Grischuk Wins 'Play For Russia' Charity Event Which Raises Over $354,000
Alexander Grischuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk Wins 'Play For Russia' Charity Event Which Raises Over $354,000

| 19 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Alexander Grischuk won the "Play For Russia" tournament on Thursday after beating GM Evgeny Tomashevsky in the final. Held May 12-14, the online blitz tournament raised an impressive amount of over $354,000 for hospitals and health workers fighting the coronavirus epidemic in Russia.

The tournament was an initiative of some of the strongest Russian players, with GM Vladimir Kramnik being the driving force. It was supported by the Russian Chess Federation, Russia's Ministry of Sports, the Timchenko Foundation, the Ramax group of companies and Gazprombank (Switzerland).

Following several COVID-19 related charity chess events, Play For Russia has been the most successful so far. Helped by a live broadcast on the Russian federal channel MatchTV, over $354,000 was raised.

The prize fund will be shared among regional hospitals and health workers fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. Before the tournament, the participants determined the recipients and amounts received from the donations, depending on the needs of a particular institution. The entire prize fund will be distributed equally among the regions, regardless of the final standings.

Play For Russia chessBesides Kramnik (who chose the Krasnodar Krai region), Grischuk (Moscow), and Tomashevsky (Saratov region), the participants were GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (Bryansk region), GM Sergey Karjakin (Crimea), GM Peter Svidler (St. Petersburg), Ernesto Inarkiev (Caucasus), and Alexander Riazantsev (Ural and Siberia).

The format for the first two days was a double round-robin featuring five minutes per game plus a two-second increment per move. The strongest four qualified into a knockout playoff. The tournament was held on

Kramnik Shines In Round-robin

The tournament was special for one other reason: the participation of Kramnik. Since his retirement last year, the 14th world champion has only played in a handful of fast-play events. And when one of the all-time greats of the games shows some of his former prowess, it doesn't get much better.

Kramnik won the double round-robin, played over 14 rounds, with two rounds to spare, and eventually finished on 10.5/14, 1.5 points more than Svidler.

Interestingly, Kramnik defeated Russia's current number-one player Nepomniachtchi in both games. For his black game, it was suggested that his 1...e6 was a mouse slip because he normally always pushes the pawn a square further!

An interesting game was Svidler vs. Riazantsev, memorable for the nice shot Black had on move 23, and also for the final position where the black bishop got trapped:

Play For Russia | Round-robin | Final Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Kramnik, Vladimir 2753 2910 ½½ 10 01 ½1 11 11 11 10.5/14
2 Svidler, Peter 2723 2826 ½½ ½½ 01 ½1 ½1 ½1 ½1 9.0/14
3 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2706 2776 01 ½½ ½½ ½0 ½1 8.0/14 50.75
4 Grischuk, Alexander 2777 2767 10 10 ½½ 10 ½½ ½½ 11 8.0/14 50.5
5 Karjakin, Sergey 2752 2746 ½0 ½0 ½1 01 ½1 ½1 ½½ 7.5/14
6 Inarkiev, Ernesto 2661 2658 00 ½0 ½½ ½0 ½1 ½1 5.5/14
7 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2784 2614 00 ½0 ½½ ½0 ½0 11 5.0/14
8 Riazantsev, Alexander 2638 2472 00 ½0 ½0 00 ½½ ½0 00 2.5/14
Vladimir Kramnik Play For Russia
Vladimir Kramnik still has it! Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Grischuk Dominates Knockout 

The finals were played on Thursday, with the number-one seed, Kramnik, being paired against Grischuk who held the fourth seed in the final standings. The latter lost the first game to a blunder, and it seemed that he hadn't shrugged off his not-so-great form from day two yet.

However, after that first loss, Grischuk won five games in a row to clinch the tournament. He first leveled the sore against Kramnik and then won the Armageddon, with the two games he considered to be his best in the whole event. 

Here's the Armageddon, which was played with four vs three minutes and Black having draw odds:

Grischuk in good form was just too strong for Tomashevsky (who beat Svidler 1.5-0.5), and it showed. He won all three games, although it must be said that Tomashevsky lost on time in a drawn position in the last game.

Here's their first game, a King's Indian that will always be tricky, no matter how big White's positional advantage is:

Alexander Grischuk
Alexander Grischuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

All games for replay/download

Update: Initially, this article stated that over $333,000 was raised but after all the calculations had been done, the total amount was slightly over $354,000.

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