Ian Nepomniachtchi won the 4th Gideon Japhet memorial in Jerusalem, Israel. In this strong rapid tournament, the Russian GM finished a point ahead of Peter Svidler and Vassily Ivanchuk.

The tournament was held in memory of Jerusalem’s Gideon Japhet (1928-2013), who was a lawyer and an avid enthusiast of chess and sports. It was organized by Jeruchess (Jerusalem’s chess club) in collaboration with the ACP (Association of Chess Professionals) and with the generous support and sponsorship of the Japhet family.

The event took place July 1-6 in the Lerner Sport Centre of the Hebrew University, and consisted of both a six-player rapid double round robin (the ‘crown group’) and a number of classical open tournaments. The strongest section was won by GM Arkadij Naiditsch.

This report focuses on the crown group, in which GMs Peter Svidler (Russia, 2781), Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia, 2770), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2682), Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2678), Georg Meier (Germany, 2662) and Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2597) played.

The tournament was hard fought, and in the end a plus two score (6/10) was enough for clear first place. Nepomniachtchi won three games, drew six and lost one.

After eight rounds, Meier and Nepomniachtchi were tied for first place with 4.5/8. Then came the decisive game, which was well played by Meier until his mistake on move 28.

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A Facebook live video of this specific round.

Top seed (on rapid ratings) Svidler only scored 50 percent. He beat Meier and Nepomniachtchi in one game each, but lost both his encounters with Gelfand.

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Gelfand wife son Israel

Gelfand with wife and son, who holds up a sign which says “Papa—our champion.” | Photo: Ritvo Photography.

Svidler’s win against Nepomniachtchi was a good game, though. There was quite a bit of theory involved in this 3.Bb5 Sicilian, where White was better out of the opening. Svidler, who had played the same position as Black in round one, found an improvement which a good way to profit from White’s lead in development.

Svidler facing the Temple Mount

Svidler facing the Temple Mount, with the Dome of the Rock in the background. On the day prior to the opening of the Gideon Japhet Cup, the top guest players were treated to a guided walking tour of the Old City, from Zion Gate to the Western Wall including the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. | Photo: Ritvo Photography.

Muzychuk is the world number one female player in rapid chess. In Jerusalem she managed to draw all games with the four strongest opponents, but lost both to Meier. Especially her black game with Nepomniachtchi was interesting.

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Anna Muzychuk Jerusalem

Anna Muzychuk. | Photo: Ritvo Photography.

4th Gideon Japhet Memorial | Crown Group, Final Standings






# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2770 2751 ½0 ½1 ½½ 6.0/10
2 Svidler,Peter 2781 2673 ½1 ½½ 00 ½½ 5.0/10 25.5
3 Ivanchuk,Vassily 2682 2697 ½0 ½½ 11 ½½ 5.0/10 24.5
4 Gelfand,Boris 2678 2698 11 00 ½½ 5.0/10 24.5
5 Meier,Georg 2662 2701 11 5.0/10 23.5
6 Muzychuk,Anna 2597 2644 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 00 4.0/10

Games via TWIC.

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An interview with Svidler, by Emil Sutovsky.

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An interview with Meier, by Emil Sutovsky.

One game from the open tournament deserves mention here. In the game between Tamir Nabaty and Ori Kobo a rare, but famous endgame appeared on the board: two knights vs pawn. It is well known that two knights cannot checkmate a king due to stalemate issues, but if the opponent has a single pawn, there are situations where White can win.

The endgame was studied by e.g. Troitzky and discussed, for instance, by the late Dutch grandmaster J.H. Donner in “Schaakbulletin” of February 1981 (an article which was included in the brilliant collection “The King.”)

Basically, the less advanced the opponent’s pawn is, the higher the winning chances obviously because white will have more tempi. Nabaty was lucky enough to have the opponent’s pawn on its starting square, when the process is relatively simple:

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Gideon Japhet prize giving

Everyone at the prize giving in one photo. | Photo: Ritvo Photography.

Japhet Memorial gifts

The six crown group participants with a special gift. | Photo: Ritvo Photography.

https://www.chess.com/news/view/nepomniachtchi-wins-japhet-memorial-ahead-of-svidler-ivanchuk