ACP World Rapid Cup in Odessa
Report by Misha Savinov
The 2nd ACP World Rapid Cup sponsored by Pivdenny Bank has come to an end.
We congratulate its winner Teimour Radjabov! Alexander Grischuk, who earned
the second place, also deserves the highest praise.
Round 1 – Friday, 4th January 2008
Round 1 – Saturday, 5th January 2008
Quarterfinal – Sunday, 6th January 2008
Semifinal – Monday, 7th January 2008
Final – Monday, 7th January 2008
Before the quarterfinal day we had a brief discussion at the press center on
who could be considered the favorite. This is obviously a matter of opinion,
as all the remaining players had the skill and had experienced the luck required
to succeed. Most local observers were inclined towards Ivanchuk, while I voted
for the winner of Grischuk-Svidler match. This is how narrow our thinking is
– I guess people from Baku would elect Radjabov, and Israelis prefer Gelfand.
Anyway, after the quarterfinals the hopes of Ukrainians were pinned on the
youngest participant of this World Cup, Sergey Karjakin. The promising 17-year-old
eliminated Gelfand, the oldest player of those survived the first couple of
days. In blitz, naturally – for longer games the Petroff is really tough
Radjabov vs Ivanchuk in the Quarterfinals
Ivanchuk, the best-loved player of the Odessa public (okay, maybe the second
– after Karpov) was knocked out by Radjabov. Teimour is as anxious as
ever; he looks very motivated, and it must be really uncomfortable to sit in
front of his drilling eyes. He is definitely a tough cookie, and Ivanchuk, dressed
in Real Madrid uniform, could sense it today. The public saw everything: long-range
fights in the first two games; blunder exchange in the blitz tie-break; wild
server-style piece-dropping in the Armageddon, which ended in Ivanchuk losing
on time after regaining 57 seconds of the initial minute handicap...
Vassily Ivanchuk discussing his game with some fairly young chess fans
To Vassily’s credit, he arrived at the press-conference on time, and
then didn’t leave the press area. He was giving autographs, discussing
games, drinking coffee, chatting with ladies – all sorts of things. Very
My favorites, Svidler and Grischuk, completed their match much quicker. There
were many mistakes in the first game, one being especially unfortunate for Svidler,
who missed a relatively easy win, and had to take a draw. In the second game
Grischuk’s position looked slightly more comfortable until Peter decided
to sacrifice an exchange in the ending. After that, it all looked like Christmas
for Alex. And basically it was.
Alex Grischuk and Peter Svidler in their press conference after the match
Finally (or firstly, as this was the first match), Dmitry Jakovenko swept off
the challenge of Ernesto Inarkiev in two games, albeit not without some nervous
moments. After losing the first game to a home-prepared novelty of Jakovenko
(which was coincidentally developed by Grischuk, as he said after the game),
Inarkiev almost came back in the second one, sacrificing an exchange in best
Topalov’s style: the compensation was difficult to define (unless you
like “lively pieces play”, “easier game plan” and such).
It was really long-term. However, the harsh mutual time-trouble usually forces
the players to make second-best moves, and the White’s initiative needed
“I am not sure who really was the loser today, Ernesto said afterwards.
"I don’t have to prepare anymore, and can take time off to look at
the beautiful city”.
Here is another thing I like about the Pivdenny Bank tournaments: the eliminated
players normally don’t go away. Partly it is caused by lack of flight
tickets (one of the participating cricket fans has severe troubles with scheduling
his return), but the main reason is the hospitality of the organizers and terrific
atmosphere at the venue. The field is three-quartered, but most people stay
around and look quite happy.
P.S. Can’t help mentioning a brief poker tournament organized for (willing)
players and journalists after the day two. The structure was super-fast, with
the blinds doubling every ten minutes. Grischuk, Shabalov, Najer, and Jakovenko
were there to prove that the World Cup participants are good in everything.
I doubled up the best player after reraising all-in his preflop raise –
I had pocket queens and was pretty much in dire straits. Alexander got the momentum
and never looked back until the final heads-up, where he was to confront his
wife. Natalia had an edge in the last hand, but Alex caught the right card on
the river and won the event.
Pivdenny Chairman Vadim Morokhovsky (suit) supports Natalia Zhukova in the
final hand against her husband. Natalia's King-Ten must compete against the
Jack-Nine of Alexander Grischuk (said husband)
And the river is a JACK!! Natalia loses, Alexander wins
Mr Cool Alex Grischuk, who is THIS close to becoming a poker professional
Semifinals and final
Please excurse briefness of my notes: it is about one a.m. in Odessa, and it
feels weird to be working when players and colleagues around me are celebrating.
The first semifinal, Radjabov-Jakovenko, ended with a perfect score. It is
kind of strange, because before the match such respectable people as Ivanchuk
predicted even chances (presuming the encounter would go on until the Armageddon).
However, Jakovenko was not in a playing mood and did not put up enough resistance.
Highly motivated Radjabov advanced to the final, and at the press-conference
bombarded general media journalists with lengthy chess lines. He is definitely
more at home discussing chess than anything else.
Someone spilled gasoline on board before the second semifinal. Don’t
give matches to these kids! Karjakin and Grischuk could have caused many heart
attacks tonight – hopefully their true supporters were not watching the
games live. Grischuk came back twice from behind and won the Armageddon in nice
The final battle: Teimour Radjabov vs Alexander Grischuk
Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov and Peter Svidler following the action
The final was tough for Grisch, who lost a lot of energy in his semifinal and
had much less time to recover. He nearly lost the second game of the final (he
saved it with a wonderful and almost study-like defence), and played much below
his level in both blitz games. Radjabov did the job well in the first blitz
game, played horribly in the opening of the next one, but once again switched
to calm defending and somehow survived (with highly appreciated help from Grischuk).
The winner congratulated by the Chairman of the Pivdenny Bank Vadim Morokhovsky
What you get for winning the ACP Rapid
Radja took the trophy and the book...
The closing ceremony was very touching, but there was some political news.
It was announced that Vadim Morokhovsky, Chairman of the Pivdenny Bank (main
sponsor of all major events in Odessa), determined chess promoter and great
enthusiast of the game, will replace Pavel Tregubov as the President of the
ACP (following Pavel’s own request). This decision was officially approved
by the ACP Board prior to the start of the ceremony.
Until now GM Pavel Tregubov was President of the ACP
Vadim Morokhovsky is the chairman of the administration of the Pivdenny
bank, but also the President of the Odessa region chess federation, the Vice
President of the Ukrainian chess federation and now the President of the ACP.
Right here I’d like to call it a day, but who knows, maybe we all will
meet tomorrow at the playing hall again, because heavy snowfalls in Ukraine
severely complicated the schedules of many local airports, including the ones
in Odessa and Kiev. The weather is probably the only thing in here the organizers
have no control of.
Your correspondent Misha Savinov with Alexander Grischuk after the event
The whole final match will be broadcast on TV: on January 9 at 9.15 pm on GLAS
channel, and on January 10 at 9.15 pm on the satellite channel "Strana
Sovetov", relayed internationally.