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Pühajärve handicap tournament 2017

Pühajärve chess festival

The 18th of Pühajärve handicap tournament was held on the last weekend of November. The pretournament favorite Swedish grandmaster Nils Grandelius won the event with impressive margin. He was quick and accurate which was needed when playing against the weakest group of players when the stronger player had only two minutes against 18 minutes without increment.

There were four groups of players according to their strength. Handicap tournament gave the weaker players some chances against the stronger players. Many players already participated in Pühajärve in previous years and had a good idea what to expect. Bolat Asanov from Kazakhstan started to lose game after game. Veteran grandmaster did not play in any competition for years and this was a cruel comeback. After some advice from former World Champion Alexander Khalifman who did play in Pühajärve in previous tournaments Bolat managed to limit his losses.

The other participants included Latvian finance minister Dana Reicnice-Ozola, president of Latvian chess federation Aris Ozolins and other more or less prominent figures. Beside the winner only Kaido Külaots may consider himself as full time professional chess player. He showed consistent play throughout the tournament and finished second. Yours truly took the third place which was some kind of accomplishment. There were total of 35 rounds and for older players it was not easy to keep the pace. However in the last day I managed to get 6,5 points out of 7 which was good finish, but this only secured the second place. Full standing is here.

There were many interesting games and some of them were available online.

The following situation was typical when there is no time left for properly evaluate the situation on board.

I had some problems in the first day when I lost to Rõtov, but on the second day I managed to outplay strong GM from Isreal.

In the closing ceremony the former prime minister of Estonia Tiit Vähi was present who congratulated the winners. The tournament tradition depends heavily on sponsors. The organizers are planning a bigger event in two years when it is 20th anniversary.

Jaan Ehlvest