16 June 2015

Along with the Stars

Dmitry Kryakvin reviews the results of Vanya Somov’s Memorial.

Only having visited my second World’s Youth Stars in Kirishi this year, I realized how strong were the players of Vanya Somov’s Memorial in 2014. Some of them won medals of the World and European Junior Championships, and Sasha Bortnik, who dominated his age group in South Africa, fulfilled all GM norms, and got tremendous ratings in speed chess, was only third in Kirishi. The trio of prominent Russian youngsters – Alexey Sarana, Saveliy Golubov, and Andrey Esipenko – had a grueling time and finished the event in the second half of the standings.

This time organizers did not manage to gather such an eminent lineup. Gennady Nesis complained about the absence of strong Armenian juniors and the 11-year-old Uzbek child prodigy Nodirbek Abdusattorov, already rated 2443. The did not come to Kirishi because their representatives were not responding for quite a while, and when they suddenly accepted the invitation, the lineup had already been confirmed... "I wish we had 18 or 20 players, like in Soviet championships!"

However, it should be noted that Giorgi Sibashvili (Georgia), Abdulla Gadimbayli (Azerbaijan), Valeriy Kazakovskiy (Belarus), Thore Perske (his name is spelled differently, but when I asked the German about the Scandinavian god with an axe, he nodded affirmatively), Matyas Marek (Czech Republic) and Ariel Erenberg (Israel) represented their national teams in Junior Olympiads, which means they are among the top three most promising juniors in their countries. Most of them will take part in this year's Olympiad again. It should be noted that Thore Perske showed one of the best performances among all participants of the latest Junior Olympiad.

One of the traditions of the World’s Youth Stars is participation of a promising girl. This is where Nazi Paikidze started her journey to the glorious Superfinal, and where future Junior World Champion Anna Styazhkina perfected her skills. The little star from Kazakhstan Dinara Saduakassova did not have an easy time in Kirishi, as she left the event after four defeats in a row for health reasons. This time Kirishi chess fans expected to see their best chess player, young Svetlana Tishova. Of course, it was a tough event for her: competition for the top spots was enormous, and all other players fought against the local player with maximum effort. Tishova resisted desperately, often being the last player in the hall, nevertheless she lacked experience of playing at such a high level.

Gadimbayli – Tishova
Round 4

Abdulla beat off Black's counter threats and advanced his pawn to the desired promotion square. Now after 30.Rbd1 White would definitely win, but in the mutual time trouble Gadimbayli blundered. 

30.Nd7?? Bxd8 31.Nxb6 Bxc7 32.Bxc7 Rc2!

It turns out that Black can double rooks on the second rank with a tempo, obtaining a big advantage!

33.Nd5 Ree2 34.Bb8 Rxg2+ 35.Kh1 f4! 36.Re1 Rh2+ 37.Kg1

Here a simple 37...Rcg2+ 38.Kf1 Rxb2 wins, as there is no perpetual check: 39.Re8+ Kf7 40.Re7+ Kg6 41.Re6+ Kh5. However, Sveta got nervous and rushed to secure a draw with the eminent guest. 

37...Rhg2+ 38.Kh1 Rh2+ 39.Kg1 Draw.

Svetlana Tishova

Abdulla Gadimbayli

Abdulla Gadimbayli's performance was equally rough. It turned out that the player from Azerbaijan played in Aeroflot Open, Al-Ain junior event, Nakhichevan Open (where he gained 53 Elo points), and in a local tournament without having any rest, so he simply ran out of gas. Last year Abdulla lost only one game while clearly being unlucky in many other games; this year he suffered seven defeats. To his credit, he pulled himself together in the second part of the event and showed his true strength against Khanin and Kozionov.

Khanin – Gadimbayli
Round 8


White is lagging in development, and the punishment turns out to be rough.

14...Rxf3! 15.Qxf3 Qxh2+ 16.Kf1 Nce5 17.Qh3 Qxh3 18.gxh3 Nxe3+ 19.fxe3 Nxd3 with a win.

Maksim Chigaev, the highest rated player with a couple of excellent results in men's events under his belt, looked like a clear favorite in Kirishi. However, he, like Gadimbayli, took part in many competitions prior to Kirishi, which took its toll, and his journey to the first place was not only a smooth sailing. 

Still, only Kirill Kozionov had chances to upset him in this tournament, but did not use the opportunity, and the winner's +5 score ensured him the place of honor along with Karjakin, Nepomniachtchi, Dubov, and Artemiev.

Erenberg – Chigaev
Round 5

1.d4 d6 2.e4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Nc3 c5 5.d5 Bxc3+!? 6.bxc3 f5


Typical Maksim – he is a natural optimist who can start the game with 1.b3 or 1.f4 and defeat a very strong opponent. Here he choses a highly offbeat line to ruin a home preparation of the Israeli junior, who is known for his fundamental opening knowledge.

Usually White met such an impudence very aggressively. For example, Saleh Salem played 7.exf5 Bxf5 8.g4!? (calmer grandmasters without southern ancestry preferred 8.Ne2 Qa5 9.Qb3 Qb6 10.Ng3). Ariel also decided to roll Black over.

7.h4!? Nf6 8.h5 Rg8

9.hxg6 hxg6 10.exf5 Bxf5 (or 10...gxf5 11.Ne2) 11.Nf3 looked decent, eying the е6-square, but White ran off his feet and gave a check, missing that the queen's exchange is forced. 

9.Qa4+?! Qd7! 10.Qxd7+ Nbxd7

Now there is no checkmate, while weakness of White's pawn chain is still present.

11.hxg6 hxg6 12.exf5 gxf5 13.Bf4 a6 14.Nf3?

Of course 14.a4 was necessary.

14...b5 15.cxb5 Nb6! 16.a4 axb5 17.Bxb5+ Bd7 18.0–0 Nfxd5!

The central fortress falls, and Black's pawn structure looks like wrestler's trapezoid muscles, while White is committed to defend his weaknesses.

19.Bd2 Bxb5 20.axb5 Kd7 21.Rfd1 Nc4 22.Be1 Rxa1 23.Rxa1 Nc7, and soon Chigaev captured both b5 and c3-pawns.

Maksim Chigaev

Who could compete with Maksim Chigaev? Before the start Alexey Zenzera, Kirill Kozionov and Semen Khanin were considered his main rivals, but in my opinion only Kirill can be somewhat satisfied with his final result. Khanin started with two mighty wins, mating Andrey Esipenko in the Tyumen derby, and it seemed to be just a start of the Russian Championship U17 runner-up’s ascent, who, by the way, has the second rating in his age group after Alexey Sarana. However, something inexplicable started to happen in the next rounds. Like Sarana a year before, Khanin complained about horrible blunders, started losing game after game and finished only 9th. The following game against the player from Czech Republic looks like an exaggerated mould of Khanin's failures...

Marek – Khanin
Round 9


Black outplayed his opponent, and after the simple 25...Bd7 26.Qf2 Bf6 27.Qxg3 Rxg3 28.Kf2 Rg7 29.Rg1 Rxg1 30.Kxg1 Kf7 Marek would have to defend a complicated endgame with Khanin's King's Indian bishop dominating over the position. However, this was not enough for Khanin, and he calculated a combination...

25... Bd4?? 26.exd4 e3

It seems very beautiful. Variations 27.Qe2 Qxf4+ 28.Ke1 (28.Qf3 e2+) 28...Qh4+ 29.Kf1 f4 30.Qf3 Bf5 31.Be2 Kh8 32.Nd1 Rag8 or 27.Qc2 Qxf4+ 28.Ke1 (28.Ke2 Rg2+) 28...Qh4+ 29.Kf1 f4 30.Bf3 Bxh3+ 31.Ke2 Qf2+ would allow the Russian to claim a beauty prize. 

However, the one and only defensive opportunity has escaped his attention.


And Black is just a piece down.

Gennady Nesis and Semen Khanin

Alexey Zenzera scored 6.5/11 and shared the 5th place with Valeriy Kazakovskiy. The Petersburger born in Omsk is a talented player, but it feels like he has other hobbies, which make it hard to focus on chess. The following scene from the recent Russian U21 Championship in Loo is quite telling in this regard.

Zenzera is going to play as White against Rail Makhmutov – a strong junior from Kazan with a well worked-out and solid opening repertoire. Shortly before the game Alexey meets his friend Chigaev and asks him: "Maks, I don't know what to play. I would like to play the Trompowsky Allack – 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5, but I am confused about 2...Ne4!” Chigaev, in his usual manner, answers: “Just stick it in with 3.h4!” Here the preparation was over. It all happened in the game, and Zenzera won. He also outplayed the eventual winner Ivan Bukavshin and the medal-winner Dmitry Gordievsky, but ended the event in the middle of the pack. Such a talented Robin Hood he is, who does not prepare for the games...

Alexey Zenzera

In Kirishi Alexey had a rough time: a defeat from Kazakovskiy was followed by many draws. After the thriller draw against Perske he lost any chances for finishing in the top three.

Zenzera – Perske
Round 10


Thore's position is critical: four pawns down, with just a few seconds left on the clock, and the natural 32...Rxa3 33.Qh6+ Kg8 with the idea 34.Qg5+ Qxg5 35.fxg5 Ra1+ 36.Bb1 Rb8 37.Kc2 Bxe5 38.Rxe6 Bg7 is refuted by 34.Bf5!!, prepared by Zenzera. However, in spite of the heavy time pressure, Perske found a beautiful chance.

32...Qb7 33.Qe4 Qb2+ 34.Kd1 Rxa3 35.Rf1?!

This natural move highly complicates White's way to the victory. He could win by 35.Qh7! Ra1+ 36.Ke2 Rxh1 37.Qh8+ Kf7 (37...Ke7 38.Qf6#) 38.Rd7+ Re7 39.Qh7+ with mate. It seems that the rook's move forces a won rook ending: 35...Ra1+ 36.Ke2 Ra2 37.Rfd1! (not the hasty 37.f5? in view of 37...Qxc2+ 38.Qxc2 Rxc2+ 39.Kd3 Bxe5) 37...Qxc2+ (37...Bxe5 also doesn't save – 38.R6d2! Bc3 39.Rb1) 38.Qxc2 Rxc2+ 39.Kd3 Bxe5 40.Kxc2 Bxd6 41.Rxd6, and White should convert two extra pawns.



Here Alexey fell into thought, spent almost all his time, but failed to find a fine win, which was so close: 36.Qh7!! Bxd6.

In the queen ending 36...Ra1+ 37.Ke2 Bxd6 38.Rxa1 Qxa1 39.Qh8+ Kf7 40.Bg6+ Kxg6 41.Qxe8+ Kf5 (41...Kg7 42.Qd7+) 42.Qh5+ Ke4 43.Qh7+ Kd5 44.Qd3+ Black is down too many pawns.

37.Qh8+ Kf7.

37...Ke7 38.exd6+ loses a queen. 

And now come two sacrifices in a row: 38.Bg6+! Kxg6 39.f5+! exf5 (39...Kf7 40.Qh7+ Kf8 41.fxe6+) 40.Qf6+ Kh7 (one more beautiful mate – 40...Kh5 41.g4+! Kxg4 42.Qxf5+ Kh4 43.Rf4#) 41.Qxf5+ Kh6 42.Qf6+ Kh7 43.Qf7+ Kh8 44.Qxe8+ Kh7 45.Rf7+, and it is all over for the black king.

The move in the game leads only to a perpetual check.

36.Qg6 Bxd6 37.Qf6+ Kg8 38.Qg5+ Kf8 39.Qf6+ Kg8 40.Bh7+ Kxh7 41.Qf7+ Kh6 42.Qf6+ Kh7 43.Qf7+ Kh6, and the players peacefully shook hands.

Thore Perske

At the beginning Kirill Kozionov played confidently, quickly moved on +3 while missing winning chances against Zenzera and Chigaev, but then was outplayed by Giorgi Sibashvili, and committed a real chess suicide against Gadimbayli. Defining moment for the player from Izhevsk came in the round 10, when he, being on a slump, battled Semen Khanin. Kozionov's position was precarious, at some point he could even lose material, but Khanin's slump proved more severe. Eventually Kirill won this game, then defeated Erenberg, and finished third, surpassing Esipenko, whose tie-break was inferior because he lost the individual encounter with Kozionov. 

Kozionov – Esipenko
Round 6


Where should the king retreat – to е6 or с6? Looks like a famous position from Dvoretsky-Smyslov. Unfortunately, this is the very case when knowing a classic example lets you down. Andrey held his king on the way of the opponent's pawn fist, while in this specific pawn structure organizing counterplay on the queenside was demanded.


Correct is 27...Kc6!, and here after 28.Bc3 Ra8 29.Rd5 (or 29.Rg1 Rxa4 30.g4 hxg4+ 31.Rxg4 Ra1) 29...Rxa4 30.Rxh5 b5 31.Rh7 b4 the pawn race begins. The black king on c7 does not give White extra tempi and protects the bishop on с7.  

28.Be1!? is trickier, but then Black is not obliged to choose the dangerous 28...Ra8 29.Rd5 Rxa4 30.Rxh5, and can also make a waiting move. 

28.Bc3 Ra8

Unfortunately, the a4-pawn blocks Esipenko's queenside, that is why 28...Bd6 29.Rd5 or 28...Rd8 29.Rxd8 Bxd8 30.g4 hxg4+ 31.Kxg4 Bc7 32.h5 is absolutely hopeless. White effectively plays with an extra pawn.

29.Rd5 Rxa4 30.Rxh5 Bd6?

This is a decisive mistake – an effort to consolidate on the kingside is refuted with a forced line. It was necessary to activate rook and pawns immediately by 30...Ra1 31.Rh8 (31.Rh7 Kf7) 31...b5, retaining survival chances.

31.Rh7 Bf8

31...Kf7 does not rescue either – 32.e5 fxe5 33.fxe5 Bf8 34.e6+ Kxe6 35.h5! (35.Bxg7 Bxg7 36.Rxg7 is too early – 36...Kf6 37.Rxb7 Rb4) 35...b5 36.Bxg7 Bxg7 37.Rxg7 Rb4, and here comes 38.Rg5! Rxb2 (38...c4 loses to 39.h6 Rxb2 40.Rh5) 39.Rxc5 – doubled passed pawns are stronger. However, in this line Kozionov would have to find a couple of exact solutions, while here he wins much easier. 


32.Rh8! Bd6

Unfortunately, 32...Kf7 is answered by 33.h5 b5 34.h6 gxh6 35.Bxf6!, getting doubled passed pawns. Then game continued

33.h5 b5 34.h6 gxh6 35.Rh7 Be7 36.f5+ Kd6 37.Rxh6 Kd7 38.Bxf6 Bxf6 39.Rxf6 Rb4 40.e5 Rxb2 41.Rf7+, and Black resigned. 

The third-place finisher Kirill Kozionov

As it was already mentioned in my reports, Giorgi Sibashvili became Chigaev's main rival. The young Georgian star suffered an early crash against Marek, then nearly lost to Esipenko, but survived and from that moment was only picking up speed, playing some great games and reducing the gap with the leader. 

At that time Valeriy Kazakovskiy was also in contention for the first place, playing well for the whole event despite losing to Marek. Chigaev went ahead, defeating Tishova, and his main rivals played a game that nearly gave their fathers heart attacks.

Kazakovskiy – Sibashvili
Round 10


White just started a daring king march, not caring about pawn losses, and forced the opponent to part with a piece. I followed the final stage of the game together with Maksim Chigaev, and he whispered me the winning line: 59.Nf7+ Kc7 60.Nd6+ Kb8 (60...Kd8 61.Ke6) 61.Rg8+ Ka7 (61...Kc7 62.Ke6) 62.Nc8+ Kb8 63.Nb6+ Kc7 64.Rc8, checkmate! However, the players have already ran out of time and could only use the increment – 30 seconds per move, so miracles started to happen.

59.Ke6? Kc8!

Now the mating net has a hole – the black king slips out via a6. Valera did not notice a change of scenery, and soon Black started playing for win.

60.Nd7 Re4+ 61.Kd6 Re8 62.Nb6+ Kb8 63.Rg4 Rh8 64.Ke5 Ka7 65.Kd4 a5 66.Nd7 Ka6 67.Rg1 Rh7 68.Ne5 Rh4+ 69.Kc3 Rh3+ 70.Kd4 Rb3 71.Nf7 Rb4+ 72.Kd3 Rc4 73.Rb1 Rxc5 74.Nd6 b5


White lost a pawn, but there are still chances to draw after 75.Kd4 Rc2 76.Kd3 Rg2 77.Rc1 Kb6 78.Nc8+.


Now Kazakovskiy is in real trouble – four pawns easy beat a knight.

75...b4 76.Ra1 Rc3+ 77.Kd4 Rc2 78.Rb1

And here, instead of 78...Kb6, Black blundered.

78...c5+? 79.Kxd5 a4 80.Nc4 a3 81.Kxc5 

The pawns cannot make progress!

81...a2 82.Ra1 b3 83.Kb4 Rh2 84.Kxb3 Kb5 85.Na3+ Kc5 86.Nc2 Rh3+ 87.Kxa2 

Giorgi easily held with a rook against a rook and a knight.

In the final round another torments befell the player from Belarus – he had to defend a much more difficult 5-piece position: a rook versus a rook and a bishop. The classical Philidor position occurred, and Perske, after some fruitless maneuvering, recalled the winning bishop manoeuvre, pulling Kazakovskiy off the top three. 

It should be noted that Sibashvili, who took the second place, and Kazakovskiy both made an IM norm. It was the second norm for Sibashvili. 

Valery Kazakovskiy

Giorgi Sibashvili

The youngest participant Andrey Esipenko joined the leading group thanks to his strong finish. Andrey gained many rating points and scored as many points as Kozionov despite very unfavorable pairings: Esipenko had Black against five strongest players. However, the 13-year-old player was upset by his performance – Andrey wanted a revenge for the last round in Loo, where he finished second in Russian Youth Championship because of his failure as White. This time he could win all six White games, but did not find the winning continuations in key games with Sibashvili and Kazakovskiy. Nevertheless, his best achievement was the following victory as Black.

Perske – Esipenko
Round 4


Despite simplifications it is too early to speak of an inevitable draw. Trading bishops calls for itself for White: 20.Bd3 Bxd3 21.Rxd3, but then, for example, 21...Bf8, and if the c6-knight moves to d5, Black will have a small advantage typical to the Meran Variation. Perske is a combative player, and his moves and gestured made it very clear he is not content with a draw and wants to maintain pressure.

20.g4? (mind the f4-square!) 20...Bg6 21.Kg2 Rxd1 22.Qxd1 Qc7 23.Qe2

How should Black's knight meet the white king? Andrey found the quickest and most direct way.

23...a6! 24.Bb3 b5 25.Ne1 a5! 26.Qxb5

The alternative 26.bxa5 is also quite sad: 26...Nxa5 27.Qxb5 Be4+ 28.Kg1 (28.f3 loses immediately to 28...Bc6 29.Qd3 Bh4 30.Nc2 Qb6) 28...Bc6 29.Qd3 Nxb3 30.Qxb3 Qa7 31.Qc4 Ba8, and White cannot protect against Black's pieces invasion.

26...axb4 27.axb4 Nxb4 28.Nf3?

The last step in the abyss. 28.f3 Qa7 29.Qe2 Bh4 is also bad, but the computer recommends to establish control over the h4-square by the fearless 28.Kg3! 

A quick execution followed.

28...Nd3 29.Bd4 Be4 30.Bd1 Ne1+ 31.Kg3 Bxf3 32.Bxf3


32...Bh4+! 33.Kf4 Qc1+ 34.Be3 g5+ 35.Ke4 Qc2+ 36.Kd4 Nxf3 with a checkmate in the center of the board. 

The youngest participant Andrey Esipenko

Matyas Marek play was unstable, but he managed to upset Sibashvili and Kazakovskiy, beating the latter in an especially nice fashion.

Marek – Kazakovskiy
Round 7


Where is compensation for a piece? Black's pieces control invasion squares and his knight goes to f5 on the next move. Here it is: Matyas confidently strikes at the overprotected point!

27.f5! Nxf5 28.Rf1 Qb6 29.Rxf5+! gxf5 30.Qxf5+

Black's large but disorganized army failed to save the king.

30...Bf6 31.Qxd5+ Ne6 32.Qd7+ Be7 33.Rf2+ Kg6 34.Qxe7 Rg7 35.Rf6+ Kh7 36.Qxe6 Qxe6 37.Rxe6 Rf8 38.Be5 Rd7 39.Rh6+ Black resigned.

Ariel Erenberg worked very hard, but, despite strong opening performance, clearly lacked experience. He finished on the 10th place.

Ariel Erenberg

Final standings: 1. M. Chigaev 8/11, 2. G. Sibashvili 7.5, 3. К. Kozionov, 4. А. Esipenko – both 7, 5-6. V. Kazakovskiy, A. Zenzera – both 6.5, 7. Т. Perske – 6, 8. М. Marek – 5.5, 9. S. Khanin – 4.5, 10. А. Erenberg – 4, 11. А. Gadimbayli – 3, 12. S. Tishova – 0.5. 

I hope that the World’s Youth Stars integration into the announced European junior Grand Prix series should attract even more attention to the event, and lots of new Russian chess talents would get through it.  The best representatives of the generation born in the third millennium should prepare for grand achievements, and let the great event in Kirishi, devoted to the memory of a talented boy with enrapt face and playful eyes, last for years!