Loiseau wins the 6th Lucopen in Lille

by Sagar Shah
5/20/2015 – There were players from 15 countries in this event in Lille, France, but it was national players who had the last laugh! IM Quentin Loiseau, GM Tigran Gharamian and IM Adrien Demuth took gold, silver and bronze. And in an extraordinary report we have beautifully annotated games by all three. Consider this big pictorial report a very pleasant way to improve your chess understanding.

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Loiseau wins the 6th Lucopen in Lille

Report from France by Sagar Shah

In 1878, Charles Rameau, who was the president of Lille Corporation of horticulture, bequeathed 300,000 francs to the city of Lille in France on the condition that a building be designed and constructed to host exhibitions of flowers, fruit, art exhibitions and music festivals.

The Palais Rameau is classified as one of the historic monuments of France

On 4th of May 2015, when I arrived in Lille to play in the 6th Lucopen tournament, little did I know that it would take place inside a heritage structure. I must confess that there is something really wonderful about playing chess inside a building that is spacious and has a height of 25 metres. It gives a free hand to your imagination and creativity. Maybe that’s the reason why chess tournaments are increasingly being held in art galleries and museum.

The gigantic tournament hall

The sixth Lucopen International tournament was held from the 4th to 10th of May 2015. The tournament consisted of 150 players, including the participation of eleven grandmasters and nine International Masters. The top seed was the strong French GM Tigran Gharamian (2647). It was a nine-round Swiss event with a time control of one hour and 30 minutes, with 30 minutes added after 40 moves, and a 30 second increment from move one. The total prize fund was €10,000 with the first prize of €1500.

As the last round began on the 10th of May, and as many as 13 players had a chance of finishing first at the event. The following was the pairing of the final round:

Board  White
Black Pts
1 IM Adrien Demuth
GM Boris Chatalbashev 6.5
2 GM Tigran Gharamian
IM Kevin Terrieux 6
3 GM Andrey Zhigalko
GM Alexander Karpatchev 6
4 GM Igor Naumkin
GM Vladimir Burmakin 6
5 IM Pavel Martynov
IM Pierre Bailet 6
6 GM Marius Manolache
IM Quentin Loiseau 6
7 IM Sagar Shah
GM Nikita Maiorov 5.5

The top board was a pretty sedate affair as the two leaders Demuth and Chatalbashev made a quick draw to end up on seven points. This left the field all the other players on six to win their games and join them at the top. The last round was so bloody that no less than five games ended decisively from the next six boards.

Fighting last rounds are always a treat for spectators

Top seeded Tigran Gharmanian got the better of IM Kevin Terrieux after a marathon five hour struggle. Andrey Zhigalko was able to overcome Karpatchev while Burmakin got the better of his country mate Igor Naumkin. IM Pavel Martynov was lucky as in a technically lost position his opponent Pierre Bailet blundered an entire rook. IM Quentin Loiseau played a beautiful game to win against Marius Manolache, while yours truly (Sagar Shah) drew his game against Nikita Maiorov.

This meant that seven players tied for the first place with seven points. The unpredictable Buchholz would decide the champion of the event. In the end it was IM Quentin Loiseau (2415) who was the deserving winner of the sixth Lucopen tournament. GM Tigran Gharamian finished second and IM Adrien Demuth had to settle for the third spot.

Though players from 15 countries participated in this event, it was the Frenchmen who had
the last laugh! GM Tigran Gharamian (2nd), IM Quentin Loiseau (1st) and IM Adrien Demuth (3rd)

Final standings (after nine rounds)

Pl Ti. Nom Elo Pts Tr. Perf Bu.
1 m Loiseau Quentin 2415 7 45½ 2644 56
2 g Gharamian Tigran 2647 7 45 2653 56
3 g Demuth Adrien 2515 7 45 2602 54½
4 g Chatalbashev Boris 2541 7 45 2564 55½
5 g Zhigalko Andrey 2586 7 43 2577 52½
6 g Burmakin Vladimir 2585 7 42½ 2549 53
7 f Martynov Pavel 2376 7 40 2422 47½
8 m Sagar Shah 2436 45½ 2608 55½
9 m Le Quang Long 2405 41½ 2418 50
10 m Van Foreest Jorden 2519 40½ 2385 49½
11 m Dourerassou Jonathan 2414 40 2364 48
12 m Bailet Pierre 2519 6 45 2495 55½
13 g Maiorov Nikita 2563 6 43 2449 53
14 m Terrieux Kevin 2439 6 43 2412 52
15 g Karpatchev Aleksandr 2466 6 43 2411 52½
16 g Naumkin Igor 2445 6 43 2360 53½
17 m Shirazi Kamran 2385 6 42 2427 51
18 f Di Nicolantonio Lucas 2414 6 41½ 2401 51½
19 g Manolache Marius 2498 6 41½ 2378 49½
20   Midoux Sebastien 2315 6 40 2303 48
21   Guezennec Franck 2231 6 38½ 2195 47½
22   Van Foreest Lucas 2312 6 38 2289 46
23 g Strikovic Aleksa 2526 6 37½ 2329 46
24 f Bannink Bernard 2267 6 36½ 2201 44
25   Frederic Clement 2231 6 35½ 2122 43
26   Majhi Ankit 2178 6 32 2070 38

The 20-year-old Quentin Loiseau had the tournament of his life

Starting out as the fifteenth seed and coming from the French Junior Championships, where he performed badly, not much was expected of Quentin. But the French IM surpassed all expectations, scoring 7.0/9 and remaining unbeaten in the event. He scored wins over strong players like GM Marius Manolache, GM Igor Naumkin and IM Jorden van Foreest. With a performance of 2644 he not only made his maiden GM norm but also gained 26 Elo points from tournament. Maybe the most defining moment of the event came for Quentin in the last round, when a draw was sufficient for him to get his GM norm but a win would have helped him to fight for the top spot. He was up against the Romanian GM Marius Manolache and this is what he has to say about the crucial encounter in his annotations below:

At the begining of the game I planned to offer a draw on move 20 (the limit fixed by the tournament rules), whatever happened, in order to secure my GM norm if he accepted. But here I changed my mind because the two leaders had drawn their game on board one. I had about 20 minutes against five and, last but not least, my position was absolutely great, without any risk to play on.

Of course, this was a courageous decision from the youngster and he was amply rewarded for this bravery. The crucial last round battle has been annotated in great depth by Loiseau, who shares with our readers not only some excellent analysis, but also tells us what was going on in his head during the game.

[Event "Lucopen 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.10"] [Round "9.6"] [White "Manolache, Marius"] [Black "Loiseau, Quentin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D27"] [WhiteElo "2498"] [BlackElo "2415"] [Annotator "Quentin Loiseau"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [SourceDate "2005.11.12"] {This game took place during the last round of the 6th Lucopen. After bad results during the French Youth Chess Championship (U20) the previous week, I played very well in this tournament. At this point I was third, half a point behind the two leading players but with a very good tie-break. On the one hand, a draw would have secured my first GM norm but a win was also very interesting in order to finish on a very good place. It's a special game for me, as it concluded the best tournament I ever played with a clean win with the black pieces against a grandmaster.} 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 dxc4 {The Vienna System. An interesting opening in order to play actively without big strategical drawbacks.} 5. e3 (5. e4 {is the critical line}) 5... a6 6. a4 c5 7. Bxc4 Nc6 8. O-O {Here at first sight it seems that Black has completely missplayed his opening as he's less developed, without a single pawn on the central squares. But with the e3 pawn it is not easy to find a decent immediate plan for White.} Be7 {All this is very well known and I had this exactly same position in round five against the young Dutch player Jorden Van Foreest. Nevertheless, I was quite optimistic that my opponent hadn't prepared this line, as he uses to play more or less always the same moves in the opening } 9. b3 $6 {A little surprise, even if I had prepared it very quickly the day before the game. I'm quite skeptical about the evaluation of this move and I think that Black has already equalized} (9. Qe2 {Is more popular in order to play Rd1}) 9... cxd4 10. Nxd4 (10. exd4 {happened in Manolache,M (2527) -Thesing,M (2425) Baia Sprie 2010. I think that in this kind of Isolated Queen Pawn, White's black-squared bishop isn't happy on the b2 square.}) 10... Bd7 { Black is developing his pieces quite easily and the weakness of the b4 square secures him a good game for the moment.} ({The computer likes picking up the bishop pair:} 10... Na5 {with the idea Nxc4 and after} 11. Be2 (11. Qe2 Nxc4 12. bxc4 Qa5) 11... e5 12. Nf3 Be6 {with a nice position}) (10... Nxd4 {forces an IQP, but with better conditions for White than after 10.exd4. For instance : } 11. exd4 O-O 12. Bb2 Qc7 13. d5 $13) 11. Re1 $6 {I don't really see the point behind this move. I guess that my opponent was trying to unbalance the position by preparing e3-e4, but he is far from achieving his goal.} (11. Bb2 { was far more logical, followed by moves like Nf3, Qe2, Rac1 and Rfd1 with approximative equality.}) 11... O-O {[%csl Rb4][%cal Gd8a5,Gf8d8,Ga8c8]} 12. Bb2 Qa5 13. Na2 $6 {Now this is becoming more serious. By trying to play imaginative chess my opponent is missing some of the the most important chess principles, such as development and centralization.} (13. Nf3 {remains valid.}) 13... Rfd8 14. Qe2 Nxd4 ({It was tempting to try to win the Bc4 with} 14... Ne5 {but} 15. b4 $1 {leaves the black queen in a complicated position. However Black his still completely OK.}) 15. Bxd4 Bc6 $15 {Here I thought I had reached a comfortable position. I didn't have the slightest weakness and my pieces were almost all in the game.} 16. Rac1 Rd7 17. Red1 (17. b4 Qg5 (17... Qxa4 18. Rb1 Bb5) 18. f4 Qh4 19. b5 axb5 20. Bxb5 $11) 17... Rad8 18. h4 $2 { White continues to weaken the important squares and pawn. Here, in order to prevent Qg5 my opponent left his h-pawn almost "en prise" to the bishop on e7, and reduced the defense of his king.} ({I was not sure about what to do on} 18. b4 {and wanted to play something like} Qg5 (18... Qxa4 $1 {and there should not have any danger for Black.}) 19. f4 Qh6 (19... Qh4 20. b5 axb5 21. Bxb5 Bxb5 22. axb5 Nd5 23. g3 Qh3 24. Nc3 $11 {is a little bit annoying.}) 20. b5 axb5 21. Bxb5 Bxb5 22. axb5 Nd5 $15) (18. f4 $1 {with the same idea of preventing Qg5 was far better. Here the computer gives a nice move:} Nd5 $1 { [%cal Gd5f4] and White hasn't a single really good choice against Nxf4} 19. Bxd5 {should be the best, but after} (19. g3 {opens the white squares around the king.} Nf6 $17) (19. Rf1 {allows a beautiful sequence:} Nxe3 $1 20. b4 $1 ( 20. Bxe3 $2 Rd2 $19) 20... Rxd4 $3 21. bxa5 Rd2 22. Rf2 Rxe2 23. Bxe2 Rd4 $17 { with more than sufficient compensation.}) 19... Bxd5 $17 {Black is simply doing great}) 18... Qf5 19. Nc3 Ng4 20. f3 $6 (20. Bd3 $1 {The best move to stay alive.} Qh5 21. f3 $1 {A move I overlooked during the game. Hopefully it is not a disaster for Black.} (21. g3 {allows Black to enter in a much favorable endgame:} e5 (21... g5 $5 $40 {Keeping the tension and the attack on the white king.}) 22. Bb6 Bxh4 23. gxh4 Qxh4 24. f3 Qg3+ 25. Qg2 Qxg2+ 26. Kxg2 Rxd3 27. Bxd8 Nxe3+ 28. Kg1 Nxd1 29. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 30. Nxd1 Bxf3 $17 {or -+}) 21... Ne5 22. Be4 Bxh4 23. g4 $5 {in order to complicate the game with the unstable Ne5} Qg5 24. Kf1 f5 $1 25. Bxe5 fxe4 $17) 20... Ne5 $19 {At the begining of the game I planned to offer a draw on move 20 (the limit fixed by the tournament rules), whatever happened, in order to secure my GM norm if he accepted. But here I changed my mind because the two leaders had drawn their game on board one. I had about 20 minutes against five and, last but not least, my position was absolutely great, without any risk to play on. Black will win the bishop pair and play against numerous weaknesses.} 21. Bxe5 ({I thought my opponent was planning to play} 21. e4 {where I had the nice tactical blow} Nxf3+ $1 22. gxf3 (22. Qxf3 Qxf3 23. gxf3 Rxd4 $19) 22... Qg6+ $19 {winning back the Bd4}) 21... Qxe5 22. Rxd7 Rxd7 23. Nd1 (23. Bd3 {[%cal Gd3e4] should provide the greatest resistance.}) 23... h5 24. Nf2 Bc5 25. Re1 Qg3 26. Bd3 Bd6 27. Be4 Bxe4 28. Nxe4 $6 {A last mistake which leaves the Romanian grandmaster in a hopeless position.} (28. fxe4 {would have continued the fight, as there's no immediate mate and White will follow with Rd1. Nevertheless, Black's advantage is huge and I would have collected the h4 pawn before continuing the game and putting pressure on the black squares and the double pawns on the e-file.}) 28... Qh2+ 29. Kf1 Bb4 $1 {A simple move to win the exchange} 30. Nf2 (30. Rd1 Qh1+ 31. Kf2 Rxd1 {wins on the spot}) 30... Bxe1 ({I almost played the line} 30... Rd2 31. Qc4 Rxf2+ {in order to end the game with Qxh4+ and Qxe1, before I realized that} 32. Kxf2 Qxh4+ (32... Bxe1+ 33. Kxe1 Qg1+ {would have still be possible}) 33. Qxh4 {was problematic!}) 31. Qxe1 Qxh4 {The game is over, White continued some moves, as we were both in time trouble:} 32. Qc3 Qd8 33. f4 Qc7 34. Qb4 Qc2 35. Qe1 Qxb3 36. a5 Qc2 37. Kg1 Rd2 {A very nice game to conclude a beautiful tournament. I was terribly lucky to win it since in the end I finished only half a point ahead in the first tie-break than the three players behind me. It was really enjoyable too that my roomate, Adrien Demuth, finished on a good place (third), but I was quite frustrated for him as he had been leading during the entire tournament.} 0-1

The local boy and tournament favourite, Tigran Gharamian

Top seeded, Tigran Gharamian, was definitely the strongest player in the event. He outrated the second seed by a hefty 60 points margin. Orginially from Armenia, Gharamian has been living in Lille for more than ten years now. He was the local favourite and his games would attract a lot of spectators. He didn’t have the smoothest of tournaments as he drew four games against much lower rated opponents. But when his preparations fell in place, he was simply unstoppable. Take for example his game against IM Le Quang Long, where the French GM showed the importance of staying updated with the latest games at the highest level. He used a fresh idea that had been tried by Leko in the World Team Championships in April 2015 against Ding Liren. Here is the game with excellent annotations by the 2647 player himself.

[Event "Lucopen 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.06"] [Round "4"] [White "Gharamian, Tigran"] [Black "Le Quang, Long"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2647"] [BlackElo "2405"] [Annotator "Gharamian,Tigran"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Ne7 6. O-O c5 {One of the topical lines in Caro Kann at the moment.} 7. c4 Nbc6 8. Na3 {White hopes to get a knight on d6 so he chooses this square from which he could go to c4 or to b5.} dxc4 {[%cal Ge7d5] Black's main idea to put a knight on d5 and finish the developement. After that he would have a very promising position with no obvious weaknesses.} (8... a6 {has been played as well, controlling the important b5 square.}) (8... cxd4 $2 9. Nb5 {[%cal Gb5d6] forces Black to abandon the idea of putting the knight on d5, which is huge concession, of course.}) 9. Nxc4 Nd5 {The critical position for this line.} 10. a3 $5 {This semi waiting move recently was introduced in the World Team Championship in Armenia by Peter Leko, posing problems for this line's specialist Ding Liren. Peter managed to get an interesting position, but the game ended in a draw.} ( 10. Bg5 {This is the main move.} Qd7 11. Rc1 {with complex play.}) 10... h6 11. Be3 {[%cal Gd4c5] A very strange move indeed, but it's quite normal for this line. White's dark squared bishop could have less value than the powerful knight on d5.} Nxe3 (11... cxd4 {is not a good idea for Black.} 12. Nxd4 { [%cal Gd1a4,Ga4e8,Gd4f5] and it's not easy to cope with the threats of Nxf5 and using the a4-e8 diagonal.}) 12. fxe3 Be7 $2 {Strangely enough after this normal looking developing move Black comes under hugh pressure and is struggling to stay in the game.} (12... a6 {was the Ding's choice.} 13. Rc1 b5 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. exd6 Qxd6 16. Rxc5 O-O 17. Bd3 Ne7 18. b4 a5 19. Bxb5 axb4 20. axb4 Ra2 21. Bc4 Rb2 22. Qa4 Qb8 23. b5 Qa8 24. Qa1 Rc2 25. Rc1 Be4 26. Ne1 Qxa1 27. Rxa1 Rb2 28. Ra3 Nf5 29. Rb3 Rxb3 30. Bxb3 Rb8 31. Bc2 {1/2-1/2 (31) Leko,P (2713)-Ding Liren (2755) Tsaghkadzor ARM 2015}) 13. dxc5 {Looks very ugly, but it's a concrete line.} Bxc5 {It seems that Black has a very nice postion. He has the bishop pair and White's central pawns are weak. But the timing is against him.} (13... O-O 14. Nd6 {No compensation for the pawn at all.}) 14. b4 {That's the point of the a3 move.} Qxd1 15. Raxd1 {The other rook is well placed in case of Nd6 and Nf5.} Be7 (15... Bb6 16. Nh4 {I was considering this move during the game. I think it gives a nice advantage as well.} (16. b5 $5 Nd8 {Very passive, but there isn't much of a choice.} (16... Na5 17. Nd6+ Ke7 18. Nh4 {[%csl Rf7][%cal Gf1f7]} Bxe3+ 19. Kh1) 17. Nd6+ Ke7 18. Nd4 {Horrible coordination of black pieces.}) 16... Bc7 17. Nxf5 exf5 18. Rxf5 g6 19. Rff1 $1 (19. Rxf7 $2 Kxf7 20. Rd7+ Kg8 $1 (20... Ke6 $2 21. Bg4# { Beautiful mate.}) 21. Rxc7 Rh7 $1) 19... O-O 20. Rd7 $16) 16. b5 Nb8 17. Nd6+ { I think this is better than Nd4} (17. Nd4 {I was tempted to play this forcing line, but I was somehow afraid that the opposite colored bishops could complicate the game.} Be4 18. Nd2 Bd5 (18... Bg6 19. Bf3 {[%cal Gf3a8]}) 19. e4 {Almost trapping the bishop!} Bc5 $1 20. exd5 Bxd4+ 21. Kh1 {White has hugh lead in developement.} exd5 22. Bf3 Nd7 23. Bxd5 O-O-O {White has good wining chances, but the game continues.}) 17... Bxd6 18. exd6 {White gets a very strong passed pawn in the centre.} Nd7 19. Rc1 {[%cal Gc1c7]} O-O 20. Rc7 Nf6 21. Ne5 $1 {It seems that this is the most annoying move for Black. And it could just be the winning one.} (21. Rxb7 {Obviously this was the move I was going to play, but I started to have some doubts about the following line:} Be4 22. Rc7 Nd5 23. Rc4 f5) 21... Ne8 {Looks like a good idea trying to play f6 and repel the knight from e5. But unfortunately for black there's a tactical refutation.} (21... Ne4 22. d7 $18) (21... Be4 22. Rxf6 $1 {I like this simplification} gxf6 23. Nd7 Kg7 24. Nxf8 Rxf8 25. d7 Rd8 26. Bf3 Bxf3 27. gxf3 {And White wins both pawns in queenside.}) (21... Nd5 22. Rxb7 Nxe3 23. Bf3 { I was going to play this move, but my opponent said that there was no need to sacrifice and he was right.} (23. Rc1 {Easier}) 23... Nxf1 (23... Nxg2 24. Kxg2 ) 24. Kxf1 Rab8 25. d7 Rxb7 26. Bxb7 Rd8 27. Bc8 Kf8 28. Nc6 Bd3+ 29. Kf2 Rxd7 30. Bxd7 Bxb5 31. Ke3 {Should be technically won for White.}) 22. Rd7 f6 { Diagram [#]} 23. Rxf5 $1 fxe5 (23... exf5 24. Ng6 $1 {[%cal Ge2c4] The point! Black's losing lots of material here.} (24. Bc4+ $2 Kh7) 24... Rc8 25. Ne7+) 24. Bc4 $1 {The clearest way} (24. Rxe5 $2 Rf7 {eases the defence.}) 24... Nf6 {I was going to play this move but my opponent said that there was no need to sacrifice and he was right.} (24... Rxf5 25. Bxe6+ Kf8 26. Bxf5) 25. Rxb7 (25. Bxe6+ Kh8 26. Rxb7 Rfe8 27. Rxe5 Ng4 28. d7 $18) 25... Kh8 26. Rxe5 Rac8 27. Rc7 $1 (27. Rc7 Rxc7 28. dxc7 Rc8 29. Rc5 Ne8 30. Bxe6 Rxc7 31. Rxc7 Nxc7 32. Bc4 $18) 1-0


The man who nearly ran away with the event: Adrian Demuth

Adrien Demuth, who recently received his GM title at the FIDE congress held in Chengdu, led the tournament from start to end. He raced to a lead of 5.0/5 and in the end drew his remaining four games. A victory in any of the last four rounds would have sealed the tournament in his favour. However, in the end he had to settle for the third spot. When we asked for him to send his favourite game to us he replied, “I decided to send you my fourth round game against Marius Manolache, a turning point in my tournament. It’s clearly not my best, but it’s how I fight when my position is a mess!”

[Event "Lucopen"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.05.06"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Demuth, Adrien"] [Black "Manolache, Marius"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E70"] [WhiteElo "2515"] [BlackElo "2498"] [Annotator "Adrien Demuth"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2011.06.27"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Bd3 e6 {Quite a modern way to play the Benoni. It was a surprise for me because my opponent used to play the King's Indian. I think it was regularly introduced at the highest level by Baadur Jobava.} 7. h3 {I am no longer sure this is a good move (if exd5 follows).} exd5 8. exd5 {On principle I try to achieve something more than just the Classical set-up of the Benoni.} Re8+ 9. Be3 {There are plenty of other sets-up against this modern Benoni, but I thought it was the simplest for the second game of the day.} Nh5 $5 (9... Bh6 {is dangerous for Black.} 10. Nf3 $1 Bxe3 11. fxe3 Rxe3+ 12. Kf2 Re8 (12... Qe7 $2 13. Qd2 Rxf3+ 14. Kxf3 $16 ) 13. Qd2 d6 14. Rhe1 {with easy play for White.}) (9... d6 10. Nf3 {is known as being fine for White.}) 10. Nge2 {The only way to prevent Nf4.} d6 11. g4 { I wanted to punish this quick Nh5. But now I will face difficult times with my king.} (11. O-O Nd7 12. Nf4 {is perhaps a necessity.} (12. b3 Ne5 13. Bc2 $2 Bxh3 $19 {is just crushing}) 12... Nxf4 13. Bxf4 Ne5 14. Be2 $11) 11... Nf6 12. Qd2 (12. Ng3 $1 Bh6 (12... Nbd7 $6 13. g5 $14) 13. Qd2 Bxe3 14. fxe3 Nbd7 { looked unclear to me, even if I retained the activity. It should be mentioned that I would be much better with the knight on f3 in such a position.}) 12... Nbd7 13. f4 {I have to prevent Ne5. I felt that something was wrong in my position, because of some b5. But on the other hand, if I find time to continue 0-0, Ng3, Rae1, I am almost winning.} a6 $5 (13... b5 $1 {was strong straight away} 14. Nxb5 Nb6 $1 15. Nbc3 Qe7 16. Bf2 Ba6 17. b3 Nfxd5 $1 $17 18. cxd5 $4 Bxd3 19. Qxd3 Bxc3+ $19) 14. a4 b5 $5 15. axb5 Nb6 16. bxa6 $6 (16. O-O $1 axb5 17. Rxa8 Nxa8 18. Nxb5 Ne4 19. Bxe4 Rxe4 {I thought it was difficult for me, but in fact I am still fine here.} 20. Qd3 $14 Qe7 $2 21. Rf3 $16) 16... Qe7 $1 {I missed this move order} (16... Bxa6 17. b3 Qe7 18. Kf2 $1 {and there is no more Bxg4.}) 17. Bf2 (17. Kf2 $6 Bxg4 $17) 17... Bxa6 18. Rxa6 { Sadly the lesser evil.} (18. b3 $2 Nfxd5 $1 $17 19. cxd5 $4 Bxd3 20. Rxa8 Bxc3 $19) 18... Rxa6 19. O-O Na4 $1 20. Nb5 {Thankfully zeitnot was coming up, which is good for me in order to complicate matters.} (20. Nxa4 Rxa4 21. Nc3 Rb4 $17 {is too easy to play for him}) 20... Ne4 $1 21. Bxe4 Qxe4 22. Ned4 $5 { My opportunity! This surprising move can be objectively refuted, but in practice it's hard to face, especially with less time!} (22. Ng3 {wins back the exchange, but there are too many weaknesses in my position.} Qxc4 23. Nc7 Raa8 $19 {b2 and d5 are just a disaster.}) 22... cxd4 $2 {surprisingly it's now equal, according to the computer!} (22... Bxd4 $1 {was the way to win, but it's not obvious.} 23. Nxd4 Rb8 $1 24. Re1 Rxb2 $1 $19 {and he keeps an extra exchange.}) 23. Re1 Nc5 $5 (23... Qxe1+ 24. Bxe1 Nxb2 25. Nc7 Nxc4 26. Qc1 Rxe1+ 27. Qxe1 Ra5 28. Qe8+ Bf8 29. Qe4 $11) 24. Rxe4 Nxe4 25. Qe1 $4 {Giving an extra tempo to the d-pawn was disastrous.} (25. Qd1 $1 Nxf2 26. Kxf2 Re4 $13 ) 25... d3 $1 26. Nc7 d2 27. Qd1 Nxf2 $4 (27... Rc8 $1 {may be the easiest way to win.} 28. Nxa6 Rxc4 29. Be3 Bd4 $19) (27... Ra2 $1 {given by Gharamian during the post-mortem, is also strong enough to win} 28. Nxe8 Bxb2 29. Be3 Ra1 30. Qxa1 Bxa1 31. Bxd2 Nxd2 32. Nxd6 Bd4+ 33. Kg2 Kf8 $19 {and my king can't join the battle.}) 28. Kxf2 Bd4+ $1 29. Kg2 $8 Ra1 $8 {The only resource, otherwise Black is just lost.} (29... Re1 $4 30. Qxd2 Rg1+ 31. Kh2 $18) 30. Qxd2 {My king is not entirely safe, but I now have some kind of a material advantage.} (30. Qxa1 $4 Re1 31. Qa8+ Kg7 32. Ne8+ Rxe8 33. Qxe8 d1=Q $19) 30... Re4 $6 (30... Rg1+ $1 31. Kh2 Re4 32. Nb5 Bb6 33. Nxd6 Ree1 $13 {would have been pretty unclear in zeitnot.}) 31. Nb5 $8 {and here my opponent forgot the clock and lost on time! A dramatic end of this game!} (31. Nb5 Bb6 $8 ( 31... Rg1+ $6 32. Kf3 $1 (32. Kh2 $2 Be3 33. Qd3 Re1 $17) 32... Re3+ 33. Qxe3 Bxe3 34. Kxe3 $16 {d6 is falling, and I am almost winning in that endgame.}) 32. Nxd6 Rg1+ 33. Kf3 Ree1 34. Ne4 Rgf1+ 35. Kg2 Rg1+ 36. Kf3 $11 {Both camps have nothing more than the perpetual.}) 1-0

It was highly creditable that GM Boris Chatalbashev of Bulgaria finished fourth,
finished fourth in spite of losing the third round against IM Le Quang Long

Fifth: Andrey Zhigalko (2586) of Belarus. He is the elder brother of GM Sergey Zhigalko (2654).
With an average rating of 2620 between them they might well be the strongest siblings in the world.

Sixth: the experienced Vladimir Burmakin from Russia

Seventh: FM Pavel Martynov of Russia

Eighth: The author of this report had a great tournament and made his second GM norm

For me this event turned out to be a very fruitful one, as I scored 6.5/9, remaining unbeaten. Not only that, I was lucky enough to play all the top four seeds of the tournament, Gharamian, Zhigalko, Burmakin and Maiorov, and score +1 against them. In Part II of the article, I share with you one of my favourite games from the event, as well as few of the secrets that helped me achieve a 2600+ rating performance.


You can use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server Playchess.com.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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