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03 Aug

Korobov-ed!

Many tournaments are memorials to former world champions. There are also many named after great players - but, with a few very notable exceptions, there have been very few ‘living memorials’ named after players who are very much still alive and kicking  today.  One such pays homage to former world champion Anatoly Karpov and is held in deepest Siberia, in Poikovsky, in the Nefteyugansk region.

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Founded only fifty years ago in 1966, this small town was transformed with wealth generated by gas and oil. And with its new-found wealth, the town became host in the late 1990s to a Chess Academy established by the former world champion - and the tournaments thereafter followed.

Karpov always turns up as the guest of honour and the tournaments are very much in his image, with classical time limits, quick draws perfectly permissible and almost monolithically Russophile fields. And while the players do sometimes avail themselves of the extra rest with the opportunity to make peace early without having to manufacture a repetition, there are also numerous ferocious battles.

This year’s field of 10 for the 17th Karpov Poikovsky tournament again had four Russians - Dmitry Andreikin, Maxim Matalkov, Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Motylev - Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland), Russian-Israelis Ilya Smirin and Emil Sutovsky, Anton Korobov (Ukraine), Igor Kovalenko (formerly Ukraine, now Latvia) and Victor Bologon (Moldova).

However, for the second successive year, it wasn’t to be for either of the two joint top-seeds Andreikin and Wojtaszek, as dark horse Korobov yet again defied the odds to turn in a repeat win performance at the weekend, with his winning score of 6/9 (that also included a loss to Andreikin).  And en route to victory, Korobov also turned in a brilliancy to beat Sutovsky in round six.

GM Anton Korobov - GM Emil Sutovsky
17th Karpov Poikovsky, (6)
Neo-Grünfeld Defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.0-0 c5 8.e4 Nf6 A central theme of the Grünfeld is to keep on hitting White's pawn centre, enticing it forward and then to be hit. 9.e5 Nd5 10.dxc5 Nc6 11.Qa4 Qc7 12.Rd1 Be6 White has a pawn, but Black has lots of typical Grünfeld counter-play with active piece-play and targeting the pawns on c5 and e5. 13.Nc3 Nxc3 14.bxc3 Rfd8 15.Bf4 Na5 16.Ng5 Qxc5 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Rd7!? Perhaps this comes as a surprise, but it is a good move as it allows White to dominate the d-file with his rooks, as exchanging on d7 allows White's queen into the heart of Black's position to target the weakness on e6. 18...Rxd7 19.Qxd7 Kf7 20.Rd1 Bxe5 Sutovsky innocently goes about capturing on e5, not realising that he's just walked into a big minefield. 21.Rd5!! (See Diagram) A true thunderbolt out of the blue that hits Sutovsky's position hard. So hard, in fact, that White has a forced win now as Black has to accept the sacrifice or either lose a piece. 21...exd5 22.Bxd5+ Kf8 23.Qe6! Now the threat is Qf7 mate. 23...Ke8 24.Bxe5 The bishop-pair and the queen win the day - Black can't defend the position. 24...Kd8 If 24...Rd8 25.Qg8+ Kd7 26.Be6+ Kc6 27.Qxd8 Qxe5 28.Bd7+ Kd6 29.Bb5+ Ke6 30.Qxa5 and White emerges from the dust with an extra piece. 25.c4 Qb4 26.Qg8+ Kd7 27.Qxa8 e6 It doesn't matter which way Black regains his piece, as White active queen and bishop combine to easily win. 27...Qe1+ 28.Kg2 Qxe5 29.Qxa7 Qc7 30.Qd4 with an overwhelming position. 28.Bf6 exd5 29.Qd8+ Ke6 30.cxd5+ Kf7 31.h4 Nc4 The knight stranded on the rim finally re-enters the fray - but it is too late. 32.Bd4 Defending f2 and stopping any possibility of ...Ne3+, while at the same time keeping up the attack on the Black king. 32...Qd6 33.Qh8 h5 If 33...Qxd5 34.Qxh7+ Ke8 35.Qxg6+ Kd7 36.Qg7+ Ke8 37.Bf6 is quite hopeless. 34.Qg7+ Ke8 35.Qxb7 Qd7 36.Qa8+ Ke7 37.Bc5+ Kf6 38.Qf8+ 1-0 Black resigns, as after 38...Ke5 39.Qh8+ Kxd5 40.Qd4+ Kc6 41.Qxc4 he's a piece down and facing his king also being mated.  

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