Rilton Cup: Can Tiger catch Tamir?

by Macauley Peterson
1/4/2019 – Tamir Nabaty scored a key victory in Round 8 in Stockholm and is the sole leader heading into the final round on Saturday. On his heels is Swedish GM Tiger Hillarp Persson, the only member of the chasing pack to win today — he beat GM Maxime Lagarde in a sharp Sicilian with a scintillating finish you won't want to miss! | Photos: Lars OA Hedlund

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Round 8

Top seed GM Tamir Nabaty battled second seed GM Mikhail Kobalia in an epic game that was among the last to finish. Nabaty clung to an advantage while playing only on the 30-second increment, and passed up several opportunities to repeat moves while searching for a breakthrough. Finally on move 76 Kobalia cracked:


Play through the moves on the live diagram

Kobalia's position is difficult, but he had been keeping it together for the past 40 moves of manoeuvring with White unable to make headway. At last the Russian tripped up with 76...Qb8? allowing 77.Rg5! and suddenly Kobalia had no way to meet the threat of Bxh5. He tried 77...Qf4 78.Qxf4 Rxf4 when now 79.Bxh5 gives Black a chance to play b3! But Nabaty was winning simply after 79.Rc5 Rf8 80.c7 Rc8 81.Bb7 and Kobalia resigned.

The only player within a half point of Nabaty is popular Swedish GM Tiger Hillarp Persson who upset GM Maxime Lagarde with the black pieces. Tiger went for a Sicilian Paulsen, but then launched a surprising kingside attack echoing a game from his compatriot Evgenij Agrest from the 31st Rilton Cup in 2002 (replayable in the game viewer below) with 11...h5:


The pawn soon reached h3 softening up the white king position. Tiger then ripped apart the centre and ended up with a crushing mating attack that forced resignation shortly after the time control was reached at move 40.


Click or tap on Handke vs Agrest to switch games

Tiger Hillarp Persson

Tiger can be very satisfied with this win | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Top results of Round 8

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Nabaty Tamir 6 1 - 0 Kobalia Mikhail
Lagarde Maxime 0 - 1 Hillarp Persson Tiger
Karthikeyan Murali ½ - ½ Valsecchi Alessio
Gopal G.N. ½ - ½ Liang Awonder
Lalith Babu M R 5 1 - 0 5 Donchenko Alexander
Blomqvist Erik 5 0 - 1 5 Gajewski Grzegorz
Santos Latasa Jaime 5 1 - 0 5 Rakesh Kumar Jena
Salomon Johan 5 0 - 1 5 Volkov Sergey
Moroni Luca Jr 5 ½ - ½ 5 Yeoh Li Tian
Debashis Das 5 0 - 1 5 Urkedal Frode Olav Olsen

Standings after Round 8 (top 10)


The Rilton Cup, named after the patron Dr Tore Rilton, whose estate funds the tournament, has been held in Stockholm since 1971/72. The organisers are looking at a new record number of participants this year; nearly 400 players have registered for one of the three Opens. The top tournament, the Rilton Cup, is attended by 160 players, including 31 grandmasters. Behind the Swedes (28 players) once again the adventurous Indians are the largest contingent with 25 participants.

This year for the first time, the venue hotel is located in the centre of Stockholm at the Scandic Continental, offering a great view of the Swedish capital and the harbour from its rooftop terrace. 

Hotel view on the city

The tournament's namesake is the doctor, chess fan and patron Dr Tore Rilten, who provided the Stockholm Chess Federation a generous donation to organize a strong chess tournament back in 1971, and it has been held annually ever since. When Dr Rilton died in 1983, he bequeathed to the chess federation his estate, from which a fund for the financing of further chess tournaments was formed.

The Israeli Tamir Nabaty started the nine-round Swiss open with 3 out of 3, in the current edition of the tournament which started on December 27th and ends on Saturday, defeating the Swedish GM Tiger Hillarp Persson in the third round. In rounds four and five he made his only draws so far against Gopal and Heberla but then won twice more in the next two rounds. Yesterday he won with the black pieces against Anand's second Grzegorz Gajewski and took the sole lead with 6 points. 


You can practice finishing off Black's attack yourself on the diagram above!

Black demonstrated his superior position with 24...Rxe3! White's position is collapsing. Gajewski's 25.Ng1 was met by Bxg3! with a crushing attack.

Behind the Israeli there was a chasing group of seven players, each having 5½ points. The group is led by Frenchman Maxime Lagarde and includes Awonder Liang, one of the young USA talents. Alexander Donchenko, best German GM in the field and number four in the starting rank list, is currently in 13th place with 5 points.

Commentary webcast of Round 8

Commentary by IM Jonathan Westerberg & WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni

All available games


Andre Schulz contributed to this story.


Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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