A practical approach to rapid tournaments

by Dhananjay Khadilkar
9/29/2019 – Grandmaster Sergey Fedorchuk won the 28th Sevres Open, a nine round rapid tournament outside of Paris. The 38-year-old Ukrainian is a veteran of the professional tournament circuit, and a two-time Paris Champion. In a look at the typical life of a 2600-GM, Paris-based journalist DHANANJAY KHADILKAR paid a visit and spoke to the top finishers. | Photo: Dhananjay Khadilkar

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On the road with a Grandmaster

Sergey Fedorchuk won the 28th Sevres Open, which was held recently in Sevres, just outside Paris. More than one hundred players including four GMs and five IMs participated in the single-day, nine-round rapid tournament. The Ukrainian grandmaster, rated 2668 in the rapid format, steamrolled through the tournament as he scored eight points. He said sticking to principled lines and a good night's sleep on the eve of the tournament have been the ingredients of his rapid tournament successes for some time now.

"To play in rapid tournaments, one must be well rested and have a lot of energy. Since there are nine games in one day, one has to remain concentrated all the time. It's not like in the classical format where it’s one game per day and even during that game it's possible to rest for five minutes," he said.


Fedorchuk with Pascal Champagne, president of the Sevres club le petit roque | Photo: Dhananjay Khadilkar

On the eve of a rapid tournament, Fedorchuk tries to distract himself from chess. "I try to forget about the next day's tournament and focus on something else... play another game or watch a movie. I try not to stress in advance before the start of the tournament and not think about it."

About his rapid play approach, Fedorchuk said he sticks to the main lines. 

"In rapid games, I mostly play principal lines that I know well. I know the ideas behind these lines. On the other hand, in classical chess, I try to play new variations because in the longer format my opponent is prepared for me." 

According to him, another important factor is to stay alert to the tournament situation and adjust the playing style.

"As a professional, my priority is to try and finish in prize-winning places. The problem is that there aren't too many good prizes in rapid and classic tournaments. Modern chess has more sporting than creative components. Therefore, for me the result is more important. To achieve the result I take risks in the games, or in order to maintain it, I play without risk. This is what probably most of professionals players do."

Anatole Vlachos, whose rapid rating is 2203, sprung a surprise by finishing second while GM Andrei Shchekachev finished third.

Vlachos, the 17-year old FIDE master from Greece, who scored 7½ points, said he was confident of doing well in the tournament. “I play quite well in rapid. I was expecting to be among the top five finishers. Of course, finishing second was quite pleasing.”


FM Anatole Vlachos

Vlachos’ strategy in rapid play is based on making quick moves. “I play the openings I feel comfortable with. After that I try to put time pressure on my opponents by playing fast and making practical moves.”

He said that one should not get fazed while facing a Grandmaster or an International Master. “You should stick to your regular openings and play normally. For example, against Shchekachev, I liked my variation. He was a little bit better. So my only hope was to put time pressure on him. I played very fast and it worked,” he said on his seventh round win.


Final standings (top 10

Pl   Nom Rapide Cat. Fede Ligue Club Pts Tr. Perf
1 g Fedorchuk Sergey A. 2668 F SenM EST Club d'Echecs Metz Fischer 8 47 2713
2 f Vlachos Anatole 2203 F CadM IDF Tremblay en France 46½ 2457
3 g Shchekachev Andrei 2539 F SenM IDF Tremblay en France 7 45½ 2494
4 g Guliyev Namig 2643 F SenM CVL C'Chartres Echecs 7 44½ 2526
5 m Bergez Luc 2386 F SenM IDF J.E.E.N. 7 43 2365
6   Karagyozian Edgar 2206 F SenM EST Reims Echec et Mat 7 37 2313
7   Dumas Charles 2085 F SenM IDF Cavalier de la Tourelle Saint-Mande 44½ 2266
8 m Vareille Francois 2410 N SepM IDF Le Petit-Roque de Sèvres-Ville d'Avray 43 2294
9 f Sohier Julien 2163 F SenM IDF Club 608 d'Echecs Paris 41 2184
10   Degardin Sylvain 2251 F SenM IDF Club d'Echecs de Saint-Maur 40 2112


Dhananjay is a Paris based journalist and a chess enthusiast. While he enjoys playing the game, he is more fascinated by the drama and history associated with it.


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