Thursday, January 10, 2008

Radjabov wins ACP World Rapid Cup in Odessa

Without doubt the knockout rapid chess format in this ACP tournament brought some heart-stopping action. In the end it was GM Teimour Radjabov, 20 years old and from Baku, Azerbaijan, who took the cup, beating Alexander Grischuk in the final. Meanwhile the Chairman of the sponsoring Pivdenny Bank was elected new President of the ACP. Big illustrated report by Misha Savinov.


Before the quarterfinal day we had a brief discussion at the press center on who could be considered the favorite. This is obviously a matter of opinion, as all the remaining players had the skill and had experienced the luck required to succeed. Most local observers were inclined towards Ivanchuk, whi

le I voted for the winner of Grischuk-Svidler match. This is how narrow our thinking is – I guess people from Baku would elect Radjabov, and Israelis prefer Gelfand.

Anyway, after the quarterfinals the hopes of Ukrainians were pinned on the youngest participant of this World Cup, Sergey Karjakin. The promising 17-year-old eliminated Gelfand, the oldest player of those survived the first couple of days. In blitz, naturally – for longer games the Petroff is really tough to beat.

Ivanchuk, the best-loved player of the Odessa public (okay, maybe the second – after Karpov) was knocked out by Radjabov. Teimour is as anxious as ever; he looks very motivated, and it must be really uncomfortable to sit in front of his drilling eyes. He is definitely a tough cookie, and Ivanchuk, dressed in Real Madrid uniform, could sense it today. The public saw everything: long-range fights in the first two games; blunder exchange in the blitz tie-break; wild server-style piece-dropping in the Armageddon, which ended in Ivanchuk losing on time after regaining 57 seconds of the initial minute handicap...

Semifinals and final

Please excurse briefness of my notes: it is about one a.m. in Odessa, and it feels weird to be working when players and colleagues around me are celebrating.

The first semifinal, Radjabov-Jakovenko, ended with a perfect score. It is kind of strange, because before the match such respectable people as Ivanchuk predicted even chances (presuming the encounter would go on until the Armageddon). However, Jakovenko was not in a playing mood and did not put up enough resistance. Highly motivated Radjabov advanced to the final, and at the press-conference bombarded general media journalists with lengthy chess lines. He is definitely more at home discussing chess than anything else.

Someone spilled gasoline on board before the second semifinal. Don’t give matches to these kids! Karjakin and Grischuk could have caused many heart attacks tonight – hopefully their true supporters were not watching the games live. Grischuk came back twice from behind and won the Armageddon in nice attacking style.