Piorun leads Polish Championship

by Julian Wnuck
5/16/2018 – In Warsaw, the Polish Championships have started with a pair of round-robin tournaments with ten participants, for men and women from May 12-21. The all-GM open tournament (which has only men) includes two players over 2700 Elo and an Elo average of 2630. After four rounds, defending champion Kacper Piorun (pictured) leads with 3½ / 4. In the Women's Championship, 2295-rated Anna Warakomska is currently in clear first. | Photo: mp2018.pzszach.pl

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Best of Poland in Warsaw

The Polish Championship and Polish Women's Championship are each a nine-round-robin tournament with ten participants, played in parallel. Once again, the Warsaw Stock Exchange hosts the events, which have the same sponsors as previous editions: LOTTO for the open and the contractor Budimex for the women. Games are played every day from May 12th to 20th. If necessary, rapid tiebreaks are possible on May 21st.

The first prize is 20,000 złoty (about 4,700 euros), with 13,000 złoty (about 3,000 euros) for second place, and 9,000 złoty (about 2,100 euros) for third, but players must finish in the top five spots to earn a prize. There are also awards per win scored for the remaining players of 500 złoty (116 euros). The prize fund for both tournaments together amounts to 118,000 złoty (about 28,000 euros) and, in a progressive move, both the open and women's tournaments receive equal funding.

All players

Two strong fields in Warsaw

Budimex Women

As in the previous year, the favourites in the women's tournament, all over 2400, are Monika Socko from Katowice with the Grandmaster title (Elo 2458), WGM Jolanta Zawadzka (Elo 2424) from Warsaw and IM Karina Szczepkowska (Elo 2404) from Rybnik. Other top players present are IM Iweta Rajlich (Elo 2389) from Warsaw, WGM Klaudia Kulon (Elo 2353) from Trzcianka and WGM Joanna Majdan (Elo 2369).

Socko

Top seed Monika Socko (right) is the defending champion | Photo: mp2018.pzszach.pl

After four rounds, Anna Warakomska is the surprise leader. She leapfrogged Szczepkowska, who started with three wins but lost to Rajlich in round four. Warakomska prevailed against Anna Kubicka in a sharp Sveshnikov Sicilian, after the latter sacrificed an exchange for an attack that never materialized, and ended up getting mated herself.

 

White to play and mate in two

Standings after four rounds

 

Games from rounds 1-4

 

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Lotto Polish Championship

The tournament breaks several records in Polish chess: No prior national championship had such a high Elo average (2630), nor included two players rated over 2700 at the same time, and this is also the first time that only grandmasters compete.

Defending champion Kacper Piorun (Elo 2633) is unlikely to win the tournament with the same ease with which he became Polish Rapid Champion earlier this year. With Radosław Wojtaszek (Elo 2750) and Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Elo 2724), two elite heavyweights now stand in his way.

Wojtaszek, who recently moved to Warsaw, is seeking his fourth Polish individual title in his new hometown and 20-year-old Duda, the youngest of the ten participants and one of the most promising talents in Polish chess, still lacks this title in his collection.

In addition to these three, Mateusz Bartel (Elo 2604), already a four-time title winner, Grzegorz Gajewski (Elo 2599), winner in 2015, and 55-year-old tournament senior Michał Krasenkow (Elo 2628) may also be counted among the extended favourites.

playing hall

Both men and women share the same playing hall | Photo: mp2018.pzszach.pl

After four rounds, Piorun has been the pacesetter with 3½ / 3. He played Wojtaszek two a draw in the first round but has since won three straight against Sadzikowski, Krasenkow and Bartel.

 

Bartel has been shuffling his pieces around, and now Piorun finally lashes out with 32.b4! Nd7 33.Nf3 — black would love to exchange pieces, but Piorun doesn't give him the chance — 33...Rde8 34.b5 and White has a winning attack.

Piorun's chances of defending his title appear to be quite good, as his nearest challenger Wojtaszek is a full point behind and Duda has yet to get anything going with four draws so far, including saving a losing position against Bartlomiej Socko (the husband of the Women's top seed).

Duda

Duda has yet to do much | Photo: mp2018.pzszach.pl

Standings after four rounds

 

Games from rounds 1-4

 

The live commentary of the games (in Polish) was placed in the knowledgeable hands of Grandmaster Bartlomiej Heberla, who was a participant last year. He has been joined by WGM Alina Kashlinskaya, the wife of the Polish number one GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek.

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Julian plays chess out of passion and deals with chess history.
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