Скачать шахматы бесплатно
18 December 2018

Without Second Thoughts

Eteri Kublashvili reports about the start of the 2018 Nutcracker Tournament

Starting a week from now in St. Petersburg is one of the biggest chess events – King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships – whereas preceding this international forum and starting in Moscow right now is a generation tournament Nutcracker – a traditional, cozy and chamber Christmas event. The Central Chess Club wears a festive apparel, and decorating the Big Hall is a new year tree, chiming with Christmas mood and expectation of miracles to come - at least on the chess board.

While team Kings will habitually test team Princes, the second section has changed its format as it is no longer Queens vs Princesses, but Boys vs Girls, each team featuring a solid lineup.

With many Nutcracker participants heading for St. Petersburg afterwards, this match-tournament will serve an excellent prep for rapid and blitz, all the more so that it is split into classical and rapid sections. A classical game victory brings 2 points and a draw - 1 point.

Team Kings features Boris Gelfand, Evgeniy Najer, Peter Leko and a newly elected FIDE Vice-President Nigel Short, debuting in this event. 

Defending the honor of team Princes will be the leading young chess players of Russia: David Paravyan, finalist of the 2018 Russian Cup; Alexey Sarana, a winner of the 2018 Russian Championship Higher League; Andrey Esipenko, the 2018 Rapid European vice-champion, and Semyon Lomasov, a winner of the U20 2018 Russian championship.

Let me remind that shining last year were Princes, displacing Kings from the pedestal for the first time despite presence of Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. 

Playing for team Boys are Volodar Murzin, Ilya Makoveev, Robert Safin, and Aleksey Grebnev. Team Girls is represented by Alexandra Obolentseva, Aleksandra Dimitrova, Ekaterina Goltseva, and Kamaliya Bulatova.

Commenting the tournament in Russian is grandmaster Sergey Shipov, and in English – Alexander Morozevich, who was joined for round one by Alexandra Kosteniuk. Evgenij Miroshnichenko will replace Morozevich for the second half of the event.

The tournament is co-organized by the Russian Chess Federation, Chess Support Fund and businessman Oleg Skvortsov. 

The winning teams are awarded with Cups and cash prizes. Best performers (classical + rapid) are awarded with special prizes. Besides, organizers give prizes for creative achievements.

The opening ceremony saw FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich giving a brief speech to greet participants and wish them good luck. Chief arbiter Alexander Tkachev refreshed about tournament regulations, upon which the floor was taken by RCF’s executive director Mark Glukhovsky. 

Asserting themselves right from the word go were Princes, defeating "Kings" 6:2 without respect of persons or second thoughts. Becoming newsmakers of the day were Andrey Esipenko, who has defeated Peter Leko, and Alexey Sarana, who has outplayed Evgeniy Najer.

Alexey Sarana, “Evgeny surprised me in the opening (which was 6.Qd3 Najdorf - ed.), in which my followup play was probably imprecise. In fact, I thought I was worse. However, a critical moment happened after my opponent’s 14. Be3.

Najer – Sarana

I think Evgeny simply overlooked 14…Qb6 with the idea of 15…Bh6. I believe White should have kept some pressure with 14. Qxd8+ Rxd8 15. Be3. 

I am clearly better and run no risks after White’s queen sacrifice for a rook and a bishop. Nevertheless, the game's fate was sealed only later in time trouble. I think Evgeniy should have refrained from playing 31. g4.


This kingside break gave White nothing but problems. Instead, he should have marked time because my play was imprecise and gave me a compromised pawn structure. 31. g4 resulted in breaking up of the position.


The 56. Rh7 retreat seems a decisive error to me, upon which I am winning with 56…Qd2+ 57. Kb1 Qxc3 etc. 56. Rg7 seems a tougher response to me, at which point I was looking into Kc8 (however, taking the white rook after 57. Rc7+ results in what seems like a drawn ending) and 56…Ne7».

In the game, Black gave the queen back for a rook and a bishop at an opportune moment and ended up winning the endgame with a knight vs a bishop and an extra g-passer.  

Andrey Esipenko has employed Boris Gelfand’s favorite bind in the Rogozin defense when playing White against Peter Leko. During post-mortem in the press center with Sergey Shipov, the Hungarian grandmaster admitted to having confused the opening lines and getting worse for that reason. 

Esipenko – Leko


Andrey Esipenko, “The opponent started by erring in the opening by opting for 12…Bxc3+ in lieu of the more principled 12…Qxg2. I followed by gradually taking the opponent’s position in a bind.

I thought I was winning after the opening, and in general it was a “clean” game free of errors. Nevertheless, I was apparently acting not in the most technical way, giving Peter a chance to bail out at the end:

Black should have opted for 52…exd5 53. exd5 Qa7+ 54. Kh2 Bxf3!; however, even this position is not that simple, especially taking into account the opponent's lack of time. In general, I was in control for the whole game, having an edge in this regard. 

In the game Peter chose 52…e5, after which I am simply winning as my pawn is unstoppable.

Ending in a draw were the games Gelfand – Paravyan and Lomasov – Short.

Girls defeated Boys 5:3. A victory to the fair sex was brought by Kamaliya Bulatova by defeating Aleksey Grebnev.

Pairings of round two: 

“Kings” – “Princes”

Gelfand - Esipenko, Najer - Lomasov, Paravyan - Leko, Sarana - Short

“Boys” – “Girls”

Murzin - Goltseva, Makoveev - Bulatova, Obolentseva - Safin, Dimitrova – Grebnev.

← Back
Нажмите на название месяца, чтобы посмотреть все новости за данный месяц.

Нажмите на любой день месяца, который подчеркнут и является ссылкой, чтобы посмотреть все новости за этот день.