Zurich: Haik Martirosyan tops five-way tie

by André Schulz
1/2/2019 – Five players tied for first place in the Zurich Christmas Open with 18-year-old Armenian GM Haik Martirosyan (pictured in 2017) having the best tiebreak ahead of fellow GMs Rasmus Svane, Narayanan SL, Dennis Wagner and Andrei Istratescu. Defending champion Christan Bauer finished sixth, a half point back. | Photo: Lennart Ootes / St. Louis Chess Club

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Of the year-end European opens, another with a long tradition is the Zurich Christmas Open was held December 26th to 30th. This year was the 42nd edition played at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Intercontinental). The seven-round Swiss included a "championship" tournament (for those over 2000 Elo) involving nearly 100 players, including eleven grandmasters.

After seven rounds, five players finished tied with 5½ points. Thanks to the best tiebreak, the 18-year-old Armenian Haik Martirosyan was declared the winner. He made a quick 12-move draw with co-leader Narayanan S.L. to clinch a share of first, allowing Rasmus Svane, Andrei Istratescu and Dennis Wagner to catch up by winning their final round games. Istratescu scored his clutch win with the black pieces against GM Matthias Bluebuam who was left in 14th place with 4½ points.


After 22.Qxh5 (the point being that 22...Rxg5 23.Qh4 is an annoying pin, e.g. 23...Rag8 24.Rg1) or 22.Rxh5 White retains some advantage, but he played 22.f4 and was worse after 22...fxe4 23.Bh3 Nc5 and losing after 24.Kb1 (retreating 24.Bf1 was a better way to defend because it frees up the h3-square for the rook) 24...e3 25.Rhf1 Ne4 with dual fork threats of Nd2+ and Rg6 followed by Ng3.

Final standings

Rg. Name Pkt.  Wtg1 
1 Martirosyan Haik M. 5,5 31,5
2 Svane Rasmus 5,5 30,5
3 Narayanan.S.L 5,5 30,0
4 Wagner Dennis 5,5 29,0
5 Istratescu Andrei 5,5 29,0
6 Bauer Christian 5,0 32,0
7 Kunin Vitaly 5,0 32,0
8 Kurmann Oliver 5,0 30,5
9 Le Tuan Minh 5,0 29,0
10 Vorobiov Evgeny E. 5,0 29,0
11 Laurent-Paoli Pierre 5,0 27,5
12 Boyer Mahel 5,0 27,0
13 Pikula Dejan 4,5 32,0
14 Bluebaum Matthias 4,5 32,0
15 Fedorovsky Michael 4,5 30,0
16 Heinemann Josefine 4,5 29,5
17 Krishna C R G 4,5 29,0
18 Berend Fred 4,5 29,0
19 Burmakin Vladimir 4,5 28,5
20 Fecker Noah 4,5 28,0
21 Zude Arno 4,5 27,5
22 Drechsler Christoph 4,5 25,5
23 Curien Nicolas 4,5 24,0
24 Troyke Christian 4,5 22,0
25 Palozza Christian 4,5 19,5
26 Florescu Codrut-Constantin 4,0 28,0

...98 players

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Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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