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Karjakin overtakes Topalov to win Sberbank Rapid Championship

The Sberbank Rapid Chess Tournament came to an end today in Kiev. Sergey Karjakin had another good day and managed to overtake Veselin Topalov at the top of the standings to get the winner’s trophy. The Russian star got his second important victory in rapid chess this year, after getting first place at the Aeroflot rapid event in February. This is also his second straight victory after winning the super-tournament in Norway. Karjakin will continue his busy schedule at the Tal Memorial, which begins next week.

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Karjakin started the third playing day with a win. He caught Veselin Topalov in the lead thanks to his victory over Sergei Zhigalko. The eventual champion turned around an inferior position in a Ruy Lopez. Zhigalko handled the tactical early middlegame accurately and got a pawn advantage, but was not able to follow through and fell victim of Karjakin’s active play on the kingside.

Meanwhile, Peter Leko quickly held Topalov to a draw with the black pieces. The Hungarian simplified to an opposite-colored bishops endgame and signed the peace treaty on move 24. Given Leko’s good play in the second day, Topalov might have decided to avoid any unnecessary risk in this round.

Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin

Pavel Eljanov gave Karjakin a hand in the eighth round. He defeated Topalov with white in 54 moves. The game was a long strategic battle where Eljanov’s rooks became very active and ended up being the key factor to get the full point. The Ukrainian saved face after a bad second day and finished on 4.5/9 after beating Naiditsch in the last round.

The Russian derby between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Sergey Karjakin finished with a split point after 31 moves. Tomashevsky, playing white, looked for play on the queenside, but his higher-rated colleague correctly assessed that he should simplify the position to avoid getting in trouble. However, the peace treaty might have been slightly premature, especially for a rapid event.

With these results, Karjakin was already first in the standings, a half point ahead of Topalov.

Sergei Zhigalko

Sergei Zhigalko

The last round saw what can be seen as a clash of generations. Sergey Karjakin had white against Anatoly Karpov and had the chance to secure first place with a win. The ex-world champion chose the Scandinavian but quickly faltered, as his eight move already gives white an important advantage. Karjakin used his usual active style to grind down the veteran in 33 moves. This secured overall first place for the young Russian.

Veselin Topalov also finished with a victory. He beat Tomashevsky with white in a Ruy Lopez.

Peter Leko and Sergei Zhigalko, who had also arrived half a point behind Topalov, ended up sharing third place with 5/9 points.

Peter Leko

Peter Leko

Photos by Evgenia Dolukhanova

Final Standings:

1 Karjakin, Sergey RUS 2782
2 Topalov, Veselin BUL 2784 6
3 Leko, Peter HUN 2737 5
4 Zhigalko, Sergei BLR 2661 5
5 Eljanov, Pavel UKR 2707
6 Tomashevsky, Evgeny RUS 2709
7 Korobov, Anton UKR 2715
8 Areshchenko, Alexander UKR 2708 4
9 Karpov, Anatoly RUS 2619 3
10 Naiditsch, Arkadij GER 2710 2
         

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