Ivanchuk, Muzychuk Steal Show At Kings Tournament
This year's Kings Tournament in Medias, Romania saw a double Ukrainian success as Vassily Ivanchuk and Anna Muzychuk dominated their groups in both the rapid and blitz sections.
A decade ago Romania added an interesting tournament to the international calendar: the Kings Tournament. In early editions chess legends such as Henrique Mecking, Ulf Andersson and Lajos Portisch were described as the "kings of chess."
In later years the tournament was upgraded to a field with super-grandmasters who usually played a double round robin of classical chess. For example, in May 2011 victory was shared by Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin.
The creator and co-organizer of the tournament was Elisabeta Polihroniade, a famous chess personality in Romania. She passed away in January 2016 and since then, the event is dedicated to her. Last year, the Polihroniade memorial saw a match between Vladimir Kramnik and Hou Yifan.
This year the field was much bigger again, with two groups of four players: a male section and a female section. After two days of rapid chess (15 minutes + 10 seconds) and one day of blitz (three minutes + two seconds), both were won by the Ukrainian participant.
The playing hall in Medias, Romania. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The 48-year-old Vassily Ivanchuk was in great shape and dominated his group, which also consisted of Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Wei Yi (China) and Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Romania).
Ivanchuk won the rapid part with 4/6 and the blitz with 9.5/12. After the first day of play, it was actually Karjakin who was leading the field with 2.5/3. Here's a smooth win from him:
Karjakin had a good start but couldn't keep pace with Ivanchuk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Wei Yi was again very creative in the following game, but this time he couldn't keep things under control in time trouble:
Invite Wei Yi to your tournament and you're guaranteed to see some wild games. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In the very first round of the second day of rapid, Ivanchuk beat his former compatriot, took over the lead and would never let go. It looks like Karjakin was caught by surprise in this line of the Queen's Gambit where 10.Rd1 is very topical, but Ivanchuk decided to castle queenside instead.
Ivanchuk beating Karjakin at the start of day two. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Kings Tournament, Rapid | Final Standings
In the blitz event, which was just one day (Tuesday) with 12 games on the program, Ivanchuk's superiority was even bigger. He lost only one game, beat Karjakin and Wei Yi 3-1 and Deac 3.5-0.5.
Here's another win over Karjakin in a Hedgehog:
At 48 years old, Ivanchuk still has it! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Blitz is blitz, so there will always be a few blunders here and there. But this was a surprising one by Wei:
Kings Tournament, Blitz | Final Standings
The female group consisted of Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), Pia Cramling (Sweden), Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany) and Corina-Isabela Peptan (Romania). Muzychuk, the reigning world blitz and rapid champion — who has stated she won't be defending her titles in Saudi Arabia next month — won the rapid with 4/6 and the blitz with 8/12.
The four queens at the Kings Tournament, with a portrait of Polihroniade. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In the very first round, Peptan wasn't aware of some of the theory of Kan variation:
Muzychuk vs Peptan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
One of the battles between Muzychuk and Paehtz was also interesting from a theoretical perspective. The German player went for an old gambit line in the Nimzowitsch Sicilian, and as it turned out her opponent knew it quite well (but not completely).
Elisabeth Paehtz. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Kings Tournament (Women), Rapid | Final Standings
Muzychuk's class in blitz was illustrated by the fact that she lost just one of the 12 games today. There, she blundered a mate in one:
Anna Muzychuk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Participants, sponsors, and organizers of the Kings Tournament. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Kings Tournament (Women), Blitz | Final Standings