We have a bit of a lull after the big time events in Wijk aan Zee and Gibraltar, but I’ll have action from the Moscow Open and St Louis Norm Congress. First up: a match between two legendary former World Champions.
Anatoly Karpov retired from classical tournaments years ago, but he can still be coaxed into playing in rapid events. He took on Hou Yifan is a six-game match in China. At 66, Karpov is nearly three times older than his 23-year-old opponent. Hou Yifan also outrates 2018 Karpov and is certainly a lot more active. Still, given Karpov’s tremendous reservoir of knowledge and predilection for rapid chess, I’m not surprised he was able to squeeze out a 3.5-2.5 win. I may be more surprised that the match was so entertaining, as in his dotage Karpov seemed to play for the fans more than we were used to. Let’s start by examining a typical matchup of Hou’s determined attacking play and Karpov’s notable defensive prowess.
Hou probably had enough of Karpov’s signature technique and defense and played very provocatively in game three, eventually earning the point by counterattack:
Karpov salted away the victory by winning game five, while Hou got some consolation by winning a long technical endgame I the finale. Only one draw out of six…a good deal for the fans I would say.
The 2018 Moscow Open may not bowl us over with sixteen players over 2500 and three over 2600, given what we are used to seeing in today’s open events. But it is still a very strong event which was not all that friendly to the Elo favorites. The victor, 12th seeded Semen Lomasov is likely unknown to our viewers—I had never heard of him before. As a fifteen-year-old IM he is certainly an upstart, but with a seasoned GM rating of 2530. In any case, he powered through the opposition to the tune of 8/9. The key game was his defeat of the top-seeded Tamir Nabaty of Israel. It was a topsy-turvy game that hinged on a major decision of where to run with the king. Let’s take a look.
16 years old IM Semen Lomasov, from Russia
Lomasov secured the title with a surprisingly easy win in the final round, as he demonstrated that trading lots of pieces in a symmetrical pawn structure does not guarantee anything.
The St. Louis Chess Club has been a constant sponsor of norm bearing round robins, and they have another batch in the works this week. The GM event includes some interesting players, like 17-year-old Greek sensation Stavroula Tsolakidou. Now I have not coached at the World Youth for five years, so I missed Stavroula winning the Girls Under 14, Under 16, and Under 18 Championships. At 2412 with all her IM norms, she is a formidable young talent. I gleaned from kibitzes about the tournament that she is the most famous chess player in Greece. Let’s see her take on Uzbek IM Djurabek Khamrakulov in round 2 in one of the tongue-twistiest games I’ve ever had to do on my show!
Stavroula is doing quite well, and was even in the lead after six rounds with 4/6, in a very tightly packed field. I’ll let you know if any title norms come out of St. Louis.