Croatian Chess Cup 2017 – Highlights

 Croatian Chess Cup 2017

A couple of days after the Croatian Chess Championship 2017 has finished, another prestigious Croatian chess event took place. The final of the Croatian Chess Cup 2017 was a team event in which 25 teams competed for the title of the Croatian Cup Champion… and 18 000 kn first prize (around 2500 euros).

Naturally, the existence of monetary prizes usually leads to participation of the strong players who own an official FIDE title. Croatian Chess Cup 2017 was no exception, as it gathered a total number of 22 Grandmasters, 20 International Masters and 20 Fide Masters.

Of course, apart from a number of titled players, there was also a number of weaker players who don’t get the opportunity to participate in such events that often.

The author of these lines had the privilege to belong to this group. In this article, I will take a look at the key chess moments of the tournament, but also try to express my own thoughts and feelings about a chess event of such a calibre.

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Croatian Chess Championship 2017 – highlights

Participants and regulations

The 48th Croatian Chess Championship took place between April the 24th and May the 5th in 2017.

The tournament was held in the hotel Villa Valpovo, in the small Slavonian city of Valpovo which has 11563 inhabitants (according to the last population census from 2011).

Hotel Villa Valpovo, the location of the tournament (taken from Google Images)

The tournament was a single round-robin, with the tempo of play being 90 minutes + 30 seconds per move + additional 30 minutes and 30 seconds per move after the 40th move.

A total of 12 players gained the right to participate in this elite event of the Croatian chess. The players are as follows: (all photos were shot at the event and are taken from the official website of the Croatian Chess Federation)

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Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 9

Kramnik scores a win, Mamedyarov wins Vugar Gashimov Memorial 2nd year in a row

With the development of modern computers, it has become customary to state that chess is game for young people.

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik seems to be an exception to that rule. Because with his win in Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 9, he is ranked number three in the world, trailing Wesley So on the second place by mere 3 rating points.

His display of youth-like energy in Shamkir resulted with five decisive games in nine rounds. Although his tournament had it’s ups and downs, his final game against the poor Pavel Eljanov brought him the shared second place and +1 score at the end of the tournament.

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Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 8

Wojtaszek beats the leader, Topalov, Karjakin and So close up on Mamedyarov

After my lamentations about the “drawing of lots” after the round 7, the players return to the well-throden paths in Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 8.

In the elite chess tournaments the name of the Radoslaw Wojtaszek is not that often in the centre of events. Sure, he is often invited and participating, but for most people he is better known as Anand’s second than as elite competitor.

However, in round 8 he showed why Anand hired him as he displayed one of the best pieces of opening preparation I have seen recently.

In a sharp variation of the Grünfeld he introduced the idea of GM Gajewsky (who also worked for Anand). It would appear that the 16 Qh4! idea basically refutes the whole 14… Nb4 line (see the analysis of the game below for more details).

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Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 7

Five games, five draws, Mamedyarov retains the lead

In the previous posts we were praising the players for their fighting spirit and for the display of interesting chess.

Vugar Gashimov memorial 2017 round 7 saw different turn of events. Five games, five relatively colourless draws and virtually not a single serious mistake by any player.

Grandmaster’s chess at it’s finest.

The most interesting game in my humble opinion was the short but explosive Sicilian encounter between Radjabov and Topalov.

In a very sharp theoretical battle, Topalov played a novel move that seemed like a blunder that loses the exchange at first sight.

However,  it turned out that White can’t keep his material advantage and Radjabov had to go into an equal endgame.

Thus Topalov’s novelty virtually shut down this line for White at the moment.

The game is analyzed below.

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