place with three other players. Maybe the reason is that Vladimir is currently
unable to attend any events abroad – a bureaucratic mistake processing
his passport – so he puts in the maximum effort in rare events on the
While some grandmasters were relaxing, some IMs were setting the tournament
alight. Boris Savchenko, a young, tall, stylish Moscow-based master, became
the sole leader before the final round, with 6.5 points. He played positionally
sound chess and kept a sharp eye for tactical opportunities. The experienced
and patient Sergey Sergienko was only half a point behind, despite losing their
Young sharks eager to sink their teeth in the oldsters
14-year-old WFM Anastasia Bodnaruk
Anastasia on the way to beating GM Petr Tishin
The Chigorin Memorials are often seen as ideal ground for young players to
sharpen their skill against rock-solid oldsters. The task is indeed tough,
and by the end of the tournament the last tables were full of young challengers.
However, some of them, like WFM Anastasia Bodnaruk, were more successful. The
14-year-old girl made a WIM norm, beating grandmaster Tishin in process.
Suspicious? A boy playing computer games outside the playing hall.
Overall, the atmosphere was typically enjoyable. Nobody tried initiating a
witch-hunt, in spite of the fact that there was a boy using a laptop every
day just outside the playing hall. He actually played computer games, sometimes
attracting the attention of the chess players.
The main recreation: analysing the games they have just finished
One could buy coffee and snacks, and analyze games, of course. I heard rumors
about parties, saunas, etc, and I find them not unlikely. Strong tension requires
equally strong means of relaxation – chess players like quoting this
saying often used by Ian Ehlvest…
However, let us return to the last round situation. There were other players
competing for the first prize (60,000 roubles, about $2,200). Apart from Savchenko
and Sergienko it was Dmitry Bocharov (19), Andrey Rytchagov (22) and Anton
Shomoev (23), all having six points. Belov (18) had 5.5 and White against Sergienko.
Savchenko had White against Bocharov at the first table, while Rytchagov and
Shomoev were to meet at the second table.
Quick draw between Zontakh and Shigalko
One should mention that the Memorial was also a qualification for the Russian
Cup, an annual knock-out tournament with decent prizes. So no wonder that games
between Rytchagov and Shomoev and Zontakh-S. Zhigalko quickly ended in draws.
The players not only secured a noticeable amount of prize money, but also qualified
for the Cup.
The struggle on tables 1 and 3 went on. Sergienko surprised Belov with 5…Bd6
in the Modern Benoni. However, the surprise did not bear any fruits. Belov
sacrificed a pawn, hampering Black’s development and creating a powerful
attack. Only a huge blunder by White could save Sergienko. Thus the fate of
the first prize depended solely on Savchenko-Bocharov game. It was an open
Sicilian, White had typical space advantage, and predicting the outcome after
the opening was impossible. Savchenko offered a draw, which would make him
an ultimate winner of the event, but Bocharov refused in his unique manner.
He meets 99% of such offers with swift ‘Declined!’, and keeps thinking.
While the top games proceeded to a third-hour climax (90 minutes + 30 seconds
for the whole game make it unavoidable), I took a walk in the playing hall.
Julia Gromova, who had won the beauty prize in one of the earlier Chigorin
Memorials, played against a clerical-looking young man – a colorful couple!
Simen Agdestein (right) watching the games of some unfamiliar Russian players.
"They maybe don’t know so much theory, but they are excellent fighters!"
Jon Ludwig Hammer, a promising Norwegian FM who used to be a chief rival
of Carlsen in junior chess.
Chief Arbiter Mr. Ivanov moved away from the hall with a laptop, which
he wanted to turn on without disturbing players.
S. Shamugia from Abkhasia?
I had a political question to him: why does Shavleg Shamugia’s name
tag bear the name of a country that does not officially exist – Abkhasia?
"This was done at the player’s request," replied the arbiter.
"He is Georgian in the official report, of course. But changing the country’s
name didn’t help his result much…" True – the man sat
at the last, the 47th table.
Savchenko-Bocharov: the key game to decide the event
In the end it was Dmitry Bocharov who won the game and the tournament
Meanwhile, Belov proceeded to a clearly won position, and the resignation
of his opponent became a matter of time. Savchenko brought his pieces to the
kingside, forcing Black to give away a pawn. However, Bocharov obtained some
compensation for it. The position was highly complex, and somewhere White lost
track. He ended up in a rook ending without a pawn – a disheartening
turn of events! It is possible that White could save it, but he was too disappointed.
Bocharov won quite smoothly, and celebrated a sole victory in the Memorial.
1. 6 Bocharov, Dmitry 7.0 2577 2720 +1.51
2. 13 Savchenko, Boris 6.5 2551 2676 +1.46
7 Rychagov, Andrey 6.5 2572 2655 +1.01
23 Shomoev, Anton 6.5 2528 2673 +1.73
3 Belov, Vladimir 6.5 2589 2646 +0.65
6. 47 Sergienko, Sergey 6.0 2441 2645 +2.49
38 Maiorov, Nikita 6.0 2481 2626 +1.77
31 Zhigalko, Sergei 6.0 2504 2641 +1.68
40 Yudin, Sergei 6.0 2470 2656 +2.22
9 Mamedov, Rauf 6.0 2563 2592 +0.33
21 Novikov, Stanislav 6.0 2532 2574 +0.51
18 Deviatkin, Andrei 6.0 2537 2591 +0.60
5 Kornev, Alexei 6.0 2578 2579 -0.03
8 Zontakh, Andrey 6.0 2569 2581 +0.15
15. 48 Zarubin, Pavel 5.5 2441 2589 +1.81
16 Maletin, Pavel 5.5 2538 2531 -0.08
24 Yandemirov, Valeri 5.5 2528 2518 -0.08
1 Smirnov, Pavel 5.5 2623 2558 -0.71
28 Makarov, Marat 5.5 2515 2511 -0.08
35 Tihonov, Jurij 5.5 2494 2550 +0.73
33 Romanov, Evgeny 5.5 2500 2536 +0.46
25 Yemelin, Vasily 5.5 2528 2507 -0.26
20 Yevseev, Denis 5.5 2534 2497 -0.44
14 Ovetchkin, Roman 5.5 2543 2523 -0.26
32 Shinkevich, Vitaly 5.5 2503 2498 -0.08
The closing ceremony was quite short. Grandmaster Alexey Lugovoi, Vice-President
of St. Petersburg Chess Federation, congratulated the winners and welcomed
everybody back in summer, when St. Petersburg will host White Nights festival.
Then he grabbed a stamp and registered various papers for the players, such
as norm certificates and official standings.
GM Alexey Lugovoi stamping the norm certificates
Rauf Mamedov and Anna Ushenina satisfied with the result
While waiting for the prize money, a group of participants entertained themselves
with Philidor position, R+B vs. R. No clear win was recalled/found, but I think
they would win it with White OTB…
GM Shomoev attacks, IM Maslak defends, GMs Kornev and Yandemirov join the
analysis of the Philidor position
the games of the tournament were not available during the event. Neither there
was a tournament bulletin. Informational coverage was typically poor, although
not as bad as in the case with recent all-play-all in Saratov – St. Petersburg
organizers at least provided results, pairings and standings on regular basis.
Nothing in this tournament reminded us of Chigorin (picture) except for the
title. Also, it is not very visitor-friendly – some Western Europeans
weren’t happy about the Karelia, finding it not very clean and the staff
not speaking English. And don’t expect to come and win money. However,
if you have enough for staying in St. Petersburg's beautiful center, and either
like chess tourism or want to receive some low-cost OTB and post-mortem lessons,
this tournament is for you!
All available games
(in zipped PGN). We spent considerable time trying to clean them up. Most of
the games of the final round are missing.