Reports | January 10, 2011 19:34

Mini revenge for Karjakin vs Nepomniachtchi

Mini revenge for Karjakin vs NepomniachtchiIn a small match for the Russian State Social University (RSCU) championship, Sergey Karjakin took a mini revenge for his lost tie-break final of the Russian Championship Superfinal last month. Again his opponent was Ian Nepomniachtchi, again the rapid and blitz games ended in a tie, and again the Armageddon game was drawn, but this time with Karjakin playing Black. VIDEO added.

Karjakin wins Russian State Social University (RSCU) championship | Photo official site, more here and here

To us this information was new, but apparently both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin are students at the Russian State Social University (RSCU). Yesterday the two played a small quicklyplay match to decide who is the best chess player of the university this year.

The match consisted of two rapid games (20 minutes plus 5 seconds increment) and four blitz games (4 minutes plus 2 seconds increment). Both rapid games ended in a raw rather quickly.

In the first blitz game Karjakin managed to beat Nepomniachtchi with positional means in a Najdorf. Then it was Nepomniachtchi's turn, who again used the Scotch opening quite successfully in this match. He profited from a huge blunder by Karjakin.

The next two games ended in a draw, and so just like last month it was all going to be decided in an Armageddon game. Nepomniachtchi won the drawing of lots and chose the white pieces, with 6 minutes on the clock. Karjakin got 5 minutes and draw odds. The whole final became an almost complete mirror of the earlier match when Karjakin managed to draw this game to win the flowers and the cup.

Video of the Armageddon game by Eugene Potemkin

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Game viewer by ChessTempo


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.


Merlinovich's picture

Incredible that so many Armageddon games are won by black and there are no protests that this is an unfair match setup where the draw odds makes black the favorite. I wonder why Ian took white after winning the drawing of lots, especially after 2 previous draws.

Perhaps an "auction" could take place for the Armageddon game where the 2 players can underbid the other about how little time they are willing to accept playing black. For instance 5-6, then 4½-6½, then 4-7 etc. If both players bid the same, then there is a drawing of lots, else the maximum underbidder takes black.

S's picture

How much is "so many"? I have heard that it is the black side that is not doing well in armageddon.
Either way, this type of game should be abolished.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I have never heard of a single instance where black didn't 'win' an Armageddon game either by win or draw or time. But yes the practice should be abolished without question.

Thomas's picture

I have heard of two instances: one was me winning with white (my opponent had picked black) in a little French club event 12 years ago :) , another was a controversial case in a women's event where white flagged her opponent with K+N vs. K+N (don't remember the players, black 'forgot' to claim a draw and the arbiter didn't intervene).

Don't forget that white had winning positions in BOTH Armageddon games between Karjakin and Nepo - so it's at least not impossible to win such games with white at 2700+ level ... .

At least one GM has a minority opinion, Jan Gustafsson wrote in the comments on his blog (my translation from German): "I always picked white in Armageddon games and would always prefer this. How many blitz games end in a draw? It's simply easier to play with white, you know what you have to do and you get an advantage on the clock. I don't have statistics at hand and think most players would rather have black, but my preference is clear." [I wonder what 'always' means, how many Armaggedon games did he play in his career?]

But I agree that the practice should be abolished, or only used in exhibition games (like this case?) or as a very last resort: At the World Cup, tiebreaks include up to six blitz mini-matches of two games before Armageddon occurs - at this stage, a somewhat chessic solution may still be better than a coin throw.

columbo's picture

i totally agree here, the russian title this year was heartbreaking ! this kind of games are totally unfair. It is destructive for the one who lose, and bitter taste for the one who win.

ebutaljib's picture

If you take all the FIDE World cups and FIDE KO championships (men and women) it is actually white who won most of the time in armageddons, not black.

gg's picture

Yeah, and that is also why Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi both chose white in their Armageddon games. White usually wins but it didn't happen in their games.

noone's picture

I would have blitzed Karjakin's time out even though last time he agreed to a draw in a not so good position for Nepom.

Brian Wall's picture

Nepomniachtchi had to be winning that Armageddon game and then - wham-all winning chances disappeared - fun to watch though. Is that Nd2 move the same one Paco Vallejo beat Onischuk with in Reggio?

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