Nutcracker tournament in Moscow: Veterans vs. Juniors

by André Schulz
3/7/2020 – At the traditional Nutcracker battle of generations tournament 2020 in Moscow, four veterans compete against four young chess players. After three rounds the "oldies" lead 13:11. Perhaps this is thanks to players like Alexei Shirov (pictured) and Boris Gelfand who form part of the senior elites — actually dubbed the Kings Team. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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Kings vs Princes

The Nutcracker tournament takes place at the Moscow Central Chess Club, where the four "Kings" challenge the upcoming hopeful "Princes" in a battle of generations. The tournament is played from of March 4th till the 12th over 12 rounds. After three rounds, the kings are leading.

Although Shirov, born in 1972 and Gelfand, born in 1968, might look back at their most successful years, their current Elo rating shows that they are still part of the world elite and can challenge anybody. Nonetheless, the young grandmaster Andrey Esipenko leads the individual standings together with Tomashevsky on 2½ out of 3. Esipenko drew against Shirov and won against Gelfand and Evgeny Najer, keeping the Princes team in the game.

The Kings line-up is:

  • Boris Gelfand (51) — Elo 2685, Vice World Champion of 2012
  • Alexey Shirov (47) — Elo 2664, FIDE Vice World Champion of 2000
  • Evgeny Najer (42) — Elo 2661
  • Evgeny Tomashevsky (32) — Elo 2701

The Princes line-up is:

  • Andrey Esipenko (17) — Elo 2672
  • Semyon Lomasov (18) — Elo 2533
  • Alexey Sarana (20) — Elo 2652
  • Daniil Yuffa (23) — Elo 2594

The tournament is played in the Scheveningen System, meaning that every player of one team plays against every player of the other team. A draw is worth 1 point, while a win grants 2 points.

Shirov, Esipenko and Tomashesky are the only three players who could win a game in the first three rounds. Shirov socred one win and two draws, while Esipenko and Tomashevsky both scored two wins and one draw.

Semyon Lomasov, with his French Defense, was taken down a peg by Alexey Shirov as shown below:


The diagram conveys the right impression that Black is seriously behind in development but conveys the wrong impression that Black's queen and rooks have never moved. However, Black's queen took an exhausting excursion earlier, and his king was already on d8 before returning to its starting square! The rest of the game was no fun for Black either.

Boris Gelfand misplayed the middlegame against Andrey Esipenko.


With 25...♞c4+ Black wins the queen but the price he paid for this was too high.


On Saturday the fourth round will have both teams' top players facing each other.

Live games and commentary

From 12 Noon UTC (13:00 CET / 7:00 AM EST).


Commentary by GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko

More information is available from the website of the Russian Chess Federation.

Translation from German and additional reporting: Arne Kaehler

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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