Three GMs Tie In Biggest, Richest Titled Player Tuesday

Three GMs Tie In Biggest, Richest Titled Player Tuesday

| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

It wasn't quite as clean as his first three titles, and this time he had to share the winner's check.

GM Baadur Jobava won his fourth Titled Player Tuesday event but shared this crown with two others, GM Eltaj Safarli and GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez. All three finished with 7.5/9 and all won $583.33 by splitting the top three prizes ($1,000, $500, $250).

With the total purse increased 150 percent to $2,500 for this iteration, a record 102 titled players participated Tuesday. Amongst them were 28 grandmasters, also a record.

They weren't just any GMs. Three of the players are currently playing in the FIDE Grand Prix! Not taking a "rest day" included GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Leinier Dominguez, and Jobava (the second time he's competed from a FIDE Grand Prix -- he won the inaugural event just after Tashkent finished in October, 2014).

Throw in the first event participation by world number four GM Hikaru Nakamura and the world champion's second GM Laurent Fressinet, and you've got a well-credentialed field.

You may think that all this chalk would make an underdog unlikely to succeed, but several proved their mettle today. More on that later.

GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez, winning his first Titled Tuesday in his fifth event (photo courtesy Federació d'Escacs Valls d'Andorra, licensed under Wikimedia Commons 2.0).

In the first two rounds, all went according to form, at least considering the results. The 100-plus players produced only 15 perfect 2-0 scores after two rounds. Nakamura won both despite some interesting events.

In round one, he didn't make his first move until only 1:11 remained his clock (the event is a nine-round Swiss played at 3+2). He ended up winning with 1:37 remaining, thanks to a clever fork of king and queen. In round two, he parted with his queen after she became ensnared, then won wildly, finishing with another king and queen fork!

Round three produced the first surprise. Nakamura, fresh off 18 hours of plane rides, faced more struggles. He only mustered a draw against GM Axel Bachmann.

The unofficial king of Titled Tuesday was doing his normal thing. Jobava continued playing the Veresov Attack and Larsen's Opening and winning.

Amidst Nakamura's struggles, FM Eric Rosen proved the first dark horse of the event. Despite having a blitz rating barely in the 2000s (and therefore 500-800 points behind the other leaders), he began with 3.5/4 before fading late.

By round five we had clarity at the top. Only two players remained perfect on 4.0/4 and thus squared off. Jobava, with the now-famous username "LexySexy," took White against Vachier-Lagrave ("LyonBeast"). The game lacked the usual Jobava drama -- he played a relatively staid Reverse Dragon and won when the French number one inexplicably hung a piece on move 28.

With Nakamura squeaking out a win, many expected his 4.5 points and top rating to create a matchup with Jobava, all alone at 5.0. That didn't happen in the pairings, and instead Vachier-Lagrave matched with Nakamura and Jobava with Bachmann.

For those who thought that Jobava couldn't reach new levels of creativity, just look at his knights after move 9. Try to guess which was the king's knight and which was the queen's knight!

The two world top-10 players competed in the highest-rated game in Titled Player Tuesday history, which shockingly also became one of the shortest. Nakamura chatted afterward that he knew 6...b5 was not quite sound. Strangely, for the third time in the tournament, Nakamura's game featured a king and queen fork, but this time he was victimized by the tactic.

"This has been pretty bad all around," Nakamura wrote. He admitted that he also had losing positions in the last two rounds. In this game, he prefered trading knights instead of 12...Kf7.

IM Danny Rensch explained in the live broadcast on that after 12...Nxd5 13. exd5 13...Nf6 would allow Black to trade or displace White's lone remaining knight.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, the highest-rated blitz player on, is usually at home in front of a computer (photo: Tyson Mao).

Still lurking was past Titled Tuesday winner GM Georg Meier (along with GM Daniel Naroditsky, the only other man to win the event going into Tuesday). He stood on 5.5/6, as did the next player that surprised, young American IM Akshat Chandra (who finished in the money, tied for 8th).

In round seven, two Titled Tuesday champs matched up, Jobava and Meier, with predicatable results -- another Veresov and another win for the Georgian number one. 

"Is there something about Titled Player Tuesday that just makes Jobava a stud?" Rensch asked.

GM Baadur Jobava has also won the most money in the Titled Tuesday series -- $2083.33.

The win was the 18th straight for Jobava over the last three events (he went a perfect 4/4 and 7/7 in two truncated events in January). It looked to be another runaway (he also began 8/8 in his first win) until a crucial round eight.

Fellow Titled Tuesday veteran Ibarra Jerez stopped Jobava in his tracks. The Spanish GM took a page out of MVL's playbook by sacrificing a knight early against the uncastled king.

The leader's loss seemed to leave the door slightly ajar for the trailers, but it was Meier that took advantage of the good fortune, not Nakamura.

How did he do it? In their head-to-head encounter, Meier either played one of the weirder mouseslips or most effective psychological ploys of all time. It's hard to say. What shall we call 1. Nf3 and 2. Ng1!? The Neo-Neo Alekhine? In any case, Nakamura placed all his chips on the h-file, but he busted out when Meier closed it down.

Nakamura withdrew after this second loss, which left him mathematically unable to catch the leaders.

Going into the final round, Jobava, Safarli and Ibarra Jerez all stood on 7.0/8, while Meier was the lone player on 6.5/8.

Azerbaijani GM Eltaj Safarli, a frequent Titled Tuesday player, shared first (photo: Wikipedia).

Ibarra Jerez took White versus Meier, and just after the starting gun, the two agreed on a draw. Meier chatted that his 13th and final turn was a "terrible move" due to 14. Bc4. "I wanted to play for a win."

To finish equal first, Ibarra Jerez needed a completely unlikely draw between the other two leaders. Why "unlikely"? Well, Jobava had played 37 Titled Tuesday games up to that point, with exactly 33 wins, four losses, and zero draws.

Amazingly, this time the Veresov got him an extra pawn, but only a half-point.

So with the three grandmasters all still knotted at 7.5/9, they each are co-champions of the sixth Titled Tuesday.

A four-way tied for fourth with 7.0/9 produced $112.50 paychecks and two final unlikely stories. Vachier-Lagrave and Meier recovered for this placement, but Latvian NM Arturs Bernotas and Venezuelan FM Pedro Ramon Martinez Reyes also enjoyed a day in the sun.

Three players on 6.5/9 all received $100 (10 places paid for this expanded prize fund, as opposed to the usual five). Here's the final standings:

Titled Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 | Final Standings (Top 25)

# Rk Fed Title Username Name Score SB
1 7 AZE GM EltajSafarli Safarli, Eltaj 7.5 44.25
2 23 ESP GM jcibarra Ibarra Jerez, JosÊ Carlos 7.5 39.25
3 2 GEO GM LexySexy Jobava, Baadur 7.5 38.75
4 3 FRA GM LyonBeast Vachier Lagrave, Maxime 7 33
5-6 29 LVA NM Ar4uha Bernotas, Arturs 7 31.5
5-6 5 SWE GM GeorgMeier Meier, Georg 7 31.5
7 82 VEN FM pedromartinez91 martinez, pedro 7 28
8 6 FRA GM Nouki undisclosed 6.5 31.5
9 34 RUS IM 9ShMat2 Shcherbin, Matvei 6.5 28.25
10 73 USA IM QuestToGM Chandra, Akshat 6.5 27.5
11 15 PRY GM chito89 Bachmann, Axel 6 32.5
12-13 4 ARG IM megarompa Liascovich, Lucas A. 6 27
12-13 27 USA GM Inopov Boomboom, Chess Pacman 6 27
14 14 FRA GM Zlatan56 Fressinet, Laurent 6 26.5
15 13 BGR FM Tilicheev_Viacheslav Viacheslav, Tilicheev 6 24.75
16 8 USA GM DanielNaroditsky Naroditsky, Daniel 6 24.5
17 41 FRA IM tac49 undisclosed 6 24.25
18 89 DEU FM Schemato undisclosed 6 20.25
19 1 USA GM Hikaru Nakamura, Hikaru 5.5 31
20 30 FRA GM tigrangharamian Gharamian, Tigran 5.5 23
21 31 LVA GM igorkovalenko Kovalenko, Igor 5.5 21.5
22-23 63 RUS CM stepanosinovsky Osinovsky, Stepan 5.5 21
22-23 11 VNM FM wonderfultime Le, Minh 5.5 21
24 18 ARM GM Gevorg_Harutjunyan Harutjunyan, Gevorg 5.5 20.5
25 21 LVA GM arturchix Neiksans, Arturs 5.5 19.25

A reminder that Titled Player Tuesdays are switching to the first Tuesday of the month starting in March, 2015. That means the seventh edition is only a week away!

All events are at 11 am PST (GMT -8) and the full schedule for 2015 can be found at the bottom of the historical archive.

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