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A norm seeker's paradise - Rilton Cup 2018-19 in Sweden

by Rupali Mullick - 20/01/2019

We don't often get to see that the top seed of a strong tournament is also the winner of the same. The 48th edition of the Rilton Cup was won by the top seed Israeli GM Tamir Nabaty who scored a solid 8.0/9 points. Every year, this event attracts strong chess players from all around the world and this 48th edition was no different. A total number of 398 participants across all its various formats, setting a new record in its 48-year long history. Also ten norms were scored at the event, making it a huge success for the organizers. In this article Rupali Mullick, who was present at the venue, shares with us an in-depth pictorial report of the event and also lot of video interviews.

The 48th Rilton Cup was held in Stockholm, Sweden from the 27th December 2018 to 5th January 2019 at the Scandic Continental Hotel, conveniently located near central station, in the heart of Stockholm. The name of the tournament comes from Late Dr. Tore Rilton who was also a chess player. There is a very interesting story as how this tournament came into existence and below is an excerpt from the book "Tore and the tournament - The story of the Rilton Cup" by IM Jesper Hall published in the year 2007 and was also published on ChessBase India two years ago.


"A summer day in 1971, a postal exchange of SEK 12,000 came to the organizers of the local chess tournament Stockholm Open. "Make a strong tournament" was the short directive that was attached. The mail exchange came from Dr. Tore Rilton, a man who few knew more than the appearance. When the organizers tried to thank their benefactor by letter, they received the letters in return, and when they called, they were met by a dry secretary's voice explaining that the doctor did not receive any calls. The only organizers could do to pay attention to the donation was to rename the tournament to the Rilton Cup.


Twelve years later, Tore Rilton died. He then entrusted a considerable amount of money to the newly formed foundation Dr Tore Rilton's memorial fund. A central mission for the foundation was to secure the financing of the Rilton Cup tournament for all time."

Dr.Tore Rilton was born on July 18, 1904 in Gothenburg, and passed away on September 7, 1983. | Photo:
Interview with the Tournament Director Jonas Sandbom on how Rilton Cup could be organized for 48 editions without a break

The top seed at the Rilton cup this year was Israeli Grandmaster, GM Tamir Nabaty who remained undefeated and won the tournament in style by winning his last game against GM Awonder Liang of USA with the black pieces in the last round and scoring 8.0/9 points, performing at an Elo of 2885 and taking home a cash prize of 20000 SEK (~ Rs. 1.6 lakhs).

A still from the last round of the Rilton Cup | Photo: Rupali Mullick

With this performance Tamir Nabaty surpasses Boris Gelfand as the highest rated player of Israel | Photo: Rilton

GM Tamir Nabaty remained undefeated and gave a superb rating performance of 2885(!) also increasing his rating by 20 elo rating and taking it to 2689. The 11th edition of the Chennai GM Open has just kicked off and if we go back in time to the 3rd edition of the event (2011) then we will see a young IM Tamir Nabaty finishing second in the event ahead of 22 GMs by scoring 9.0/11 points and remaining undefeated. The spark could be seen eight years ago!

Performance card of GM Tamir Nabaty in the 48th Rilton Cup. | Photo: ChessResults
A brief conversation with Tamir at end of the prize ceremony

Gajewski vs Nabaty

This was Nabaty's favourite game from the tournament. White has just moved his king to h1. How did Black finish off the game?

The tournament witnessed 160 participants in the main Rilton Cup (greater than 2200 Elo), 151 in the below 2100 rating section and 87 in the below 1800 rating section. Among the 160 participants in the main event of the Rilton Cup, there were 26 GMs, 34 IMs, 5 WGMs, and 4 WIMs making this a very strong event with an average elo rating of 2320 - a norm seeker’s dream event!


The second prize was won by the local favorite, GM Tiger Hillarp Persson from Sweden, who scored 7.0/9 points and the third place went to the Russian veteran GM Sergey Volkov who also scored 7.0/9 points but was adjusted as the 2nd runner up on the basis of their tie-break score.

GM Tiger Hillarp Persson (left) is also the author of the Quality chess book "The Modern Tiger" which is available in our shop | Photo: Prashant Mullick

If you want to learn an off-beat opening then go for the Modern Tiger! You could also read a review by IM Sagar Shah on the Modern Tiger on his private blog.

Former Russian Champion Sergey Volkov (left) finished third | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Of the total participants, 25 were from India comprising of big names such as GM Karthikeyan Murali followed by GM Gopal G.N., GM Deep Sengupta, GM Debashish Das, GM Lalith Babu M.R. and WGM Sowmya Swaminathan to name a few. Amongst the youngsters were IM Raja Rithvik R, IM Vardan Nagpal, CM Rohith Krishna, IM Rakesh Kumar Jena, CM Leon Mendonca, WGM Vaishali R, WIM Priyanka Nutakki, CM Raahil Mullick, FM Pranav Anand, Amit Moksh Doshi, FM Jeet Jain, WIM Saloni Sapale, CM Dev Shah etc.

GM G.N. Gopal finished fifth | Photo: Prashant Mullick

GM G.N. Gopal and GM Murali Karthikeyan gave solid performances as both of them remain undefeated and scored 6.5/9 points, however on the basis of tie-break score they were adjusted as 5th and 6th position respectively.


Check out this game, where Gopal plays a beautiful rook endgame:

GM Karthikeyan Murali started as the 7th seed and finished sixth | Photo: Prashant Mullick

A fine King's Indian by Karthikeyan:

The event was a huge success for three Indian youngsters FM Pranav Anand, Moksh Doshi and WIM Priyanka Nutakki. Moksh and Pranav scored their IM norms, while Priyanka achieved her WGM norm. FM Pranav Anand played some fabulous chess right from the beginning of the event and managed to secure his maiden IM norm at the end of the 8th round itself. Pranav also won the first prize in his rating category (2250-2285).

FM Pranav Anand, India gets his maiden IM norm. | Photo: Prashant Mullick

To gain 55 Elo points with a K factor of 20 is a fine achievement

Check out the finish of this game:

WIM Priyanka Nuttaki had a slow start to her tournament, but fought her way back and secured her maiden WGM norm by drawing her last round game against IM Lars Oskar Hauge of Norway. Had she won the last round, she would have scored her maiden IM norm! Priyanka won the second prize in her rating category (2286-2350).

WIM Priyanka Nutakki, India gets her maiden WGM norm | Photo: Rupali Mullick

WIM Priyanka Nutakki scoring her first WGM norm

Amit Moksh Doshi won the 1st prize in his rating category (2202-2236) and also scored an IM norm. | Photo: Prashant Mullick

A strong and solid performance by the Gujarat boy

9-year-old Ilamparthi, A.R., the next Indian phenom, won the 1st prize in his rating category (1724 to 1812) and also gained a whopping 184 elo rating points. | Photo: Prashant Mullick

Paradise for norms:

With such a strong field there were so many norms that were scored at the tournament. A total of ten! Something that the organizers can be proud of!

GM norms:

IM Alessio Valsecchi

IM Aryan Gholami

IM Yeoh Li Tian


IM norms:

FM Zhou Chen

Erlend Mikalsen

Pranav Anand

Moksh Doshi


WGM norm:

Priyanka Nutakki


WIM norm:

WFM Elizabete Limanovska

WFM Michal Lahav


Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.SNoNameGrFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Rpnwwew-weKrtg+/-
11GMNabaty TamirNISR26708,050,555,539,52885986,051,951019,5
216GMHillarp Persson TigerNSWE25467,047,051,035,02682975,471,531015,3
310GMVolkov SergeyNRUS25837,046,551,535,02693975,761,241012,4
418GMUrkedal Frode Olav OlsenNNOR25377,044,547,534,52677975,371,631016,3
511GMGopal G.N.NIND25826,549,553,537,0267596,55,301,201012,0
67GMKarthikeyan MuraliNIND25916,549,053,036,0264396,55,840,66106,6
75GMGajewski GrzegorzNPOL25986,549,051,035,0266596,55,660,84108,4
83GMLagarde MaximeNFRA26166,548,552,036,0266496,55,890,61106,1
925IMValsecchi AlessioNITA24976,546,551,034,0262885,54,071,431014,3
102GMKobalia MikhailNRUS26206,546,549,034,5267096,55,840,66106,6
1128IMGholami AryanNIRI24886,545,548,034,0259796,55,041,461014,6
1213GMMoroni Luca JrNITA25646,544,047,533,0259996,56,010,49104,9
1329GMLibiszewski FabienNFRA24816,541,044,531,5257796,55,331,171011,7
149GMSantos Latasa JaimeNESP25846,050,054,534,02581966,000,00100,0
1519GMLalith Babu M RNIND25296,048,053,034,02601965,080,92109,2
168GMLiang AwonderNUSA25896,048,052,534,52587965,890,11101,1
1721GMSantos Ruiz MiguelNESP25236,047,050,033,52609964,941,061010,6
23IMYeoh Li TianNMAS25086,047,050,033,52626964,561,441014,4
194GMDonchenko AlexanderNGER26046,043,548,032,52542966,40-0,4010-4,0
2027IMZumsande MartinNGER24906,041,545,030,52506965,790,21102,1
2133IMLyrberg PatrikNSWE24466,041,043,030,52485965,490,51105,1

Complete standings


Apart from the Open tournaments, 2 blitz tournaments were also conducted.  The first Rilton Blitz was played in the morning before the third round with 21 players participating. GM Alexander Donchenko of Germany was the only grandmaster participating and the clear favourite. Donchenko won all of his games finishing with the perfect 9.0/ 9 points, 2.5 points ahead of Carlos Alvarez Serrano of  Spain and Stephan Wagner of Austria who claimed the second and third places respectively.

GM Alexander Donchenko (Left), Champion of the 1st blitz championship. | Photo: Lars OA Hedlund.

The second Rilton Blitz gathered 72 players. GM Maxime Lagarde of France won with 8.0/9 points. After a loss in the second round he went on to win all the remaining games. Second place was taken by IM Aryan Gholami of Iran and IM Ariel Erenberg of Israel got the third place. The winner of the first Rilton Blitz GM Alexander Donchenko, Germany, ended up in fourth place.

GM Maxime Lagarde of France (Left) won the 2nd blitz championship. | Photo: Rupali Mullick

IM Aryan Gholami of Iran - the 1st runner up in the 2nd blitz championship. | Photo: Rupali Mullick

IM Ariel Erenberg of Israel (Centre) - 2nd runner up in the 2nd blitz championship. | Photo: Rupali Mullick

CM Raahil Mullick performed well during the blitz tournament as he scored 6.5/9 points and stood joint 5th. He secured the first prize in his rating category.

CM Raahil Mullick (Centre) increased his blitz rating rating by 56 elo rating points and crosses 2100 Elo | Photo: Rupali Mullick

CM Leon Mendonca performed very well in the blitz tournament as he scored 6.0/9 points and secured the first prize in his rating category.

CM Leon Mendonca gained 94 blitz rating points, the highest in this blitz event. | Photo: Rupali Mullick

A view of the playing hall | Photo: Rupali Mullick

Will you be there in 2019-20 to enjoy the beautiful Swedish sunset? | Photo: Rupali Mullick

About the Author:

Rupali Mullick is the mother of the current Commonwealth U-10 champion Raahil Mullick. She has a Ph.D in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a partner at JVM Industries. Her husband Prashant is a FIDE Rated player making them a complete chess family.


Rupali is a well-known interviewer in the chess world now and this was some of the work she did at the 48th Rilton Cup:

A detailed interview with Gopal speaking about his life story and also discusses his very interesting game against GM Maxime Lagarde from round 7. | Video: Rupali Mullick
Pranav Anand made his first IM norm at the 48th Rilton Cup. Rupali Mullick caught up with him after the tournament for an interview. Just listen to this boy speak. He is just 12 but so mature! | Video: Rupali Mullick
WIM Priyanka Nutakki makes her maiden WGM norm at the 48th Rilton Cup. Rupali Mullick caught up with her after her game and did an interview with her. | Video: Rupali Mullick
Karthikeyan Murali reveals his secret for 2019 to ChessBase India

Check out the Rilton Cup video Playlist on ChessBase India

Nongsha Angom contributed to this article

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