Huge Surprise At Inaugural Grenke Chess Open

Huge Surprise At Inaugural Grenke Chess Open

PeterDoggers
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The first edition of the Grenke Chess Open saw a huge surprise. Not GMs Li Chao, Nikita Vitiugov, Richard Rapport or any other big name won the A group, but German GM Matthias Blübaum instead.

Photo Georgios Souleidis.

The well known Neckar Open, always held in Deizisau (Germany) during the Easter weekend, was transformed this year into a new event with a bigger prize fund: the Grenke Chess Open. This way GrenkeLeasing continues its generous support of chess in Germany — they've sponsored the Bundesliga team OSG Baden-Baden for many years, and also financed a super GM tournament in 2013: the Grenke Classic, won by Vishy Anand.

The first Grenke Chess Open was held 24-28 March in Karlsruhe in southwest Germany and immediately broke records. With 940(!) participants it was bigger than the Neckar Open by more than 200 participants. The A group consisted of 600 players and more than 200(!) title holders. A large attraction was the impressive first prize: 10,000 Euro ($11,390). Not bad for a weekender!

The top seeds were Li Chao (China), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia) and Richard Rapport (Hungary) but many more big names participated, such as Gata Kamsky (USA), Alexei Shirov (Latvia), Arkadij Naiditsch (Azerbaijan), and Loek van Wely (Netherlands).

But none of these players emerged as the winner. No, the first edition of this huge event was a surprising name. The young German grandmaster Matthias Blübaum, who will turn 19 in two weeks from now, was declared the winner. The 25th seed edged out Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia), Milos Perunovic (Serbia), Ni Hua (China) and Paco Vallejo (Spain) after all had finished on 7.5/9. Blübaum took home 7,375 Euros ($8,400).

Blübaum started with four wins against lower rated players, drew twice and then beat another weaker player. He scored an important victory in the penultimate round with black against Shirov, where his king was always surprisingly safe:


A solid draw with strong Austrian GM Markus Ragger in the final round was good for 7.5 points, and at the end of the day Blübaum had the best Buchholz. Vallejo and Perunovic had decided to not risk anything, and played an 11-move draw. The other three grandmasters reached the top group by winning their last-round game.

Fedoseev defeated top seed Li Chao as Black from a Nimzo/Queen's Indian hybrid. Nimzowitch would have been proud of Black's simple play that won the game due to the c4 weakness (not even mentioning the blockading knight on d6):

Li Chao outplayed in Nimzo style by Fedoseev. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

Vitiugov played a wonderfully quiet, positional game in a Russia vs Ukraine clash:

Ni Hua's round nine game was instructive as well. J.H. Donner once pointed out a big advantage of the bishop pair (vs two knights): at the right point you trade a bishop for one knight, and you're still left with a bishop vs a knight!

The winner in Karlsruhe: GM Matthias Blübaum. | Photo Georgios Souleidis.

2016 Grenke Chess Open | Final Standings (Top 30)

# Title Name Rtg Fed W D L Pts TB
1. GM Blübaum, Matthias 2605 GER 6 3 0 7.5 54.0
2. GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2664 RUS 7 1 1 7.5 53.5
3. GM Vitiugov, Nikita 2721 RUS 6 3 0 7.5 53.0
3. GM Perunovic, Milos 2620 SRB 6 3 0 7.5 53.0
5. GM Ni, Hua 2691 CHN 6 3 0 7.5 52.5
6. GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco 2677 ESP 6 3 0 7.5 50.5
7. GM Ragger, Markus 2694 AUT 5 4 0 7.0 54.0
7. GM Predojevic, Borki 2647 BIH 5 4 0 7.0 54.0
9. GM Saric, Ivan 2651 CRO 6 2 1 7.0 51.5
10. GM Buhmann, Rainer 2636 GER 5 4 0 7.0 50.0
10. IM Fedorovsky, Michael 2463 GER 5 4 0 7.0 50.0
12. GM Kamsky, Gata 2673 USA 6 2 1 7.0 49.5
13. GM Rapport, Richard 2720 HUN 5 4 0 7.0 49.5
14. GM Kunin, Vitaly 2584 GER 5 3 1 6.5 57.0
15. GM Li, Chao 2757 CHN 5 3 1 6.5 55.5
15. GM Moiseenko, Alexander 2668 UKR 5 3 1 6.5 55.5
17. GM Shirov, Alexei 2685 LAT 5 3 1 6.5 55.0
17. GM Fedorchuk, Sergey 2604 UKR 5 3 1 6.5 55.0
19. GM Bosiocic, Marin 2554 CRO 5 3 1 6.5 54.0
20. IM Heimann, Andreas 2560 GER 4 5 0 6.5 54.0
21. IM Bellahcene, Bilel 2461 FRA 6 1 2 6.5 53.5
22. GM Bacrot, Etienne 2701 FRA 4 5 0 6.5 53.5
22. GM van Wely, Loek 2653 NED 4 5 0 6.5 53.5
24. IM Gledura, Benjamin 2538 HUN 6 1 2 6.5 52.5
25. GM Korobov, Anton 2713 UKR 5 3 1 6.5 52.5
26. GM Meier, Georg 2664 GER 4 5 0 6.5 52.5
26. GM Bok, Benjamin 2611 NED 4 5 0 6.5 52.5
28. GM Demuth, Adrien 2541 FRA 5 3 1 6.5 52.0
29. GM Alekseev, Evgeny 2631 RUS 5 3 1 6.5 51.5
29. GM Wagner, Dennis 2583 GER 5 3 1 6.5 51.5

(Full final standings here.)

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