'The Nutcracker' to end year in style

by Albert Silver
12/21/2014 – After the match of generations between Dubov and Shirov last year, entrepreneur Oleg Skvortsov decided to improve on it with two full teams who will face each other in classical games and rapid. The teams promise action with names such as Morozevich, Shirov, Leko, Dreev for the seniors, and Fedoseev, Artemiev, Dubov and Oparin for the youngsters. An exciting first round.

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On Friday, December 19, the Central House of Chess hosted the opening of the generations tournament "The Nutcracker." This new spin on a well-established formula will play out from December 20-25 with a team composition and structure that promise great excitement. The senior team "Kings" is composed of Alexander Morozevich, Alexey Dreev, Peter Leko and Alexei Shirov, and for the "princes" there are Russian talents Daniil Dubov, Vladislav Artemiev, Gregory Oparin and Vladimir Fedoseev.

Many times the senior teams have been made up of great champions well past their primes, which against a younger player on the rise can be an uneven prospect, especially in today’s age where young players can fulfill their potential much earlier. Here we see the seniors all of whom are still active and in the top 100 and better, and it promises to be a worthy end to an exciting year of chess.

Mark Glukhovsky, Oleg Skvortsov and his wife Natalia Shevando

The idea of ​​the match and organizer is the ever active entrepreneur Oleg Skvortsov. Last year, also in Moscow, Skvortsov organized the match between the highly experienced Alexei Shirov (Latvia) and the young Russian talent Daniel Dubov. This battle betAfter the ween the representatives of two generations aroused great interest among fans, and thus was born the idea for a more "populated" competition following the same format - a meeting of youth and experience. 

This year, "The Nutcracker" will follow the original formula: the first four days the team members will fight each other in classical time controls; and then the last two two days will be devoted to rapid chess. The competition will follow 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. This means that short of a disaster from either team, the rapids will be the final decider in which team wins.

Emil Sutovsky, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Daniil Dubov and Valentina Gunina

Sergey Karjakin and his wife Galia

Alexander Nikitin, the former trainer of Garry Kasparov, and Olga Lillienthal

At the opening of "The Nutcracker" Great Hall of the Central House of chess was filled to capacity with a Whos Who in Russian chess. Among the guests of honor were Oleg Skvortsov and his wife Natalia, the 12th world champion and Vice President of the Russian Chess Federation Anatoly Karpov, the general director of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce, the Vice President of the Russian Chess Federation Paul Shinsky, not to mention a slew of outstanding GMs, coaches, and organizers: Yuri Averbakh, Anatoly Avraamovich Bykhovsky, Mark Dvoretsky, Evgeni Vasiukov, Alexander Nikitin, Galina L. Dvorkovich, Yuri Dokhoyan, Emil Sutovsky, Sergey Rublevsky, Alexander Volzhin, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Valentina Gunina, Sergey Shipov, Vladimir Potkin and many others.

Alexei Shirov and world-renowned trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky

Yuri Averbakh, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Daniil Dubov, Gregory Oparin and Vladislav Artemiev

Oleg Skvortsov (middle) and his wife Natalia Shevando, next to Peter Leko

The draw took place with the Chief Arbiter of the tournament IA Alexander Tkachev inviting the participants to pull off a Christmas trees decoration in which their starting number would be found.

12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov

Vladislav Artemiev draws his number and faced Alexey Dreev in the openng round

After the draw the guests were treated to some classical music with works by Beethoven, Mozart and more, performed by young musicians Ilya Schmukler (piano) and Karen Asatryan (clarinet).

A video of the opening ceremony. The classical music presentation begins at 26:50 with
Ilya Schmukler playing Beethoven's Appassionata sonata

The first round saw action befitting the lineup and investment of the organizers, ending in three decsive games out of four, and easily could (should) have been four. The first game saw a repeat of last year when Alexei Shirov faced Daniil Dubov with white. Dubov came out swinging as he played a Modern Benoni with black. The opening did not go as well as he might hope, and he soon found himself in a very restricted position, but he did get chances to restore balance that he failed to find at the board.

[Event "Nutcracker Classical 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.20"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Shirov, Alexei"] [Black "Dubov, Daniil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A56"] [WhiteElo "2675"] [BlackElo "2629"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2014.12.20"] [WhiteTeam "Kings"] [BlackTeam "Princes"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 g6 4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 O-O 6. Bd3 d6 7. h3 a6 8. a4 e6 9. Nf3 exd5 10. cxd5 Nbd7 11. O-O Qe7 12. Bf4 Nh5 13. Bh2 Bh6 14. Re1 Bf4 15. g3 Bh6 16. Bf1 Ne5 17. Nxe5 Qxe5 18. f4 Qd4+ 19. Kg2 Qb4 20. Qd2 f5 21. e5 dxe5 22. Rxe5 Bg7 23. Re7 Nf6 24. Bg1 Bd7 25. Kh2 Rad8 26. Bg2 h5 ({Stronger was} 26... Rfe8 27. d6 Bc6 $1 {with the tactical idea of} 28. Bxc6 Rxe7 $1 {and the pin keep things together.} 29. Bd5+ Rf7 30. Bxf7+ Kxf7 {and} 31. Re1 $2 {is met by} Bf8) 27. d6 Bc6 28. Bxc6 bxc6 29. Rd1 Rf7 30. Qe2 Bf8 31. Re5 h4 ({It was Black's last opportunity t eliminate the bothersome d6 pawn. After} 31... Bxd6 $1 32. Rxd6 Rxd6 33. Bxc5 {he would play} Qb8 {and everything holds together. Ex:} 34. Bxd6 Qxd6 35. Qxa6 h4 36. gxh4 Qd4) 32. Bxc5 hxg3+ 33. Kxg3 Qb3 34. Rd3 Qb7 35. b4 Rh7 {Diagram [#]} 36. Kg2 $1 Rh4 37. Rg3 {and things are grim indeed.} Nh5 38. Rxg6+ Kh7 39. Rxf5 Kxg6 40. Qe6+ Kh7 41. Rf7+ Kh8 42. Bd4+ {Sidestepping Black's last try at a swindle.} ({After} 42. Rxb7 $2 Nxf4+ 43. Kg3 Nxe6 44. Kxh4 Bxd6 {he could still hope.}) 42... Bg7 43. Bxg7+ Nxg7 44. Qf6 1-0

The next game to end was the surprising win by 17-year-old Gregory Oparin (2543) over Alexander Morozevich. At least it was a surprise before the game got underway, but the opening soon made it clear that something had gone quite wrong Rocket Morozevich failed to take off, restoring the balance for a win each in the teams.

Grigoriy Oparin came as the lowest rated player and promptly took down one of the highest rated

The only draw of the round was between Alexey Dreev and Vladislav Artemiev, which by all means should never have drawn. The younger player built up a monster advantage with a clean two extra passed pawns on ‘a’ and ‘b’ and may have thought anything should win, a notoriously dangerous frameset, since the minute you believe that, life has this nasty habit of explaining how wrong we were.

[Event "Nutcracker Classical 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.20"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Dreev, Aleksey"] [Black "Artemiev, Vladislav"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D91"] [WhiteElo "2649"] [BlackElo "2662"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/ppN3bp/4p1p1/5p2/4b3/4PP2/4B1PP/r2RK3 b - - 0 33"] [PlyCount "78"] [EventDate "2014.12.20"] [WhiteTeam "Kings"] [BlackTeam "Princes"] 33... Bd5 $2 {A serious mistake that jeopardizes the winning chances. Under normal circumstances White would be extremely averse to exchanging pieces, but here is a golden chance as he enters an opposite-colored bishop ending. He could not have hoped for anything better.} ({Even at the cost of a kingside pawn, Black need to keep his bishop pair which should be more than enough with the queenside connectors.} 33... Bc3+ 34. Kf2 Bc6 $1 {giving up the e-pawn, but there is no counter majority about to roll so it is relatively unimportant. } 35. Nxe6 a5 36. Rxa1 Bxa1 37. Bc4 b5 38. Ba2 Kh8 {The king is out of the battle for the moment, but the pawns will advance and it only remains boxed in if the white pieces stay put.} 39. Ke2 b4 40. Kd3 a4 41. Bc4 b3 $19) 34. Nxd5 exd5 35. Rxa1 Bxa1 {Black may still have the two connectors, but converting this is going to be very challenging as the young GM soon finds out.} 36. Bd1 Kf7 37. Bb3 Ke6 38. e4 fxe4 39. fxe4 b5 40. Bxd5+ Kd6 41. Bg8 h6 42. Kd2 Be5 43. h4 Kc5 44. Bf7 Kb4 45. Be8 g5 46. hxg5 hxg5 47. Bd7 a6 48. Bc8 a5 49. Bd7 a4 50. Kd3 Ka5 51. Bg4 Kb6 52. Bd7 Kc5 53. Be8 Kb4 54. Bd7 Kb3 55. Bxb5 a3 56. Bc4+ Kb2 57. Bf7 Bf6 58. Be6 Be5 59. Bf7 Bf6 60. Be6 Bd8 61. Kd4 a2 62. Bxa2 Kxa2 63. Kd5 Kb3 64. Kd6 Kc4 65. Kd7 Kd4 66. Kxd8 Kxe4 67. Ke7 Kf5 68. Kf7 g4 69. Kg7 Kf4 70. Kg6 Kg3 71. Kg5 Kxg2 72. Kxg4 1/2-1/2

The first round is officially started

This left things all tied up with one game to go, Vladimir Fedoseev against Peter Leko, and what an epic battle they put on. The game started as a slightly offbeat Torre with 3.Bg5, but then transitioned to classical structures with c3-d4-e3 for White, seeking the ideal breakthrough. Unfortunately for Fedoseev, this is the sort of subtle tug-of-war battle that Leko lives for, and the Russian found himself outfoxed and trying to break out of a boa constrictor position in which the Hungarian had the ideal breakthrough chances. The former Challenger failed to find the most precise method and after seeing his advantage mysteriously dissipate, lost control of the position and went from equal to worse to lost, concluding the day with a minute edge by Team Prince.

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky


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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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