Poznan, Polish Championships. Will the forecasts prove correct?

As last year, teh city of Poznan is hosting the Polish Champiosnhips for men and women. The events started on 29 Match and end of 7 April. The players are guests of the University of Economics, with the sponsors being the firms «LOTTO» (for the men) and «BUDIMEX» (for the women).

For the men, unlike the previous year's championship, which was run as a Swiss system, this year we have a more objective round robin event. 

The list of participants for the men's championship (8 grandmasters, 2 International masters, average rating – 2610) is led by R Wojtaszek (2713). «Of course, my aim is to win the championship, but I do not consider myself clear favourite», – said radoslav, pointing out that the previous year's event was won by Gzegozh Gayewski. – «I think similar things could happen this year, so the main thing for me is to be ready to fight to the last minutes of the tournament.  ».

The douible-champon also pointe dout the evenness of the tournament and emphasised that the main thing is to concentrate on his own play «… My most dangerous opponent is myself. It is no secret to anyone that my recent results have not been sensational. Even so, if I can recover form and be at my customary level, then I will feel calm about the eventual outcome , – added Wojtaszek.

One of the main favourites is last year's winner, Gzhegozh Gayewski (2633, 5th seed on rating). In recent years, he has been the most stable and successful player in national championships. As well as last year's gold, he won the silver medal in 2013 and 2014. Gzhegozh has only just returned from Moscow, where he seconded ex-world champion Vishy Anand at the Candidates' Tournement.  «Greg, of course, is well-prepared, because he has had access to many analyses done in Moscow», – Wojtaszek said of one his main rivals in the tournament.  

In the fight for the first place, oen should also pay attention to "young blood": Dariusz Svercha, Piorun Kasper and Jan-Krzysztof Duda (respectively 2665, 2655, 2652; 2,3,4 seeds on rating). The latter is the only participant of the championship, who has not yet reached 18 years of age. Despite his young age, Duda cannot complain about lack of experience, as evidenced by his participation in the championship back in 2014.
Mention of the age of the participants is not accidental - the average age of the players is slightly less than 25 years! Only two players are over 30, both born in 1985. One is the defending champion Gajewski and the other is event's "old man" Mateusz Bartel, holder of the largest number of titles among the participants of the tournament (4). In an interview for the site of his club "Polonia" (Wroclaw), Bartel said that he now has a new, unusual role, and the situation where he was the oldest participant greatly surprised him.
Among the women (10 participants, average Elo 2349) the main contenders for the gold medal is considered to be Monika Socko, who decided to take part in the championship after a break. Her main competitor is Jolanta Zawadzka (Wroclaw, «Polonia»), who always does extremely well in these tournaments.
The young Grandmasters Schepkovskih-Khorovskaya and Maidan Gajewska have not won the gold medal (though they have been the prize-winners), and their aim is to break the hegemony of the trio "Rajlich-Socko-Zawadzka." Since 2004, nobody outside of these three has won gold in the women's championship!(According to the official review of the championships).

Let us turn to events in the men's championship. Radoslaw was as good as his word and he led after 6 rounds. This is how his game with Kamil Dragoun finished: 


Black's 67th move. Zugzwang (1:0)

Things did not always go so sweetly. The players have been in a fighting mood and rivers of blood have been spilt. It wa steh turn of the top seed to suffer in the following game: 


34…Qxb4?! – Maybe Black overestimated his chances, or pwerhaps it was just an oversight? 35.Qxb4 Rxb4 36.Nxf5 Nxh5 37.Bxh5 Bxh5 38.Rxg7 Rxg7 39.Rxg7 Kh8 40.Rc7 Be2 41.Nxd6 – and the two connected passed pawns eventually proved stronger than Black's e-pawn (1:0).

The women's championships has so far gone as forecast. The championship trio are not willing to cede their positions to the younger generation and are confidently leading. Monika Socko has justified the early hopes and started powerfully (4,5 out of 5), but slipped up in round 6 against Ivetta Rajlich.

Rajlich - Socko

24…Rb2? – Incautiously exposing itself to an x-ray. 25.c4 – Of course! 25…dxc4 26.Qxc4 Qb5 27.Qxb5 Rxb5 28.g4 – The c-pawn is unstoppable because of the weakness of the back rank. 28…g6 29.Nc3 Rxd4 30.Rxd4 Rxc5 31.Nd5 – and White realised her extra exchange fairly easily (1:0). In the same round, Schepkovskih-Khorovskaya administered Zavadska her first defeat and teh situation has become rather sharper:

Karina Schepkovskih-Khorovskaya. Who can stand up against such a smile?

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4

Text: Sergey Kim