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3 March 2018

A Tournament for Gentlemen in the Prime of Life

Dmitry Kryakvin reports from Serpukhov about the Grand Prix stage

February has visited Moscow with its habitual frosts. The capital city’s chess life, however, is zeroed in on Aeroflot Open, the main section of which will determine the lucky winner of the ticket to Dortmund.  However, not all strongest fighters of the capital city and regions are there at the start of the prestigious competition held in the hotel Cosmos.  Youngsters have an ultimate belief in their strength, this being the reason of practically every promising male and female athlete of Russia fighting it out there at the VDNH center.  As for the seasoned chess wolves, they rather opted for Serpukhov.  When you are a family man, the prospect of parting with an entrance fee of 1500 rubles is much easier on you than a potential drop of some 400 points from your Elo rating.

The meeting place can not be changed!

Thus, the starting list of Serpukhov Rapid was topped by Pavel Ponkratov, Boris Grachev, Evgeny Alekseev, Dmitry Kokarev, Alexander Rakhmanov, Boris Savchenko, Dmitry Frolyanov, Alexei Pridorozhni, Ivan Popov, Dmitry Bocharov, Alexander Morozevich, Artem Timofeev, Sergei Volkov, Ilya Iljiushenok, Alexey Goganov and other strong chess players.  But for Ilya, we have a club of those who are on the other side of Alexander Khalifman’s famous 27 year- rule.  One of the participants even joked that this is a tournament for gentlemen in the prime of life.

Serpukhov is a historically important point on the chess map of our country. This is about the children's championships of the 1990s, gladiatorial round-robins with master and grandmaster norms, the beloved health resort "Green Noise", the Russian Cup finals of the 2000s.  I remember visiting the city first time in 2007 for the Cup final.  It took the bus long to reach the Central Chess Player’s House through traffic jams, but once there we found ourselves on a dinner event. There is so much to say about those dinners, when your stomach is already full but they keep serving you again and again. We failed to appreciate it back then, no one warned that some 10 years later such dinners (apart from individual initiatives of the hospitable Siberians) would entirely disappear in from chess tournament agendas.

A room, in which I, not yet a grandmaster, was accommodated in 2007, was spacious enough to admit 10 persons.  Your daily allowance money could feed you 5 meals a day! This is something to recall.  Nowadays, let's say, the Rapid Grand Prix series is on an obvious rise, gathering serious lineups, and the final held to the Rublevsky formula is extremely exciting, whereas the classic Cup, as opposed to that, is in an obvious crisis zone.  Thanks to the natives of Ugra for financing the finals, and personally to Dima Jakovenko for maintaining the competition’s prestige year after year.  10 years ago the near Moscow was visited by the best of Russia’s chess, save for the national team members.  The Cup was inferior to the Superfinal only by absence of Grischuk and Svidler.

By the way, the stylish hotel Rus pleasantly embraced its guests with rooms and conceptual breakfasts. Each room carried its own name, such as boyar’s, royal’s, cook’s, etc. Especially happy was the rating-favorite Pavel Ponkratov, who was accommodated in the hussar’s. Therefore, a pirate and filibuster had to settle for wearing a hussar’s doloman for a couple of days.

Hussar’s and royal’s chambers look forward to their guests!

The event was taking place in the school building bearing a proud title Educational Center - the cutting edge of Serpukhov’s scientific and technological ideas, so to speak.  It is true, however, that the participants were welcomed not only by organizers represented by Mikhail Krjukov, but also by the school’s typical Austere Teacher.  “You need to wear your indoor shoes here!” an Austere Teacher addressed one of the rating favorites austerely. Hearing it gave me goosebumps as if I had a nightmare in which the university, working for the Russian Chess Federation and the coaching career was not real, and your reporter was again a 10th grade pupil.  “Well, I am not a schoolboy, I am here to play chess,” replied a mildly respected grandmaster, but it far from convinced the Austere Teacher. “Then go buy your boot covers! Otherwise no entry here!” was a winning sentence delivered by the home field representative.

The tournament favorites formed a dense pack as day one finished with 5 out of 6 for as many as nine players. Kryakvin - Ponkratov battle has proven crucial in this respect. As you know by now, there is no winning Pavel even if you have a winning position. Mysticism, magic - call it whatever you like.  However, your humble servant got a sudden support ... from the church!  In St. Petersburg, there lives a man of cloth Dmitry Dmitriev - a priest, chess player and an ardent proponent of the Trompowsky Attack.  He has contributed a thorough article to the RCF website about the opening and its author, having visited Brazil for this purpose.

So, thanks to Dmitriev, who constantly sends me various articles and excerpts from foreign books on the Trompowsky, I confronted the tournament No.1 with this tricky opening.  Trompowsky is not to everyone’s taste, but I was supported by holy power, feeling myself much like Peresvet coming out to challenge the hitherto undefeated Chelubey. And, lo and behold, I managed to win the game without any miracles taking place in between.  Let me note that despite a couple of vexing failures, the Chelyabinsk player still showed his usual outstanding self at the finish to prove his highest class.  As for me, Trompowsky fetched me an important point against Dmitry Bocharov as soon as the next round.  This is what a life-giving "Tromp" is capable of!

Dmitry rushed to catch up, taking Volkov and Rakhmanov down as a result of strong-willed performance. Everything was to be decided in the ultimate round, where Bocharov was opposed by a brave hussar, and I had to face Aleksei Pridorozhni.  Pridorozhni, Ponkratov, Kokarev and Morozevich trailed behind the leaders by a half point, which gave the final battle its special poignancy.

Pridorozhni – Kryakvin

Round 11


White bravely declined a draw proposed shortly before, but then Aleksei crossed the line of safety in the opposite-colored bishop ending to give Black his coveted counterattacking chances.  

36...Qf3! 37.Kc2

During the game I saw 37.Qb3 a4 38.Qc2 Re8 39.Qxa4 Qxd3+ 40.Rxd3 f1Q+ 41.Rd1 Qf5+, remaining up a piece. However, the game would be open to any result, this being a rapid format.  

37...Re8! 38.Qxd6 Re2+ 39.Kc3?

An excellent practical chance with mere seconds on the clock was to be found in 39.Bxe2! Qxe2+ 40.Kc3 Bd2+ (40...Qxd1? 41.Qf8+ Kh7 42.Qf5+ with a draw by perpetual) 41.Rxd2 Qe3+ 42.Rd3 Qc1+ 43.Kb3 f1Q 44.Rc3, and a pair of black queens is far from an immediately derisive factor yet! Now Black wins by force.  

39...f1Q 40.Qb8+

40.Rxf1 Bd2+ 41.Kb3 (41.Kc2 Bb4+) 41...Qxd3+ 42.Ka4 Qxc4+ fails to help out either.  

40...Qf8 41.Rxf1 Qxb8 42.Bxe2 Qb4+ White resigns. Coupled with a draw in Bocharov - Ponkratov, this game secured a first place to its winner!  

Final standings: 1st. D. Kryakvin - with 9 of 11; 2. D. Bocharov - 8.5; 3rd. D. Kokarev, 4th. A. Rakhmanov, 5th. P. Ponkratov, 6th. A. Morozevich - with 8 points each; 7th. B Grachev, 8th. A. Pridorozhni, 9th. S. Volkov, 10-11th. S. Volkov, V. Nozdrachev, 12th. R. Hasangatin, 1th3. D. Frolyanov, 14th. T. Fakhrutdinov, 15th. O. Girya, 16th. K. Novikov - with 7.5.


By the way, my lines about the Kolomna cup have backfired on its author.  In the express train Tula - Moscow the trophy from Serpukhov fell apart all of a sudden sudden!  Thanks to Aram Yeritsyan’s father, who managed to put it together in Moscow later on.  Dear readers, I wish you to be safe and sound and that nothing unpleasant like above said befalls you!  That’s it for now - in store for us are the stages in Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude, and I will definitely revisit Kostroma in a while. 

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