Nijat Abasov Wins Qualifier For Tata Steel Challengers

Nijat Abasov Wins Qualifier For Tata Steel Challengers

| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

Nijat Abasov won the Cultural Village tournament in Wijk aan Zee on Wednesday. In doing so the 20-year-old grandmaster from Azerbaijan qualified for the Tata Steel Challengers.

The 20th Cultural Village tournament took place November 16-25 in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. Yes, the same town as where the annual Tata Steel Chess Tournament takes place!

We're talking about a small GM tournament with a prestigious first prize: the participation in the Challengers group of the big event. It's a dream for many aspiring chess players: to play chess right, on stage, next to the world's best players.

In 1999, Wijk aan Zee was the “cultural village” of Europe. The Cultural Village tournament is held since 2003, and is the successor of the Sonnevanck tournament, which was held between 1987 and 2000. 

From the beautifully "retro'"-designed tournament flyer. | Photo courtesy SSIJ.

This year's event was won by Nijat Abasov, a young and talented player from Azerbaijan. His win was a small success for the country that failed to win any medals in Reykjavik.

After six rounds, GM Eric Hansen of Canada seemed on the verge of winning the tournament. He had collected 5.5 points, and was a full point ahead of Abasov. The two drew a hard-fought game in round two.


A sign of an excellent atmosphere, the players often had dinner together in the cafe. | Photo courtesy SSIJ.

However in round seven, Hansen had a complete off-day, and it would cost him. He lost to the 17-year-old WIM Nino Khomeriki of Georgia. Just one mistake was enough to turn a normal Benoni middlegame into a lost position.


The playing hall is an extended area of cafe De Zon in Wijk aan Zee. | Photo courtesy SSIJ.

The next day Hansen escaped with a draw against IM Robert Ris. Abasov won in rounds seven and eight, and so he was already half a point ahead of Hansen before the final round. 

Hansen won his game in the last round, but to his horror he saw Abasov win a drawn rook ending. The Dutch player Hing Ting Lai is famous for his blitz skills, but apparently he needs to study his rook endgames a bit more.

If you're not sure yourself about these rook endings, you can watch this video by IM Danny Rensch, who explains exactly the position in the game, only mirrored.

20th Cultural Village 2015 | Final Standings

# Name Rating + = 0 Pts SBgr TPR
1 Nijat Abasov 2544 6 3 0 7,5 29,25 2669
2 Eric Hansen 2573 6 2 1 7 27,25 2604
3 Roeland Pruijssers 2498 5 1 3 5,5 18,25 2473
4 Robert Ris 2406 2 6 1 5 22,5 2443
5 Nino Khomeriki 2308 2 5 2 4,5 20 2415
6 Hing Ting Lai 2319 2 4 3 4 13 2375
7 Demre Kerigan 2388 2 3 4 3,5 12,75 2328
8 Robby Kevlishvili 2354 2 3 4 3,5 13,5 2332
9 Dorsa Derakhshani 2365 1 4 4 3 10,25 2289
10 Rick Duijker 2291 0 3 6 1,5 5,75 2138


The participants of the Challengers will soon be announced, but we know Nijat Abasov will play! | Photo courtesy SSIJ.

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