Alekhine Mem.: Ponkratov and Artemiev dominate

by Albert Silver
6/17/2014 – In spite of a schedule that conflicted with the Russian Higher League, the 18th Alekhine Memorial, held in Voronezh, Russia, nevertheless has drawn 50 masters and grandmasters. The main event is the Master section, which has been dominated by Pavel Ponkratov and 16-year-old Vladislav Artemiev, both with 4.5/5 and performances over 2800, and there has been some great chess.

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Located in Voronezh, a city south of Moscow in Russia, the 18th Alekhine Memorial is taking place, constituting a festival, with a rapid tournament, a blitz tournament, a Fischer Random event, and of course two opens, the FIDE event and the Master open. In spite of the schedule that slightly overlapped with the Russian Higher League, meaning that the strongest players had to choose between this pleasant open, or a chance to qualify for the Super Final, this is still Russia. That means that this event with a 'poorer' participation, still brings over 25 grandmasters, and just as many masters.

12-year-old FM Andrey Episenko is on 2.5/5 with a 2411 performance

Alexander Predke (2491) is closing in on the GM norm with 3.5/5 and a 2585 performance.
It bears mentioning this 20-year-old player is titleless.

IM Sergey Pavlov, playing Artemiev, is the only player to extract a half point from the leader

The festival billboard with the schedule of activities

The top seed is Ivan Popov (2650 Elo), followed by rising star Vladislav Artemiev (2647), Dmitry Kokarev (2628), Alexander Khalifman (2617), Aleksandr Rakhmanov (2614), and Artyom Timofeev (2603). After five rounds of nine, Pavel Ponkratov and Vladislav Artemiev lead with 4.5/5 and 2800+ performances.

Pavel Ponkratov (2595) is the leader with 4.5/5

Sharing the lead is teenager Vladislav Artemiev

16-year-old Artemiev, who recently qualified for the World Cup from the European Individual Championship, and whose rating has grown nearly 150 Elo in the last year, has been in great form. Here is a powerful win from round two:

[Event "18th Voronezh-Alekhine Master"] [Site "Voronezh"] [Date "2014.06.13"] [Round "2"] [White "Artemiev, Vladislav"] [Black "Zenzera, Alexey"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B11"] [WhiteElo "2647"] [BlackElo "2454"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nd7 7. g3 Ngf6 8. Bg2 Nxe4 9. Qxe4 e6 10. O-O Nf6 11. Qe2 Bd6 12. d4 O-O 13. Rd1 Re8 14. c4 Qc7 15. Bg5 Nd7 16. Rac1 Qa5 17. Be3 {Ignoring the 'threat'} Nf8 ({Taking the pawn loses material after} 17... Qxa2 18. Ra1 Qb3 19. c5 Be7 20. Ra3 Qb4 21. Qc2 { and suddenly the queen is in danger of being cornered! The only way to save her is via a hostage exchange:} Nb6 (21... -- {The threat is} 22. Ra4 Qb5 23. Bf1 $1 {Adios muchachos}) 22. cxb6) 18. Qc2 Rac8 19. a3 Be7 20. b4 Qc7 {as a result, Black's queen maneuver has only served to lose time.} ({Once more the pawn is untouchable in view of} 20... Qxa3 $2 21. Ra1 Qxb4 22. c5 $1 b5 { Preventing ...Qc4} 23. Bf1 a5 24. Rdb1 {and once more the queen is caught.}) 21. Qa4 Red8 22. d5 $3 {Superb! White has played a great game and outplayed his opponent through and through.} c5 23. Qxa7 Ra8 24. d6 $1 {Although forced, this was the key to d5, and deserves accolades as it was seen in advance.} Rxa7 25. dxc7 Rc8 26. bxc5 Rxc7 27. c6 {The final point: White comes out of this a clean exchange up and with a passed pawn to boot.} bxc6 28. Bxa7 Rxa7 29. Ra1 Bf6 30. Ra2 c5 31. a4 Nd7 32. a5 Kf8 33. Rb1 Be5 34. Rb7 Rxb7 35. Bxb7 Bb8 36. Bc8 1-0

Thierry Bonferroni, from Switzerland, is playing in his first Russian tournament. It probably
doesn't help that he is the third lowest rated player in the Master section. On the bright
side, what a field he gets to face!

Standings after five rounds

Rk
SNo
Ti.
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
 Perf 
1
9
GM
PONKRATOV Pavel
RUS
2595
4.5
2837
2
2
GM
ARTEMIEV Vladislav
RUS
2647
4.5
2824
3
46
IM
PONOMAREV Dmitry
RUS
2396
4.0
2712
4
29
GM
NOSENKO Alexander
UKR
2492
4.0
2673
5
21
GM
ZONTAKH Andrey
UKR
2533
4.0
2669
6
13
GM
FEDOROV Alexei
BLR
2574
4.0
2643
7
25
GM
LEON HOYOS Manuel
MEX
2515
4.0
2641
8
16
GM
BRODSKY Michail
UKR
2556
4.0
2629
9
18
GM
TUKHAEV Adam
UKR
2547
3.5
2628
10
3
GM
KOKAREV Dmitry
RUS
2628
3.5
2613
11
1
GM
POPOV Ivan
RUS
2650
3.5
2594
12
6
GM
TIMOFEEV Artyom
RUS
2603
3.5
2585
 
32
 
PREDKE Alexandr
RUS
2491
3.5
2585
14
5
GM
RAKHMANOV Aleksandr
RUS
2614
3.5
2583
15
33
IM
PAVLOV Sergey
UKR
2470
3.5
2568
16
34
FM
ALEKSEENKO Kirill
RUS
2464
3.5
2561
17
36
IM
PARAVYAN David
RUS
2433
3.5
2546
18
38
IM
ULKO Jaroslav
RUS
2422
3.5
2529
19
24
IM
PRIZANT Jaroslav
RUS
2516
3.5
2524
20
4
GM
KHALIFMAN Alexander
RUS
2617
3.5
2490

Links

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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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