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Saturday, December 29, 2012

World Cities Chess Sheikh Zayed Cup: Congratulations to Hoogeveen Team for Title

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

The City of Hoogeveen, Netherlands became World Cities Chess Champion after beating Baku, Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 in the finals of the knockout tournament 21-28 December 2012 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Sergei Tiviakov of Hoogeveen again proved the hero for the Dutch team as he squeezed out a victory in an opposite coloured Bishop endgame in a marathon 89 moves.

The match was difficult from the start as Anish Giri, playing white on top board for Hoogeveen, and Eltaj Safarli had a complicated duel. Giri essayed the English Opening as white and accepted the early exchange of Queens on the 14th move. Both sides penetrated with their Rooks on the opponent's second rank. Safarli was first to unleash an attack. Giri was poised to counter with three pieces weaving threatening nets on the Black King when Safarli decided to repeat position and force a draw on the 31st move. 
The Hoogeveen team, kneeling from left, GMs Ivan Sokolov, Anish Giri, Sergey Tiviakov and Jan Smeets. Standing are, from left, Abu Dhabi Sports Council representative Salah Al Marzougi, FIDE Vice President Mohammed Kambouzia of Iran, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan, UAE Chess Federaiton Vice President Abdulaziz Al Khouri, FIDE Vice President Nizar El Haj and Organizing Committee Managing Director Hisham Al Taher

The Ruy Lopez game between Rauf Mamedov of Baku with white and Ivan Sokolov of Hoogeveen on board two was next to draw. After an exchange of Queens on the 19th move, Mamedov won a pawn. Sokolov controlled the open file with his Rook and forced perpetual check to draw in 35 moves.

The lower boards were left. Vasif Durarbayli had white for Baku on board 4 against Jan Smeets who used the Petroff Defense. Smeets was a pawn up in their Rook and Pawn endgame. Both sides had a passed pawn in a clearly drawn position when they agreed to halve the point in 57 moves.

It looked as if the game on board three between Sergei Tiviakov of Hoogeveen and Nidjat Mamedov of Baku would also end in a draw. Tiviakov used the Alapin variation of the Sicilian defense and exchanged Queens on the 25th move. This led to an endgame with Rook and Bishops of opposite colors.

Tiviakov said, "After the opening I was sure that it is going to be a long game. We had this position with opposite colored bishops. Moreover I had one pawn up and gained an advantage in the endgame. My position gave me a chance to make about 100 moves. That's what I planned to do and generally what I did. Moreover my opponent was in time trouble. You can imagine: being in a time trouble, one pawn down, we can only think how to defend. My opponent was losing a lot of energy for that. The conditions of play were not equal by all means. As a consequence my opponent made a blunder and lost."

The Hoogeveen team won $21,000 out of the $150,000 prize fund. "We purposely had only four players to have fewer people to share the prize," Hoogeveen captain Ivan Sokolov said. Read more at the Fide website.

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