Keeping the kids in line

by ChessBase
10/27/2004 – It was veterans vs whippersnappers at the Essent tournament in Hoogeveen. Young stars Carlsen and Stellwagen were tossed in with experienced internationals Sokolov and Short. The old guys managed to hold off the youngsters, but no one could hold back Sokolov. There was also a draw scandal you'll find out about in our report.

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Sokolov dominates Essent

Worried about the draw death of chess? Forget rule changes and new scoring systems. Just mix a few fighting players with some young turks and stand back. In Dortmund this year one of the groups drew all their games. Linares 2004 wasn't much better.

Ivan Sokolov ran away with the Crown.

There was also a draw scandal at this year's Essent tournament. It started slowly. In game five there was a draw! The horror! The handshake between Carlsen and Short after 41 moves caused considerable confusion amongst the audience, arbiters, and even the other players. What was this? A draw? Was this legal?

After all, it was the first draw after four days of play. Things really took a nasty turn on the last day when both games were drawn. Even those were long, fighting draws. Don't these guys know how serious GMs do it? You're only supposed to play a dozen moves of theory before drawing.

Essent 2004 Crown Group - Avg. Elo 2610 - Hoogeveen, Netherlands

Intro and video report - Replay and download games - Official site

As you can see from the table, the combative spirit was epitomized by the winner, Ivan Sokolov. His only draw was in the final round, when he was a little better with black and already had first prize sewn up. After years of splitting time, the Bosnian is playing for his Dutch home in the Olympiad; we even updated his flag in the Playerbase. Along with Nigel Short, Sokolov jetted off directly to Calvia, where he promptly sat down on board two against Lithuania and won his game! (Short also won, playing for England on board two.)

No one else could even manage a plus score. Top seed Nigel Short swapped wins with Sokolov but couldn't add points against the junior stars. 13-year-old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen had an even score against Sokolov and Short but lost both his games to the 17-year-old Stellwagen to finish last. Stellwagen's score was better, but perhaps his tournament was less impressive since he salvaged only half a point against the veterans.

Stellwagen went 2-0 against the world's youngest GM

Various circumstances forced a change from the traditional method of finding the players. The organizers have always tried to stick to a formula. A world champion, the Dutch champion, the top female player, and the world junior champion. (Aka: an old guy, a young guy, a Dutch guy, and Judit Polgar.)

van Wely won the 2004 Dutch championship, but decided to lead the Olympiad team. (Sokolov was second.) Azerbaijan's Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, the world junior champion, is also in Calvia. Judit Polgar is taking a break from chess after the recent birth of her son and there really isn't a world's second-strongest female player. Nigel Short, the world championship challenger in 1993, filled the champ's role.

Short takes on Sokolov at the old-folks table

Sokolov - Carlsen, after 32...Rc8

We'll start you out with an easy one. 33.Ra1-a6 would win, but it's not as convincing as what Sokolov found.

33.Nxc6! Rxc6 34.Rb8 regains the piece with a dominant rook position. White converted on move 51.

Short - Sokolov, after 47...Bg5

Black just tried to seal off his kingside with Bg5. Short shows that Black has trouble on the other side of the board too.

48.f4! wins the bishop because of the threat of Rc3-c8, winning the queen.

Sokolov went hunting for a perpetual check with 48...Qa8 49.fxg5 Qh1+. The checks and all hope ran out on move 67 and Sokolov resigned.

All photos from the official site


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