Ivanchuk Express Steamrolls Latvia

by Alejandro Ramirez
3/31/2014 – The Riga Chess Federation organized the Latvian Railway Open, a rapid tournament held in the Latvian Railway Museum. The event attracted an amazing amount of stars, names such as Shirov, Malakhov, Alekseev, Zhigalko, Van Wely and countless others. But all they could do was fight for second place. Vassily Ivanchuk came in and crushed the event. He scored a staggering 13.0/14...

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The Riga Chess federation organized the Latvian Railway Open, one of the strongest rapid chess opens in the World.

The tournament was held on 28-30 March, 2014, at the Latvian Railway Museum in Riga. The tournament was comprised of three groups A, B and C.

The tournament was announced as having "leading Latvian grandmasters as well as very strong foreing grandmasters and chess lovers from around the world", but that hardly did justice to the spectacular field that showed up for the event.

The prize fund was relatively modest, a total of 10,000 euros in prizes and the first place only receiving 1,400 euro, but somehow or another the Riga Chess federation certainly pulled it off!

Using rapid FIDE ratings the tournament saw four 2700s, a few 2600s, and many more grandmasters in the mix. The pre-tournament favorites using the rapid rating system were Malakhov and Shirov, but nothing can ever be counted on when Ivanchuk is thrown in the mix.

The Ukrainian legend started off the event mercilessly. A jaw-dropping 9/9 to cement the lead after day two meant that the last day was simply a battle for second place. Ivanchuk started the last day off "slowly" with draws against Lysyj and Shirov only to return to his rampage with wins against Fedovseev, Al-Modiakhi and Kovalenko. If the tournament had lasted more than fourteen rounds, surely Ivanchuk would have won those games too!

Malakhov took second place while Fridman battled his way into third. The final standings were as follows:

Rk. Name Rtg FED Pts.
1 Ivanchuk Vassily 2722 UKR 13.0
2 Malakhov Vladimir 2777 RUS 10.0
3 Fridman Daniel 2649 GER 9.5
4 Bologan Viktor 2680 MDA 9.0
5 Shirov Alexei 2742 LAT 8.5
6 Van Wely Loek 2679 NED 8.5
7 Fedorov Alexei 2547 BLR 8.5
8 Kovalenko Igor 2653 LAT 8.5
9 Kovalev Vladislav 2488 BLR 8.5
10 Zhigalko Sergei 2704 BLR 8.5
11 Navara David 2648 CZE 8.5
12 Alekseev Evgeny 2635 RUS 8.5
13 Al-Modiahki Mohamad 2547 QAT 8.5
14 Azarov Sergei 2646 BLR 8.5
15 Shimanov Aleksandr 2582 RUS 8.5
16 Aleksandrov Aleksej 2616 BLR 8.5
17 Gleizerov Evgeny 2545 RUS 8.5
18 Fedoseev Vladimir 2681 RUS 8.5
19 Kulaots Kaido 2505 EST 8.0
20 Lysyj Igor 2675 RUS 8.0

What else did you expect to see in the Latvian Railway Museum?

An interesting contrast...

Vikto Bologan (left) and Sergei Zhigalko were two of the top players of the event

Spectators crowding around Latvian chess legend Evgenij Sveshnikov

Jan Ehlvest lives in the neighboring country of Estonia

The Vassily Ivanchuk Express demolished everything in front of it

Loek Van Wely suffered three losses (Fridman, Ivanchuk, Fedorov) but his 8.5/14 was still a good result

In rapid chess, all kinds of unusual things can happen!

Evgeny Alekseev, once Russian Champion, also finished with 8.5/14

The strongest player from Latvia, Alexei Shirov, only managed to score 1.5/4 in the last stretch
and that knocked him out from the fight for second place. In third: Daniel Fridman (right)

An expression everyone knows all too welll...

More rails! Actually the official page has many pictures of these antique locomotives

Zhu Chen, originally from China but now playing for Qatar,
took a half point off Alexei Shirov in the first round

Games of the tournament:

Click on drop-down menu for all games


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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