21-year-old Zviad Izoria wins HB Global in thrilling finale!!

Zviad Izoria of the Republic of Georgia won the 1st HB Global Chess Challenge by staving off a strong field of 50 Grandmasters. The 21-year old is a relative unknown in the U.S., but made quite an impression in his showing. GM Alexander Beliavsky, who plays under the Slovenian flag, entered the last day with the lead after impressive wins over GMs Hikaru Nakamura and  Loek van Wely with the black pieces! However, it would be Izoria who would prevail in their head-to-head encounter setting up a possible tie-breaking blitz match.

In the last round Izoria would be paired with 
Ildar Ibragimov while Daniel Fridman of Latvia would go up against Evgeny Najer of Russia. There was some suspicion as to whether these two games skirted the spirit of the 30-move "no draw" rule. Both games concluded in a brisk pace. Ashley mentioned in the analysis room that it would be in the best interest of the players to fight since the difference between a win and a draw amounted to thousands of dollars.

Zviad Izoria of the Republic of Georgia took home the $50,000 1st prize… and the $7,000 diamond watch! Photo by Wallace Media Group.

Zviad Izoria of the Republic of Georgia took home the $50,000 1st prize… and the $7,000 diamond watch! Photo by Wallace Media Group.

Pentala Harikrishna was making his American debut and fans were certainly watching his progress throughout. With a reputation as a steady player, the 18-year old won the World Junior Championship last year and placed 2nd in the Bermuda Open. He has recently secured a sponsor which will provide him with more opportunities to improve his play.  While he is known as a steady positional player, his last round game with  Alexander Stripunsky was perhaps the most exciting game among the top boards.

The Indian #2 sent a knight crashing into black's position and followed with a winning attack. The victory put Harikrishna on 7-2 in joint 2nd with the following nine players:
Ilya Smirin (Israel), Gata Kamsky (USA), Alexander Beliavsky (Slovenia), Jaan Ehlvest (Estonia), Evgeny Najer (Russia), Ildar Ibragimov (USA), Artur Jussupow (Germany) and Daniel Fridman (Latvia). Donald Alrich wrote a tournament report for Chess Today and gave a rather vivid eye-witness account of Izoria's reaction to the draw between Beliavsky and Leonid Yudasin.

"As for Izoria, well, at the end he was in the lobby with his compatriot, Georgi Kacheishvili, watching the Beliavsky game on one of the many video screens throughout the playing hall. They were busy analysing the game when Kacheishvili noticed the ˝-˝ notation at the top of the screen indicating it was a draw. "Nicha!" he screamed. Zoria looked up, "Nicha?!" "Da!" was the reply at which point Izoria's knees buckled and he almost fell to the floor. This was followed by a lot of excited shouting which my poor Russian could not follow, and much hugging and dancing. I guess he was happy. Later, Ashley displayed the $7,000 diamond studded watch he was also receiving, and well, we went through it all again."

HB Global Standings
Photo Essay!!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 24 May 2005