Yerevan, Armenia
8-16 January

Andranik Margaryan Memorial. Tournament "A". 1st round


Unfinished masterpiece by Sergey Ivanov


Immediately after the end of the school holidays, the traditional 14th Andranik Margaryan Memorial started at the Armenian Chess Academy in Yerevan. The festival program includes three tournaments – two round-robin events with Grandmaster and International Master norms, as well as a mass Swiss tournament with over a hundred young chess players from Armenia and several other countries participating.

The main tournament features three Grandmasters, five International Masters, and two FIDE Masters. The norm for a Grandmaster point, considering the average rating of the tournament, is somewhere around "+4". Is it achievable?

The Elo favorite of the tournament is the "fresh" World and Asian U20 Champion, Russian Alexey Grebnev (2535), who competes as a title seeker. The Togliatti native recently earned the Grandmaster title along with the gold medal of the champion, and in case of success, he will be able to claim the highest title. The second highest rated player (2475) is Polina Shuvalova, the Vice-Champion of Russia and a member of the women's national team from Moscow. She is the only representative of the fairer sex, but playing against men is not new for her.

As "examiners," players from completely different eras are participating. For 62-year-old St. Petersburg player Sergey Ivanov, who shone in the late 1990s during his performances in Armenia, it's a rare opportunity to return to practical play after a long and successful coaching career. For 37-year-old Levon Babujian, it's a chance to recall the taste of live games, and for 17-year-old Emin Ohanyan, it's just a regular workout.

The first round of the round-robin tournaments turned out to be remarkably intense – all 10 games ended with results. Not a single draw was recorded.

The quickest victory was achieved by Grebnev against Sorensen. His Swedish opponent showed no ambitions despite having the white pieces, relinquished the initiative and key points, and then independently opened up the position in the most fortified place – after which his position collapsed on its own. A clear win.

Iranian Movahed confidently and strongly played his game against Babujian. Black sacrificed a pawn in the opening but did not receive worthy compensation. The transition to the endgame was not the best move for Sina, but Levon made a serious mistake in the rook endgame, allowing white to create a passed pawn that decided the game, although it almost ended with a natural checkmate.

Two games were decided in a prolonged endgame, and in both cases, the victory for white was eventually brought by the passed "a" pawn. Arsen Davtyan mistakenly led his king away from the corner, and Benik Agasarov conducted a queen. And Shuvalova's knight couldn't cope with the play on both flanks against David Shahinyan, who celebrated success.

The most spectacular game of the round was Ohanyan – Ivanov. Emin played too aggressively in the opening, rushing into a flank attack, suffered a patented blow in the center, lost the light-squared bishop, and the white king found itself under a deadly X-ray from its counterpart on b7. Sergey sacrificed the bishop, and then spectacularly brought both rooks into play against pawns. The diagram came out simply breathtaking:

Alas, the Grandmaster could not bring this masterful game to victory. Lack of time and practice prevented him. According to his words, he miscalculated during the execution, then failed to make an obvious move and ended up losing three pawns, immediately losing all the advantage and eventually – drawing.


Memorial A. Margaryan. Standings after the 1st round: 1-5. Grebnev, Movahed, Agasarov, Shahinyan, and Ohanyan – 1; 6-10. Ivanov, Shuvalova, Davtyan, Babujian, and Sorensen – 0.

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