24 December 2015

A Full-house at the Nutcracker

The Nutcracker Generation tournament opening in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

On Saturday, 19 December the Vladimir Dvorkovich Chess Hall is known to have given start to the "Nutcracker" Generation Tournament. Even though the tournament is of a festive nature, but is of no less importance for that matter and is becoming a good tradition in terms of wrapping up the chess calendar year.

This confrontation is going to be an easy walk in the park neither for the "Kings" nor for the "Princes". The senior team is represented by two Vice-World Champions Boris Gelfand and Peter Leko, the two-time Russian Champion Alexander Morozevich, and the current European Champion and the coach of women champions Evgeny Najer. As for the juniors, the team features the Russian Cup winner Ivan Bukavshin, who has achieved a substantial breakthrough this year, the U20 World Champion Mikhail Antipov, the Higher League winner Vladislav Artemiev and the 2014 Russian Junior Champion Grigoriy Oparin. The idea of a match-tournament is well-known to belong to Oleg Skvortsov, the owner and organizer of such vivid chess events as the Zurich Chess Challenge or the Shirov - Dubov match. Besides O. Skvortsov the event is co-organized by the Russian Chess Federation and the Foundation for Support of Chess Creativity.

This year the tournament has undergone some changes as the experienced athletes (by now the "Princes" are undoubtedly eligible to fall into that category) were joined by very young players: the teams of boys aged 11-12 and of girls aged 16-17.

The girls’ team will be represented by the many-time European and Russian championships winner, the participant of the 2015 U16 Olympic Games as a member of the Russian national team Dinara Dordzhieva (the Republic of Kalmykia), the 2015 Russian Champion Margarita Potapova (the Republic of Crimea), the 2015 Russian Champion Alexandra Dimitrova (the Kostroma Region), as well as the Russian Championship medallist, the Women’s Champion of the Nizhny Novgorod region Olga Mylnikova.

The boys’ team is going to feature the many-time World Championships winner, the 2015 Russian Champion Dmitry Tsoi (Moscow), the 2015 European Champion Kirill Shubin (St. Petersburg), the 2013 European Championship winner Arseniy Nesterov (the Novgorod Region), and the Russian championships winner Yaroslav Remizov (the Chelyabinsk region).

As was noted by the RCF Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky, the "second half" of the match-tournament was the initiative and the brainchild of Evgeny Najer.

At the opening ceremony of the "Nutcracker" event the top floor of the Chess Hall was filled to capacity. Among the honoured guests were the Chess Hall hostess Galina Lvovna Dvorkovich, the RCF President Andrey Filatov and his wife, Oleg Skvortsov and his wife, the 12th World Champion and the State Duma Deputy Anatoly Karpov, the members of the RCF Supervisory Board that was convened sameday, the "64" magazine publisher Igor Burstein. Outstanding grandmasters, coaches, and organizers such as Anatoly Avraamovich Bykhovsky, Evgeni Andreevich Vasiukov, Alexander Sergeevich Nikitin, Sergey Rublevsky, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladimir Potkin, Mikhail Kobalia, Alexander Volzhin, Yuri Yakovich, Sergei Dolmatov, and many others were also present at the spot.

An entire cohort of the chess-enthusiastic journalists from the federal mass media arrived at the 1st Koptelsky Alleyway.

There were very few official speeches this time around. Mark Glukhovsky opened up the tournament by introducing its participants and describing the fresh format of the event.

Performance of the classical musicians at the opening of the competition, held jointly by the Russian Chess Federation and Oleg Skvortsov, has become a good tradition. This time the "floor" was given to the young talents Matvey Glukhovsky and Daniil Svidler. Unfortunately, Daniil's father was unable to be present at his son’s performance as he had left for the Qatar Masters Open in order to comment on the event. The boys performed the works by Debussy, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev...

As on the previous occasion, the drawing of lots featured the New Year balls; however, this time the players would not take them down off the tree, but rather take them from the table upon which the chief referee of the tournament, the international arbiter Alexander Tkachev would "read off" a starting number written on the outside of the packing box.

Below are the pairings of the first classical round of the "Nutcracker":

Evgeny Najer - Grigoriy Oparin, Peter Leko - Ivan Bukavshin, Mikhail Antipov - Alexander Morozevich, Vladislav Artemiev - Boris Gelfand.

The boys versus girls competition features the following pairings:

Arseniy Nesterov - Olga Mylnikova, Dmitry Tsoi - Dinara Dordzhieva, Margarita Potapova - Yaroslav Remizov, Alexandra Dimitrova - Kirill Shubin.

Just like a year ago, the "Nutcracker" will be carried out to the original formula: during the first four days the team participants will be fighting each other under the classical time control, while the following two days are devoted to the rapid chess. The "Zurich" scoring system is applied according to which at the classical part two points are awarded for a win and one point for a draw, whereas in the rapid game it equals to a point and a half-point respectively.

The RCF website has organized an online broadcasting of games supplied with computer tips and a live video stream. The permanent commentator grandmaster Sergei Rublevsky will be visited by others and jointly with the senior coach of the Russian Women's team they will analyse the battles in progress. 

Pictures by Vladimir Barskij and Eteri Kublashvili