Strong Najdorf Memorial Underway In Warsaw

Strong Najdorf Memorial Underway In Warsaw

| 12 | Chess Event Coverage

Four rounds have been played at the Najdorf Memorial, a strong open tournament in Warsaw, Poland. GMs Ivan Cheparinov, Igor Kovalenko and Andrei Volokitin are the top seeds.

The Najdorf Memorial takes place July 10-18 in the Warsaw Sports and Recreation Centre in the Polish capital. The top group has 21 players rated above 2500 and a rating threshold of 2200. The first prize is € 5,000 ($5,500).

The great Polish player Miguel (Mieczysław) Najdorf, who still lives on in the name of one of the most reliable variations in the Sicilian, is commemorated by the tournament. Born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki near Warsaw on April 15, 1910, Najdorf represented Poland at three Olympiads.

Najdorf in Wijk aan Zee, 1973 (Photo Wikipedia).

In 1939 in Buenos Aires, he won the gold medal on board two, but wouldn't travel back to Poland. World War II had broken out, and he decided to stay in Argentina together with several other (mostly Jewish) players.

Najdorf would win many more medals for Argentina and became a top grandmaster, who qualified for the Candidates’ tournament twice.

In 1947 in Buenos Aires, Najdorf played a blindfold simul against 45 players and lost only two games. It was a way of reaching the papers in Poland, and thereby letting his family know that he was still alive.

Najdorf passed away in Malaga, Spain on July, 5, 1997, aged 87. The tournament website quotes him saying:

“Chess is my passion. When playing chess, especially blitz, I forget all the troubles of daily life. I feel like listening to music since chess resembles a symphony by Mozart to me. It inspires me with new ideas, revives my fighting spirit.”

The tournament, sponsored by insurance company MetLife, is a nine-round Swiss. Time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

It's a strong tournament, despite the fact that most of the top Polish grandmasters are not playing, such as Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Robert Kempinski, Grzegorz Gajewski and Radek Wojtaszek, who married IM Alina Kashlinskaya five days ago!

A tweet from Sergey Karjakin, congratulating the newlyweds

The top seeds in Warsaw are GMs Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria), Igor Kovalenko (Latvia), Andrei Volokitin (Ukraine), Zahar Efimenko (Ukraine) and Eltaj Safarli (Azerbaijan). The strongest Polish player is sixth-seeded Dariusz Swiercz.

After four rounds there are two players left with a perfect score: Igor Kovalenko and Andrei Zhigalko. Top seed Ivan Cheparinov dropped half a point as early as the first round, and in that game he was probably lost somewhere against Rafal Przedmojski (2362).

Kovalenko won a remarkable game in the first round that started with the highly creative 1.e4, 2.Be2 and 3.f4. He would repeat it in round three, and was successful again:



Kovalenko tweeted: First round 1.e4 c5 2.Be2!? e6 3.f4!.... Romantic!

Besides Cheparinov, Efimenko also dropped half a point and Swiercz did even worse in that first round. He lost, as White, to Adam Deszczynski (gotta love the Polish language!) rated 2356 after blundering a piece in the opening:



We're still in the first round for the following game — a rare example of a grandmaster getting completely outplayed as Black by a 2200 player who starts the game with 1.f4. Even for us mortals it's absolutely fine to leave mainline theory early on!

As said, Kovalenko is still on a perfect score, but in round two he survived a massacre. Look at this game; stunning play by the white player who deserved more in this game.

In round three, Ingvar Thor Johannesson of Iceland, who many of you may know as FM zibbit here at and as the co-host of the live show during the Reykjavik Open, had some chances against a GM:


2015 Najdorf Memorial | Round 4 Standings (Top 20)

# Title Name Fed Rtg Pts
1 GM Kovalenko, Igor LAT 2682 4.0
2 GM Zhigalko, Andrey BLR 2574 4.0
3 GM Markowski, Tomasz POL 2566 3.5
4 GM Durarbayli, Vasif AZE 2630 3.5
5 GM Cheparinov, Ivan BUL 2683 3.5
6 GM Volokitin, Andrei UKR 2654 3.0
7 IM Warakomski, Tomasz POL 2449 3.0
8 GM Miśta, Aleksander POL 2585 3.0
9 GM Kveinys, Aloyzas LTU 2497 3.0
10 GM Safarli, Eltaj AZE 2649 3.0
11 IM Sunilduth Lyna, Narayanan IND 2475 3.0
12 IM Kanarek, Marcel POL 2508 3.0
13 GM Piorun, Kacper POL 2591 3.0
14 GM Tomczak, Jacek POL 2579 3.0
15 GM Efimenko, Zahar UKR 2652 3.0
16 GM Bromberger, Stefan GER 2556 3.0
17 IM Klekowski, Maciej POL 2475 2.5
18 GM Krasenkow, Michal POL 2610 2.5
19 GM Bajarani, Ulvi AZE 2515 2.5
20 WGM Szczepkowska-Horowska, Karina POL 2392 2.5
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