Yakubboev Wins UzChess Cup On Tiebreaks Ahead Of Abdusattorov

By | June 14, 2024

Yakubboev Wins UzChess Cup On Tiebreaks Ahead Of Abdusattorov

Bottom-seed GM Nodirbek Yakubboev edged out top-seed GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov on tiebreaks to claim the $25,000 first prize at the UzChess Cup Masters, part of a bigger chess festival in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The two Uzbek GMs scored 5.5/9, half a point more than GMs Yu Yangyi and Alexey Sarana. Famous grandmasters Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Alexander Grischuk finished in disappointing eighth and ninth places, just ahead of tailender GM Parham Maghsoodloo.

The UzChess Cup was a strong international tournament held in Uzbekistan’s capital, with eight 2700s and two 2600s in the field, among them top-10 GM Abdusattorov as well as FIDE Candidate GM Vidit Gujrathi. Four local players got the chance to face strong international grandmasters in a nine-round all-play-all.

The first prize surprisingly went to Yakubboev, the “other Nodirbek” and with 2634 the lowest-rated player in the field. However, as a three-time Uzbekistani Champion, board two of the gold-winning Olympiad team of 2022, and the 2023 Qatar Masters Champion, Yakubboev was definitely a force to reckon with.

Yakubboev is making a habit of edging out his more famous Nodirbek countryman—here winning their playoff in Qatar. Photo: Qatar Masters.

In this event, he remained undefeated with seven draws and wins against Vidit and Maghsoodloo.

Especially that first win, from the second round, was spectacular. Yakubboev played with a steel king that would have won him a King Of The Hill game by move 20.

A remarkable game by Yakubboev (here against Maghsoodloo) and his king! Photo: Uzbekistan Chess Federation.

Top seed Abdusattorov reached the same amount of points but with one extra win and a loss. He earned $20,000 for second place.

Abdusattorov’s only loss was against his compatriot GM Javokhir Sindarov. This game caught the eye of the author for the fact that it’s rare these days to see a Bc4 Dragon with opposite-side castling played out on a high level. While the opening has seen countless slugfests, this one turned out rather positional:

Sindarov vs. Abdusattorov, a positional Dragon. Photo: Uzbekistan Chess Federation.

Sarana and Yu shared third place as the only other players to finish on a plus score. (Apart from the tournament winner, the only player to remain undefeated was GM Richard Rapport, with nine draws.) Their head-to-head game was won by the Chinese GM, in round three. He didn’t mind going for an endgame straight from the opening, and especially the final phase was instructive:

Strong endgame play by Yu Yangyi. Photo: Uzbekistan Chess Federation.

It was a tough tournament for the big names of an earlier generation: Mamedyarov lost 8.2 rating points and Grischuk 11.1. Both went home without scoring a single win. Maghsoodloo, meanwhile, continues to be an erratic player who alternates between good and bad performances, it seems. In Tashkent, things didn’t go his way.

The Challengers group saw more Uzbek success with GM Shamsiddin Vokhidov taking first place ahead of Russian GM Alexandr Predke. There was also a Futures group, won by the Ukrainian GM Vitaly Sivuk who now plays for Sweden. He was also the winner of this year’s Rilton Cup.

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