Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan) won the first Geneva Chess Masters on Sunday after beating Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) 1.5-0.5 in the final. The tournament was a rapid knockout event with a group phase on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday. In the semifinals, Mamedyarov defeated Etienne Bacrot (France) while Kramnik was too strong for Hikaru Nakamura (USA).
The first Geneva Chess Masters took place June 26th-30th, 2013 in the Pitoeff Theater in Geneva. This brand new rapid tournament was held under the patronage of the City Council of Geneva and organized by the Geneva Chess Federation. The participants were Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Judit Polgar (Hungary), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Hikaru Nakamura (USA), Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Etienne Bacrot (France), Romain Edouard (France) and Yannick Pelletier (Switzerland).
The event started with two four-player groups and the drawing of lots on Tuesday evening resulted in the following pairing numbers:
The players during the opening ceremony
In each round, the players played short matches consisting of two rapid games (25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move). If the score was still equal, the match proceeded with two blitz games (4 minutes + 2 seconds increment per move). Finally, if necessary, an Armageddon blitz game would be played.
The scoring system was somewhat complicated: for each match won without the blitz, the winner scored 3 points and his opponent 0. For each match won after the blitz, the winner scored 2 points and his opponent 1.
The qualifying phase took place from June 26th to 28th. On Wednesday, Pelletier won both games against Judit Polgar, while Mamedyarov beat Vladimir Kramnik 1.5-0.5. In the B group, Bacrot scored 1.5-0.5 against Alexandra Kosteniuk; Nakamura needed a playoff to beat Romain Edouard.
Polgar's very first game revealed that she wasn't in great shape in Geneva, while Pelletier certainly was:
Nakamura won both blitz games against Edouard. The first was a quiet maneuvering game where Black had to resign without having made a clear mistake.
On the second day, Mamedyarov, Bacrot and Nakamura qualified for the semifinals. Mamedyarov got to 6 "tiebreak points" in the A group after beating Pelletier 1.5-0.5. By then, Pelletier and Vladimir Kramnik were sharing second place with 3 points. The B group was decided after two rounds with Bacrot getting to 6 "tiebreak points" (he beat Edouard 1.5-0.5) and Hikaru Nakamura to 5 (after scoring 2-0 against Kosteniuk).
After his disappointing Tal Memorial, Kramnik needed a day to find his form. His first game against Polgar was very good:
Mamedyarov beat Pelletier with Black in the first game, but in the second things went wrong in the opening. But the Azerbaijani kept on fighting, and eventually tricked his opponent to secure the draw:
The next day, Kramnik was the fourth player to go through. He only beat Pelletier, who was playing really well, in the second blitz playoff game - in a pawn ending.
In a match that was only for statistics, Polgar exchanged wins with Mamedyarov in the rapid and the blitz games. She then decided not to play the Armageddon - here's her explanation in a tweet:
On Saturday Kramnik was the first to qualify for the final; he drew both rapid games with Nakamura but then dominated the blitz, which he won with 1.5-0.5. Here's the second blitz game:
Mamedyarov and Bacrot both won one rapid game, but the following crushing win in the first blitz game decided this match:
In Sunday's grande finale, Mamedyarov beat Kramnik 1.5-0.5. In the first, the Russian top GM miscalculated and lost material in the middlegame. Mamedyarov held the second one to a draw with Black.
Here's a puzzle to end this report with. Why was Edouard's 22...Rc8 a mistake?