Melkumyan Edges Out Rapport on Tiebreak, Wins Riga Technical University Open
On Sunday. GM Hrant Melkumyan won the fourth edition of the Riga Technical University Open in Latvia. The Armenian grandmaster edged out Richard Rapport of Hungary on tiebreak after both finished on 7.5/9. Melkumyan won his first six games and then drew his last three.
Melkumyan won his first five games in Riga, as reported earlier, and he duly continued winning. In the sixth round he beat Eduardo Iturrizaga, the number one player from Venezuela who clearly had an off-day.
Besides Iturrizaga, Igor Kovalenko of Latvia and Richard Rapport of Hungary were the only two players on 4.5 points. Rapport was the one who kept pace with Melkumyan as his opponent didn't handle the irregular middlegame well enough:
Round seven saw the big clash between Rapport and Melkumyan, and yet again the Hungarian started the game creatively. His hand went to his king's pawn, but he only pushed it one square! 1.e3 is known as the Van't Kruijs Opening (easy to find out in our Game Explorer!), named after the Amsterdam player Maarten van't Kruijs who lived in the 19th century.
The move usually transposes to a different opening, and here it quickly became an English after 2.c4. However, Rapport then continued in original fashion with 4.g4!? and 6.h4!? after which the game quickly reached an equal endgame. If anyone had chances, it was Melkumyan as 23...Nb4 looks interesting.
In the penultimate round, Melkumyan split the point with Boris Savchenko of Russia. Rapport moved to shared first thanks to the following pretty win. Dutch GM Benjamin Bok lost the thread right after the opening and then showed good sportsmanship, allowing a nice queen sac followed by checkmate:
Melkumyan apparently had enough, and decided to take a quick draw in the final round with Tamas Banusz of Hungary (1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.d4 O-O 6.O-O dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.a4 Bd7 9.Qxc4 Bc6 10.Bf4 “Draw?” “Yeah, sure.”). This meant that Rapport could still finish clear first and win the 3000 EUR envelope, and he certainly tried!
He got involved in what was probably the game of the tournament, which deserves a deeper analysis. Below you'll find two critical moments as it seems that both were winning at some point!
One of the players to finish half a point behind Melkumyan and Rapport was Chess.com author Daniel Naroditsky, who managed to cross the 2600 Elo mark in this tournament. The 18-year-old grandmaster didn't lose a single game and won five -– the first three and the last two. Here's his game from the final round:
Update: Another player that should be mentioned is 15-year-old Aravindh Chithambaram of India, who scored 7.0/9 and clinched his third and final GM norm, only nine months after his first! Here's his win in the last round against top seed Alexei Shirov. More about Aravindh can be read in Nongsha_A 's blog.
The Riga Technical University Open was held August 15-24 in the Exhibition Centre Kipsala in Riga, Latvia. The total prize fund was 25,000 EUR.
Riga Open 2014 | Final Standings (Top 30)
|3||GM||Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo||2653||VEN||7||42||54||2731|
|8||IM||Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.||2467||IND||7||38,5||49,5||2718|
|24||GM||Antipov Mikhail Al.||2508||RUS||6||36,5||46||2506|
|27||FM||Ben Artzi Ido||2395||ISR||6||36||44,5||2506|
(Full final standings here)
Photos by Katrina Skinke and Matiss Silis courtesy of the Riga Technical University Open.