Reports | February 18, 2013 12:17

Karjakin beats Grischuk in Armageddon scramble to clinch Aeroflot rapid title

Aeroflot's top 4 with the national coach: Sergey Karjakin, Yuri Dokhoian, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler

Sergey Karjakin won the 2013 Aeroflot Open, the super strong rapid chess event that was spread out over several days and saw its dramatic conclusion on Sunday. Karjakin beat Alexander Grischuk in the Armageddon game of the final, winning on time in a lost position.

Aeroflot's top 4 with the national coach: Sergey Karjakin, Yuri Dokhoian, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler | All photos by Vladimir Barsky & Eteri Kublashvili

The final and argubly most interesting part of the Aeroflot Open took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the strongest players faced each other at the board in a rapid knock-out. 32 players had qualified for Friday's first knockout session, when the 1/32 and 1/16 finals were played.


These two rounds resulted in the following 8 qualifiers for the next stage:  Alexander Shimanov, Sanan Sjugirov, Dmitry Frolyanov (all Russia), Anton Korobov, Pavel Eljanov, (both Ukraine), Gata Kamsky (USA), Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) and Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan).

We'd like to take out the minimatch between Gata Kamsky and the not very well known, 22 year old Russian grandmaster Daniil Lintchevski, who managed to win the first game in a B vs N ending. Kamsky then managed to level the score and win the third game with the same material! :-) Here are all three games:

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Kamsky got three B vs N endings against Lintchevski

Also on Friday, the festival saw a big simultaneous exhibition for children up to 90 boards, symbolizing the 90th anniversary of the main sponsor, Russia's leading airline "Aeroflot". Young Russian talents played against stars like Anatoly Karpov, Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Wang Hao and Sergey Rublevsky. Some of their opponents managed to draw their games.

Before heading to their simuls, Andreikin, Karpov (behind him Ilya Levitov), Svidler,
Nepomniachtchi, Karjakin, Wang Hao and Mamedyarov are watching the games

Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk giving a simul to a new generation


On Saturday the 1/8 and 1/4 finals were played. In the first round Sergey Karjakin beat Dmitry Frolyanov 1.5-0.5, Peter Svidler won over Rauf Mamedov 1.5-0.5, Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Anatoly Karpov 2-0, Alexander Grischuk beat Alexander Shimanov 2-0, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov eliminated Le Quang Liem 1.5-0.5, Gata Kamsky won against Sanan Sjugirov 1.5-0.5 and Pavel Eljanov defeated Anton Korobov 2-1.

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The 1/8 finals on Saturday

There was an interesting moment in the game Nepomniachtchi vs Anatoly Karpov, when the 12th World Champion castled queenside by first moving his rook and then his king. Obviously this is against the rules, and Karpov should know that. Probably wisely so, Nepomniachtchi decided not to protest. By chance it was captured on video by Eugene Potemkin:

In the quarterfinals, Alexander Grischuk beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 1.5-0.5, Gata Kamsky defeated Pavel Eljanov 1.5-0.5, Sergey Karjakin won against Wang Hao 1.5-0.5 and Ian Nepomniachtchi eliminated Peter Svidler 2-1.

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The last day started with the semi-finals. The first games, Kamsky-Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi-Karjakin, both ended in draws. Grischuk then was the first to reach the final thanks to a win with White over Kamsky.

Grischuk defeated Kamsky in the semi-final

The second game Karjakin-Nepomniachtchi was drawn as well. Karjakin then won the Armageddon game and so the winner of the blitz tournament was eliminated.

Karjakin beat Nepomniachtchi

The final saw another Armageddon, after two draws. Grischuk won the lot, and chose to play Black with 4 minutes and draw odds against Karjakin with White and 5 minutes on the clock. At some point Karjakin won a pawn, then another, but then the Rapid World Champion lost control over the position. However, Grischuk, who reached a winning position, had used too much time and was flagged in a big scramble.

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As Martin Bennedik and many others recalled, quite a similar scenario was seen at the recent Piterenka Cup, between the same players. Martin posted two photos from both Armageddon games on Facebook noting the striking resemblance:

As Bennedik notes, the two Armageddon games at the Piterenka Cup (30th December 2012, top image) and the
Aeroflot seem to have been played at
 the same table, the same board, the same pieces, and even the same clothes. :-)

Results chart

Click for bigger version | Image courtesy of the Russian Chess Federation

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


NN's picture

Why no increment in the Armaggedon games? I don't understand this.

bronkenstein's picture

Actually, there was increment, just after (never reached) 60th move IIRC, but that´s not the point.

The time odds that white gets, already small IMO, would be made almost insignificant by adding increment from the first move.

redivivo's picture

Monokroussos approves of the outcome of the Armageddon game:

"Fortunately, and appropriately, given the course of the game and the clock, Grischuk did run out of time"

Thomas Oliver's picture

Actually I interpret Monokroussos' report as if this was (more or less) planned by Karjakin - the previous sentences are
"Karjakin maintained his advantage on the clock, which combined with a meaningful extra pawn to give him a decisive plus. Nevertheless, it all came down to a time scramble, when Karjakin, trying to run Grischuk out of time while avoiding a perpetual, blundered into a lost position."
In other words, Karjakin had two advantages - on the board and on the clock - and kept the one that was more relevant or "easier to convert"?

BTW the entire knockout phase had no less than 13 Armaggedon games - seven wins for white, six for black. So much for the common belief that the format favors black?

redivivo's picture

I think Mono's reasoning sounds weird. He declares that it was both fortunate and appropriate that Grischuk lost on time, but to me Grischuk just outplayed Karjakin and had a trivially won position towards the end, only needing a draw.

That both players had 1-2 seconds and one of them fumbled a piece and lost was another thing. I don't see anything fortunate or appropriate in Grischuk losing on time (I don't think it would have been fortunate and appropriate if Karjakin had lost on time either).

S3's picture

There is something fundamentally wrong with your chess understanding if you think Grischuk outplayed Karjakin in the last game.
A couple of seconds before the end Grischuk was both lost on time and position, and Karjakin simply decided to win on time - even his nervy blunder didn't change that.

Unfortunately the format /armageddon forces players to win like this.

redivivo's picture

I don't think Karjakin simply decided to win on time, Grischuk just played much better when both were in time trouble and when both have a couple of seconds left you just don't decide to win on time.

Thomas Oliver's picture

"Grischuk outplayed Karjakin" is at most part of the story. The game had several phases: first Karjakin got an advantage on the board and on the clock - Grischuk probably needed some crucial seconds for a few moves: 29.-c4 (more or less forced?), 32.-h5 (best chance for a swindle?). At some stage it became easier to play with black simply because he had nothing left to lose. Karjakin first missed some opportunities (simply pushing his passed d-pawn) and then blundered with 51.Rd2, a relatively unforced error and quite possibly one of the worst moves in this position. "Karjakin blundered" seems closer to the truth than "Grischuk outplayed him".

I had some blitz games with a similar scenario:
1) I am clearly better on the board and on the clock.
2) I blunder but keep my clock advantage.
3) I try to flag my opponent.
In such cases I might accept the opponent's draw offer - but he has to offer a draw and it isn't an option in an Armaggedon game.

redivivo's picture

""Karjakin blundered" seems closer to the truth than "Grischuk outplayed him""

Both players blundered a lot as it should be in a silly Armageddon game, I mainly mean that Grischuk played better on the board and reached a trivially winning position in the end. That both had almost no time left by then and one of them might lose on time is another matter that decided it in the end. I just don't agree about it being fortunate and appropriate that Grischuk was the one to lose on time, or that Karjakin simply decided that he preferred to win on time than on the board.

Thomas Oliver's picture

One needs to define what exactly is a blunder, and what is meant by outplaying the opponent. My definitions are: A blunder is a move that suddenly changes the evaluation of the position, and maybe also a move that needlessly complicates the task of winning a won or drawing a drawn position. Outplaying the opponent means gradually getting the upper hand move by move by move. Hence, benefitting from a blunder isn't outplaying the opponent.

For the first 50 moves, Karjakin more or less outplayed Grischuk (it wasn't a smooth ride, but that's my "average" assessment); then he ruined everything on the board with his 51st move. So Karjakin may have been the better blitz player (as long as both had minutes rather than seconds on the clock and a bit beyond that phase). Maybe Grischuk was the better bullet player, with resourceful if not perfect play once he was clearly worse.

I tend to agree with Monokroussos that Karjakin deserved to win - he was variably better for most of the first 50 moves and worse only for the last 5 moves when it was a lottery more than anything else.
In football, people often argue that a team that dominated for the first 90 and the additional 30 minutes 'should' win the penalty shootout - whether this actually happens is another story.

redivivo's picture

I still don't like the idea of saying that it is fortunate and appropriate that someone loses a game on time after doing better on the board and then losing only because of fumbling a piece in the end. Otherwise I don't care who wins of these two.

sab's picture

Regardless of what is "fortunate and appropriate" and what is not and supposing Thomas Oliver is right on his assessment, being variably worse for most of the first 50 moves and better only for the last 5 moves is not exactly what we can call "doing better on the board".

redivivo's picture

You can hardly say that Karjakin did better on the board either when he lost the game on the board in spite of being white and with more time from the start. Being better much of the game in such conditions isn't strange. I'm surprised several posters see it as if Karjakin "just decided to win on time". Both had 2 seconds, Grischuk the winning position since a few moves back, then fumbled the piece as seen on the last photo above. But Armageddon games isn't chess so not much to discuss really, so let's just say that Karjakin played better than Grischuk and decided to win on time, and that it was fortunate that this succeeded and have the subject done and over with :-)

Thomas Oliver's picture

"You can hardly say that Karjakin did better on the board either ..." - then your comments in the Baden-Baden thread on how lucky Caruana was, how many times he had a lost position etc. are also irrelevant? Granted, in a blitz game it is more common that an advantage fades away.

As to white's time advantage at the start, apparently it just about compensates for black's inherent advantage (a draw is enough). At least that's what the overall statistics in this event - seven wins for white, six wins for black - suggest to me. Has there ever been an event with so many Armaggedon games? In the World Cup, Armaggedon is only the very last solution after several pairs of blitz games.

Anonymous's picture

You are missing the point. Especially in Armageddon the board isn't the only part of the game. Time counts as well.

Anonymous's picture

Karjakin won ! Grishuk lost ! No need to argue in an Armag game ...

bronkenstein's picture

+1, but some folks would argue even over a coin flip ;)

Anonymous's picture

at move 46. Karjakin has a winning position , then he clearly full around so Grishuk looses time on the clock, then maybe Blunder but clearly knowing that he is winning on time, come on guys !

Anonymous's picture

Eugene has a way of capturing chess situations that would be missed by others. This one of Nepo-Karpov and the smile on the arbiter's face fills me with a renewed appreciation for both players and the gentleman's sport itself..

Ash's picture

Karjakin is an emerging star. This guy has the potential to become future world number 1

Anonymous's picture

In faster time controls he already is the world number 1 and the most succesful player.

Chessguy's picture

I missed live coverage of the semifinals and final on sunday and I didn't manage to find the video stream on Does anybody know the URL to the sunday video stream? Thanks a lot!

Remco Gerlich's picture

Karjakin is making a nice living out of Armageddon games against Grischuk -- first a piece of land, now tens of thousands of dollars. Must be rather frustrating for Grischuk.

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