Smyslov Memorial Blitz: Nepomniachtchi 1st; Karpov Beats Karjakin

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A blitz tournament held in Moscow on Monday, in memory of the seventh world chess champion Vasily Smyslov, was won by GM Ian Nepomniachtchi. The 12th world champion Anatoly Karpov did quite well, scoring 50 percent and beating both GM Sergey Karjakin and GM Maxim Matlakov.

The Smyslov Memorial Blitz was held on August 16, 2021, at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. The field consisted of 22 leading Russian grandmasters, including the aforementioned players and GMs Alexander Grischuk, Vladislav Artemiev, Andrey Esipenko, and Kateryna Lagno.

The format was a Swiss tournament with seven double rounds. The prize fund was 1.5 million rubles ($20,220 / 17,300 euros). You can find all the games on our events page.

World championship challenger Nepomniachtchi won the tournament with 10/14, a point ahead of Grischuk. GM Mikhail Kobalia edged out GMs Vladimir Fedoseev, Sanan Sjugirov, and Artemiev to take third place.

2021 Smyslov Memorial Blitz | Final Standings




















# Fed Name Rtg Perf Pts SB
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2776 2809 10.0/14
2 Grischuk,Alexander 2777 2709 9.0/14
3 Kobalia,Mikhail 2569 2779 8.5/14 68.5
4 Fedoseev,Vladimir 2756 2635 8.5/14 62.75
5 Artemiev,Vladislav 2783 2682 8.5/15 61
6 Sjugirov,Sanan 2472 2777 8.5/14 58.75
7 Alekseenko,Kirill 2580 2676 8.0/14
8 Paravyan,David 2562 2690 7.5/14 51.75
9 Rakhmanov,Aleksandr 2498 2669 7.5/14 51
10 Zvjaginsev,Vadim 2558 2684 7.5/14 48.75
11 Sarana,Alexey 2646 2574 7.0/14 49.5
12 Predke,Alexandr 2642 2610 7.0/14 48.25
13 Lagno,Kateryna 2608 2608 7.0/15 46.5
14 Chigaev,Maksim 2579 2665 7.0/14 43.5
15 Ponkratov,Pavel 2661 2569 7.0/14 42.75
16 Karpov,Anatoly 2607 2634 7.0/14 41.25
17 Matlakov,Maxim 2760 2575 5.5/14 42.25
18 Esipenko,Andrey 2595 2573 5.5/14 37.25
19 Motylev,Alexander 2618 2483 5.5/14 30.25
20 Karjakin,Sergey 2765 2473 5.0/14
21 Najer,Evgeniy 2578 2517 4.5/14
22 Potkin,Vladimir 2443 2441 3.5/14

For Nepomniachtchi, we review a game from the first round. Against co-Candidate GM Kirill Alekseenko, he tried the King’s Gambit, an opening that always deserves attention when played at this level—especially when White wins!

Ian Nepomniachtchi blitz
Ian Nepomniachtchi, the winner in Moscow. Photo: Vladimir Barsky/Russian Chess Federation.

Noteworthy is Karpov’s 50-percent score against Artemiev, GM Vladimir Potkin, Karjakin, GM Vadim Zvjaginsev, GM David Paravyan, Kobalia, and Matlakov. The former world champion, who will turn 70 later this year, achieved plus scores against Matlakov (2-0) and Karjakin (1.5-0.5).

The tournament table shows that Karjakin was having an off-day, but it’s still a noteworthy victory for Karpov, who outwitted his 39-year-younger opponent in a rook ending. 

Rook endgame specialist Smyslov, to whom this tournament was dedicated and who famously reached the Candidates Final at the age of 63, would be touched by this demonstration of longevity:

Anatoly Karpov Smyslov Memorial blitz
Anatoly Karpov in action. Photo: Vladimir Barsky/Russian Chess Federation.

Speaking of longevity, Karpov was sharp till the end. He was on 5/12 when he finished his tournament with two wins vs. Matlakov. Here’s his black game:

Karpov’s performance prompted runner-up Grischuk to note: “Now it will be very interesting to see a Kasparov-Karpov blitz match. I think it will be the best chance for Anatoly to win since 1984, the very first match. It will be a very close battle.”

Blitz is one thing but if all goes well, next month we’ll see Karpov play his first classical tournament in 12 years: the TePe Sigeman & Co Chess Tournament in Malmo, Sweden.



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