Young Russian triumphs in Stockholm

by Marco Baldauf
1/8/2018 – The Rilton Cup in Stockholm is over and in the end it came down to the many young players taking the top prizes. Six of the top seven places went to players under the age of 21. Kirill Alekseenko, Maksim Chigaev and Mikhail Antipov from Russia all won their games in rounds eight and nine and thus secured the podium places | Pictured: The decisive game of the tournament: Johan Salomon against Kirill Alekseenko | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

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Strong junior players in Stockholm

The Rilton Cup is one of a handful of open tournaments in Europe that spans the turn of the year, and one of the biggest. It starts punctually after the Christmas holidays on December 27th, and ends ten days later. On New Year's Eve after playing four rounds you're treated to a rest day.

Technically, the winner of the tournament — the Russian Grandmaster Kirill Alekseenko — lost his "junior" status on January 1st (he was born in 1997), but he started the tournament as number twelve on the Top Juniors list. His toughest rival in Stockholm was Johan Salomon from Norway, also born in 1997. With 7 / 8, the two grandmasters led the standings, and had to face off in a final round clash, which Alekseenko won.

Alekseenko Chigaev Antipov

The all-Russian podium: Kirill Alekseenko, Maksim Chigaev and Mikhail Antipov | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Amazingly, there wasn't a single draw on any of the top eight boards in the last round! Real fighting chess!


No need to fear the Slav Exchange Variation

The Slav is a magnificent opening, but for many players there is one little blot on its escutcheon - that is the Exchange Variation. Not only does Black apparently have no prospects of obtaining the full point, but since he has an extra tempo White may well make attempts to win the game. But if you know what you are doing, you can easily do two things as Black: equalise and break the symmetry.

Salomon fell back to 5th place. The other strong Norwegian in the hunt, Aryan Tari, just a few weeks ago in Tarvisio, Italy, brought home a new World Champion title to Norway by winning the World Junior Championship — where, by the way, Alekseenko finished 9th.

Tari was in the leader group after seven rounds, but after a clean black draw against Kacper Piorun, he lost the final round to the eventual runner-up, Chigaev. Like Alekseenko, Chigaev comes from Russia and, at the age of 21, only outgrew his "youth" a year ago.

Bronze went to Mikhail Antipov — yet another young and talented Russian player, who made it to the podium with two wins in the final rounds. The victim of Antipov's last offensive, incidentally, was the Swedish number one, Nils Grandelius.

Aryan Tari chatting with Nils Grandelius | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund


Antipov's final stroke

Thus, the Russian junior trio was complete. Behind them in fourth position was the Dane, Allan Stig Rasmussen. In the standings he is the lone player among the top seven who was not born in the late nineties!

Allan Stig Rasmussen | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Jon Ludvig Hammer, Rilton Cup winner 2015/16 | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

The Cramling-Bellon family: Anna, Juan Manuel and Pia | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Final standings (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Alekseenko Kirill 7,5 43,5
2 Chigaev Maksim 7,0 43,5
3 Antipov Mikhail Al. 7,0 41,0
4 Rasmussen Allan Stig 7,0 40,5
5 Salomon Johan 6,5 47,0
6 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 6,5 46,0
7 Gledura Benjamin 6,5 45,0
8 Hammer Jon Ludvig 6,5 43,5
9 Sasikiran Krishnan 6,5 42,0
10 Piorun Kacper 6,0 46,5
11 Tari Aryan 6,0 46,0
12 Grandelius Nils 6,0 45,5
13 Nihal Sarin 6,0 43,5
14 Lobanov Sergei 6,0 43,5
15 Eggleston David J 6,0 39,0
16 Santos Ruiz Miguel 6,0 38,0
17 Ivanov Sergey 6,0 36,5
18 Valsecchi Alessio 6,0 35,5
19 Krasenkow Michal 5,5 46,5
20 Santos Latasa Jaime 5,5 46,5

... 126 players

All games



Marco Baldauf, born 1990, has been playing since he was eight. In 2000 and 2002 he became German Junior Champion, in 2014 he became International Master. He plays for SF Berlin in the Bundesliga.


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