Poikovsky Final - Eljanov Edges Field for Title
Thanks to an 8th-round win and final round draw, GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine jumped past the field late to take the 14th Karpov Tournament in Poikovsky, Russia. The winner beat tail-ender GM Ivan Cheparinov in the penultimate round, then drew GM Viktor Laznicka in a rook-and-pawn ending to finish with 6/9 in the 10-player round-robin.
The three at the top of the standings all had Black in the final round. Two players could have tied Eljanov with ninth-round wins, but GM Alexander Motylev drew to finish second (5.5/9) and GM Ernesto Inarkiev lost to finish third (5/9).
Eljanov has Cheparinov's number, beating him earlier this year at the Reykjavik Open and several Grand Prix tournaments in recent years. The Bulgarian GM partially salvaged his last-place finish by winning the game of the tournament in the final round (more on that later).
Here is the game that essentially won the title. The three pawns triumphed over the minor piece:
From there, Eljanov protected his lead by setting up a wall on his board and challenging his rivals on other boards to win as Black. Laznicka broke through, but too many pawns were traded and Eljanov achieved his split point, which was all that was needed for clear first.
Here are the final standings: