Alexander Morozevich predictably won the 59th Moscow Open Blitz Championship, sponsored by the daily newspaper "Evening Moscow". This time the championship has gathered probably the weakest lineup in recent years. 2004 runner-up Grischuk did not show up, Kramnik and Rublevsky also did not participate. One of the best blitz players around, Vladislav Tkachiev, who proved his extra class by winning the ChessPro grandiose blitz event last winter, once again did not get a personal invitation (and suggesting such a strong player should qualify in the semifinals is an insult).
20 minutes to start (the Prezident Hotel is in the background)
The Peter the Great monument, participants sitting on a right
Nevertheless, Morozevich did not have a chance to get bored. Alexey Dreev and Vladimir Malakhov were considered his main rivals. One could expect surprising performances from the young Moscow grandmasters Riazantsev, Belov and Deviatkin, who have established reputations in both "normal" and Internet blitz. The experienced Zvjaginsev, Korotylev and Kobalia do not specialize in blitz, but surely can play excellent chess.
Morozevich with RCF Director and the Aeroflot Open boss Alexander Bakh
Bruce Lee looking-alike Alexey Korotylev at the drawing of lots
Rainy weather in 2004 forced the championship moving to the "Prezident Hotel". This time the event returned to a traditional venue – the Muzeon, which is both landscape park and an exhibition of sculptures. The organizers have planned to broadcast games from the table one online. Morozevich was a bit disappointed about it: "I came here to enjoy playing, and now I'll have to play nonsense!" he complained. Indeed, he needs to hide his opening secrets for the coming world championship in Argentina! Smiling Alexander attentively listened to friendly advice on how to hijack the electronic board and stop the broadcast. However, he did not have to follow them – the online broadcast did not really work.
The arbiters and scorekeepers
German WGM Elisabeth Pähtz (right)
Mikhail Kobalia and Elisabeth Pähtz, former junior world champion
In the beginning Morozevich, Riazantsev, Malakhov and Moscow's blitz guru master Dvalishvili (who, unlike Tkachiev, was invited to the final) took the lead. Dreev did not catch the wind, and only a strong finish allowed him to make a respectable final spot. Dvalishvili dropped off soon, and three leaders kept winning. Morozevich did select "nonsense openings", but his play was creative and strong. His 1.Nc3 start brought him good positions time and again, the only exception being his encounter with Dreev (which ended in a draw after the move repetition).
11.30 a.m., and the games are in full swing
Alexander Morozevich vs Farrukh Amonatov (1.Nc3 ended up in a Sicilian)
Morozevich vs Gabrielian. The first prize samovar waits in the foreground
Inhabitants of Moscow begin to wake up and watch the blitz
Alexander Riazantsev in action
Riazantsev looked highly motivated and was giving all his strengths to the play. Unfortunately for the player, a half-hour break after the tenth round spoiled his concentration, as it often happens in such cases. Having lost a couple of games, Riazantsev recovered to catch up with Morozevich by the penultimate round, but then lost again. The last round win gave him a clear second place, as Morozevich confidently forced a draw with an extra pawn against Konstantin Maslak.
Alexander Kosteniuk vs Vladimir Belov (1-0)
Blitz masters: Pavel Dvalishvili vs Nikolai Vlassov (1-0)
Vladimir Malakhov's critical game, in which he failed to promote correctly
Malakhov chased the leaders, but the turning point was his encounter against Nikolai Vlassov. Vladimir put his pawn on the 8th rank, and without changing it into a piece, pressed the clock (this is what I heard). So Vlassov claimed a victory by the illegal move rule. Malakhov was very disappointed, and in the end he was caught by Mikhail Kobalia. Elisabeth Pähtz was Mikhail's firmest supporter that afternoon. Malakhov and Kobalia shared the bronze medal – literally!
Alexandra vs Alexander: Kosteniuk vs Morozevich
Alexey Dreev vs Alexander Riazantsev – in a couple of moves Black will blunder a knight
After the event Morozevich was in a good mood and gave a couple of interviews. Half-seriously he revealed that he had studied the 1.Nc3 opening very deeply prior to the event, that it is time to give the youngsters like Riazantsev a go (which will probably happen next year), as the old-timers come to the park to have fun, not to play for a win, etc. After that main actors and officials left for a dinner, and a crowd of spectators began to dissolve..
GM Yuri Balashov
Vladimir Belov and Irina Vasilevich
Dvalishvili vs Morozevich: "Sasha, can you give him 3 to 5?" (a voice from a crowd). Morozevich: "I think I can afford even 2 to 5". But he doesn't take Dvalishvili up on it.
Crosstables in the making
Vadim Zvjaginsev and journalist Evgeny Atarov
Girls of Siberia – Maria Fominykh and Vera Nebolsina
The Muzeon with its many sculptures in the park
Bust of physics Super-GM Albert Einstein
GM Alexander Zlochevskij gives a simul in the park
A TV interview with the winner Morozevich
Alexander gets to take home the famous samovar prize
The winners Morozevich, Malakhov and Kobalia (sharing Bronze) and Riazantsev
The final table – click to enlarge. Morozevich is number four with 14/19, Riazantsev is number 20 with 13.5, Malakhov is number two with 12.5, Kobalia number ten with 12 points. It is the only table we received – you figure out how they shared Bronze.