Ivanchuk Wins 7th Capablanca Memorial Title

Ivanchuk Wins 7th Capablanca Memorial Title

| 35 | Chess Event Coverage

Cuba is for Vassily Ivanchuk what León, Spain is for Viswanathan Anand and Dortmund, Germany is for Vladimir Kramnik. Ivanchuk feels at home in Cuba where he won the Capablanca Memorial for the seventh time.

It's been a while since we heard the name of Vassily Ivanchuk. The 47-year-old Ukrainian chess giant was a top-10 player for decades but has now dropped back somewhat. Currently the world #39 with a rating of 2710, Ivanchuk came first at the Capablanca Memorial, a tournament he won six times before.

The annual event that honors the third world champion was held for the 51st time this year. It was instigated by Ernsto “Che” Guevara, a big chess fan and a very decent player, who is said to have first learned about chess and Cuba when his father took him to a tournament with José Capablanca in Buenos Aires — see also my recent blog post.

This year, the memorial was not held in Havana but in Varadero, a tourist resort on a peninsula some 140 km east of the capital. It is the least Cuban place in Cuba, so to speak. The memorial took place June 9-19 in the Barceló Solymar Arenas Blancas Hotel.

The main event (called Elite) was, as in recent years, a six-player double round robin. The participants were GMs Leinier Dominguez (Cuba, 2723), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2710), Zoltan Almasi (Hungary, 2688), Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria, 2687), Yuriy Kryvoruchko (Ukraine, 2682), and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba, 2681). The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes to finish the game. All time controls had a 30 second increment.

Yet again, Ivanchuk was in his element in Cuba. He won the tournament with an undefeated 7.0/10 score, drawing twice with second and third-place finishers Kryvoruchko and Cheparinov, beating Almasi and Dominguez both 1.5-0.5, and beating Bruzon 2-0. It was a pretty horrible tournament for Bruzon; he drew half of his games and lost the other half.

After drawing with his compatriot Kryvoruchko in the first round, Ivanchuk won a nice game against Almasi in the second. He selected the topical Torre Attack and indeed got a strong attack.

Bruzon was doing all right with White against Ivanchuk in a Sicilian with opposite castling, but in a queenless middlegame, he went for the wrong plan. After many exchanges, the resulting endgame was probably worse than he thought.

Ivanchuk wins again in Cuba. | Photo from the tournament bulletin.

In his next black game, Ivanchuk switched from 1...c5 to 1...e5 and went for a Neo-Steinitz. This is a not-so-popular variation these days, but Dominguez, a great theoretician, was not caught off-guard. For 14 moves, the two followed the game Spassky vs Taimanov, Moscow 1955(!). Then Ivanchuk improved with 14...g6 instead of 14...g5. White should still have an edge, but the trades Dominguez went for didn't have the desired effect. Ultimately, the game was decided by a blunder.

Poor Bruzon was on the verge of drawing his second game with Ivanchuk, but in the fifth hour, he stumbled. The tournament winner took home 1800 CUC (about $1800) and 17.6 Elo points to reach a virtual #30 spot in the rating list. Who wouldn't like to see an even bigger comeback for Ivanchuk?


The Elite and Premier groups with Kryvoruchko in the foreground. | Photo: Barcelo Solymar Arenas Facebook page.

Here's another game annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov from the same eighth round. Kryvoruchko defeated Almasi in a Scotch, Mieses variation, where an exchange sacrifice led to a quick and devastating attack.

2016 Capablanca Memorial | Elite, Final Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2710 2839 chesspawn.png ½½ ½½ 11 7.0/10
2 Kryvoruchko, Yuriy 2682 2768 ½½ chesspawn.png ½½ ½1 ½½ ½1 6.0/10
3 Cheparinov, Ivan 2687 2696 ½½ ½½ chesspawn.png ½½ ½½ ½½ 5.0/10 25.00
4 Almasi, Zoltan 2688 2696 ½0 ½½ chesspawn.png ½½ 11 5.0/10 21.00
5 Dominguez, Leinier 2723 2655 ½½ ½½ ½½ chesspawn.png ½½ 4.5/10
6 Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2681 2508 00 ½0 ½½ 00 ½½ chesspawn.png 2.5/10

Alongside the main event there was a “Premier” group (a 10-player single round robin) and an open. The Premier group had GMs Yuniesky Quesada Perez (Cuba, 2631), Jeffery Xiong (USA, 2627), Samuel Sevian (USA, 2603), Kamil Dragun (Poland, 2599), Ivan Morovic (Chile, 2572), Isan Ortiz Suarez (Cuba, 2578), Yuri Gonzalez Vidal (Cuba, 2555), Yusnel Bacallao Alonso (Cuba, 2554), Angel Arribas (Spain, 2544), and IM Camilo Gomez Garrido (Cuba, 2546). The winner was Xiong, who scored 6.5/9, a half a point more than Ortiz Suarez.

Jeffery Xiong won the Premier group. | Photo from the tournament bulletin.

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