8 October 2015

Young and Thirsty for Blood

Rapid chess tournament "The Rising Stars" in the review of grandmaster Kirill Bryzgalin.

No sooner had the battle dust of the Junior European Championship in Croatia settled down than the troop of 12 young talents landed in the hospitable Sochi, which is always happy to host athletes of any caliber.

The all-Russian children's rapid chess tournament "The Rising Stars" took place on October 2-3 in the Olympic Park at the premises of the V.Y.Dvorkovich Chess Saloon within the frame of the International Investment Forum "Sochi-2015". The event was jointly organized by the Chess Federation of Rostov Region, the Russian Chess Federation, and the Dvorkovich Chess Saloon. The refereeing was represented by the arbiters from the Chess Federation of Sochi.

The events were held in a large hall, decorated in a chess style. In between rounds the participants could refresh themselves with light snacks.

Champions and prize winners of the Russian, European and World championships participated in the event: Andrei Esipenko, Ilya Makoveev, Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, Dmitry Tsoi, Emilia Zavivaeva, Olga Melenchuk, Arseniy Nesterov and Eva Stepanian, as well as four of the best chess player of Sochi - Alisa Demchenko, Daniel Badalyan, Alexander Esipenko and Vladislav Galkin.

Prior to the start of the competition it seemed that a young but already experienced Andrey Esipenko, whose classical rating has already come close to 2400 points, and whose rapid rating has already exceeded this mark, was a clear favorite. However, other young talents were not to be written off too early: a very young, but highly distinguished Ilya Makoveev, who during his short career managed to win various chess titles in his age group both in Russia and in the World and European championships; and Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, who plays high quality chess uncharacteristic of her age. Meanwhile, other participants could contest the medal places as well. Participants were expected to come up with an uncompromising and sharp type of performance and these expectations didn’t fall short: suffice it to say that only 8 draws were made out of all games played in the tournament! Such thirst for blood could be envied by any competition! Especially interesting was to observe not only the athletic component of the game, but its emotional side also, and this tournament has seen no lack of it!

Prior to the start

It was a FIDE rated round robin tournament that featured 12 participants. Six rounds were played during the first day, and five rounds during the second day with time control of 10 minutes until the end of a game plus 5 seconds increment per move. In a practical encounter such time control does not allow you to exercise lot of thinking, except maybe for one or two times during the most critical moments of the game. Knowledge of the opening theory and middlegame plans together with the speed of decision making in difficult positions play a key role in such circumstances. Not everyone could withstand such loads, but all participants have definitely demonstrated that they were willing to fight to the very end in each game.

Day one

Round 1 

Although in round one everything went according to plan as the favorites were winning their games, number one of the start list Andrey Esipenko could not prevail as Black against tenacious Dmitry Tsoi; moreover, Black's position was very dubious at some point of the game.

The black light-squared bishop is just a bystander, the pawn on a5 is weak, whereas his dark squares "have seen better days."

Rounds 2 and 3 brought no surprises.

Round 4 

A sensation was brewing in round four. In the game A. Esipenko - I. Makoveev White emerged badly out of the opening, lost several tempi along the way and failed to bring at least one idea to life, for which he was punished by a pretty tough and straightforward play from Black. By move fifteen White’s position was worse beyond any hope of repair and any hints at counterplay. In this game Ilya managed to prove that he was not the one to be underestimated. However, in search of a correct setup of his pieces Black used up almost all of his time, missed several powerful blows in severe time trouble and finally collapsed. I do hope that Andrey came to right conclusions after this game and will stop underestimating his opponents in his future career as a chessplayer. 

Esipenko – Makoveev … after having missed a couple of tactical blows… ended as 1-0!

Round 5 

And then, finally, the event saw its first real sensation: Arseniy Nesterov did outplay the favorite! The position with kings having castled opposite sides of the board was roughly equal after the end of the opening part of the game until Esipenko made up his mind to gobble up the white pawn on g2 at some point, underestimating the opponent's ideas in the upcoming play. He ended up in a very unpleasant position in which White featured a simple game, whereas Black was hard to come up with his defensive resources. The position was most likely to be holdable for Black still, but, being down on time for an adequate thinking process, makes it quite problematic in terms of finding out best solutions.

Round 6 

Round six saw the game between Aleksandra Maltsevskaya and Ilya Makoveev.

The game is being followed by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Arkady Dvorkovich and Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation Mark Glukhovsky

It was quite an interesting game with a lot of tactical nuances in which both sides were not flawless. However, the mistakes were not of a critical nature and the game ended in a draw.

Maltsevskaya – Makoveev

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 f5 

This very well studied position saw 18.axb5?! 

18.exf5 deserved attention in order to extend the scope of the light-squared bishop. For example: 18...Nxd5 19.Ne4 N7f6 20.axb5 axb5 21.Qb3 with the initiative.

18...axb5 19.Rxa8 Bxa8 20.exf5 Bxd5 21.Ne4

Here Black parted ways with his mighty bishop without any second thoughts – 21…Bxe4? 

This is a strange decision as the move 21…Qa8! suggested itself in order to step up the pressure along the big diagonal. Should White retreat his knight from е4, Black can already trade his bishop for the f3-knight, ruining White’s pawn structure.

The many games played by Ilya in this tournament exposed his obvious lack of understanding of some positional concepts, which still holds him back from competing with elder guys on equal terms.

22.Bxe4 Nf6 23.Bb1 Rxe1+ 24.Qxe1 Qe7 25.Qd1 Ne4 26.Nh2 Qe5 27.Bxe4?

27. Ng4! Qe7 28. Qe2 would win a pawn as well as a big advantage for White. 


From now on it is Black who features ad obvious edge. However, being afraid of losing the game, Ilya offered a draw which was accepted.

After day one the triumvirate of tournament leaders was as follows:

A. Maltsevskaya – with 5,5 points, A. Demchenko  – 5, D. Tsoi  – 4,5. 

Day Two

Round 7 went off as expected without any surprises.

Round 8 

Maltsevskaya succumbed as White to Andrey Esipenko.

A small tragedy happened in the game Zavivaeva – Makoveev. The opening part of the game ended in the following position:

White has an overwhelming position, threatening to trap the black queen via Bb4! There is no way to salvation anywhere within sight. Ilya followed up by demonstrating an admirable level of persistence in defending the toughest of positions. However, in the end, when he almost managed to bail out with the assistance from his opponent...

…Black’s clock started to display zeroes...

Round 9 

Round nine went off as expected. Andrey Esipenko came into view once again after having failed to pose any serious problems in front of Alisa Demchenko in the Budapest Gambit. Although this opening is undoubtedly a rare guest in the tournament practice nowadays, the advent of powerful engines resulted in many lines having been reevaluated. 

In the game White employed the Nh3-f4 line, which, in my opinion, gives White little in terms of fighting for substantial advantage. 

In the game that followed Andrey had a small edge, which Black managed to neutralize in the middlegame with precise play, whereas in the ending it was already Black who stood somewhat better. 

Rounds 10-11

Round ten saw its leaders harvesting “easy” points. However, those who were not fortunate enough to be paired against outsiders, needed to fight to the full extent of their powers. A very important half point was dropped by Maltsevskaya, who failed to overcome Badalyan’s resistance while being up an exchange.  

The game between Dmitry Tsoi and Ilya Makoveev ended in a draw. 

The penultimate round saw three players with 8 points – Andrey Esipenko, Nesterov and Tsoi, with Maltsevskaya being half a point and Makoveev a whole point behind the group of leaders. It was up to these players to sort things out between themselves about final ranking in the top three medal places. With this said, Nesterov and Tsoi were to play each other. While Esipenko featured worse Berger coefficient, he could take the first place only if he was to win his game, whereas his competitors’ encounter was to end in a draw.

In Nesterov – Tsoi Black had some sort of a moment’s blackout happened to him as he blundered a fork, and the fork was of such a powerful nature that he ended up sacrificing his queen for a minor piece without any chances for salvation whatsoever. 

As a result, the top place in the overall standings belongs to Arseniy Nesterov, the second place to Andrey Esipenko (with 9 points each), and the 3rd place goes to Alexandra Maltsevskaya.

Top three among boys: 1st - A. Nesterov, 2nd - A. Esipenko, 3rd - I. Makoveev. 

Top three among girls: 1st - А. Maltsevskaya, 2nd - A. Demchenko, 3rd - E Zavivaeva.