24 December 2018

Draw Favours “Princes”

Eteri Kublashvili reports about the Nutcracker Tournament’s finale

Having just finished in Moscow is a traditional Christmas match-tournament of the generations “Nutcracker.” December 22 saw final battles Kings vs. Princes and Boys vs Girls in the Central Chess Club

Kings bounced back in rapid, but it was only good enough to equalize the overall match score to 32:32. Let me refresh you about a classical game victory and a draw bringing 2 and 1 points respectively.

The tournament regulations favored Princes as winners of the first part of the event. Nigel Short joked at the closing ceremony, “Why them winning with us having scored more victories?” 

The best tournament performance with 9.5 points is with Alexey Sarana. Peter Leko and Boris Gelfand have scored 9 points. 


Same as Princes, Girls were ahead after the classical part, but the Boys have geared up to take a confident victory 35.5:28.5. Shining in this younger section with 11.5 points is Volodar Murzin. 

The closing ceremony took place in the Dvorkovich Chess Parlour. Guests enjoyed each other’s company and played chess in a cozy atmosphere. Setting the tone were Mikhail Antipov and Grigoriy Oparin, Dvorkovich Chess Saloon’s students. Upon arrival from the Central Chess Club, many Nutcracker participants got down to playing blitz without delay. At the end of the closing ceremony taking a seat at the chess board was FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, whose opponent was a merited USSR coach Alexander Nikitin.


Prior to the start of the awarding ceremony I talked to Nigel Short, who was usually frank in answering my questions.

– Nigel, what are your impressions about your play here at the Nutcracker?

– I think my play was awful! In the first classical game, I didn’t see anything, the second game I started to see a bit more. The third game was fine...But I think I have just run out of energy, actually. It is very easy to get in a death spiral. When it came to the rapid I slept very badly the night before... I mean, I was completely winning in the first game, and I was so shocked that I made a mess of it. I was unable to steady myself after this. I just played terribly!

– Like FIDE Vice-President, as you dubbed it in one of your tweets.  

– Indeed, (laughing). 

– In general, what do you think about this idea of generations matches?

– I think it’s actually great. It’s been a very nice event to be a part of, apart from my chess. I think it's a great format!  

– Who can you distinguish among your opponents?

– Alexey Sarana. I think he is a very strong and dangerous player, not to mention that all those young players are good. Actually, it is good to see that chess traditions have not died in Russia after the collapse of the USSR. Chess traditions have never disappeared, but it is extremely good that there are many high-level events, Nutcracker among them. 

– Having been here long ago, how do you like the renovated building of the Central Chess Club?

– It is beautiful. I have a recollection of how it was previously - it was a very long time ago. You could tell that it was a grand building historically, but it was not in the best repair. And it has been done in a very tasteful way. My congratulations to Andrey Filatov – everything is really in the best possible taste.

– My last question is about FIDE. How do you see its future especially now that you are its Vice-President?

– I am not so much involved in a day-to-day rally of the organization, but I am in touch with key people. I have recently had dinner with Arkady Dvorkovich, which was a very useful meeting. I am very encouraged about direction things are going – we have a lot of work to do. However, I have seen quite a number of very positive steps. 

I am glad that the World Rapid and Blitz Championships are being organized because it was very difficult to arrange on so short a notice. Essentially, the previous FIDE administration has left us with a sponsor but unresolved problems over visas for players from Iran, Israel and Qatar. I would love to go to Saudi Arabia if everyone could play there, but the previous administration did not want to go against own rules and discuss the subject so that this problem was not discussed at all. And this is a very big difference that we have an organization of principles rather than an organization of people who were only interested in money and their own advancement.


At the closing ceremony, winners and prize takers were being awarded by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and the Russian Chess Federation’s Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky. Oleg Skvortsov, one of the tournament organizers and sponsors, presented Alexey Sarana with tickets to the movie “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” 


Daniil Svidler was behind creative part of the evening. A young talent has arrived from St. Petersburg to perform a number of classical works, throwing in “Murka” as well to the delight of listeners who asked about it. 

It is not long from now that the majority of participants will follow Daniil’s route – only in the opposite direction - heading from Moscow to the northern capital to participate in the Rapid and Blitz World Championships. A full squad of “Princes” will go to St. Petersburg, while the team Kings’ Nigel Short and Peter Leko will miss it, the latter commenting on the battles in English together with Evgeny Miroshnichenko. 

Hopefully, the Nutcracker experience is going to tell when needed. We wish plain sailing to this wonderful tournament, looking forward to its next year's edition!


Pictures by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky