Looking back: at the Keres Memorial – ACP Open 2016

by Sagar Shah
1/24/2016 – Earlier this week we brought you a retrospective report on the rapid chess event held in Talinn, Estonia, in honour of the 100th anniversary of their greatest chess playing son, Paul Keres. Today in part two we bring you a short interview with ACP President Emil Sutovsky and more instructive games, with positions for you to solve. What a great way to improve your chess skills.

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A look back at the Keres Memorial – ACP Open 2016 (part two)

The Keres Memorial – ACP Open, held from the 7th-10th of January 2016, was won by Igor Kovalenko. We reported this on our newspage. However there were many interesting games and moments which led us to write this final report and also pay a tribute to the great Paul Keres, who would have completed 100 years on 7th January 2016, were he alive. Estonia has a banknote and coin to honour their famous son.

Paul Keres the strongest player to have never played for the World Championship title

The Keres Memorial – ACP Open 2016 was held from the 7th to 10th of January 2016 in the conference hall of the Park Inn by Radisson Merton Conference and Spa Hotel, Talinn. The tournament was mainly organized by ESA Kalev, a sportsclub which Paul Keres always represented, in collaboration with Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) as part of the ACP Tour 2016. It was an eleven round Swiss tournament with a time control of 15 minutes for the entire game, with an increment of ten seconds per move. There were in all prizes worth €15,000, which included special prizes of €5,000 only for ACP Premium members. The tournament attracted a total of 178 players from 21 countries, and 36 of them were grandmasters. Some big names like Peter Svidler and Boris Gelfand were seen in action at the event.

Read part one of our retrospective report on the Keres Memorial

Boris Gelfand finished third with 8.5/11, scoring fine wins over Romanov,
Vitiugov and Miton. Here is the position from his game against Kamil Miton:

Gelfand-Miton, Round 9

Black has just played his pawn to g6, attacking the knight on f5. There is a nice check on e7
and a juicy pawn to pick on d6. Quick: would you go for one of them or play something different?

Boris just played his pawn to h4 and Black discovered that the lady on g5 was trapped!

But Gelfand won’t really remember this tournament for his wins. It was his loss against FM Juri Krupenski in the second round that made the headlines on day one:

Krupenski-Gelfand, Round two

Boris has just moved his knight to h5. Why isn’t it such a good idea?
What will you play as White?

[Event "25th Keres Memorial - ACP Open"] [Site "Tallinn, Meriton Hotel"] [Date "2016.01.08"] [Round "2.3"] [White "Krupenski, Juri"] [Black "Gelfand, Boris"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E46"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:06:33"] [BlackClock "0:03:20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 O-O 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Bd6 7. Ng3 c6 8. Be2 Nbd7 9. O-O dxc4 10. Bxc4 e5 11. Ba2 Nb6 12. dxe5 Bxe5 13. e4 Qe7 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. exf5 Rad8 16. Qf3 Qc7 17. h3 Rd7 18. Bg5 h6 19. Bh4 Rd4 20. g4 Rfd8 21. Rfe1 Rd3 22. Qg2 R8d4 23. Re2 {[#] Black has a clear advantage at this point, but he now hits on the wrong idea.} Nh5 $2 {[%cal Gf6h5] Even though this is a bad move, the way that Juri Krupenski takes advantage of it is excellent.} 24. gxh5 $1 Rxh4 25. f6 $1 {This could have been the move overlooked by Boris. The mate on g7 can be averted only by Bxf6.} Bxf6 (25... g6 26. hxg6 $18) 26. Re8+ Kh7 {[#] So what's so bad for Black now?} 27. Qg6+ $3 {A bolt from the blue!} fxg6 28. Bg8+ Kh8 29. Bf7+ {And it's mate next move. A very pretty combination. } 1-0

The man who orchestrated this beautiful combination: Juri Krupenski [picture by Vladimir Barsky]

Surya Shekhar Ganguly from India finished fourth with 8.5/11

Of all the games that Ganguly played the most impressive one was surely his win over Pavel Tregubov. The game was filled with mind boggling complications and the fact that Surya could navigate them to perfection shows how strong he really is.

[Event "25th Keres Memorial - ACP Open"] [Site "Tallinn, Meriton Hotel"] [Date "2016.01.10"] [Round "9.5"] [White "Ganguly, Surya Shekhar"] [Black "Tregubov, Pavel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C18"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:00:24"] [BlackClock "0:00:19"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 {This is all standard stuff in the French Winawer. Now Surya goes for a line which is less popular than the main move 12.Qd3.} 12. h4 $5 b6 $5 {This is the ideal square for Black to develop his bishop in the Winawer. However, it takes an extra tempo as compared to Bd7. Is the extra tempo important or the better placement of the piece? Not so easy to understand!} 13. h5 Bb7 14. h6 {What happened to development of pieces and rules like that?!! Well all that can wait, White wants to get a new queen!} Rg6 $1 (14... O-O-O 15. Qxf7 {is not so great.}) 15. a4 {As Ganguly told me after the game, he had seen up to 21.e6! when playing this move 15.a4! All that I could do after hearing that was to bring back my jaw back to its place!} Nf5 16. g4 $1 (16. Qh8+ Kd7 17. Qxa8 {Doesn't work due to} Rxh6 $1 $17 {and now the queen on a8 hangs, and so does the rook on h1.}) 16... Rxg4 17. Bh3 (17. Qh8+ Kd7 18. Qxa8 Bxa8 19. h7 Nb4 {and the new queen cannot do anything against the black attack.} 20. h8=Q Nxc2+ 21. Kd1 Qc4 $19 { That's the punishment you get for not developing your pieces.}) 17... Rg6 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. Qh8+ Kd7 20. Qxa8 Rxh6 21. e6+ $1 {This move is what Surya had foreseen when he played the move 15.a4.} Rxe6 {Almost forced. The game is still not over because even though Black is a rook down he still has activity and the king on e1 is quite weak.} (21... fxe6 22. Rxh6 Bxa8 23. Rh7+ $18) ( 21... Kxe6 $2 22. Rxh6+ $18) (21... Ke7 22. Ba3+ $1 $18) 22. Qf8 (22. Qh8 Ba6 $19) 22... Nd4 (22... Ba6 23. Qxf7+ Ne7 24. Qxe6+ Kxe6 25. Nd4+ $18) 23. Rh7 $1 Kc6 (23... Rxe2+ {was the best move.} 24. Kd1 $1 {The white king is safe for the time being, and the black king is in trouble.} Qd8 $1 25. Rxf7+ (25. Qxf7+ Qe7 26. Qxe7+ Rxe7 27. Rxe7+ Kxe7 $14 {is slightly better for White but could end in a draw.}) 25... Re7 26. Rxe7+ Qxe7 27. Qxe7+ Kxe7 $14 {Also leads to the same position where White can try for a win. But I am not sure whether he will be successful.}) 24. Rh6 $1 {A cool move!} Qd7 25. Be3 $1 {Making use of the fact that the rook on e6 cannot really move at all.} Nxc2+ 26. Kf2 d4 ( 26... Nxe3 27. Rxe6+ Qxe6 28. Nd4+ $18) 27. Nxd4+ Nxd4 28. Rc1 Rxh6 29. Rxc3+ Kd5 30. Qxh6 Qxa4 31. Rd3 {A totally brilliant game by Ganguly who showed some amazing feel for the dynamics in the position in spite of this being a rapid game.} 1-0

Polish youngster Jan-Krzysztof Duda ended with 8.0/11, and won fifth place

Bulgarian grandmaster Kiril Georgiev finished sixth [picture by Vladimir Petrov]

Particularly inspiring was Kiril’s facebook post after the end of the tournament:

Eager to learn even at the age of fifty! Now that’s a true chess lover! Here’s the position with Berkes which Kiril was talking about. Test yourself whether you find the win:

Georgiev-Berkes, Round 8

The experienced grandmaster was unable to win this endgame with white.
Can you do better? It is White to move.

[Event "25th Keres Memorial - ACP Open"] [Site "Tallinn, Meriton Hotel"] [Date "2016.01.09"] [Round "8.6"] [White "Georgiev, Kiril"] [Black "Berkes, Ferenc"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A47"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/5p2/5Qp1/3qP3/6PK/8/5P2/8 w - - 0 75"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:36"] [BlackClock "0:03:30"] {We join the game where Kiril goes ahead and sacrifices his pawn on e6.} 75. e6 $5 Qxe6 $2 {This leads to a lost king and pawn ending.} (75... Qh1+ $1 { Would have ended in a draw, the point being} 76. Kg5 Qc1+ $1 77. f4 Qc5+ 78. f5 Qe3+ 79. Kh4 Qf2+ $11) (75... fxe6 $2 76. Qxg6+ Kf8 77. Qh6+ Ke8 78. Qh5+ $18) 76. Qxe6 fxe6 {[#] And now there is a forced win for White.} 77. Kg5 $1 Kf7 ( 77... Kg7 78. Kf4 $1 {Making sure to keep the f-pawn where it is so that it can be used to lose a move or even two when required.} (78. f4 $2 Kf7 $1 79. Kh6 Kf6 80. g5+ Kf5 81. Kg7 Kxf4 82. Kxg6 e5 {and the pawn race will end in a draw.}) 78... Kf6 79. g5+ Kf7 80. Ke5 Ke7 81. f4 Kf7 82. Kd6 $18) 78. Kf4 { So far so good.} (78. Kh6 {would also have won but in a different fashion.} Kf6 (78... e5 79. g5 e4 80. Kh7 $18) 79. f4 $1 Kf7 (79... e5 80. g5+ Kf5 81. fxe5 $18) 80. g5 $18) 78... Ke7 (78... Kf6 79. g5+ Kf7 80. Ke5 $18 {was easy.}) 79. Ke5 $2 {Allowing g5 was the big error by Georgiev.} (79. f3 $1 {This wins.} Kf6 (79... Kd6 $2 80. Kg5 $18) 80. g5+ Kf7 81. Ke5 Ke7 82. f4 $18) 79... g5 $1 { Now Black gets the half point.} 80. Kd4 Kd6 81. Ke4 Kd7 (81... Ke7 82. Ke5 $18 {is something to avoid.}) 82. Kd3 Kd6 83. Kd4 Kd7 84. Kc5 Kc7 85. Kc4 Kd6 86. Kd4 Kd7 87. Ke3 Kd6 88. Ke4 Kd7 89. Ke5 Ke7 90. Kd4 Kd6 91. Ke4 Kd7 92. Ke5 Ke7 93. f3 Kf7 94. Kd6 Kf6 95. Kd7 Kf7 96. Kd8 Kf8 97. Kd7 Kf7 98. Kd6 Kf6 99. Kd7 Kf7 {Did you see that the main reason why the position ended in a draw was because the pawns were fixed by g5. This meant that the f-pawn had only one reserve tempo as compared to two. Because of this White could make progress once, but in order to win he needed two reserve tempi! A very instructive endgame.} 1/2-1/2

The top three women’s prizes were won by Alexandra Kosteniuk, Pia Cramling and Padmini Rout. A special mention must be made of Kosteniuk, who scored 8.0/11 and finished tenth in such a strong field.

22-year-old Padmini Rout had a superb result when she beat
Pavel Eljanov in the eighth round [picture by Vladimir Barsky]

The India number three has sent us her game, which cannot be found anywhere else as it has not been published, and which we now present to you:

[Event "25th Keres Memorial -ACP Open"] [Site "Tallinn"] [Date "2016.01.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Padmini, Rout"] [Black "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B11"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2016.01.09"] [EventCountry "EST"] 1. e4 c6 {Pavel goes for his trusted Caro Kann Defence.} 2. Nf3 d5 3. Nc3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 Nf6 6. d3 e6 7. Bd2 Bb4 8. O-O-O d4 9. Nb1 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2 O-O {A position with opposite side castling makes the game very exciting.} 11. g4 c5 12. g5 Nfd7 13. h4 Nc6 14. Qg3 a5 {Both players rush to attack their opponent's kings. But now Padmini makes a highly unconventional decision.} 15. a4 $5 (15. h5 $1 {was indeed the right way to proceed and would have given White a strong attack.} a4 16. a3 b5 17. Bh3 b4 18. Rdg1 bxa3 19. bxa3 Qb6 20. g6 $18 {This illustrative line shows that it is White who reaches first at his opponent's doorsteps.}) 15... Qe7 16. f4 Nb6 17. b3 Nb4 18. Nc4 Na2+ 19. Kd2 $6 (19. Kb2 Nc3 20. Re1 Nxc4+ 21. dxc4 {and the king is surely safer on b2 than it would have been on d2.}) 19... Nxc4+ 20. dxc4 b5 $5 {Highly imaginative play by Eljanov, but maybe this wasn't required.} (20... Nc3 21. Re1 Qd6 $15 { looked like a better way for Black to continue.}) 21. cxb5 (21. axb5 a4 22. bxa4 Nc3 $17 {would have opened lines against the white king.}) 21... c4 $6 { When you have said A you must say B.} (21... Nc3 {was better.}) 22. Bxc4 Qb4+ 23. Ke2 $1 Nc3+ 24. Kf3 Nxd1 25. Rxd1 {The king is safe on f3 and White has two pawns for the exchange. This is a clear advantage for White.} Rac8 (25... Qc3+ 26. Bd3 $16) 26. Qf2 e5 (26... Rxc4 27. bxc4 Qxa4 28. Rxd4 $18 {is insufficient compensation for Black.}) 27. fxe5 Qe7 28. Rxd4 Qxe5 29. Rd5 Qb2 30. Kg2 {The position is stabilised and White has three pawns for an exchange. This is not something too difficult to convert for a player of Padmini's class. She keeps her nerve and makes it look easy.} Kh8 31. Rf5 f6 32. e5 Rfe8 33. exf6 gxf6 34. Rxf6 Rcd8 35. Rf7 Qc3 36. Bd3 {To beat a world class player like Eljanov, who has a classical rating of 2760, is a great feat no matter which format of the game we are talking about.} 1-0

Top final standings (after 11 rounds)

No. Sd Ti. Name Nat. Rtng Pts.
 TB1 
 TB2 
1 2 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2734 9.0
73.5
67.5
2 10 GM Howell David W L ENG 2646 8.5
73.5
67.5
3 3 GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2733 8.5
73.0
67.5
4 11 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2615 8.5
71.0
65.0
5 14 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof POL 2603 8.0
76.0
70.0
6 12 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2612 8.0
76.0
69.5
7 1 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2736 8.0
75.5
69.0
8 6 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2685 8.0
73.0
67.0
9 9 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2651 8.0
72.5
67.0
10 27 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra RUS 2514 8.0
71.0
65.5
11 20 GM Tregubov Pavel V. RUS 2566 8.0
71.0
65.0
12 16 GM Miton Kamil POL 2597 8.0
69.0
63.5
13 19 GM Neiksans Arturs LAT 2579 8.0
69.0
63.0
14 8 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2665 7.5
73.5
67.0
15 18 GM Mikhalevski Victor ISR 2590 7.5
73.0
67.0
16 5 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2686 7.5
73.0
66.5
17 35 GM Yevseev Denis RUS 2442 7.5
71.0
65.5
18 17 GM Jumabayev Rinat KAZ 2590 7.5
70.5
64.5
  26 GM Romanov Evgeny RUS 2529 7.5
70.5
64.5
20 4 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2688 7.5
69.5
63.5
21 13 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2604 7.5
68.5
62.5
22 21 GM Rakhmanov Aleksandr RUS 2564 7.5
67.0
61.5
23 7 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2683 7.5
64.5
59.0
24 38 GM Balashov Yuri S RUS 2423 7.0
72.0
66.5
25 22 GM Lintchevski Daniil RUS 2549 7.0
70.0
64.0
26 24 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2545 7.0
69.5
64.0
27 29 IM Sveshnikov Vladimir LAT 2467 7.0
68.0
62.5
28 44 IM Kashtanov Ruslan RUS 2379 7.0
67.5
62.5
  45   Putka Verners LAT 2366 7.0
67.5
62.5
30 28 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2484 7.0
67.0
61.5
31 32 GM Lanka Zigurds LAT 2456 7.0
65.5
60.5
32 34 GM Novik Maxim RUS 2454 7.0
65.0
61.0
33 15 GM Postny Evgeny ISR 2601 7.0
64.0
58.5
34 36 GM Cramling Pia SWE 2432 7.0
63.5
59.0
35 62   Laimins Lauris LAT 2247 7.0
63.5
58.5
36 57   Dubrovin Robert EST 2286 7.0
59.5
54.5
37 78   Nestor Kaarel EST 2181 7.0
56.5
53.5
38 31 GM Volodin Aleksandr EST 2457 6.5
71.5
66.5

Interview with ACP President Emil Sutovsky

After the tournament ended we contacted ACP President Emil Sutovsky and asked him a few questions about the role of ACP in this tournament and also in the future events of 2016.

Making a difference in the world of chess: Emil Sutovsky

Sagar Shah: How did the idea of ACP getting associated with the Keres Memorial come into being?

Emil Sutovsky: Of course, I knew that 2016 is the Keres jubilee year. Hence I had talks with the Estonian Chess Federation with regards to their plans, suggesting that the ACP help. Several formats were discussed, but finally we decided to have a big open event that would allow everyone to compete with the very best.

SS: What was the role that you and ACP played in this tournament?

ES: We contributed financially (donating €5,000 for ACP Premium Members taking part in the event), and also promoted the tournament – getting very strong players from many countries. About 25 ACP members had their accommodation covered, and that also helped to gather such a strong field. Of course, we also took care of the promotion in mass-media.

SS: What are the future plans of ACP for 2016? Is it going collaborate with many more tournaments in this year?

ES: As you probably know, the ACP General Assembly took place recently and the new ACP Board was elected. I think we have a very good team, and we have a lot of plans for this year. We intend to stage at least three more ACP events in 2016, and we will continue our wild card program, which includes cooperation with Wijk Aan Zee, Gibraltar, Poikovsky, Biel, and Qatar. Also, in co-operation with the ECU we are going to introduce a special prize fund for ACP Premium Members participating in the European Individual Championship 2016 (we had it already in the 2015 Championships). We have also modified the system of the ACP Tour, which will include more tournaments in 2016. We have about 150 ACP Premium Members today, and hopefully this number will increase, as we really try hard to make the professional chess world a better place! Finally, the latest good news about our veteran program in co-operation with FIDE: six distinguished chess veterans will get an award of US $5,000 each, like we did in 2014 and 2015.

Official websitepictures, unless otherwise noted, by Marek Kolk



Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. 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 of the ChessBase India website.
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