Veterans win Nutcracker by slimmest of margins

by Albert Silver
12/29/2014 – The rapid games of Nutcracker generations match was worthy of the overall competition, though easy to foresee after the first leg. The classical section had seen Prince team, with Russia’s most promising teenage talent, hold their own against the veteran King team with players still very much a part of the world’s elite. In the end, experience prevailed in a thrilling finale.

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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.

The Rapid games

The rapid game section was eagerly awaited by the chess fans, and the first round of games of this double-round Schveningen matchup showed anything goes. Daniil Dubov faced Alexey Shirov who has seemed to hold his ticket, but not in the rapid games as the younger player beat the Latvian with a French defense.

Alexey Dreev (right) was the top scorer for the King team in the first half with 3.0/4, while
Daniil Dubov beat his nemesis Shirov in game one, and had a 2.5/4 start

By the midway point with four out of eight rounds played, the Prince team had taken the lead with 8.5-7.5, notably thanks to the heavy scoring Vladimir Fedoseev with 3.0/4 and Daniil Dubov with 2.5/4. On the King team, only Alexey Dreev had managed a plus score with 3.0/4, beating Dubov and Artemiev while the rest of the team struggled.

Vladimir Fedoseev was not only the highest scoring member of the Prince team in the Rapid
section, he also outscored the veterans as well with 6.0/8

[Event "Nutcracker Rapid 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.25"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Shirov, Alexei"] [Black "Fedoseev, Vladimir2"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2675"] [BlackElo "2661"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r1r5/pp2bk2/1n2p1p1/3pPpPb/3P1P1R/PBP1BNK1/1P6/7R b - - 0 31"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2014.12.24"] [EventType "schev (rapid)"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "RUS"] {Both players are very short of time, but Fedoseev shows his tactical alertness with} 31... Bxa3 $1 32. Bc1 ({Needless to say} 32. bxa3 Rxc3 {wins back the piece with interest since the black rooks begin to harrass White.}) 32... Be7 33. Ne1 a5 $1 {Now the a-pawn will be used as a battering ram to shatter the queenside pawn structure.} 34. Nd3 a4 35. Bd1 a3 36. Bxh5 a2 $2 { Wishing to be overly clever, Black misses the possible perpetual, but thankfully for him, so does White.} (36... gxh5 $1 {was best and would have maintained a very unpleasant edge.} 37. Rxh5 (37. bxa3 $2 Rxc3 {just loses.}) 37... a2 38. Rh7+ Ke8 39. Be3 a1=Q 40. Rxa1 Rxa1 41. g6 {and White is still breathing.}) 37. Bxg6+ Kxg6 38. Nc5 $2 (38. Rh6+ Kg7 (38... Kf7 {is risky due to} 39. g6+ Ke8 {and it is unclear.} 40. Be3 a1=Q 41. Rxa1 Rxa1 42. Rh8+ Kd7 43. Rxc8 Nxc8 44. g7 Bh4+ {the only move to stop the pawn.} 45. Kxh4 Ne7 46. Nc5+ Ke8 47. Nxe6) 39. Rh7+ Kf8 40. Rh8+ Kf7) 38... Bxc5 39. dxc5 $2 {missing the repetition for the last time.} Rh8 $1 0-1


Whatever the halftime pep talk they had, it worked wonders and the veterans rallied with such verve, that they not only recovered the one point difference, but managed to edge out the youthful team with with 7.0-9.0 ultimately taking the title by the meagerest of margins 32.5-31.5. Remember the classical games were worth double.

Fittingly, it came down to the game between Peter Leko with white against Vladimir Fedoseev, both of whom were the highest scoring players in the latter half of the rapid games.

Vladimir Fedoseev, with black, decided it with Peter Leko

[Event "Nutcracker Rapid 2014"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2014.12.25"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Leko, Peter"] [Black "Fedoseev, Vladimir2"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E06"] [WhiteElo "2723"] [BlackElo "2661"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r1qk1/6pp/bn2p3/2p1B3/2N1QP2/Pr4P1/2R2P1P/4R1K1 w - - 0 33"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "2014.12.24"] [EventType "schev (rapid)"] [EventRounds "4"] [EventCountry "RUS"] 33. Nb2 {Black had been struggling throughout the game, though he had posed White no end of work to keep him at bay. He finally blunders with} Nd7 $2 { which ends up costing the game.} 34. Qa4 $1 {Attacking both the rook and bishop.} Rb6 {is forced, but} 35. Bc7 {wins material.} Bb5 36. Qb3 c4 37. Qe3 Rc6 38. Bxd8 Qxd8 39. Nxc4 Qc7 40. Rec1 Nb6 41. Nxb6 Rxc2 42. Qxe6+ Kh8 43. Rxc2 Qxc2 44. Qc8+ Qxc8 45. Nxc8 Ba6 46. Ne7 g6 47. Nd5 Kg7 48. a4 1-0

Sergey Rublevsky, who provided live GM commentary, speaks with the sponsor and organizer,
Oleg Skvortsov (right)

Organizer Oleg Skvortsov gives the King's their prizes

The players and organizers posing together

Classical standings

Rapid standings

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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Chump Chump 12/30/2014 09:47
From the "Man bites dog" file:
Leko wins decisive game!!! :)
Maybe for the first time since Dortmund 2002...