(Also) a comparison Ashdod-London
In my tournament preview (available only in German) I wrote that Ivanchuk previously had rapid chess successes mainly in Latvia – but he certainly didn’t regret his trip to Ashdod, Israel. To briefly summarize his tournament: Group phase convincing, semifinal against Nepomniachtchi somewhat lucky (but this may have been the early final, and what happened was nothing compared with the other semifinal Bacrot-Gelfand), final against Bacrot very convincing. Title photo from Yochanan Afek via Facebook.
I will also mention the other participants, and document some important (or not as important for the continuation of the tournament) moments with diagrams. As Emil Sutovsky commented on the other tournament in London, I will compare both events – even if it might not make sense to compare different time controls. Chaos in rapid and possibly blitz/Armaggedon games can still happen in London, this would be round 10 of 9 (tiebreaks). In Ashdod the winner played ten games – (at least) eleven were scheduled, but the final had an early finish.
Ivanchuk ahead of all, Fridman ahead of Naiditsch
Preface: This article was initially published in German aimed at a German audience. It might be worthwhile translating it (even with a delay of about one week) because this tournament got relatively limited international English-language media attention, despite the participation of several (former) world-top players. I left the bits and pieces (including the second part of the subtitle) primarily relevant for German readers.
During the decisive phase of this tournament, I mostly watched the last round of the European championship; later I reconstructed what had happened in Jurmala. In rapid chess, particularly in rapid chess, it might be questionable to apply engine standards to all moves – but that’s the only way to “make sense” of many games with limited time (and limited own chess understanding).
It might not be the case for every single game, but generally Ivanchuk and Mamedyarov played creative-complicated chess, while Gelfand and Karjakin had a more dry-positional approach to their games. Among the German-Latvian GMs, Naiditsch is more adventurous like those first named, and Fridman more of a quiet and solid player. How would they fare in the tournament as a whole, and particularly against the mentioned world-top players? I cannot answer these question(s) completely. First the final standings: Ivanchuk 9/11, Karjakin, Gelfand and Rapport 8.5, Mamedyarov, Sakaev, Fridman 8, Shirov, Tomashevsky, Khalifman, Fedorov, Krasenkow, Popov, van Wely 8. Some names are missing, e.g. Naiditsch (7/11) and Morozevich (5.5/10 – then he left the tournament and forfeited his game against German IM Olaf Heinzel).