Chigorin Memorial: Eljanov elbows his way to first

10/16/2013 – After five rounds, it was a nine-way tie for first, and one would understandably expect this to have thinned by the end. Instead it was an eleven-way tie, with Pavel Eljanov taking the top spot. Some might argue he is lucky, as is so often said of champions, but perhaps it was more a matter of making the most of his opportunities. Judge for yourself.

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Chigorin Memorial: Eljanov elbows his way to first

After five rounds, the medalists of the Chigorin Memorial were anything but decided. It was nine-way tie for first, and the fate of the top spots were only concluded in the very last round after all the tiebreak scores had been tallied. If nine seemed a lot, the final eleven-way tie for first probably left many players looking like mad accountants, trying to figure out who of the competitors with 7.0/9 had the edge.

A well attended event with opportunites for all...

...including juniors...

...and ladies.

Former World Under-18 champion Dmitry Kokarev was a surprise leader for much of the event, and might even have taken sole first had he not missed a win against second-seed Alexander Areshchenko in round seven.

[Event "Chigorin Memorial"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2013.10.11"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Areshchenko, Alexander"] [Black "Kokarev, Dmitry"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2714"] [BlackElo "2611"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/5r1k/7P/8/2pp1r2/8/2P1Kp1R/5R2 b - - 0 56"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2013.10.05"] {The position deserves a diagram and it is Black to play and win. The winning move is elegant, but needs to be seen and then calculated.} 56... Re7+ (56... d3+ $3 {is the winning shot, but it is not a one-two blow, explaining why he missed it.} 57. cxd3 c3 58. Kd1 (58. Ke3 c2 59. Rhh1 (59. Kd2 Rc7 60. Kc1 Rb4 { and there is no defense against Rb1 and c1:Q}) 59... c1=Q+ 60. Rxc1 f1=Q 61. Rcxf1 Rxf1 62. Rxf1 Rxf1) 58... Ra7 59. Kc2 Ra3 60. Rhh1 Rf8 61. Rh2 Rb8 62. d4 Rb2+ 63. Kd3 Rd2+ 64. Ke3 {Diagram [#]} Rd1 $3) 57. Kd1 {Lest you argue that the lines above are quite long, it bears in mind that one could guess the idea following the basic principle of two weaknesses. The f-pawn is obviously not going anywhere all by itself, so a second threat needs to be created, and as it so happens, one can.} Ref7 58. Ke2 c3 59. Kd3 Rf8 60. Kc4 R8f6 1/2-1/2

Often in chess, the window of opportunity is extremely small, and if missed no other presents itself. On the other hand, this may be why Pavel Eljanov (if we want to argue fatalistically) was the one whose magic number came up on top of the group of eleven at the end. In round seven, he too had a single window of opportunity, and against Maxim Matlakov (2682 FIDE), uncorked a brilliant finish.

[Event "Chigorin Memorial"] [Site "St Petersburg RUS"] [Date "2013.10.11"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Matlakov, Maxim"] [Black "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E35"] [WhiteElo "2682"] [BlackElo "2729"] [PlyCount "58"] [EventDate "2013.10.05"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 c5 7. dxc5 h6 8. Bh4 O-O 9. e3 Be6 10. Nf3 Nbd7 11. Be2 Rc8 12. O-O Rxc5 13. Nd4 Qc8 14. Ndb5 Bxc3 15. Nxc3 Ne4 16. Be7 Nxc3 17. bxc3 Rxc3 18. Qa4 Re8 19. Bb4 Rc2 20. Bd3 Rc7 21. Qxa7 Ne5 22. Bb5 $2 {A mistake that is refuted by a powerful tactical shot.} Bh3 $3 {After this, Black is winning in all lines.} 23. Qd4 ({The first and most obvious question is what happens if White takes the bishop with} 23. gxh3 {The answer is that he gets mated in no time flat.} Qxh3 24. f4 {(to stop Nf3 mate)} Rc2 {and there is no stopping it.} 25. Rf2 Nf3+ 26. Kh1 (26. Rxf3 Qg2#) 26... Qxh2+ $1 27. Rxh2 Rxh2#) ({The rook is untouchable as well.} 23. Bxe8 $2 Qg4 {and mate follows.}) 23... Nf3+ $1 24. gxf3 Re4 {Picture perfect.} 25. Qxd5 (25. fxe4 Qg4+ 26. Kh1 Qg2#) ({and if} 25. Qd2 {Black has the elegant finish with} Rg4+ 26. Kh1 (26. fxg4 Qxg4+) 26... Bg2+ 27. Kg1 Bxf3#) 25... Rxb4 26. Rfd1 Rxb5 27. Qxb5 Rc5 28. Rd8+ Qxd8 29. Qxc5 Qf6 0-1

Winning the Chigorin Memorial was a a sign of a return to form for Pavel Eljanov. The Russian TV did a news report on the second half of the tournament. You can see it here.

With this win, two draws in the final rounds were sufficient for first place, a gratifying and impressive win for the top-seed, for whom the burden of winning was the greatest. Kokarev came in second, still one of his greatest victories, and Maxim Matlakov was third. Last year’s winner, Alexander Areshchenko was fourth.

This very strong tournament also meant a glut of norm opportunities, and several notable ones were scored. Among the more impressive was FM Igor Malakhov (2434 FIDE) who sought to secure his IM title and instead overshot his mark, scoring a grandmaster norm. 13-year-old Saveliy Golubov (2233 FIDE) played extremely well, and was undefeated against five IMs and one GM, with a 2505 performance and an IM norm.

Final standings after nine rounds

Rk SNo Tit Name FED Rtg Pts  TB 
1 1 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2729 7.0 57.0
2 19 GM Kokarev Dmitry RUS 2611 7.0 55.5
3 6 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2682 7.0 55.0
4 2 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2714 7.0 55.0
5 8 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 7.0 54.5
6 15 GM Korneev Oleg ESP 2622 7.0 54.0
7 20 GM Solak Dragan TUR 2611 7.0 53.0
8 7 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim RUS 2659 7.0 53.0
9 12 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2635 7.0 52.5
10 29 GM Bukavshin Ivan RUS 2553 7.0 52.0
11 10 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2651 7.0 50.0
12 4 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 6.5 53.0
13 5 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2683 6.5 52.0
14 36 IM Bernadskiy Vitaliy UKR 2527 6.5 51.0
15 9 GM Romanov Evgeny RUS 2654 6.5 50.5
16 11 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2644 6.5 50.5
17 17 GM Ponkratov Pavel RUS 2618 6.5 50.0
18 3 GM Alekseev Evgeny RUS 2707 6.5 50.0
19 23 GM Burmakin Vladimir RUS 2581 6.5 49.5
20 35 GM Lintchevski Daniil RUS 2532 6.5 49.0
21 22 GM Hovhannisyan Robert ARM 2599 6.5 48.0
22 43 GM Makarov Marat RUS 2512 6.5 46.0
23 44 GM Neverov Valeriy UKR 2505 6.5 43.0
24 27 GM Jumabayev Rinat KAZ 2568 6.5 42.5
25 56 FM Malakhov Igor RUS 2434 6.0 54.0
26 49 GM Baron Tal ISR 2473 6.0 51.5
27 26 GM Al-Modiahki Mohamad QAT 2568 6.0 51.0
28 28 GM Belous Vladimir RUS 2554 6.0 51.0
29 24 GM David Alberto ITA 2574 6.0 50.5
30 32 GM Gabrielian Artur RUS 2541 6.0 49.5
31 124 Golubov Saveliy RUS 2233 6.0 49.0

Click for full standings

Links

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