Tough Battles in Nutcracker 1st Round

Tough Battles in Nutcracker 1st Round

| 7 | Chess Event Coverage

The year is almost over, but yet another interesting tournament took off today in Moscow: the Nutcracker Match of the Generations. Four experienced GMs face four Russian rising stars.

The “Nutcracker” is yet another initiative of businessman and chess patron Oleg Skvortsov. He's most known for his annual super tournament in Zurich, but Skvortsov also sponsored a match between Daniil Dubov and Alexei Shirov last year.

These two players are also part of this new event: a team match between generations.

The tournament runs December 19-26 in Moscow, and is similar to the “Experience vs Rising Stars” tournaments, held for a number of years in Amsterdam and sponsored by Joop van Oosterom.

In Moscow, there's a team of experienced GMs, called the “Kings,” and a team of rising talents, called “Princes.”

The Kings are Peter Leko of Hungary, Alexander Morozevich of Russia, Alexei Shirov of Latvia and Alexei Dreev of Russia.

The Princes are Russian GMs Vladislav Artemiev, Vladimir Fedoseev, Daniil Dubov and Grigoriy Oparin. 

The Scheveningen system is used, so each player on one team plays each player on the other team.

At the opening ceremony the four Russian rising stars found a place next to the oldest living GM, Yuri Averbakh. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

The match is held over two disciplines: classical (four days, from December 20-23) and rapid chess (two days: December 24-25).

The classical time control is 120 minutes for 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the next 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game with 30 seconds increment from move 61.

The rapid is faster than normal: 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment.

The classical section counts double: there, for winning a player gets two points, for a draw, one point, and for a loss, zero points. In the rapid section the score is normal.

Draw offers before move 40 are not allowed.

The venue is the Central House of Chess in Moscow, where the tournament was opened on Friday night. Oleg Skvortsov and his wife Natalia were present of course, but also attending were Anatoly Karpov, Yuri Averbakh, Anatoly Bykhovsky, Mark Dvoretsky, Evgeni Vasiukov, Alexander Nikitin, Yuri Dokhoyan, Emil Sutovsky , Sergey Rublevsky, Alexander Volzhin, Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Valentine Gunina and many others.

Yet another tournament sponsored by Oleg Skvortsov! | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Skvortsov is a fan of fighting chess, and detests quick draws. For this tournament he chose 40 as the number of moves the players have to make before they can offer a draw. And immediately in the first round this led to some tough battles, with the Princes taking a lead vs the Kings: 2.5-1.5.

Alexei Shirov was the only player from the older generation to score a point. His first opponent was the same player he had beaten 5-1 last year in the aforementioned match: Daniil Dubov.

Now 18 years old, Dubov was again more or less outplayed (although he missed a good chance on move 34):

Oleg Skvortsov making the first move for Shirov vs Dubov. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

The 17-year-old Grigoriy Oparin leveled the score with a convincing win against Alexander Morozevich. It seems that Oparin was well prepared in this Taimanov Sicilian as he managed to get a big advantage right from the opening.

A Merry Chess Christmas!  | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

The youngest “Prince,” 16-year-old Vladislav Artemiev, had a good chance to beat Aleksey Dreev, at 45 the oldest player.

He won a pawn, then allowed a transition into an opposite-colored bishop ending but even there he was probably still winning, in a very nice way (hat tip IM Robert Ris!):

Fedoseev strolling along Dreev and Artemiev. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

The absolute firecracker of the round was Fedoseev-Leko. For the spectators a fascinating fight, for Fedoseev “a win is a win,” and for Leko a very disappointing game.

The Hungarian slowly outplayed his 19 years-young opponent, but then failed to decide the game more than once. After a turbulent final phase Fedoseev emerged victorious:

The classical games start 3 p.m. Moscow time, which is 1 p.m. Amsterdam, 7 a.m. New York and 4 a.m. Los Angeles.

The games are transmitted live online at the Russian Chess Federation website and there's also a live video stream with commentary in Russian.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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