Korobov Wins Sunway Sitges Alongside Entertaining Tiebreaks
The tiebreaks in Sitges were played outside. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

Korobov Wins Sunway Sitges Alongside Entertaining Tiebreaks

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

Leading the tournament from start to finish, Anton Korobov of Ukraine won the 5,000-euro first prize at the Sunway Sitges tournament. A series of entertaining blitz tiebreaks decided the lower prizes.

After his fine performance at the Grand Chess Tour event in Bucharest, Korobov also did quite well in Sitges. His 6/6 start was the foundation for his tournament victory.

Anton Korobov 2019 Sunway Sitges
Anton Korobov, the winner in Sitges. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

After his draw with Vassily Ivanchuk in round seven, Korobov was still half a point ahead of the pack. Two players were trailing him: Vasif Durarbayli of Azerbaijan and Abhimanyu Puranik of India.

A draw with Durarbayli was enough for Korobov to keep the lead as Puranik lost his game in round eight. The leader's new opponent for the penultimate round was the American youngster Awonder Liang, who had surprisingly defeated Ivanchuk.

"I was already very happy when I saw the pairings," Liang said later on the live broadcast. "If you told me I would play Ivanchuk like any time in my life, that would just be amazing. That was why I came here, to be able to play great players like him."

Awonder Liang Sunway Sitges 2019
Awonder Liang was happy to face Ivanchuk, let alone beat him. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

Liang in the studio with Anna Rudolf.

To beat the other strong Ukrainian was too much to ask for Liang. Playing a Grand Prix Attack setup, the American's thematic pawn push f4-f5 was not correct as all ideas with Bh6 would be easy for Black to parry. Korobov said he was planning to sacrifice the exchange, and all of his remaining pieces would be strong while White wouldn't have a clear plan.

Anton Korobov 2019 Sunway Sitges
Anton Korobov. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

With his special kind of humor, Korobov discussed this game in the studio on the final day, after he had drawn his last-round game with German GM Andreas Heimann

Korobov in the studio with Daniel King.

The huge number of side events, already mentioned in our previous report, is just one example of how Oskar Stober Blazquez, the main organizer, does lots of things just a bit different than others.

Cocktail workshop Sunway Sitges 2019
A cocktail workshop was another one of the side activities. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

The other big difference is how Stober deals with players finishing in a tie. Many open tournaments don't have a playoff, but having playoffs for second to eighth places is definitely rare. Only the Sants Open in Barcelona is an event we can think of that does something similar.

Adding to the show element, these tiebreaks are held outside on a terrace in front of the hotel with palm trees and the Mediterranean Sea as a splendid backdrop for a few dozen spectators.

Tiebreaks 2019 Sunway Sitges
The tiebreaks underway on Sunday evening. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

For these tiebreaks only the top eight of the final standings were eligible play. Therefore, seven players were involved (as Korobov had ended clearly first). Before Durarbayli and Rasmus Svane played for second place, Heimann and Puranik had played with Amin Tabatabaei (Iran), Li Di (China) and Timur Gareyev (U.S.) for places four to eight.

2019 Sunway Sitges | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Name RtgI Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 3 Korobov Anton 2668 8,5 0 61,5 66,0
2 18 Durarbayli Vasif 2609 8,0 0 60,0 65,0
3 22 Svane Rasmus 2597 8,0 0 56,5 60,5
4 11 Tabatabaei M.Amin 2635 7,5 1 59,0 63,5
5 26 Puranik Abhimanyu 2580 7,5 2 60,0 64,5
6 14 Heimann Andreas 2617 7,5 3 58,0 62,5
7 35 Li Di 2543 7,5 4 59,5 64,5
8 21 Gareyev Timur 2598 7,5 5 58,5 63,5
9 17 Karthikeyan Murali 2611 7,5 0 57,0 61,5
10 6 Lagarde Maxime 2655 7,5 0 57,0 61,5
11 16 Nihal Sarin 2612 7,5 0 56,5 61,0
12 19 Adly Ahmed 2607 7,5 0 56,5 60,5
13 34 Erigaisi Arjun 2544 7,0 0 60,0 65,5
14 9 Donchenko Alexander 2644 7,0 0 60,0 64,0
15 27 Wagner Dennis 2578 7,0 0 59,5 63,5
16 1 Ivanchuk Vassily 2690 7,0 0 59,0 63,0
17 37 Moradiabadi Elshan 2539 7,0 0 57,5 62,5
18 23 Liang Awonder 2593 7,0 0 57,0 62,0
19 33 Nasuta Grzegorz 2545 7,0 0 57,0 61,0
20 31 Gukesh D 2547 7,0 0 56,0 60,0

(Full final standings here.)

Because a lot of these matches went to armageddon after a score of 1-1 in the two blitz games, the spectators on-site and online, with commentary by Anna Rudolf and Daniel King, watched this "extra entertainment" for more than two hours. 

Eventually Gareyev ended in eighth place (500 euro); Li, seventh (600 euro); Heimann, sixth (700 euro); Puranik, fifth (800 euro); Tabatabei, fourth (900 euro); Svane, third (1,500 euro); and Durarbayli, second (3,000 euro). Korobov won 5,000 euro. 

All games from the tiebreaks:

The live broadcast of the tiebreaks.

The sixth Sunway Sitges international chess festival took place Dec. 13-22 at Hotel Sunway Playa Golf and Spa, about 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. The tournament was a 10-round Swiss with a total prize fund of 27,155 euros.

Sunway Sitges 2019 playing hall view
The playing hall looks over the water... Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Sunway Sitges 2019 playing hall view
...which means players might be distracted by the pretty views... Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.
Sunway Sitges 2019 sunset
... and beautiful sunsets. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Sunway Sitges.

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