Nigel Short triumphs in Pühajärve Rapid

12/7/2012 – It is an extraordinary tournament in a beautiful Estonian location. What make it really special is the unique handicap system: players are given different time ratios according to their strength, e.g. two minutes to 18 minutes when a GM plays an amateur. "This can be a real nightmare," said the winner Nigel Short, "even your opponent is many hundreds of points below you." Big illustrated report.

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Nigel Short triumphs in Pühajärve Rapid Chess Tournament

An international rapid chess tournament held in the Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort was won by Great Britain's grandmaster Nigel Short, who collected 28.5 points out of 31. On the second place was Estonia's leading chess player GM Kaido Külaots with 24.5 points, and in third place was Finland's leading player GM Tomi Nybäck with 23 points.


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Pühajärve is a small village with approximately 200 inhabitants, situated in Valga county in South-Estonia.

The Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort, where the tournament was held, is located on the territory of the old Pühajärve manor, which was first mentioned in 1417. In the vortex of war in 1944, the main building of the complex was destroyed, while in the outhouses the rest home continued its activity during the post-war period.

After the war, during the 1950s, the main building was restored in a modified way, first into a sanatorium and then back into a rest home. Today it has developed as a result of lots of reconstructions and extensions into a well-known spa and holiday resort with a lot of attention having been paid to designing the environment.


GM Alexandr Volodin, rated 2498, vs IM Olaw Sepp, 2446, both from Estonia


Finland's leading GM Tomi Nybäck, rated 2638


IM Tarvo Seeman of Estonia, rated 2384


Panu Laine of Finland, rated 2195


Mark Lapidus of Estonia, rated 2129

32 people participated in this year's traditional Pühajärve Rapid Chess Tournament. This was played in a handicap system: the players were divided into different strength groups, which determined the amount of time each player was allocated. For example, the time ratio between the first and the fifth group was two minutes to 18 minutes, the time ratio between the players of the same group was 10:10. The system where a grandmaster had two minutes of thinking time against an amateur chess fan's 18 minutes made the games very intense and full of surprises.


Ants Vihmand of Estonia, rated 2176, against GM Nigel Short, GB, rated 2704


Nigel playing GM Normunds Miezis of Latvia, rated 2578


"Two minutes against 18 can be a real nightmare," said Nigel Short, "even if your
opponent is many hundreds of points below you on the rating scale,"

After the top three, the fourth and the fifth places were shared by grandmasters Normunds Miezis from Latvia and Aleksandr Volodin from Estonia, both men having collected 22.5 points. The sixth and the seventh places were also shared – international masters Tarvo Seeman and Riho Liiva from Estonia both collected an equal of 22 points. The top ten was finished by FIDE master Olev Schults from Estonia with 20.5 points and international masters Axel Smith from Sweden and Olav Sepp from Estonia, who both got 20 points.


Pavel Vorobjov, 2156 facing GM Meelis Kanep, 2542, both from Estonia

The chess tournament, held already for the 13th time this year, has offered Tiit Vähi, the owner of the Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort, lots of good emotions and pleasant encounters with known chess grandmasters. Vähi is always in Pühajärve during the tournament if possible. "I am very, very glad that chess people come to Pühajärve and that they come back time and again. I believe that all the people who come here, from Estonia and elsewhere, enjoy the game, the vacation and meeting friends," said Vähi.

"This tournament fits well into the conception of the Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort. The first tournaments were held in the time of the former sanatorium's restoration. We planned to make a place for active vacation, where it would be possible to enjoy the nature, have conferences and seminars, business meetings and, of course, participate in various sports competitions. When the offer came to start organising chess tournaments in Pühajärve, it was accepted," explained Vähi.

The results, the most fascinating games and thorough statistics can be found in the tournament's website. The main organiser of Pühajärve Rapid Chess Tournament was Stamina Sports Club and the main sponsor was the Pühajärve Spa and Holiday Resort.


14-year-old Henrik Haavamae of Estonia, rated 1950

One of the most beautiful games of the tournament was held in the 18th round, a genuine masterpiece, which would run for the prettiest game in any chess tournament. Ants Vihmand, who belonged to the third strength group, attracted the youngest participant of the tournament, 14-year-old Henrik Haavamäe, into falling into an odd opening trap.

1.e4 e5 2.Ne2 Nf6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4 Nxe4? 5.Qe2! Qe7 6.Nd5! Qe5 7.Nbc3 c6 8.d4! Qxd4 9.Be3!! Nxc3 10.Bg5+ Nxe2 11.Nc7# Checkmate! The ending position definitely deserves a diagram:

Final Ranking after 31 Rounds


The winner by four full points: English GM Nigel Short

Rk. Ti. Name
FED
Rtg
Pts.
TB1 
1 GM Short Nigel D
ENG
2704
28.5
414.25
2 GM Kulaots Kaido
EST
2570
24.5
348.00
3 GM Nyback Tomi
FIN
2638
23.0
320.25
4 GM Miezis Normunds
LAT
2578
22.5
308.75
5 GM Volodin Aleksandr
EST
2498
22.5
296.00
6 IM Seeman Tarvo
EST
2384
22.0
298.50
7 IM Liiva Riho
EST
2451
22.0
294.00
8 FM Schults Olev
EST
2300
20.5
261.75
9 IM Smith Axel
SWE
2491
20.0
274.25
10 IM Sepp Olav
EST
2446
20.0
257.00
11 Vorobjov Pavel
EST
2156
19.0
239.00
12 Valgmae Toomas
EST
2218
18.5
252.25
13 Leito Priit
EST
2333
18.0
233.75
14 GM Kanep Meelis
EST
2542
17.5
249.25
15 Lapidus Mark
EST
2129
17.0
211.50
16 Puusepp Kaimar
EST
2273
17.0
210.25
17 Vihmand Ants
EST
2176
17.0
203.75
18 Laine Panu
FIN
2195
16.0
175.75
19 Siemer Tambet
EST
2046
15.5
191.50
20 Haavamae Henrik
EST
1950
14.5
168.25
21 Rõtov Igor
EST
0
14.5
162.00
22 Simson Urmas
EST
0
14.0
179.50
23 Porrasmaa Timo
FIN
2064
11.0
138.75
24 Ozolins Aris
LAT
2177
11.0
120.00
25 Järvet Jüri
EST
2056
10.5
105.25
26 Rebane Raul
EST
2147
10.5
98.25
27 Kelder Hendrek
EST
2065
8.0
89.50
28 Otsmann Villu
EST
1800
6.5
71.25
29 Tuulik Ülo
EST
1923
5.5
46.75
30 Poom Mati
EST
1816
4.5
26.75
31 Kapp Viljar
EST
0
3.0
24.25
32 Meidla Lauri
EST
0
1.5
19.75

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