Anatoly Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky

3/23/2007 – The 8th Anatoly Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky is under way, but already it is as good as won by Dmitry Jakovenko, who keeps showing great chess skill combined with enormous playing capacity, collecting one good result after another. Games, results and a big pictorial report by Misha Savinov.

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8th Anatoly Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky

By Misha Savinov

Poikovsky is located not too far from Khanty Mansiysk, which will host the coming World Cup as well as the Chess Olympiad 2010. The oil region has enough money to support professional chess, although the priority is of course given to promoting chess among children. There is a good chance for chess lessons to enter a school curriculum in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, and there are many small chess clubs in local schools. Every year the grandmasters playing in Poikovsky spend their free day giving simuls to children in various, sometimes quite distant, settlements around Poikovsky.


Chess lessons in a local club


Emil Sutovsky (glasses, smile) visiting the Chauskino village school


The Israeli grandmaster officiates the school tournament


... and gives a simultaneous exhibition


... and chats with youthful chess enthusiasts


... and gets an appropriate present from the kids

This is one of the very few, if not the only professional chess event included into the budget of local government. Naturally it is dependent on the governor’s loyalty to chess, as well as the grandmasters’ friendliness and cooperativeness. The lineup is selected carefully and purposefully, with emphasis on a player’s character. Viorel Bologan and Alexander Onischuk have passed all eight tests and are the longest-playing participants. Sergey Rublevsky has seven ‘caps’. Recently the governor of the region was replaced, so it was important to run this year’s tournament smoothly, to ensure continuing the tradition in the years to come. The new man in charge is expected to attend the closing ceremony, where he will hopefully relieve the organizers and players with a positive decision. Some heavy guns like Karpov and Ilyumzhinov will likely attend it, too.


Viorel Bologan analysing with the luckless Zhang Pengxiang


Emil Sutovsky and Alexander Onischuk analysing their game


Sergey Rublevsky and the unstoppable Dmitry Jakovenko after their game

The tournament tension basically evaporated in the round seven, when Dmitry Jakovenko defeated his main rival Evgeny Alekseev in a one-way Sicilian. It turned out that Alekseev, trailing by half a point, was determined to take risks in order to obtain winning chances, despite playing black. But his opening choice was unlucky, as Jakovenko has an excellent score in that particular line, and understands all its subtleties better. In the concluding rounds Dmitry will play against Istratescu, the rating underdog, who seems perfectly content with his 50% score, and Zhang Pengxiang, who does not violate another Poikovsky tradition of Chinese players’ sub-par performance, partly in view of famous Siberian hospitality. A one-point lead in front of a very solid lineup should be more than enough in this situation.


Where did I go wrong? Alekseev and Jakovenko analyse 15.c3 of their game


Vlad Tkachiev, who is languishing at minus one


Remember CRTs? Jakovenko and Evgeny Alekseev surfing in the press center


Alexander Onischuk talking to the local media, which appears at the event
every day, interviewing the players for radio, TV and newspapers

The second place will likely be disputed by Sergey Rublevsky and Alexander Onischuk, although almost any other player can join their contest, provided some luck in the last rounds.

As this is a budget tournament, the official prize fund is relatively small. However, the players never leave Poikovsky dissatisfied. There are many commercial sponsors who announce (or just award) their prizes only at the closing ceremony. I am sure that they will be delighted with Jakovenko’s success, as Dmitry was born in nearby city of Nizhnevartovsk, which also belongs to Khanty-Mansi AO.


A hockey arena just across the street from the tournament hall


A university building in Poikovsky

And, yes, early spring is sometimes quite freezing in Siberia, but not this time. I failed to see any weather difference between Western Russia and Poikovsky, apart from snow being bright white here. Unfortunately, I spend too much time indoors to meet the bears which undoubtedly walk the streets of Poikovsky.


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