Hou Yifan and Vishy Anand in Corsica

by Albert Silver
10/22/2014 – The 2014 Corsican Circuit Rapid started and as always brings a mixture of some elite guests with opportunities for anyone to qualify for the sixteen-player knockout phase. The two guests, multiple World Champion Vishy Anand and Women World Champion Hou Yifan, were then joined by the fourteen qualifiers from the Open held before. The tournament has not been without surprises.

Léo Battesti with Hou Yifan and Vishy Anand

The Oscaro Open was a large open with 160 players from no fewer than 39 nations. It was a tough but fun swiss open played over nine rounds of fifteen-minute games with a three second increment. The reason for the wide-ranging draw was not just the chance to play not one but two world champions, but the well-endowed prize-fund of 50 thousand Euros, including fifteen thousand for first place, seven thousand for second and many others for every category under the sun from ratings groups to youth or seniors. No matter the skill, everyone had a shot at a bit of glory.

The tournament poster displaying the schedule and prize distribution

 

Video footage of the opening and introductions

During the first two days, the rapid open raged on with even top players like Ivan Saric (2678),
last year's winner, wondering whether they would make the cut after a few unexpected slips

 

Presentation of day two (in French) with a couple of questions to last year's champion, Ivan Saric (in English)

On Sunday, the Coca-Cola Blitz open was held, also with a generous number of prizes, and in order to ensure the largest draw, the inscription fees were waived! Nine rounds of blitz fun, no cost, and a chance at prizes... what more could one ask for? At the end of the event, Ukrainian GM Igor Kovalenko and GM Robert Ruck from Hungary led the field with 8.0/9 with Kovalenko benefitting from the better tiebreak.

The Oscaro Open was also held alongside a Blitz tournament sponsored by Coca-Cola, and
a Youth tournament

Corsica has one of the most pervasive chess in schools programs in the world in which
certain areas see 100% of the children able to play chess

The children soon learn the joys of dominating the board

The Youth Tournament gave out trophies and prizes such as laptops, tablets, video game
consoles and more

Also by the end of Sunday, the final results were computed with the top fourteen winners passing into the coveted knockout phase where they would have a chance to meet the two elite guests, Anand and Yifan, as well as a chance at one of the rich prizes.

Final standings of Oscaro Open (qualifiers in italics)

Rk Ti. Name
Rtg
Pts
Perf
TB
1
g
FEDORCHUK Sergey A.
2673
7.5
2739
47.5
2
g
KOVALENKO Igor
2650
7.5
2670
46.5
3
g
SWIERCZ Dariusz
2614
7.0
2666
46.5
4
g
TREGUBOV Pavel V.
2607
7.0
2644
47
5
g
RUCK Robert
2568
7.0
2638
46.5
6
g
SARIC Ivan
2678
7.0
2625
45.5
7.0
g
BALOGH Csaba
2660
7.0
2608
44.5
8
g
KRAVTSIV Martyn
2563
7.0
2570
46
9
g
EDOUARD Romain
2659
7.0
2542
42.5
10
m
DOURERASSOU Jonathan
2473
7.0
2507
45
11
m
MESZAROS Tamas
2424
7.0
2402
42.5
12
m
SKOMOROKHIN Roman
2364
7.0
2355
41.5
13
m
DIMITROV Radoslav
2445
6.5
2599
49
14
g
HORVATH Adam
2539
6.5
2515
45.5
15
g
DJURIC Stefan
2397
6.5
2395
44
16
f
SELETSKY Grigory
2358
6.5
2371
44
17
f
VILLEGAS Pierre
2299
6.5
2304
41
18
m
DIMITROV Pavel
2331
6.5
2295
41.5
19
m
MASSONI Michael
2338
6.0
2306
42.5
20
m
DRAGOJLOVIC Andjelko
2290
6.0
2289
41.5

Click for complete standings

The stage is set with the sixteen players fighting for the top honors

For the first rounds of the knockout phase, Vishy Anand seemed impeccable, walking over his opponents with sure-footed chess, taking the time to occasionally stamp one into the ground, whilst Hou Yifan seemed to be playing a constant game of chicken with fate. In her first match against Bulgarian IM Dimitrov she lost her very first game, recovering in the second and passing through on the tiebreak games, a feat she repeated the very next round against GM Kravtsiv. It was far from auspicious and her fans watching would need a manicure from all the nail-biting she put them through.

The media has provided ample coverage, and was even covered on TV channel France 3

Ivan Saric, the 2013 winner, also made a good run for the money and made it to the quarter finals where he succumbed to Robert Ruck, who faced Hou Yifan in the semi-finals, while Sergey Fedorchuk also made it to the semi-finals after a few adventures of his own on the way.

Vishy Anand was flawless in the first two mini-matches

Of all the players, only Vishy Anand seemed like a sure thing for the final, as he outclassed his opponents with whitewashes, but this was to end unexpectedly in the semi-finals. Whether due to overconfidence or other, the Indian champion found himself in trouble straight from the opening and was never able to shake off Sergey Fedorchuk (2673) who held on to his advantage like a pitbull. It was a disappointment for his fans, but there was a second game, and the event had been replete with comebacks until now. It was not to be as once again Fedorchuk emerge with a large advantage with serious winning chances, and the draw that ensued meant one champion was out of the finals.

The semi-finals were purest drama

Hou Yifan continued her tale of desperado comebacks, and if she won her first game against Robert Ruck, she then lost her second leading to yet another tiebreaker. This time she lost the first game, and despite being in serious trouble in the second, somehow managed to pull off a miracle win, culminating in the first sudden death game of the knockout phase. To the delight (and relief) of her fans, she made it through and on Wednesday will face Sergey Fedorchuk for the grand prize.

Hou Yifan suffered the most to reach the final but her great fighting spirit kept her head above water

Crosstable of the knockout phase

Do not miss the final that starts at 2pm local time (GMT+1 or Paris time)

Photos from the official site


Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Rama Rama 10/22/2014 10:23
Perhaps Anand was hiding prep? If not then he will be vulnerable in a tiebreak with Rapid World Champ Carlsen.
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