Nigalidze Tops 42 Other GMs At Al Ain Classic

Nigalidze Tops 42 Other GMs At Al Ain Classic

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
Dec 28, 2014, 9:25 AM |
15 | Chess Event Coverage

In a field of 151 players where fully two-thirds held FIDE titles and more than one-quarter were grandmasters, 28th-ranked Georgian GM Gaioz Nigalidze topped the Third Annual Al Ain Chess Classic.

The tournament ran from December 19-26 at the Al Ain Rotana Hili Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Nigalidze's biggest triumphs prior to this were winning back-to-back Georgian Championships in 2013 and 2014 (he has been a grandmaster for less than a year).

The end of a great year for GM Gaioz Nigalidze (all photos courtesy official site).

Three other players tied with Nigalidze at 7.0/9 but had poorer tiebreaks: Armenian GM Tigran Petrosian, Ukrainian GM Vladimir Onischuk and Belarusian GM Sergei Zhigalko (it was a good time to have a grandmaster doppleganger as Tigran and Vladimir have in the chess world).

Onischuk and Petrosian, at least the ones that were in the UAE, both had a chance to win the event outright going in the last round of the nine-round Swiss.

They faced off on the top board and the choice of the Pirc and subsequent Austrian Attack (one of the most principled replies) paved the way for an exciting game.

GM Tigran L. Petrosian -- the "L" is important!

Although a queenless middlegame, a Berlin this wasn't. Could Black's bishops overcome his two-pawn deficit?

All games via TWIC.

The cute stalemate put Onischuk and Petrosian in the clubhouse with 7 points and left the door ajar for eight other players who began round nine with 6.0/8. On board two, top-seeded GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko could not beat GM Vidit Santosh Guirathi.

One board lower, Zhigalko spoiled the hopes of another Indian GM, Chanda Sandipan. The game was an Open Spanish -- remember when that used to be popular?

Ukrainian countrymen GM Mikhailo Oleksienko and GM Alexander Areshchenko drew on board four, knocking them both off the winner's podium.

The organizers clearly were not worried about compatriots playing in the final round as a pair of Georgians matched up. Nigalidze and GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili would decide the title way down on board five.

With multiple pawns as targets, the winner had no trouble converting the full point to vault into first place.

Nigalidze (FIDE 2536) gained nearly 30 rating points for his effort. The winner's prize was $11,000 USD.

He was the only one of the four players on 7.0/9 to suffer a loss. The other three players all had five wins and four draws; Nigalidze lost to Petrosian in the penultimate round and had two other draws.

Organizers pose with once-2700 GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko (left) before round one

Of course he scored many upset scalps along the way, including wins against Areshchenko (2661), GM Abhijeet Gupta (2632), GM Yuriy Kuzubov (2681) and Mchedlishivili (2625).

He is no stranger to playing the of role of underdog. In Nigalidze's most recent Georgian Championship, he scored 8.5/11 despite being an IM in a round robin of eight GMs.

The game against Areshchenko opened in the topical Samisch Grunfeld. It looked like Black would die a quick death. Instead he was denuded of all his pawns before the time control on move 40 and then hung on for twice that long.

In round five he took advantage of an optimistic attack in an equal position. Eventually Nigalidze proved what little kids figure out on their own -- two queens are better than one.

A day later he won again as Black. This time a creative piece sac in the opening led to three pawns for the piece. Ten moves later, all of White's pieces languished on the back rank and the result was never really in doubt.

Petrosian's Pirc revival was on display again in round seven. He also displayed surgical precision and patience in the knight versus bishop endgame.

In round eight, unlike in round five, Nigalidze's queen and knight combo couldn't overcome queen and bishop. The loss took him off the top board for the first time in the latter half of the event.

Petrosian's win over the leader was not enough as his Pirc only produced a draw with Onischuk in the final round. Nigalidze's tiebreak triumph was deserved; playing from the top board for most of the final rounds meant he led the field on tiebreak points both before and after round nine.

The multicultural field was constituted by 31 Indians, 30 players from the host country, 23 from Azerbaijan and 11 each from Iran and Ukraine. In total, 27 federations were represented.

Here's a look at all players finishing with at least 6 points. Full results are available here.

2014 Al Ain Chess Classic | Final Standings (Top 27)

Rk. SNo Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 28 GM Nigalidze Gaioz GEO 2536 7 51,5 40,75 2617 29,6
2 6 GM Petrosian Tigran L. ARM 2651 7 50 39 2572 12,4
3 16 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2614 7 49 37,25 2557 15,1
4 3 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2672 7 46,5 35,75 2557 8,6
5 1 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2688 6,5 52 36,5 2590 5,4
6 4 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2661 6,5 45,5 33 2513 0,3
7 10 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2632 6,5 44,5 33,5 2454 -2,2
8 12 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2625 6,5 44,5 31,5 2521 4,8
9 13 GM Oleksienko Mikhailo UKR 2621 6,5 44,5 31 2558 9,1
10 21 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU 2580 6,5 42,5 32 2444 2,3
11 22 GM Ter-Sahakyan Samvel ARM 2580 6,5 42,5 31 2413 -0,4
12 15 GM Pashikian Arman ARM 2617 6,5 40 31,75 2432 -2,9
13 2 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2681 6 48 32 2542 -3,9
14 34 GM Grover Sahaj IND 2505 6 46,5 31,25 2553 16,1
15 8 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2642 6 46,5 31,25 2525 -1,6
16 33 GM Abasov Nijat AZE 2509 6 46 30 2596 20,4
17 18 GM Sandipan Chanda IND 2599 6 45,5 32 2481 -1
18 23 GM Kovchan Alexander UKR 2577 6 45 31,5 2455 -1,1
19 19 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2599 6 44,5 30,5 2476 -1,6
20 11 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2625 6 44 30,75 2430 -7,9
21 20 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2580 6 43,5 29,5 2526 5,5
22 36 GM Ankit R. Rajpara IND 2494 6 43,5 29,25 2399 1,1
23 37 GM Bajarani Ulvi AZE 2494 6 43 29,5 2373 0,4
24 30 GM Moskalenko Viktor ESP 2528 6 42 26,75 2378 -5,3
25 63 IM Lodhi Mahmood PAK 2328 6 41 26,75 2383 16,8
26 5 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2658 6 40,5 29 2395 -13,4
27 48 IM Petrosyan Manuel ARM 2407 6 39 26,75 2346 6,2
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