Rapport vs. Laznicka: Contrasting Styles

by Sagar Shah
10/1/2014 – Each year, Victor Laznicka, the Czech Republic's number two, plays a six-game-match against a strong opponent. This year it's young Hungarian GM Richard Rapport, famous for his unconventional style. Nominally Rapport is favorite but in the past he often had problems against Laznicka. But things were different in the first game of the match.

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Rapport-Laznicka match starts off with a bang!

The match between Richard Rapport and Viktor Laznicka in Novy Bor, Czech Republic, is on. It is a six game match and will take place from the 30. September to 5. October 2014. The time control is 90 min/40 moves, plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move.

Laznicka is a positionally sound player, follows theory and believes in the classical concept of occupying the centre in the opening. Rapport on the other hand is a complete maverick on the chess board. He regularly shuns classical principles and likes to open his games with offbeat moves such as 1.b3. He is not interested in theory and he doesn’t need to be asked twice when a tempting sacrifice is in sight. When players of such contrasting styles meet one can expect exciting fighting chess.

Rapport vs Laznicka: a battle of contrasting styles (Foto: Ilja Schneider, Neckar-Open)

The last time these two met over the board was in the eighth round of the Neckar Open in April 2014. This game ended in a resounding win for Laznicka.

Laznicka has not been the easiest of rivals for the Hungarian prodigy. Rapport is trailing big time with three losses and a draw in their four encounters. I think, the reason for this dismal score is the fact that Rapport just did not get the positions he likes. To make my point clear, let me show you some positions from their games.

First encounter: Rapport (2540)-Laznicka (2688), Aix-les-Bains, 2011.

Rapport as white plays 1.d4 and gets absolutely nothing out of the opening against Laznicka's solid Slav Defence. As you can see, the pawn structure is pretty symmetrical and the game ended in a draw.

Second encounter: Laznicka (2701)-Rapport (2547), Rogaska Slatina, 2011

Rapport tries to play an offbeat line of the Slav with black and gets badly burnt. In the diagram above he already has a poor position. A very easy win for Laznicka.

Third encounter: Laznicka (2704) - Rapport (2543), Gibraltar 2012

Rapport got such a passive position in the opening?! A sure recipe for disaster. Laznicka chalks up another win.

Fourth encounter: Rapport (2698)-Laznicka (2673), Neckar Open, 2014

Laznicka plays the super solid Caro-Kann-Defence with black and gets a superb attacking position. He does not miss his chance and converts in 23 moves. A complete rout!

From the examples above we can clearly see that Rapport has been struggling to get the right kind of positions against Laznicka. Rapport is definitely the player on the rise, more talented and also higher-rated. But the fact that Laznicka has such a superior score (+3 =1) from their past meetings makes the match very interesting.

Moving the e-pawn here does not seem right! Rapport chose to move
its neighbour (the d-pawn) in his first move of the match!

The first game of the match began at 16.00 hours local time (GMT+2) on 30. September, and Laznicka had the white pieces. In an offbeat opening things went really well for the Hungarian player after the first few moves, and he got the type of position he simply loves. With pawns on f5, e4 and d5 he had complete control in the centre. Objectively, Laznicka was doing fine, but when he lowered his guard for one single move he suffered a complete nightmare. A double knight sacrifice on f2 and e3 destroyed his position and the game ended after a mere 24 moves.

 

With a beautiful double knight sacrifice, Rapport takes the lead in the match.

This kind of six game match is staged for the fourth consecutive year. Two things have been constant since the inception. The first is...

...the participation of Viktor Laznicka, Czech Republic's number two

And the second is...

...the playing venue in the restaurant Ajeto. A glass wall separates the players from the spectators.

The two players on the other side of the glass pane

Here the match takes place: in the restaurant Ajeto.

A number of sponsors support the match.

On the day before the match Rapport gave a simul against 16 players.
In the picture you see ECU chairman Viktor Novotny playing with the
black pieces. He managed to hold Richard to a draw.

 

Previous Matches

In 2011 Viktor won 4.5-1.5 against David Navara

In 2012 Alexei Shirov who took the honours with a score of 4-2

In 2013, Veselin Topalov won 4-2.

Round two begins on 1. October at 16.00h (GMT+2).

Pictures from the official website

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

 



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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Najdork Najdork 10/2/2014 03:16
What a game by Rapport
amnonma amnonma 10/1/2014 09:08
@blunderdog - maybe a fair statement on a street talk, not a formal report
blunderdog blunderdog 10/1/2014 07:15
amnonma, i agree. I think 'more talented' is a bit of a clumsy remark, especially since they make a point about the 2 players having very different styles to begin with. But given his younger age and now higher ELO score, i still think it's a fair statement.
pocketknife pocketknife 10/1/2014 05:41
Rapport is younger and has more elo and has a much fascinating and original style. So he is more talented! Why are you so sceptic about this Amnonma?
Wallace Howard Wallace Howard 10/1/2014 02:58
In their early games, Lazincka was rated about 150 elo more.
Now Rapport is higher rated. Not sure why so much emphasis is put on Rapport's openings.
amnonma amnonma 10/1/2014 02:00
Really, Rapport is more "talented' than Lazincka? not really an objective report isn't it?
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