Chessbibliophile concludes his series on ACP Cup Tournament.
The Final round of ACP Cup Tournament turned out to be exciting with Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi vying for honours.
The two rapid games ended in a draw after a hard fight. So there were two blitz games, also ending in a tie, each winning a game with White. Thus it came down to an Armageddon and it was here that Grischuk scored the decisive point.
This bland summing up, I am afraid, does not do justice to the course of the battle with swinging fortunes. For reasons of space (not to mention time) I shall limit myself to the first and the last games of this round.
(The battle of wits begins with the Arbiter starting the clock. Veteran GM Evgeny Sveshnikov is seen, far right, among the kibitzers)
In the first game Nepomniachtchi won a pawn and soon got his own passed pawn close to promotion. It appeared, it was all over for Grischuk. Undaunted, he sacrificed his bishop on f7 and had his opponent’s king on the run with a series of checks. It would still have proved inadequate as the checks were coming to an end. When the two opponents reached the following position Nepomniachtchi had 10 minutes and Grischuk only a few seconds.
Now Nepomniachtchi blundered with 48…Qc4?. Grischuk immediately responded with
49. Qd1+! Ka3 50.Qa1+ Kb3 51. Qd1+ Ka3 52. Qa1+ Kb3 =
Draw by perpetual check.
Instead Nepomniachtchi should have played 48…Ka4! 49.Qa1+ Kb5 If 50 Rf5 Qd6 ( not 50…Rxf6?? 51.Qf1+!) with excellent winning chances.
(An appreciative crowd of spectators)
As I mentioned before, the second game was a draw and in fact Nepomniachtchi was rather better in this tough encounter. Grischuk came into his own in the first blitz game outplaying his opponent who was by now showing signs of fatigue.
It is to the latter’s credit that he came back fighting and won the next blitz.
This last effort seems to have exhausted him completely. In the Armageddon Grischuk struck first with powerful blows:
24.Rxg7 Kxg7 25.Qc3+ Kg8 26.Qxb2 Qxd6 27.Qxb7
and prevailed in the end (1-0, 44 moves).
(Nepomniachtchi stops the clocks and the winner of the Cup is….Alexander Grischuk!)
Overall, Grischuk’s victory in this mini-match was deserved. He had greater energy and better nerves. What is more, he is an acknowledged rapid and blitz specialist.
The closing ceremony was a colourful occasion.
(A shy Sasha accepting applause)
The solemn ceremony was followed by a party. The winner and the runner-up are seen here sharing a light moment.
“We are still boys at heart and don’t forget, friends off the board!”
- Nepomniachtchi mentioned later, he was too tired, first to miss his chance in the rapid game and then to play the tie-break games. Nevertheless, he indicated, his friend Grischuk was a worthy winner.
- Download the games of ACP Cup here
The images in this report are by the talented photographer,
Lennart Ootes who also took care of the official site: