The Russian grandmaster Nikita Vitiugov won the first edition of the Prague International Chess Festival masters with 5.5/9. Spanish GM David Anton won the challengers and promoted to the highest group next year.
In the shadow of the World Team Championship more strong grandmasters were active at the chessboard this week. The first edition of the festival in Prague had, for instance, David Navara, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Boris Gelfand, Sam Shankland and Alexei Shirov. In case you missed it, we covered the first five rounds here.
The main event was a rather close affair, and in the end a plus-two result was enough for Vitiugov to stay ahead of the pack. The quiet, 32-year-old grandmaster from St. Petersburg, known as “the Iceman” in Gibraltar since he won the tournament there six year ago, drew seven players and defeated Pentala Harikrishna and Jan-Krzysztof Duda.
Here’s his win from round seven, which involved an interesting rook maneuver in what was still a known position in the Sicilian.
In round seven, the two Czech players faced each other, and they were definitely not going for a friendly draw. Navara proved why he is the number-one player of the country in a sharp battle where calculation was key.
The final round saw a remarkably quick loss for the Prague resident Pentala Harikrishna. It was the most experienced player of the group, Boris Gelfand (he turned 50 last year) who crushed his opponent from the white side of a Open Catalan.
Prague Masters | Final Standings
After five rounds there was a four-way tie in the challengers group between Ju Wenjun, David Anton and the Czech GMs Peter Michalik and Jan Krejci. Rising star Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu and former top player Alexei Shirov were on 50 percent at that point.
Having a slightly different schedule than the masters (i.e. no rest day), this group ended its tournament on Thursday, with Anton finishing in sole first place. His last four games were two draws and two wins, which was good for a one-point gap with Krejci, the only player who got to 5.5 points.
In round seven, Anton was too strong for Nguyen Thai Dai Van, a talented, young Czech grandmaster (in fact the youngest ever of the country; he beat Navara’s record a year ago) with Vietnamese parents.
A day later Anton won his black game against the only Russian participant in the group. This sideline of the Trompowsky won’t get many followers from the white side.
The clash between generations, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu vs Alexei Shirov, was won by the youngster. It looks like Shirov’s pawn sac in the opening just wasn’t giving him enough compensation and by move 60 he had to throw in the towel.
But Shirov wouldn’t be Shirov if he didn’t win at least one spectacular game. His victim the next day was Ju Wenjun, who must not have seen it coming that White would castle queenside after going g2-g3 early on. And she might have missed that lovely final move too!
Prague Challengers | Final Standings
|9||Nguyen,Thai Dai Van||2546||2558||0||0||½||½||½||½||½||1||½||4.0/9||16.75|
Games via TWIC.