Top grandmasters never rest these days! The schedule of tireless Boris Gelfand and Alexei Shirov is especially striking: after playing the candidates matches in Elista, they moved to super-tournaments in Dortmund and Foros respectively, and then immediately went to Odessa. Or look at Grischuk, who is preparing for the World Championship by playing in two consecutive rapid tournaments. Botvinnik would eat his hat if he knew.
The third edition of the Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup, took place in Odessa, Ukraine, from July 4th-6th, 2007, gathered the strongest lineup in its history. For the first time its average rating exceeded the magic 2700 mark.
The venue of the 2007 Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup in Odessa
The famous Odessa Opera, just a few steps away from the playing site
Tap shoes and bear midriff jazz singing at the opening ceremony entertainment
Nine players were invited, including the Odessa resident and European Rapid Champion Yury Drozdovskij. Vassily Ivanchuk recently replaced Teimour Radjabov as the rating favorite of the event. Experienced grandmaster Vladimir Tukmakov won the qualification held among Odessa players, and completed the lineup. The Pivdenny Bank, which organized the ACP World Rapid Cup in January this year, secured $50,000 prize fund for the event.
Vassily Ivanchuk proceeds to the drawing of colours
and seems quite pleased with the result
The tournament was played in three days, three rounds per day. The opening ceremony was on July 3rd. None of the players were absent. Some of them came in advance, like Radjabov, who arrived on June 30. I asked him why he came so early for a rapid event. "I enjoyed Odessa so much in January, I wanted to spend a few more days here," said Teimour. He will stay in Odessa for a few more days after the Pivdenny Cup ends.
Alexei Shirov and Vassily Ivanchuk arrived in a car rented and driven from Foros by Shirov. Alexander Grischuk did not really have to arrive, as he resides in Odessa now, together with his wife Natalia Zhukova and their four-month-old Masha.
Natalia and Alex Grischuk with their daughter Masha
The weather in Odessa was excellent, +27° C, with sun and occasional clouds. The sea temperature was little below average: +20, but this is mostly due to upwelling processes.
WiFi map of Odessa (green means free access)
Alexei Shirov vs Viktor Korchnoi in round one (1-0)
In the course of the tournament the two “Chuks” battled for first prize. Initially Grischuk took the lead, but when he lost to Smirin in round five he was caught by Ivanchuk, who beat Bacrot. They remained neck-and-neck until the final round, when Ivanchuk convincingly outplayed Tukmakov, while Grischuk was unable to overcome the calm defence of Teimour Radjabov. As a result Ivanchuk took first place, with Grischuk on second and Radjabov in third place (he beat Shirov on tiebreak).
Poor Vladimir Tukmakov: he started with victories over Bacrot and Smirin (and a draw with Korchnoi), but then lost all the rest of his games, in spite of several promising positions, on day two and three. It is hard to come up with any other explanation than tiredness.
What you gonna do – at 61 you sometimes tire. Tukmakov and Ivanchuk
Ilya Smirin shared the 9th-10th place with Tukmakov. His victory over Grischuk remained the only decisive game to end in Ilya’s favor. However, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of that game for the overall standings! Ivanchuk should be grateful to the cheerful Israeli grandmaster.
Vassily Ivanchuk vs Ilya Smirin in round seven (1-0)
Viktor Korchnoi ended the tournament on the 8th place. He avoided the last place in the final round by setting a devilish trap to his direct competitor, Smirin.
Korchnoi (2610) - Smirin (2649) [E70]
Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup Odessa (9), 06.07.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bc1 e5 8.d5 f5 9.exf5 gxf5 10.h3 Nf6 11.Nge2 f4 12.Qd3 0–0 13.g3 e4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Qxe4 Bf5 16.Qf3 Na6 17.Bg2 Nc5 18.gxf4 Nd3+ 19.Kf1 Re8 20.Qh5 Qf6 21.Bf3 Nxb2 22.Bxb2 Qxb2 23.Kg2 Bd3
24.Rae1 Qb4 25.Nc1!! Black resigned, realising that after 25...Rxe1 26.Nxd3 he loses a lot of wood. This was the only victory for Korchnoi is Odessa. This time. Who knows what Viktor L’vovich will do in the next year!
Local hope Yury Drozdovskij faces Alexei Shirov in round five (draw)
Yury Drozdovskij finished on the sixth place. His former trainer, who watched all the games in the press center, described Yury’s style as close to Petrosian’s: the Ukrainian likes skilled maneuvers and strategic chess. A lot of Internet blitz shaped his tactical skills, and fruits of his opening labor were seen in this tournament already. The Odessa resident showed the best score against three top finishers: 1.5/3. Three draws.
Alexander Grischuk vs Boris Gelfand in round one (1-0)
The fifth place of Boris Gelfand is maybe the best score one could get after such a chess marathon. To his credit, Boris always strived for complicated games. He could have scored more points if he had been more practical and dried out some of his games. However, as a spectator I am glad he did not even think of it! Nearly all Gelfand’s losses in this tournament are as spectacular as one can get.
Alexei Shirov chatting with Alexander Grischuk
Alexey Shirov shared the third place with Radjabov, but finished fourth on the tiebreak. However, his win over Gelfand will be remembered long. "There is a study-like idea here: Black gives up the queen and mates with the bishop," said an observer at the press center during the game. "But that is probably nonsense; it cannot happen in a practical game." However, Shirov immediately went in that direction!
Gelfand (2733) - Shirov (2735) [D85]
Pivdenny Bank Chess Cup Odessa (7), 06.07.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Rb1 0–0 9.Be2 cxd4 10.cxd4 Qa5+ 11.Bd2 Qxa2 12.0–0 Bg4 13.Be3 Nc6 14.d5 Na5 15.Bg5 b6 16.Bxe7 Rfe8 17.d6 Nc6 18.Bb5 Nxe7 19.h3 Bxf3 20.Qxf3 Qe6 21.Bxe8 Rxe8 22.dxe7 Rxe7 23.Rfe1 Bd4 24.Rbd1 Qe5 25.Rd3 a5 26.Qd1 Bc5 27.Re2 Re6 28.g3 Rd6 29.Kg2 Rxd3 30.Qxd3 a4 31.Rd2 a3 32.Qc4 Kg7 33.Rd7 Qf6 34.f4 Qb2+ 35.Kf3 Qf2+ 36.Kg4 h5+ 37.Kh4 g5+ 38.fxg5 Kg6!!
Black threatens Qxf4+ followed by Bf2 checkmate! 39.Qc3 f6! Maybe here White has come chances to survive by taking on f6, trading the queens, and then trying to get a R+P vs. Q ending. 40.Rd5 a2. An interesting position, and an introduction to another stunning idea that did not occur in the game. White had 41.Rxc5 followed by 42.Qe5!!? Now taking the queen stalemates, queening allows the perpetual, and the only way to play for a win is to take the pawn and allow a long series of checks. Probably the king eventually escapes the checks, and Black wins. Black must try 42...fxg5. The text-move allowed the original idea. 41.Rf5 Qf4+!! The point! The rest of the game is easy for Black. 42.gxf4 Bf2+ 43.Qg3 Bxg3+ 44.Kxg3 a1Q 45.Rxf6+ Kg7 46.e5 b5 47.Kh4 b4 48.Kxh5 Qd1+ 49.Kh4 b3 50.e6 b2 51.Rf7+ Kg8 52.Rb7 b1Q 53.Rxb1 Qxb1 54.Kg4 Qe4 White resigns.
Top ten GM Teimour Radjabov ended in third place
Teimour Radjabov’s performance was rather shaky, as he admitted at the press conference after the tournament. “Maybe sometimes I should play more like Kramnik, being more solid and safe when I feel uncomfortable.” However, a third place in such company is certainly a nice result for anybody.
Okay, not anybody. Alexander Grischuk was very disappointed about his second place. “Would you have taken the second place if offered it before the event?” asked a journalist. “No, of course not!” replied Alexander. But he was very impressed about Ivanchuk scoring 7/8 after losing their individual game.
And the winner (yet again) is: Vassily Ivanchuk!
Yes, Vassily was impressive. Even more striking is that he won a second big tournament in a row! It is a pity that the Ukrainian did not qualify for the World Championship... The next tournament Ivanchuk participates in is Montreal – shall we expect a hat-trick?
Spectators of all ages follow the games on a display monitor
Ukrainian chess players? Fans? No, girls from the PR Department of Pivdenny Bank