Radjabov wins ACP World Rapid Cup in Odessa

by ChessBase
1/8/2008 – Without doubt the knockout rapid chess format in this ACP tournament brought some heart-stopping action. In the end it was GM Teimour Radjabov, 20 years old and from Baku, Azerbaijan, who took the cup, beating Alexander Grischuk in the final. Meanwhile the Chairman of the sponsoring Pivdenny Bank was elected new President of the ACP. Big illustrated report by Misha Savinov.

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ACP World Rapid Cup in Odessa

Report by Misha Savinov

The 2nd ACP World Rapid Cup sponsored by Pivdenny Bank has come to an end. We congratulate its winner Teimour Radjabov! Alexander Grischuk, who earned the second place, also deserves the highest praise.

All results

Round 1 – Friday, 4th January 2008

Savchenko, Boris RUS 2589 Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2720 0.0-2.0
Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2735 Drozdovskij, Yuri UKR 2574 1.5-0.5
Eljanov, Pavel UKR 2692 Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 2751 0.5-1.5
Shirov, Alexei ESP 2755 Inarkiev, Ernesto RUS 2681 0.5-1.5

Round 1 – Saturday, 5th January 2008

Shabalov, Alexander USA 2622 Svidler, Peter RUS 2763 0.0-2.0
Najer, Evgeniy RUS 2634 Gelfand, Boris ISR 2737 0.5-1.5
Karpov, Anatoly RUS 2655 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2711 1.5-2.5
Polgar, Judit HUN 2707 Karjakin, Sergey UKR 2732 0.0-2.0

Quarterfinal – Sunday, 6th January 2008

Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2720 Inarkiev, Ernesto RUS 2681 1.5-0.5
Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2735 Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 2751 3.0-2.0
Svidler, Peter RUS 2763 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2711 0.5-1.5
Karjakin, Sergey UKR 2732 Gelfand, Boris ISR 2737 3.0-1.0

Semifinal – Monday, 7th January 2008

Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2735 Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2720 2.0-0.0
Karjakin, Sergey UKR 2732 Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2711 2.0-3.0

Final – Monday, 7th January 2008

Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2711 Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2735 1.5-2.5


Before the quarterfinal day we had a brief discussion at the press center on who could be considered the favorite. This is obviously a matter of opinion, as all the remaining players had the skill and had experienced the luck required to succeed. Most local observers were inclined towards Ivanchuk, while I voted for the winner of Grischuk-Svidler match. This is how narrow our thinking is – I guess people from Baku would elect Radjabov, and Israelis prefer Gelfand.

Anyway, after the quarterfinals the hopes of Ukrainians were pinned on the youngest participant of this World Cup, Sergey Karjakin. The promising 17-year-old eliminated Gelfand, the oldest player of those survived the first couple of days. In blitz, naturally – for longer games the Petroff is really tough to beat.

Radjabov vs Ivanchuk in the Quarterfinals

Ivanchuk, the best-loved player of the Odessa public (okay, maybe the second – after Karpov) was knocked out by Radjabov. Teimour is as anxious as ever; he looks very motivated, and it must be really uncomfortable to sit in front of his drilling eyes. He is definitely a tough cookie, and Ivanchuk, dressed in Real Madrid uniform, could sense it today. The public saw everything: long-range fights in the first two games; blunder exchange in the blitz tie-break; wild server-style piece-dropping in the Armageddon, which ended in Ivanchuk losing on time after regaining 57 seconds of the initial minute handicap...

Vassily Ivanchuk discussing his game with some fairly young chess fans

To Vassily’s credit, he arrived at the press-conference on time, and then didn’t leave the press area. He was giving autographs, discussing games, drinking coffee, chatting with ladies – all sorts of things. Very sporting attitude!

My favorites, Svidler and Grischuk, completed their match much quicker. There were many mistakes in the first game, one being especially unfortunate for Svidler, who missed a relatively easy win, and had to take a draw. In the second game Grischuk’s position looked slightly more comfortable until Peter decided to sacrifice an exchange in the ending. After that, it all looked like Christmas for Alex. And basically it was.

Alex Grischuk and Peter Svidler in their press conference after the match

Finally (or firstly, as this was the first match), Dmitry Jakovenko swept off the challenge of Ernesto Inarkiev in two games, albeit not without some nervous moments. After losing the first game to a home-prepared novelty of Jakovenko (which was coincidentally developed by Grischuk, as he said after the game), Inarkiev almost came back in the second one, sacrificing an exchange in best Topalov’s style: the compensation was difficult to define (unless you like “lively pieces play”, “easier game plan” and such). It was really long-term. However, the harsh mutual time-trouble usually forces the players to make second-best moves, and the White’s initiative needed more precision.

“I am not sure who really was the loser today, Ernesto said afterwards. "I don’t have to prepare anymore, and can take time off to look at the beautiful city”.

Here is another thing I like about the Pivdenny Bank tournaments: the eliminated players normally don’t go away. Partly it is caused by lack of flight tickets (one of the participating cricket fans has severe troubles with scheduling his return), but the main reason is the hospitality of the organizers and terrific atmosphere at the venue. The field is three-quartered, but most people stay around and look quite happy.

P.S. Can’t help mentioning a brief poker tournament organized for (willing) players and journalists after the day two. The structure was super-fast, with the blinds doubling every ten minutes. Grischuk, Shabalov, Najer, and Jakovenko were there to prove that the World Cup participants are good in everything. I doubled up the best player after reraising all-in his preflop raise – I had pocket queens and was pretty much in dire straits. Alexander got the momentum and never looked back until the final heads-up, where he was to confront his wife. Natalia had an edge in the last hand, but Alex caught the right card on the river and won the event.

Pivdenny Chairman Vadim Morokhovsky (suit) supports Natalia Zhukova in the final hand against her husband. Natalia's King-Ten must compete against the Jack-Nine of Alexander Grischuk (said husband)

And the river is a JACK!! Natalia loses, Alexander wins

Mr Cool Alex Grischuk, who is THIS close to becoming a poker professional

Semifinals and final

Please excurse briefness of my notes: it is about one a.m. in Odessa, and it feels weird to be working when players and colleagues around me are celebrating.

The first semifinal, Radjabov-Jakovenko, ended with a perfect score. It is kind of strange, because before the match such respectable people as Ivanchuk predicted even chances (presuming the encounter would go on until the Armageddon). However, Jakovenko was not in a playing mood and did not put up enough resistance. Highly motivated Radjabov advanced to the final, and at the press-conference bombarded general media journalists with lengthy chess lines. He is definitely more at home discussing chess than anything else.

Someone spilled gasoline on board before the second semifinal. Don’t give matches to these kids! Karjakin and Grischuk could have caused many heart attacks tonight – hopefully their true supporters were not watching the games live. Grischuk came back twice from behind and won the Armageddon in nice attacking style.

The final battle: Teimour Radjabov vs Alexander Grischuk

Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov and Peter Svidler following the action

The final was tough for Grisch, who lost a lot of energy in his semifinal and had much less time to recover. He nearly lost the second game of the final (he saved it with a wonderful and almost study-like defence), and played much below his level in both blitz games. Radjabov did the job well in the first blitz game, played horribly in the opening of the next one, but once again switched to calm defending and somehow survived (with highly appreciated help from Grischuk).

The winner congratulated by the Chairman of the Pivdenny Bank Vadim Morokhovsky

What you get for winning the ACP Rapid

Radja took the trophy and the book...

The closing ceremony was very touching, but there was some political news. It was announced that Vadim Morokhovsky, Chairman of the Pivdenny Bank (main sponsor of all major events in Odessa), determined chess promoter and great enthusiast of the game, will replace Pavel Tregubov as the President of the ACP (following Pavel’s own request). This decision was officially approved by the ACP Board prior to the start of the ceremony.

Until now GM Pavel Tregubov was President of the ACP

Vadim Morokhovsky is the chairman of the administration of the Pivdenny bank, but also the President of the Odessa region chess federation, the Vice President of the Ukrainian chess federation and now the President of the ACP.

Right here I’d like to call it a day, but who knows, maybe we all will meet tomorrow at the playing hall again, because heavy snowfalls in Ukraine severely complicated the schedules of many local airports, including the ones in Odessa and Kiev. The weather is probably the only thing in here the organizers have no control of.

Your correspondent Misha Savinov with Alexander Grischuk after the event

The whole final match will be broadcast on TV: on January 9 at 9.15 pm on GLAS channel, and on January 10 at 9.15 pm on the satellite channel "Strana Sovetov", relayed internationally.


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