GM Joel Benjamin
This week I have the conclusion of the Women’s World Championship, the Polish Championship, and our feature event, the Capablanca Memorial from Havana Cuba.
The great Capablanca
The traditional Capablanca Memorial was a six-player event, like the recently completely Sigeman tournament, but more challenging for the players with a double round-robin format. This proved especially favorable for Sam Shankland, who torched the field with 4/5 in the second leg. Sam’s 7.5/10 total score outpaced the competition by a point and a half. Combined with his shock victory in the recent US Championship, Shankland now has back-to-back 2800+ performances and has moved into the top thirty in the world rankings.
GM Sam Shankland
The first game I want to show typifies the way Shankland often outworks his opponents:
Embarking on the second game against his opponents, Sam was not fazed by an unorthodox setup from his opponent in round six.
Veteran Radoslav Wojtaszek might have been considered the favorite in the Polish Championship, but he never got untracked. Kacper Piorun led for much of the way, but he was overtaken near the end by Jan-Krzysztof Duda, their eighth-round encounter serving as the title decider:
Duda scored 6.5/9, while Piorun tallied 5.5. The 20-year-old Duda was one of the youngest grandmasters in the world 5 years ago, and this success confirms his continued progress.
GM Duda, Polish Champion
After five decisive games out of the first six games in the women’s world championship, the air got sucked out of the balloon for the finish. Ju Wenjun steered toward draws in the last four games to take the title from Tan Zhongyi, 5.5-4.5. The finish was anti-climactic, as Tan’s reckless play landed her in a lost position, which her opponent had no need of winning. I’d like to show the third and final victory for Ju from game five, which ultimately proved the difference in the match.