Jobava Dazzles In Denmark

Jobava Dazzles In Denmark

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Baadur Jobava's tournament win at the 2017 Xtracon Open was only partly Shakespearean. It was played in Elsinore, Denmark, home of "Hamlet." But it was far from a tragedy. Instead, Jobava produced a few moves almost as memorable as that quotable play.

GM Baadur Jobava at the closing ceremony. | Photo: Xtracon Open

After an early draw in round two to a 2300, Jobava rattled off six consecutive wins and iced first place with two late draws. He took sole first with 8.5/10 in the tournament formerly known as the Politiken Cup.

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.” 

Jobava got a win in round three, then continued his charge in round four with a paradoxical positional idea. Black went out of his way to double and isolate Jobava's center pawns, and then White simply allowed it to happen.

Would the pawns become buffoons like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or heroic in their bit part?

"The play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king."

In round five, Jobava's second act was focused on one character, the white king. He created his own Moustrap, with nearly every Black piece serving to expose the king. The game won him one of the two brilliancy prizes.


Jobava playing Hamlet, and wounding opponents, not friends. (Artist: Coke Smyth, Creative Commons license.) 

"When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions!"

For another fine display of attacking with one's entire this army, the next day Jobava didn't leave any man behind. Despite GM Alex Shabalov capably defending for many moves, Jobava eventually broke through the lines.


GM Baadur Jobava, first place (middle); GM Krishnan Sasikiran, second place (right); GM Marin Bosiocic, third place. | Photo: Xtracon Open

"How is it that the clouds still hang on you?"

Round eight continued Jobava's three straight defeats of grandmasters. This time, GM Nigel Short was faced with white pawns falling all over his king's position. To land or not to land on g7, that was White's question.

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Jobava didn't alter his style in round nine just because he had the lead. Instead, bravado can have some drawbacks and after 10 moves he was already noticeably worse against the top seed and the only other 2700. His response? Allow the castle to crumble and mobilize the troops.

The seeming absurdity was more Tom Stoppard than William Shakespeare, and to be honest, hard to even explain.

After bleeding more than 25 rating points at an event earlier in July, Jobava halved his losses in Denmark. The rest, is silence: A lifeless draw in round 10 clinched the title.


First GM Hikaru Nakamura, then GM Wesley So, now Jobava gets in on the sunglasses act. | Photo: Xtracon Open

A final departure from Hamlet: Not only does he get to live, but he gets a check for 20,000 Danish Kroner, a little more than $3000 USD.

2017 Xtracon Open | Final Standings, Top 23

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1
1 GM Jobava Baadur 2714 8,5 56,0
2 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2688 8,0 58,0
3 GM Bosiocic Marin 2616 8,0 57,0
4 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2724 8,0 56,5
5 GM Lyna Narayanan Sunilduth 2564 8,0 56,5
6 GM Short Nigel D 2688 8,0 55,5
7 GM Saric Ivan 2621 8,0 54,5
8 IM Kvon Andrey 2500 8,0 53,0
9 GM Andersen Mads 2586 8,0 51,5
10 GM Urkedal Frode 2543 7,5 57,0
11 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 7,5 55,5
12 GM Vocaturo Daniele 2592 7,5 55,0
13 IM Delorme Axel 2518 7,5 55,0
14 GM Shabalov Alexander 2549 7,5 54,0
15 GM Agdestein Simen 2604 7,5 53,5
16 GM Motylev Alexander 2680 7,5 52,5
17 IM Sonis Francesco 2440 7,5 52,5
18 GM Hector Jonny 2497 7,5 52,0
19 IM Das Arghyadip 2416 7,5 51,5
20 IM Holm Kristian Stuvik 2403 7,5 51,0
21 FM Olsen Filip Boe 2189 7,5 49,5
22 GM Schroeder Jan-Christian 2539 7,5 49,0
23 Dishman Stephen 2313 7,5 48,5

Also at the tournament, IM Andrey Kvon of Uzbekistan earned his third and final GM norm by beating GM Ivan Sokolov as Black in the final round. His pre-tournament rating? Exactly 2500.

The Xtracon Open was a 10-round tournament held July 22-30, 2017 in Elsinore, Denmark. The time control was 40/90, SD/30 with a 30-second increment from move one.

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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