Second Straight 3-Way Tie At Titled Tuesday
The more things change at Chess.com's Titled Tuesday, the more they stay the same.
Despite switching to the first Tuesday of the month, three players ended with 7.5/9 for the second straight week to again share first place in Chess.com's monthly event for masters. Just like last time, GM Eltaj Safarli needed a draw by the leader to clinch a share of first.
Joining him was past winner GM Georg Meier (the man whose draw "assisted" Safarli) and also IM Lucas Liascovich, the first non-grandmaster to clinch a Titled Tuesday crown in the event's half-year run. The trio splits the top three prizes ($500, $250, $125) for $291.67 each.
Fans of the event may well start with the obvious question: "What about GM Baadur Jobava?" After an eventful early tournament where he won games in which he was down a piece for no compensation, and a draw in a game after zero moves, Jobava's wild ride essentially ended with a round eight loss to Meier.
Jobava had won four of the first six Titled Tuesdays (more on his crazy day later).
Meier could have won the event outright. After beating the Georgian number one in the penultimate round, he was all alone at 7.0/8, and got a non-GM in the final round. In fact, he got a non-IM too!
FM Minh Le of Vietnam, no stranger to the event (he tied for second in the shortened Titled Tuesday 4), held Meier to a draw by agreement. He chatted that he was pleased with his 6.5/9 finish.
At almost exactly the same time their game ended, Safarli needed to convert an ending to close the gap. The viewer should instead focus Safarli's audacious rook sac beginning with 12. g6!!
To make it a three-way finish, frequent Titled Tuesday player Liascovich had to convert a rook-and-two vs rook-and-one ending, which he did masterfully against GM Romain Edouard:
Back to Jobava for a minute. Usually a crowd favorite with his swashbuckling attacks, he recently topped a list of "best tactics" from the short history of the event. Though not clean wins by any stretch, today he won or drew seemingly inescapable positions.
In round one, it was hard to even envision a winning idea after move 37:
In round six, Safarli again pitched a rook early, and Jobava seemed desperate after 33...Ra3. Then White began chucking pieces at the black king, and all was well again. Note that 36...Qxf6 fails to 37. Qc8+ and 38. Qh8+, followed by 39. Qh7#. Jobava saw it all prior to 34. f6, and in only a few seconds! Full credit also goes to Safarli for holding a difficult but theoretically drawn ending:
A round later, Liascovich had his chance against Jobava. A staid middlegame with no pawn breaks eventually gave way to more than a few ounces of Georgian magic. How much? How about four promotions, and Jobava refusing a repetition despite being down a queen!
One user commented in the chat window: "Jobava won the Internet today."
Jobava ending up playing all three champions from rounds six to eight. It was the last of the three that finally knocked him out of contention.
With Meier all alone at 6.0/7, he decided to delay the tension. The two did nothing from moves 38-68 and got within 20 moves of the 50-move rule. By move 80, only three pieces per side had left the board! With both clocks ticking perilously below five seconds, Meier eventually organized a winning breakthrough.
Also in round eight, Safarli ran out of pawns, but mated GM Alex Lenderman with a knight and bishop as the American was one move from promotion.
That wasn't the end of the roller coaster for Jobava. In round four, he drew a game without making a move (something that also happened to GM Max Dlugy), and we haven't even shown his best tactic of the day!
In round three, he played the same setup as against Safarli, but the combination beginning with 18. Qxc7! seems ready for the 2500-level of Chess.com's Tactics Trainer:
Safarli also found a nice early-round trick. 22. Nh7 is not as hard to see, but still quite pleasing.
The day wasn't just filled with great attacks. Liascovich successfully defended a scary attack from event newcomer GM Gadir Guseinov, who was playing in his first Titled Tuesday. At one point, Guseinov and Safarli were both on 4.0/4, and only Meier's perfect score prevented an all-Azerbaijani leading group. Meier then drew Guseinov, then the Argentine's defense knocked the rookie out of contention:
Meier's first title came at Titled Tuesday 2, but he's been very active on Chess.com lately. He played more than 200 blitz games in February in an attempt to qualify for the next Death Match. To say he is "on form" is an understatement -- on the final day of qualification he went 17-1 against GM Robert Hess (2600+ FIDE).
Other notes: FM Eric Rosen started 3.5/4, just like in February's event, before fading late. He held a queen vs rook pawnless ending, which occurred twice today (in the other, the queen rightly won). Lenderman "cashed" for the first time, finishing clear fourth for $75. The three players finishing tied for fifth all win $16.67, including GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez, one of the winners last month.
The next Titled Tuesday will be at 11 am Pacific (GMT -8) on April 7, 2015.
Final standings of the top 30 (94 players, 19 GMs overall):
Titled Tuesday, 3 March 2015 | Final Standings
|2||4||ARG||IM||megarompa||Liascovich, Lucas A.||7.5||40.75|
|7||8||ESP||GM||jcibarra||Ibarra Jerez, José Carlos||6.5||22.75|