Saratov Governor's Cup - Moro in the Lead

Saratov Governor's Cup - Moro in the Lead

Saratov is a chess city that can boast the highest number of grandmasters in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg.  The team of the Saratov Social-Economic University won the European Club Cup twice in 2009 and 2010. The general public also likes chess. Alas, our city doesn't host many chess festivals. Earlier, before 2007, there was a strong open called Aratovsky Memorial at which many strong grandmasters from different countries competed next to amateurs. In 2006 an interesting round robin was held, featuring such players as Bareev, Sutovsky, Moiseenko, Tomashevsky and other leading GMs.

2011 is a special year for Saratov's chess fans. SGSEU turns 80, so the university's authorities and the governor of the city decided to host a respectable XIX-category super tournament. The line-up consists of the players of the team (except for Ian Nepomniatchi, who couldn't come) and a few specially invited grandmasters: ex-FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov, vice-champions of the World Alexei Shirov and Peter Leko, Alexander Morozevich. 11 out of 12 participants  have or had a rating over 2700.

The tournament is taking place in my home city, but I managed to visit it for the first time only during the 3rd round. The playing venue, a large hall, is located in the SGSEU itself.

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Spectators are welcome; there is no entrance fee. One can stretch and relax in comfortable seats and observe the players and the games thanks to special monitors. The only trick is that the acoustics of the hall is so excellent that one has to whisper as quietly as possible in order not to be heard at the stage.

After some discussion it was decided not to introduce the "zero tolerance" rule, which means that a person is not forfeited if he doesn't show up at the board on time. Being up to 15 minutes late is allowed. However, so far there have been no accidents of this type. Everyone is punctual and shows up on time. The participants can either take a special private bus from the hotel to the playing hall, or walk there by foot. The distance is short, and the weather is warm and sunny.

Now let's talk about the first 4 rounds. Alexander Morozevich defeated one after another Vitiugov, Moiseenko and Ni Hua and is the sole leader at 3.5/4.

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The most convincing victory happened against Nikita Vitiugov, while in the game against Ni Hua Alexander was dead lost at some point, but still won. In the game against Moiseenko Morozevich delivered a nice tactical blow:


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Moiseenko (2726) - Morozevich (2737)
Black to move

33...Rf3!

2nd-3rd places with a result of 2,5/4 are shared by two Evgenys - Alekseev and Tomashevsky. The first defeated Ponomariov, and the second prevailed over Ni Hua.

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Alekseev (2662) - Ponomariov (2758)
Black to move

Alekseev had the initiative in the Berlin endgame. By playing 28...с4 Ruslan correctly sacrificed a weak pawn, but after 29. bc ( 29. Rc2, keeping the pressure, is probably better) c6? 30. Nb4 White got an advantage and converted it into a full point. Ater the recommended move 29...Ra3, activating the rook, the result would be unclear.

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Tomashevsky (2710) - Ni Hua (2670)
White to move

30. Ne4! Tomashevsky won a second pawn, thus gaining a decisive advantage.

Five grandmasters have been peaceful in all the four rounds so far, including such a spectacular chess player as Shirov. Alexei is fighting like a lion in each encounter, but victories have been avoiding him so far.

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So far most of the games have been drawn, but all of them were real and exciting struggles. Watching the games wasn't dull at all. Here are some more pictures:

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Last but not least, I would like to wish Happy Birthday to Ruslan Ponomariov and Michail Roiz. All the best to you!

All the pictures in the report are (С) Natalia Pogonina

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