Donchenko scores six wins in a row, gets clear first place at RTU Open

by Klaus Besenthal
8/16/2021 – A win with black over Igor Kovalenko in round 9 gave Alexander Donchenko tournament victory at the RTU Open in Riga. In the end, Donchenko was the only player to score 7½ points, so he did not even need to bother with tiebreak-criteria calculations. After losing in round 3 against a lower-rated opponent, Donchenko sensationally won six games in a row to win the event! | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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A comeback by the top seed

It was a brilliant tournament win for Alexander Donchenko. The German grandmaster went into the final round of the event tied in first place with Igor Kovalenko and Narayanan — Donchenko played black against Kovalenko on top board, and saw Narayanan signing a quick draw against Ilia Smirin on the second board. This meant he had his destiny in his own hands.

If Narayanan had defeated Smirin, the Indian would have been ahead of Donchenko no matter what, thanks to his better tiebreak score. That is one of the pitfalls of the Swiss system: if you lose a game early on, you are pretty much hopelessly behind according to the Buchholz system. In the fight for tournament victory (and a first prize of €2,500), Donchenko thus needed to outscore his opponents in order to win the competition.

Another negative aspect of such open tournaments (at least from the point of view of the top seed) is that hardly any Elo points can be gained. The games against rivals with a significantly lower rating, with which the tournament begins, push the average rating of the opponents down quite a bit. According to the organizers’ calculation immediately after the end of the tournament, Donchenko was credited with 4.6 rating points for his performance — which perhaps ‘felt’ to be far too few for such an achievement!

But, as is well known, where there is a will there is a way. The catchy phrase serves well as a headline for Donchenko’s victory over Igor Kovalenko.  


Riga Technical University Chess Open 2021

FIDE Managing Director Dana Reizniece-Ozola next to Narayanan (2nd), Alexander Donchenko (1st) and Tomas Laurusas (3rd) during the closing ceremony

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Donchenko Alexander 7,5 43,0
2 Narayanan.S.L 7,0 47,5
3 Laurusas Tomas 7,0 47,5
4 Kantor Gergely 7,0 46,0
5 Karthikeyan Murali 7,0 44,0
6 Kovalenko Igor 6,5 51,5
7 Hakobyan Aram 6,5 49,5
8 Arjun Kalyan 6,5 46,5
9 Ivic Velimir 6,5 46,5
10 Smirin Ilia 6,5 46,5
11 Pranav Anand 6,5 45,0
12 Yuffa Daniil 6,5 44,0
13 Praggnanandhaa R 6,5 44,0
14 Miezis Normunds 6,5 40,0
15 Dudin Gleb 6,5 39,0
16 Sethuraman S.P. 6,5 38,0
17 Erigaisi Arjun 6,0 50,0
18 Nihal Sarin 6,0 48,5
19 Ioannidis Evgenios 6,0 47,5
20 Budisavljevic Luka 6,0 46,5
21 Pultinevicius Paulius 6,0 46,5
22 Sanal Vahap 6,0 46,5
23 Roshka Yevgeniy 6,0 46,0
24 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 6,0 45,5
25 Meshkovs Nikita 6,0 45,5

...176 players

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Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.


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