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Zoltan Almasi unbeaten Winner of FiNet Open!

Eric van Reem


Zoltan Almasi, the Hungarian GM who is playing for SC Kreuzberg in Berlin, won the FiNet Chess960 Open unbeaten with 9,5 points out of 11 games. He won 8 games and scored three draws. After seven rounds Etienne Bacrot still had a 100% score, but could not keep the pace in the final rounds. The French star had to share second place with Rublevsky, Morozevich, Sadvakasov, Kobalija, Naiditsch and Tregubov. They all scored 8,5 points. Here you will find an overview of the events of the second day of the FiNet Open.

In the sixth round of the innovative Chess960 Open, Artur Yusupov missed a good chance to win his sixth consecutive game. He had a winning position with the black pieces, but blundered in the rook ending. His opponent, Etienne Bacrot from France, gladly accepted the present and now leads the field alone with 6 points. The players had to deal with this position:

The other 100% player, Kobalija lost his first game of the day against Zoltan Almasi. Ruslan Ponomariov, who won his “training-match” against Alexander Morozevich last night won his first game of the day and is back in the top ten. Against one of the fastest players on earth, Rustemov, he won a complicated endgame. Another hot favorite is Alexander Grishuk – he won his game against Balkan. Antoanetta Stefanova won a funny game against Alexander Graf. On a full board, the King took a walk and landed on d5: on that square the journey ended – Graf was checkmated. Alexander Morozevich , who won the Biel Chess Festival with some dazzling chess and a 2863 performance, seems to have problems with Chess960. He lost in round 6 and will have difficulties to get a price.

Black was OK in the seventh round, which was positive for leader Bacrot - he played with pieces against Zvaginsev and won again. On the four top boards, black had the upper hand. Maybe this position favours black:

In the battle of the young stars Karjakin-McShane, the English hope won and still has good chances to win the tournament. Artur Yusupov and Mihail Kobaljia can not keep up their pace from the first day: both players list their second game of the day. Another loser in this round: Alexander Grishuk. Zoltan Almasi (black!) won convincingly and now has the difficult task to stop leader Bacrot in round 8 in which the players had to deal with this position:

And yes, Almasi stopped leader Bacrot! The game ended in a draw. Both players took an extra break to save energy for the last three rounds. Important victories in this round for Pavel Tregubov who won against Ponomariov and Mihail Kobalijawho won his game against Agrest. Artur Yusupov lost his third game of the day. Standings after 8 rounds: 1. Bacrot 7,5; 2-3 Almasi, Tregubov 7; Kobalija, Levin, Landa, Sadvakasov 6,5; 12 players have 6 points.

After a 1-hour lunchbreak, the players came back to the playing hall and had to build up this position:

Again, leader Bacrot could not win his game and was even lucky not to have lost against Tregubov. The game ended in a draw. That meant good news for Zoltan Almasi: he won against Konstantin Landa, who played extremely attractive and creative, but in the end the efficiency of the Hungarian star decided the game. With two more round to go we have two leader with 8 points : Almasi and Bacrot. Darmen Sadvakasov won against Levin and now has 7,5 points. Alexander Grishuk still has chances to win, after his victory over Rustem Dautov. He has 7 points, together with Kobalija, Shchekachev and Rublevsky. A great comeback for Rublevsky: he lost his first game against amateur player Wahedi, but now he is back in business!

In the penultimate round, this position came out of the computer:

If you compare this position with the position in round 9 you may notice that there are some similarities. A dramatic round for Etienne Bacrot, who seemed to win this tournament easily. But 7,5 points out of 8 games are nothing if you not win the decisive games in the last rounds. The French player lost in the penultimate round against Darmen Sadvakasov. Remember Sadvakasov? He lost in the first round against an amateur (Julian Scheider) but his comeback in the tournament is phenomanal. The second game on stage between Almasi and Tregubov ended in a draw. Grishuk lost his final chance to win the tourney-he lost against Kobalija. Rublevsky won another game and still has chances to win the tourney, if the top board in the last round plays a draw.

“The winner takes it all”. Between the rounds, classic Abba music can be heard and before the last round this famous song is played. Never before this song has been more appropiate than in this FiNet Open! The leaders Almasi and Sadvakasov (8,5) play a real finale in the last round and face this position:

The winner takes it all: the winner of this game does not only win the tournament, but will also be invited for the WNCA match next year against the winner of the Aronian-Svidler match. Hoping for a draw on the top board are Bacrot, Rublevsky, Tregubov and Kobalija with 8 points. However, the Hungarian Grandmaster, who is playing in the Bundesliga for SC Kreuzberg in Berlin had a surprisingly easy task in his game against comeback kid Sadvakasov. After 20 moves Sadvakasov could hardly play a move anymore, had to give the exchange and was completely helpless. Almasi won the game, the tournament and will soon become an invitation to play a match for the WNCA title in 2005! Congratulations, Zoltan Almasi! His reaction after the last game: “I am in very good shape at the moment, not only in Chess960, but also in “normal chess. I was a bit lucky in this tournament, because Etienne Bacrot lead the field a long time”. The Hungarian scored 9,5 points out of 11 games, one point clear of Bacrot, Morozevich, Rublevsky, Tregubov, Naiditsch, Sadvakasov and Kobalija with 8,5 points.

The final ranking after 11 rounds


Day 1

Yusupov, Bacrot and Kobalija with a perfect score after 5 rounds

by Eric van Reem

No less than 207 players came to the Rheingoldhalle today to play the FiNet Open, the innovative Chess960 tournament. Before the start of the first games, Hans-Walter Schmitt presented the official “Free Bobby Fischer” T-Shirt.

Top players like Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Morozevich play Chess960 for the first time. Alexei Shirov, who starts his match against Vishy Anand tonight, came by to look how his colleagues handled this position:

Ponomariov played his first Chess960 game against organiser Schmitt, a renowed Chess960 player in Frankfurt. After a tough battle, the Russian ex-world champion managed to win the pawn ending. However, in the second round, he met his master in David Baramidze from Dortmund. The young IM won a good game against the Russian. By the way, Ponomariov will only play the Chess960 Open in Mainz!

In the first round GM Sergei Rublevsky, who played the super tournament in Dortmund last week, lost his first round game against amateur Ahmad Siar Wahedi. “Rublevsky sacrificed a pawn on g2, but that was not good enough. I actually had an easy game”, Wahedi smiled, “and I could even mate the GM! I have to say that he was very fair after the game, he was not angry or whatsoever”.

The starting position of the second round:

In May, the Dutch chess club “Fischer Z” organised the first Dutch Chess960 Championship after visiting the Chess Classic last year. They were thrilled about the possibilities of Chess960 and came back this year to play. Among them Dutch Open Chess960 Champion Yasser Seirawan, who has married a Dutch woman. He won his second game against IM Leonid Sobolevski. Another Dutch GM, Erik van den Doel, who never played in Mainz before, also had a good start. He won against IM Janez Barle.

In the third round, Igor Glek managed to win against Morozevich. With only seconds left on his DGT clock, Glek found the right moves. Here is the starting position:

It is interesting to see the different approaches in the opening: Morozevich-Glek started 1. c4 e5 2.Nc3 f5 3. d3 Nf6 4. f4 and Grishuk-Yusupov started 1.f4 d5 2. Nf3 etc. Etienne Bacrot won against young star Arkadij Naiditsch with the black pieces. Not a surprise, since 6 out of the seven top games ended in a victory for black. Black is OK in Chess960!

After three rounds, 15 players still have a 100% score and had to face this position in round four:

Too difficult for GM Eric Lobron and GM Jaan Ehlvest. They looked at the position, looked at each other, shook hands and... went to the bar. Krishnan Sasikiran had a better attitude: he played the surpising opening move 1.a4 ! and after 1...d5 he played 2.a5. This strategy worked out fine, because he could win his fourth consecutive game! Four other players have a perfect score after four rounds: Etienne Bacrot, Artur Yusupov, Peter-Heine Nielsen and Mihail Kobalija.

In the fifth round, the players had to deal with a rather tricky position (see FiNet Round5).

A lot of players played the move 1.e4? , but after 1...f5! the bishop on g8 attacks the pawn on a2. When walking through the playing hall, you could often see a black bishop on a2 - e.g. in the game Dergatchova-Daus against Morozevich. He won easily, but the top seed is not happy with his 3,5 points today! Yasser Seirawan also managed to win the exchange on the third move, but he did not manage to win the game. “Oh, but Chess960 is not that easy”, said the Dutch Chess960 Open champion after the game, “my opponent had a lot of compensation. I was lucky in the end with draw. Particularly difficult was the position in game 1. I could not come up with a good plan, although I won the game. I have a lot of fun playing the Chess960 positions, the playing hall is great and pleasant, so I am looking forward to the games tomorrow.”

Morozevich found the position in game 1 rather nice: “In my first Chess960 game my first move was: castling queenside! Aftre that, my rooks are positioned in the centre, I could push my pawns and had a good position. I liked that.” Reinhard Scharnagl, who wrote a book about Chess960 loves to play chess but was not really succesfull. “I managed to score a point against Mr. Freilos (free round). I have´t played chess for a long time and I made a lot of mistakes. But there are still six round to go!” Richard Pijl, developer of the chess program The Baron, scored two points today and will assist the commentators in the Chess960 match Aronian-Svidler with his engine. “Maybe I should bring my computer tomorrow to assist me”, Pijl smiled.

After five round there are only three players left with a perfect score: Etienne Bacrot (France), Artur Yusupov (Germany) and Mihail Kobalija (Russia), closely followed by Luke McShane (England), Vadim Zvaginsev (Russia) and Zoltan Almasi (Hungary) with 4,5 points. You can see the ranking after round five here (link). Tomorrow, six more rounds will be played. The sixth round starts at 10.00 AM.











Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
Round 5
Round 6
Round 7
Round 8
Round 9
Round 10
Round 11


IPS Rating

Games in pgn-Format (Use Arena. Not for use with Chessbase.)
Games in cbv-Format (Chessbase)

Yusupov - Grischuk

Schmitt - Ponomariov

Morozevich - Beutel

Etienne Bacrot Sergey Karjakin

Inna Gaponenko Natalia Zhukova

Viktor Bologan

Victoria Cmilyte

Vlastimil Hort

Wolfgang Uhlmann

pics by Thilo Gubler




Eric van Reem: "The birth of Chess960 (Fischer Random Chess)"

Individual Players Strenght
IPS Ranking




20 Min./Game + 5 Sec./Move

Thursday, 5th of August.
Registration until 12:15 p.m.
Round 1-5

Friday, 6th of August.
Round 6-11 starting at 10:00 a.m.
Victory ceremony 5:30 p.m.


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