Anand's Second Grabs Spotlight: Gajewski Wins Najdorf Memorial

Anand's Second Grabs Spotlight: Gajewski Wins Najdorf Memorial

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jul 26, 2016, 4:18 AM |
5 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Grzegorz Gajewski is not just a good opening theoretician. By winning the strong Najdorf Memorial, he showed that he can also be a high-caliber, all-around grandmaster.

At the moment, Grzegorz Gajewski is only Poland's 10th-ranked grandmaster, behind Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Kacper Piorun, Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Mateusz Bartel, Dariusz Swiercz, Kamil Dragun, Michal Krasenkow, Robert Kempinski, and Kamil Miton. Nonetheless he can be seen at many top events (if you look closely) as Vishy Anand's second.

All photos courtesy of the Metlife Warsaw Najdorf Chess Festival.

Two clear examples of Gajewski's work for Anand are from the 2015 Gashimov Memorial. He suggested both 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.Nc3 d6 9.a3 Nb8 10.Ng5!? (Anand vs So) and 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.0-0 0-0 6.d3 d6 7.Ne2!? (Anand vsMamedyarov); both games were won by the five-time world champion.

The author of these lines witnessed Gajewski introducing the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 d5!? in the playing hall of the Czech Open in Pardubice in 2007.

At age 31, Gajewski has had a few individual successes himself, such as a victory at the Cappelle-la-Grande five years ago, the Sants Open a year later, and the Polish Championship last year. This week he added another success: the strong Najdorf Memorial. He finished clear first and won €5,000 ($5,500).

Fully named the Metlife Warsaw Najdorf Chess Festival, the event was held July8-16 in the Polish capital. This report focuses on the A group, for players rated 2200 FIDE and higher. The top seeds were GMs Kacper Piorun (POL, 2685), Ilia Smirin (ISR, 2676), Igor Kovalenko (LAT, 2667), Igor Lysyj (RUS, 2663), Gata Kamsky (USA, 2660), Ivan Ivanisevic (SRB, 2656), Zahar Efimenko (UKR, 2655), Alexander Areshchenko (UKR, 2654), Sergei Zhigalko (BLR, 2653), and Gawain Jones (ENG, 2650).

It was another well known “open-tournament tiger,” and top GM assistant, who started with 4.0/4: GM Hrant Melkumyan of Armenia, the occasional second of Levon Aronian. He finished his game with Gupta in style:

However, the next day Melkumyan suffered his first loss, to one of the Ukrainian grandmasters. Efimenko used some instructive tactics to win a pawn; then he exploited the theme of zugzwang to decide the bishop ending. This kind of technique can bring you many points!

That made Efimenko the sole leader with 4.5/5, but he went down the very next round against veteran Smirin. The 48-year-old grandmaster played a fine Ruy Lopez.

Smirin then also defeated Bartel as Black, but with two draws in the final rounds — both with white — he “only“ finished second. 

The playing hall was the Warsaw Sports and Recreation Center.

The only player to score 7.5 points was Gajewski. The Polish GM started with three wins, then drew three games in a row, and finished with another three wins. Look at how he outplayed a strong 2600-grandmaster in round three with the black pieces in a Najdorf, the opening named after the great Polish player who was remembered with this tournament. 

In round seven, Gajewski even got to checkmate his opponent. Gawain Jones was a good sport to allow the mate on the board!

Gajewski (r.) playing Bartel in round four. Melkumyan is beside him.

Last rounds are always crucial in such opens. Gajewski played black against the aforementioned Melkumyan, who followed the latest trend by playing the London System. A true theoretician, Gajewski had no trouble equalizing, and in the endgame, Melkumyan chose the wrong square for his king.

One more game needs to be mentioned here, as it was truly crazy. The game was coffeehouse chess at its best! Enjoy this one, which also made the Move of the Week section of ChessCenter.

Najdorf Memorial | Group A, Final Standings (Top 20)

# S.No. Fed Title Name FIDE Total MBch. Bch. Wins Prog.
1 24 GM Gajewski, Grzegorz 2605 7.5 40.00 50.00 6 37.5
2 2 GM Smirin, Ilia 2676 7.0 39.00 49.00 5 36.0
3 12 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2640 6.5 40.50 52.00 6 38.0
4 14 GM Khairullin, Ildar 2629 6.5 38.00 50.00 4 33.0
5 13 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2630 6.5 38.00 49.00 5 33.5
6 17 GM Fier, Alexandr 2616 6.5 37.00 48.50 5 34.0
7 37 GM Indjic, Aleksandar 2547 6.5 36.50 47.00 6 31.0
8 28 GM Tomczak, Jacek 2583 6.5 36.50 46.00 5 32.0
9 9 GM Zhigalko, Sergei 2653 6.5 34.50 44.00 4 32.0
10 7 GM Efimenko, Zahar 2655 6.0 42.00 54.00 5 35.0
11 8 GM Areshchenko, Alexander 2654 6.0 41.50 52.00 4 34.0
12 11 GM Bartel, Mateusz 2649 6.0 40.50 51.00 4 35.0
13 23 GM Salem, A.R. Saleh 2608 6.0 37.00 47.50 3 32.5
14 19 GM Neiksans, Arturs 2614 6.0 36.50 46.50 4 32.5
14 20 GM Krasenkow, Michal 2614 6.0 36.50 46.50 4 32.5
16 27 GM Miśta, Aleksander 2584 6.0 36.00 45.50 4 30.0
17 30 GM Lalith, Babu M. R. 2565 6.0 35.50 45.50 4 32.5
18 32 GM Rozentalis, Eduardas 2552 6.0 35.00 45.00 4 30.0
19 18 GM Oleksiyenko, Mykhaylo 2615 6.0 33.50 43.00 5 29.5
20 33 GM Sengupta, Deep 2551 6.0 33.00 42.50 4 29.0

(Full final standings here.)

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