'The Nutcracker': Kings and Princes trade punches

by Albert Silver
12/24/2014 – Although there has been no shortage of generations matches, whether one-on-one or a duel between teams, one thing that is certainly true, and behind their popularity: there is no shortage of hard fights. This particular flavor is no exception and the players and games have displayed great fighting spirit. Here is the report, and don’t miss Fedoseev’s spectacular queen sacrifice.

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"The Nutcracker" will follow the original formula: the first four days the team members will fight each other in classical time controls of 60 moves in 120 minutes plus 15 minutes for the rest of the game including a 30 second increment as of move 61; and then the last two two days will be devoted to rapid chess with two rounds per player match-up played at 15 minutes plus ten seconds increment per move. The competition will use the Zurich scoring system: two points for each classical chess win, with one for a draw, and in rapid each win will be worth one point and a draw only half.

Rounds three and four

After two rounds, the score had been tied up with the Kings and Princes, as the teams are called, having exchanged blows but neither able to pull ahead for more than a round.

The players get ready for the start of the third round

The Princes waiting for the round to begin with Gregoriy Oparin at the board, and behind him
are Daniil Dubov, Vladislav Artemiev, and Vladimir Fedoseev

Peter Leko shakes hands with Vladislav Artemiev as the round is started

Sergey Rublevsky (right) is joined in the commentary box but world no.3 Alexander Grischuk
who recently fulfilled a longterm ambition when he appeared in the ratings list with 2810

In spite of a loss to Alexey Shirov in round one, Daniil Dubov is back to 50% after beating
Alexey Dreev in round four

Vladislav Artemiev has been somewhat luckless with one loss and three
draws, in spite of several excellent chances. A little disconnect with his form.

Then again, Artemiev's loss in round four was to Morozevich no less, so perhaps describing
a loss to the great player as a form issue is less than fair. The maverick champion is one of
the leading scorers for the Kings.

After watching Alexey Shirov beat up on his teammates with 2.5/3, Vladimir Fedoseev struck
back with a fine win culminating with a spectacular queen sacrifice. Even Shirov could not
help but appreciate the stylish finish.

A spectacular queen sacrifice:

[Event "Nutcracker Classical 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.23"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Fedoseev, Vladimir2"] [Black "Shirov, Alexei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2661"] [BlackElo "2675"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r4k/3RQp1p/2q1p1r1/p7/1p2Pp2/2b2P2/P4B1P/2R4K w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2014.12.20"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [WhiteTeam "Princes"] [BlackTeam "Kings"] 35. Qxf7 {There is really little choice.} Rg7 {now allows the spectacular} ({ The alternative} 35... Rh6 {would be refuted by} 36. Bd4+ $1 Bxd4 (36... e5 37. Bxe5+ Bxe5 38. Rxc6 Rcxc6 (38... Rhxc6 39. Qxh7#) 39. Qf8#) 37. Rxc6 Rxc6 38. Qf8#) 36. Qxg7+ $3 Bxg7 37. Rxc6 Rxc6 38. Rd8+ $1 {It might seem odd to add this exclamation point for such an obvious move, but White had to see this when he started this line.} Bf8 39. Rxf8+ Kg7 40. Ra8 1-0

As befitting such an event, it is broadcast in high-definition video with GM commentary (in Russian)

For the young Princes such as 17-year-old Gregoriy Oparin (right), it is not just the chance
to play a player of Peter Leko's calibre that makes it special, but the chance to analyze and
learn from him

Current classical standings

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky


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.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Malthrope Malthrope 12/25/2014 11:13
Must agree with the majority vote spoken here. ;) A spectacular Queen sacrifice is just that. A bolt from the blue and a totally unexpected move. LoL I still remember my first ones (at age 12, btw) and they were these three classics: 1) Louis Paulsen vs. Paul Morphy : 1st Ameican. Chess Congress, New York, Nov 3, 1857 (0-1). 2) Paul Morphy vs. Von Braunschweig, Karl (Duke Of Brunswick) & Count Isouard Vauvenargue : Paris 1858 (1-0) and 3) Stefan Levitsky vs. Frank J. Marshall : Breslau, 1912 (0-1). Now those three incrediable Chess games were my introduction to amazing Queen sacrifices! Each and every one of those games above blew my young mind away. The result being I was totally hooked on the "Royal Game of Chess" for life. :XD

In all fairness, GM Vladimir Fedoseev's game vs GM Alexei Shirov is a very nice Queen sac simplificaction leading into a winning endgame. Which proved to be quite sufficient to quickly score the full point (1-0). :)

Regards, Malthrope (Berkeley, CA // USA)

PS: I'm now 67 years of age and still very much enjoy a nice clean Queen sacrifice every now, then and again! LoL ;)
Captain Picard Captain Picard 12/25/2014 12:45
How was that a queen sac? It was just a queen trade. A nice combo to be sure, but not a sacrifice. This was a shoddy article, especially with the confusing crosstable. I guess all of the talented writers are off for the holidays. I'm glad this is free content, if I paid to read this I would demand my money back!
luisnux luisnux 12/25/2014 12:32
I agree with Wastrel. That was not a true queen sac-it was still nice thought.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 12/24/2014 11:22
Of course that is no queen sacrifice, it is an exchange of queens
juanviches juanviches 12/24/2014 10:50
Yeah, that's a tabloid caption
Wastrel Wastrel 12/24/2014 02:53
Not to take anything away from Fedoseev's fine game, but I do not call it a queen sacrifice when the tactics require the opponent to "sacrifice" his queen back.