XV Karpov-Poikovsky: Morozevich takes clear first

by Albert Silver
5/22/2014 – With a no-nonsense start, with fantastic ones by some, and disastrous ones by others, the course of the tournament seemed clear, but life had its own plans. Alexander Morozevich did indeed take first, but Ivan Saric collapsed and his runnerup status was grabbed by Dmitry Jakovenko. As to Viktor Bologan with his 0.5/4 start, he finished with 4.0/5 and more wins than anyone else.

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The 15th Anniversary edition of the Karpov-Poikovsky international tournament is underway and is being played at Nefteyugansk in the district of Ugra, Russia. It is a ten-player round robin competition played at 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment as of move one.

Final report

Emil Sutovsky (rear) and Alexander Motylev enjoy a coffee break

Never say never. After four rounds, the direction the tournament had been taking seemed all but written in the stars. Morozevich and Saric were running away with the tournament, while some such as Vikto Bologan, stood at 0.5/4, and one almost regretted mentioning it, knowing how hard it is to run into such a dry patch. Or so one would have thought.

Alexander Morozevich eventually did win the tournament, just as predicted it is true, but the action had already been seen. After his huge +3 start, he ended the tournament effectively on...+3 or 6.0/9 if you prefer, as he drew the last five games, which was enough to secure him sole first. A laudable victory, but a somewhat disappointing finish.

Alexander Morozevich had a clean victory, and was a class act

Ivan Saric, who had started on fire, drew a long battle in round five against Alexander Morozevich, but in round six crashed into a resurging Bologan in round six. He was never able to recover from it, and was soon in survival mode as he collapsed and ended on a 50% score with 4.5/9. Certainly it garnered him a  few Elo points, but after a 3.0/4 start, he had to have hoped for more.

Ivan Saric had a wonderful start, but was unable to maintain the momentum

Dmitry Jakovenko powered his way to the second spot

Second came in the form of former European Champion, Dmitry Jakovenko, who outfoxed Emil Sutovsky in round five, and then twisted the knife in Saric's wound by beating him in round seven. He was level with Morozevich by then, but Ian Nepomniachtchi was out for blood to secure 50% for himself in the last round.

Ian Nepomniachtchi had an irregular event but when he was hot he was hot

[Event "15th Karpov GM 2014"] [Site "Poikovsky RUS"] [Date "2014.05.20"] [Round "9.1"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Jakovenko, Dmitry"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A08"] [WhiteElo "2735"] [BlackElo "2730"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2014.05.11"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. d3 O-O 6. Nbd2 c5 7. e4 Nc6 8. Re1 b5 9. e5 Nd7 10. Nf1 a5 11. h4 b4 12. h5 a4 13. h6 g6 14. a3 bxa3 15. bxa3 Ba6 16. N1h2 Rc8 17. Ng4 {This maneuver with Nh2-Ng4 was a favorite of Fischer's when he championed the King's Indian Attack.} Nd4 18. Nxd4 cxd4 19. Bd2 Rb8 20. Ra2 $1 {The point of this move is two-fold: it prevents the black rook from penetrating to b2 while keeping an eye on a3, and also prepares...} Rb5 21. Qa1 $1 {Really superb. Doubling on the a-file might seem esoteric even, but it has a solid idea. White wants to exchange off his dark squared bishop with Bb4, but would lose the a-pawn normally. Now, if Bb4 is played, then after axb4, White will have two pieces attacking the a4-pawn. It doesn't hurt that Qa1 also attacks d4 to gain a tempo.} Qb6 22. Bb4 Bc5 (22... Bxb4 23. axb4 Rxb4 24. Rxa4 {would give White a healthy advantage.}) 23. Nh2 Nb8 24. Bxc5 Qxc5 25. Qc1 {The idea is not subtle, but nasty.} Nd7 26. Nf3 Rfb8 27. Qf4 Rb2 28. Rxb2 Rxb2 29. Ng5 Qe7 30. Bxd5 $1 {Though far from winning, it has to be unpleasant.} Rxc2 (30... exd5 31. e6 {is winning.} fxe6 32. Rxe6 Qf8 33. Qxd4 {and Black will get mated. The threat is now Re8 Qxe8 Qg7 mate.}) 31. Bc4 Bxc4 32. dxc4 d3 33. Rd1 d2 34. Rxd2 Rxd2 35. Qxd2 Nxe5 36. Qb2 Qd6 (36... f6 {also loses to} 37. c5 $3 Qxc5 38. Qb7 Qc1+ 39. Kh2 Ng4+ 40. Kg2 {and Black is lost.}) 37. c5 Qd1+ 38. Kg2 Qd5+ 39. f3 Kf8 40. c6 Ke7 41. c7 1-0

Still, the real name of the latter half of the excellent Karpov-Poikovsky tournament was none other than Viktor Bologan. Though he suffered from a terrible start with 0.5/4, he then did such an about face as to make one's head spin. After beating Pavel Eljanov in round five, he then beat Saric in round six, and Alexander Motylev in round seven. Only Shirov was able to stop him in round eight when he beat him with his trademark creative play, but Bologan was not perturbed as he finished off his run with a victory over Sutovsky in round nine, effectively scoring 4.0/5 in the last half to end with 50%.

With four wins, Viktor Bologan won more games than any player

Third place was shared by Etienne Bacrot and Alexey Shirov, who both finished on 5.0/9 and undefeated with eight draws and one win. It wasn't for lack of trying from either player in all fairness.

Alexei Shirov played very solid chess, not letting his desire for chaos dictate his performance

Etienne Bacrot also played solidly, but the draws were all hard fought

A group shot of the players and organizers

Final standings

Photos by Evgeny Vashenyak 


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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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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