Riga Tech University Open: Armenians on top

by Conrad Schormann
8/18/2018 – The Riga Tech University Open from August 6th to 12th was won by a pair of Armenian grandmasters: Robert Hovhannisyan and Manuel Petrosyan, each scoring 7½ / 9. Hovhannisyan was undefeated with six wins; Petrosyan scored a whopping seven wins, one loss and a draw. Among the trailing pack on 7 / 9 were the young and talented Russian GM Andrey Esipenko, and the German GM Rasmus Svane. | Photos: Tournament page

The Reliable Petroff The Reliable Petroff

The Petroff (or Russian) Defence which is characterised by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 has been popular at the highest levels for many years and enjoys the reputation of being an extremely solid defence.


German talents ditch national championship 

An impressive phalanx of young, strong grandmasters faced off at the RTU-Open in Latvia, among them the cream of the German crop: Bluebaum, Donchenko, Svane, Schroeder, Kollars — a series of (roughly) 2600s, which testifies that at the top of the German chess the "young savages" are gaining ground. In Riga they could expect both stronger opposition and a threefold higher prize fund (€15,000 euros) than in the German Championship.

Of this group, Svane performed the best with five wins and four draws to reach a tie for 3rd-9th places. The biggest piece of the prize cake was sliced off by two Armenians: Robert Hovhannisyan and Manuel Petrosyan landed in shared first with 7½ / 9, followed by local hero Igor Kovalenko and upcoming Russian star Andrey Esipenko among two of the seven players with 7/9.

playing hall

The RTU-Open

The 16-year-old Esipenko is going to be one to watch in the coming years. He has been steadily moving up the ranks of the Top Juniors list — currently at number 18.

In the seventh round, he dismantled IM Cruz Lledo's dubious novelty 9...f5 in the Queen's Gambit Accepted.


Also in the seventh round, Hovhannisyan took down his main rival GM Igor Kovalenko with a killer blow: 


40.Re7! Nf5  (40...Qxe7 41.Ng6+) 41.Nxf5 Qg6 42.Rxh7+ 1-0

Petrosyan won his last three games to pull into a tie for first place including a fine effort in the last round against local Latvian GM Nikita Meshkovs.


White has been dutifully "playing for two results" and has managed to get his opponent into a position where he has no constructive moves. But 34...h6 proved to be quite destructive after the nice manoeuvre, 35.Nc3 Re5 36.Rxe5 Qxe5 37.Rd5! Qf6 38.Rf5, targeting the f7 pawn. Black is helpless.

For the German delegation, the tournament went pretty well. After two thirds she was closed on the upper ranks to find — with one exception: Matthias Bluebaum started poorly (2/4) and even had to look up to his father Karl-Ernst (Elo 2253) playing on a higher board. 

Karl-Ernst Bluebaum (back right) was ahead of his 400-Elo stronger son Matthias

Alexander Donchenko missed with 5/6 in a superior position the jump to 6/7. He lost first the thread, then the game (see below) and ended finally with 6/9 in the "pocket money" prize group.


Dimitrij Kollars should be even less satisfied, as he scored 5/8 but lost the last round without a fight. He was in good company, however, with the prodigious new GM Praggnanandhaa among those in the 5/9 score group after he "castled" to finish the tournament — an indication of just how strong the RTU Open has become.


Kreisl, from Austria, scored his second GM-norm after pragmatically taking a short draw with white in the ninth round to finish with a performance of 2629.

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Hovhannisyan Robert 7,5 42,5
2 Petrosyan Manuel 7,5 41,5
3 Predke Alexandr 7,0 42,0
4 Kovalenko Igor 7,0 42,0
5 Svane Rasmus 7,0 39,0
6 Esipenko Andrey 7,0 38,0
7 Laurusas Tomas 7,0 38,0
8 Annaberdiev Meilis 7,0 36,5
9 Lobanov Sergei 7,0 36,5
10 Meshkovs Nikita 6,5 41,5
11 Kreisl Robert 6,5 41,0
12 Pultinevicius Paulius 6,5 40,5
13 Schroeder Jan-Christian 6,5 40,5
14 Smirin Ilia 6,5 37,5
15 Maiorov Nikita 6,5 37,0
16 Korchmar Vasiliy 6,5 35,0
17 Gokerkan Cem Kaan 6,5 35,0
18 Garriga Cazorla Pere 6,5 34,0
19 Kjartansson Gudmundur 6,5 34,0
20 Gorodetzky David 6,5 33,0

All games and commentary


Daily live commentary was provided by European ChessTV

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


Conrad Schormann, skilled newspaper editor, runs an agency for editing and communication in Überlingen, at Lake Constance. But he lacks time to play chess which is partly due to the fact that he very much likes to write about it, for Chessbase, in the Reddit chess forum, or for his chess teaching blog Perlen vom Bodensee...


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