Kramnik wins Razuvaev Memorial

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/8/2020 – An online blitz tournament was organized on Friday in memory of Yuri Sergeyevich Razuvaev, an enormously respected figure for his work as a coach and an author, besides his great accomplishments as a player. Vladimir Kramnik and Evgeny Tomashevsky finished in the top two places at the 8-player single round robin, and played a final 2-game match to decide the winner — Kramnik won with black and drew with white to take first place. | Photo: Alina l'Ami / Tata Steel Chess

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In memory of a wonderful coach

Yuri RazuvaevYuri Sergeyevich Razuvaev was a historian by profession, but also distinguished himself as a player, coach and a talented chess journalist. He played for the Soviet Union squads in the 1970s and 80s, becoming an IM in 1973 and a GM in 1976. His tournament wins included Dubna and Polanica-Zdrój in 1979, Zalaegerszeg 1981, London 1983, Dortmund 1985 and Jurmala 1987.

On the Russian Chess-News site Boris Gulko remembered his friend and colleague soon after he passed away on March 21, 2012:

All the young players at the time spoke of him with a gasp of awe. He was not just the strongest of all, he also had a unique style, won extraordinary games against opponents of all kinds. As a chess player he was very good, but he did not have the killer instinct — you will find a number of games in which Jura agreed to a draw in positions in which he had a large or even a decisive edge. So it was, for example, in games against Smyslov and Tal, whom he greatly respected. On the other hand he had a unique ability to save totally hopeless positions, an ability that helped him in his final three years of life when he knew about his terminal illness.

Yuri Razuvaev was a wonderful coach, and to a large extent my chess teacher. When I played in the PCA World Championship Candidates [against Nigel Short in New York in 1994] Yura came to train with me. Our work was very successful, even though I lost the match in the tiebreak. But the knowledge I acquired stood me in good stead for many years – for example I was able to convincingly win the US Championship with it.

One of his excellent qualities was exceptional kindness. When he was trainer of the USSR team, the young Volodya Kramnik came along. Yura fought for his inclusion in the team. Slightly earlier, Peter Svidler and Borya Gelfand appeared. For Yura, this was always like some kind of personal delight.

Gulko mentioned Gelfand and Kramnik, two of the players that were invited to participate in the Memorial that took place last Friday. In fact, all of the invited players were, in some way or another, either students or indirectly influenced by Razuvaev.

The event was an 8-player single round robin, followed by a final encounter between the top two in the standings table. Evgeny Tomashevsky scored five victories and two draws to get a remarkable first place in the all-play-all, and was followed a full point behind by favourites Ian Nepomniachtchi and Vladimir Kramnik — Kramnik moved on to the final match on tiebreaks.

One of the highlights during the round robin was Kramnik’s victory with black over ‘Nepo’:


White’s 14.g4 was a blunder due to the spectacular 14...fxg4 15.Ng5 Rxf2+ 16.Kxf2 Qxd2+ and Black has more than enough resources to create havoc on White’s camp with his queen, dark-squared bishop and g-pawn. This was the position on move 23:


23...g3 and White is doomed — his queen, rook and bishop were mere spectators from the queenside corner.

Final standings - Round robin

Rk Name Ti FED Rtg Pts TPR
1 Tomashevsky, Evgeny GM RUS 2706 6 2982
2 Kramnik, Vladimir GM RUS 2753 5 2824
3 Nepomniachtchi, Ian GM RUS 2784 5 2820
4 Gelfand, Boris GM ISR 2676 3.5 2677
5 Kobalia, Mikhail GM RUS 2614 3 2636
6 Motylev, Alexander GM RUS 2641 2.5 2580
7 Lautier, Joel GM FRA 2658 2 2522
8 Potkin, Vladimir GM RUS 2583 1 2381

All games - Round robin


Then came the final. Tomashevsky surprised his opponent by playing 1.e4, to which Kramnik responded with another surprise: the Rubinstein Variation of the French Defence. Tomashevsky tried to expand on the kingside, but Kramnik showed his prowess in strategic positions to grab the upper hand. Already in a superior position, the former world champion gave up his queen for material and positional compensation:


The engines think 22...Bf4+ is good here, but after 23.Kb1 Black should simply play 23...Qc5 keeping all the trumps in the position. Kramnik continued with 23...Bxd1 instead, and after 24.Rxc7 Bxc7 saw his opponent falter with 25.Qd7 instead of 25.Qc4+ gaining the bishop. 

A complex position appeared on the board, and Kramnik got the upper hand shortly after, with Tomashevsky unable to manoeuvre his queen in the best manner possible while down on the clock. The former world champion won the game in 38 moves and drew the second encounter to secure tournament victory.

Kramnik vs. Tomashevsky



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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