The first rounds of the Russian Championships Superfinals was played on December 5.
In the open tournament, the rating favourite Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Maxim Matlakov as White. After the game, the grandmaster noted that the game had been very complicated. “The fight was equal all the time, and probably Maxim started to make mistakes closer to the time trouble. I think that Black had more interesting continuations until the final blunder. Speaking about the opening, it was a very long computer analysis, and mine finished a bit earlier than his. But I made a couple of logical moves, consolidated the position, and it all turned out well in tactics”, said Nepomniachtchi.
Daniil Dubov beat Andrey Esipenko with the white pieces as well. The 2018 rapid world champion seemed to have surprised his rival in the opening. Black was showing a bold front in a tough position, but Dubov was acting very precisely and artfully to gain a decisive edge. Despite having a queen for a rook and a bishop, Esipenko didn’t manage to hold the white passer on d7 and resigned on move 36.
Sergey Karjakin won against Mikhail Antipov as Black. After the game, Karjakin said that he had understood during the game that it would last long. White decided to leave his king in the centre and pushed his pawns on both sides of the board. Black successfully regrouped his forces and started a counterplay using the opponent’s weaknesses. After a breakthrough on the queenside, Karjakin achieved a sizable advantage by pushing his pawn to the second rank and converted his edge into a victory after the time control.
The game Fedoseev – Chigaev ended in a draw by a threefold repetition on move 34. The opponents showed a deep preparation in the Grunfeld Defence. White got a good compensation for a sacrificed piece in the final position.
Aleksey Goganov and Peter Svidler also made a draw. The eight-time Russian champion sacrificed a pawn in the opening, but his opponent immediately gave it back; that’s why the position didn’t become very sharp. Black had a slight initiative, but there were no visible ways to develop it, so the rivals agreed to a draw by a threefold repetition.
Vladislav Artemiev, who had Black against Nikita Vitiugov, also sacrificed a pawn in a double-edged line of the Sicilian Defence. White chose a solid way in the middle game, and Black managed to give shelter to his king and take back the material. A draw by repetition was fixed on move 21.
Standings after Round 1:
1-3. Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Daniil Dubov – 1
4-9. Maksim Chigaev, Nikita Vitiugov, Vladimir Fedoseev, Aleksey Goganov – 0.5
10-12. Maxim Matlakov, Andrey Esipenko, Mikhail Antipov – 0.
Round 2 pairings:
Karjakin – Esipenko, Chigaev – Dubov, Matlakov – Fedoseev, Svidler – Nepomniachtchi, Artemiev – Goganov, Antipov – Vitiugov.
Two key games were played in the women’s tournament already in the first round. In one of these encounters, Aleksandra Goryachkina defeated Valentina Gunina as Black. White was rather creative in the opening, while Black put their pieces on the right squares and got a solid positional advantage. Gunina sacrificed a piece for the attack in the middlegame, but Goryachkina precisely countered all threats and celebrated victory on move 34.
In the second key game, Alina Kashlinskaya was playing against Alexandra Kosteniuk. White got a certain positional edge after the queen exchange, so Black must have acted accurately. Nevertheless, Alexandra managed to exchange the rooks and get a dynamic balance. The game ended in a draw on move 60.
Polina Shuvalova outplayed Marina Guseva with the white pieces. According to her, the game was rather challenging, as she somewhere she was acting not in the most precise way, and Black achieved a certain pressure. However, Guseva implemented an unfortunate tactical operation in the centre and lost a pawn. Shuvalova converted her edge in the endgame.
Natalija Pogonina won her game against Yulia Grigorieva on move 67. She converted two connected passers on the queenside in the endgame with the same-coloured bishops.
Olga Girya, whose rival was Tatyana Getman, could have got a crucial edge in the endgame with queens and rooks but chose an unprecise move order and missed a counterblow. Soon the game boiled down to the rook endgame, and the opponent agreed to a draw after the time control.
Alisa Galliamova found herself in a shaky position against the youngest participant Leya Garifullina, who developed a dangerous attack on the kingside. However, the situation equalised in the time trouble, and then Black got good chances to win. But the repeated Russian women’s champion, on her turn, pardoned her opponent, and the game ended in a draw.
Standings after Round 1:
1-3. Aleksandra Goryachkina, Natalija Pogonina, Polina Shuvalova – 1
4-9. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Olga Girya, Alisa Galliamova, Alina Kashlinskaya, Leya Garifullina, Tatyana Getman – 0.5
10-12. Marina Guseva, Yulia Grigorieva, Valentina Gunina – 0.
Rond 2 pairings:
Kosteniuk – Galliamova, Grigorieva – Garifullina, Goryachkina – Pogonina, Girya – Gunina, Guseva – Getman, Kashlinskaya – Shuvalova.
Total prize fund is 10 million rubles.
The medalists well be given tickets to the legendary CHESS musical.
The tournament is a part of the Chess in Museums programme, which has been carried out by the Chess Federation of Russia and the Elena and Gennady Foundation since 2012.
The organisers are the Chess Federation of Russia and the Timchenko Foundation. The tournament is supported by the Russian Ministry of Sports. The general sponsor of the Russian national teams is the Federal Grid Company Unified Energy System (FGC UES). The CFR general partner is PhosAgro.