Grischuk topples Kramnik to win Play for Russia Charity Tournament

Lichess TeamChess

A rollercoaster event with the ultimate winner being charity - 24,670,000 roubles raised to aid the battle with coronavirus

The Play for Russia Charity Tournament, played on, ended today with a determined Grischuk overcoming first Kramnik and then Tomashevsky to win the event. 

Initially facing Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk seemed to have his work cut out for him when he lost the first semi-final game with the white pieces. In a must-win situation, Grischuk secured victory against Kramnik in the rematch - ensuring the two played an armageddon decider. 

Kramnik chose to play with the black pieces, needing a draw to secure his qualification to the final. Grischuk played valiantly, needing a win to go through - and securing it with an overall better position, and a completely winning tactic at the end. A distraught Kramnik had to step away from the computer briefly, before conceding defeat. 

In comments with GM Evgenij Miroschnichenko and WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni on the Lichess commentary later, he remarked that he felt these two games against Kramnik were the “cleanest” and “most beautiful” games he played in the entire event. 

With Kramnik eliminated, on the other side of the draw the two-time Russian champion, Evgeny Tomashevsky, faced off against eight-time Russian champion, Peter Svidler. Playing precise and positional chess, Tomashevsky secured a convincing win in his first game, and then a draw in his second - guaranteeing his place in the final against Grischuk. 

The final match ultimately needed three games instead of four, with Grischuk triumphant in each encounter. After a drawn-out and strongly contested battle in the first, Grischuk came out with a victory - following up quickly on his success with a second victory. Tomashevsky had promising chances in the third game, but unfortunately lost on time. 

In the Russian commentary, Grischuk said: "All three final games turned out to be very complex. Evgeny had an advantage both in the first and third games, and the second one was more or less equal. I was lucky to win. But the most important thing was that this event took place in general. The struggle was very exciting in all its stages. I'd like to thank the participants, everyone involved, everybody who gave donations and, of course, Vladimir Kramnik as he was the main initiator of the event".  

By the end of the event, a massive 24,670,000 roubles ($335,000) was raised as donations for Russian charities, in the battle against COVID-19. In the English commentary, Grischuk shared that the impact facing the homeless was an issue close to his heart - and that he had chosen a nationwide Russian charity to receive the part of the fund he represented. All charities the players represented received an equal share of the donated prize fund, regardless of the final standings. 

Whilst the event and the excitement of top level chess is now over, donations will still be accepted by the Russian Chess Federation until the end of the week. Further information on how to donate, and the biggest sponsors are available on the Russian Chess Federation’s website [EN]. 

A massive thank you to all sponsors, players, organisers, and chess fans who made this amazing and worthwhile event a success.