April 11, 2012 12:01

Morozevich blunders but bounces straight back

Jakovenko Morozevich

The biggest upset of Round 1 of the Russian Team Championship was Alexander Morozevich losing to Ivan Popov (2605) after a blunder just before the time control. A day later, however, he returned to inflict a crushing defeat on European Champion Dmitry Jakovenko. The favourites came through the first two rounds largely unscathed, with no shortage of spectacular attacking chess.

Photos (except of Ivan Popov) courtesy of Eldar Mukhametov (more here)  

Event Russian Team Championship | PGN via TWIC
Dates April 9-15, 2012
Location Loo, Sochi, Russia
System 7-round Swiss, teams

The strongest participants are Caruana (2767), Karjakin (2766), Morozevich (2765), Svidler (2744), Tomashevsky (2736), Wang Hao (2733), Dominguez (2730), Jakovenko (2729), Ponomariov (2727),Leko (2720), Nepomniachtchi (2718), Giri (2717), Riazantsev (2710), Vitiugov (2709), Moiseenko (2706), Grachev (2705), Malakhov (2705), Eljanov (2704), Movsesian (2702 and Shirov (2701)

Rate of play 90 minutes for 40 moves + 30 minutes to finish the game + 30 seconds increment from move 1

You can find our first report here: Russian Team Championship gets underway 

Day One

As this year’s event has a Swiss format the top teams could expect an easy ride in Round 1, and that proved to be the case. Sergey Karjakin led Tomsk-400 to a 6:0 win over Zhiguli, while Peter Svidler was the inspiration as St. Petersburg beat the Nezhmetdinov Chess School (the Russian name actually has the wonderful acronym “TsSDYuShShOR” in place of “Chess School”!) 5.5:0.5.

Standing to attention before the tournament got underway

Something had clearly gone wrong in the opening for Svidler's opponent, Artyom Timofeev. Although at this point the immediate 19.Ng5! may be even more convincing (the black king and a8-rook are forked on d5) I think you’ll agree Svidler finished the game in some style!

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Alexei Shirov’s Ugra also won 5.5:0.5 against the Kemerovo Region Chess School. You have to be impressed with Dmitrij Sitnikov’s bravery in trying to out-Shirov Shirov, but it turns out the Latvian is also capable of extinguishing fire on board - 23.Rxe5! and the cool final move put an end to all Black’s fun:

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Things were tougher for the highest-rated teams. Fabiano Caruana, on top board for ShSM-64, played a tough 72-move draw against Sanan Sjugirov. There were three more draws, but Boris Grachev and Anish Giri led the team to a 4:2 victory. Giri will have been particularly pleased to get off the mark after a poor series of events – especially as he did it with a very nice finish:

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That leaves Economist-SGSEU led by Alexander Morozevich. A tense Najdorf battle was delicately poised until Morozevich defended his h-pawn with 39…Rg7-g5?? (he could have allowed it to be taken with good compensation):

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Here Ivan Popov unleashed 40.Nf3!, which wins on the spot. 40…Qxe2 would be met by the 41.Nxg5+ zwischenzug, leaving Black an exchange down with his queenside pawns about to fall.

Morozevich-slayer Ivan Popov | photo: Russian Chess Federation website

Morozevich preferred resignation, but in the bigger picture no harm was done. His teammates came to the rescue, with Michael Roiz grinding out a technical win against Natalia Pogonina, while Ian Nepomniachtchi beat Boris Savchenko like a force of nature. Dmitry Kryakvin, writing a blog for the Russian Chess Federation website while also playing himself, thought Nepomniachtchi wanted payback for losing to the same player at the same event last year.

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Roving reporter Evgeny Potemkin captured the Day One atmosphere in the following video (there's something almost sinister about the "silence" of a packed playing hall!):

Day Two

The highlight of the second round was the first clash between major teams, with Economist and Ugra closely matched on all boards:

2   Economist-SGSEU, Saratov 4.0 - 2.0 Ugra, Khanty-Mansiysk   5
1 2765 Morozevich, Alexander 1 - 0 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2729 1
2 2736 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 0.5 - 0.5 Shirov, Alexei 2701 2
3 2718 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 0.5 - 0.5 Dreev, Aleksey 2698 3
4 2704 Eljanov, Pavel 1 - 0 Malakhov, Vladimir 2705 4
5 2706 Moiseenko, Alexander 0.5 - 0.5 Rublevsky, Sergei 2686 5
6 2689 Andreikin, Dmitry 0.5 - 0.5 Korobov, Anton 2679 6

Vladimir Malakhov perhaps still has nightmares about playing Ukrainian players in team events since losing to Zahar Efimenko at the 2010 Olympiad, and he had another bad day at the office against Pavel Eljanov. He did well to struggle on past the time control, given he was worse by around move 12 and objectively lost after playing 21.h3?:

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Nepomniachtchi – Dreev was a wild tactical battle between youth and experience which somehow ended peacefully:

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The most anticipated encounter, however, was between Alexander Morozevich and Dmitry Jakovenko. It didn’t disappoint:

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Elsewhere there were few problems for the top teams, with Aleksandr Shimanov (2591) beating Nikita Vitiugov (2709) only restricting the St. Petersburg Chess Federation to a 4:2 win against local rivals the Chigorin Chess Club.

Peter Leko returns for reigning champions ShSM-64, flanked by Wang Hao and Anish Giri

Ruslan Ponomariov (Tomsk-400) and Peter Leko (ShSM-64) played and won their first games of the event, with Leko’s performance after a long lay-off particularly convincing. Dmitry Bocharov’s pieces are almost comically badly placed, but he might still have been hoping to extricate himself.

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Leko’s 45.c4! put paid to any illusions. All that's missing for the c-pawn is a red carpet, and Black will have to sacrifice a piece to stop it. Bocharov resigned three moves later.

Perhaps Karjakin had foreseen how the game was going to end!

Sergey Karjakin scored another win in Round 2, though it helped that his opponent, Pavel Tregubov, got a little carried away in a double-edged position:

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So after two rounds five teams – Tomsk-400, Navigator, St. Petersburg, ShSM-64 and Economist have a maximum of four match points. Wednesday’s Round 3 looks set to be a fascinating battle as the six teams that include 2700+ players in their ranks come up against each other. Most of the encounters require no introduction, but it'll be interesting, for instance, to see Sergey Shipov's new apprentice, 15-year-old GM Daniil Dubov, come up against his old apprentice, the 21-year-old veteran Ian Nepomniachtchi (full pairings here).

1   ShSM-64, Moscow - Tomsk - 400   4
1 2767 Caruana, Fabiano - Karjakin, Sergey 2766 1
2 2733 Wang, Hao - Ponomariov, Ruslan 2727 2
3 2720 Leko, Peter - Inarkiev, Ernesto 2695 3
5 2710 Riazantsev, Alexander - Bologan, Viktor 2687 5
7 2669 Potkin, Vladimir - Khismatullin, Denis 2656 6
8 2640 Najer, Evgeniy - Areshchenko, Alexander 2688 7
9   Navigator, Moscow - Economist-SGSEU, Saratov   2
1 2700 Sutovsky, Emil - Morozevich, Alexander 2765 1
2 2703 Sasikiran, Krishnan - Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2736 2
3 2536 Dubov, Daniil - Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2718 3
4 2474 Mozharov, Mikhail - Eljanov, Pavel 2704 4
5 2451 Moskalenko, Alexander - Andreikin, Dmitry 2689 6
6 2441 Demidov, Mikhail - Alekseev, Evgeny 2673 7
3   St. Petersburg Chess Fed. - Ugra, Khanty-Mansiysk   5
1 2744 Svidler, Peter - Jakovenko, Dmitry 2729 1
2 2709 Vitiugov, Nikita - Shirov, Alexei 2701 2
3 2730 Dominguez Perez, Leinier - Dreev, Aleksey 2698 3
4 2702 Movsesian, Sergei - Malakhov, Vladimir 2705 4
5 2695 Efimenko, Zahar - Rublevsky, Sergei 2686 5
6 2683 Zvjaginsev, Vadim - Korobov, Anton 2679 6

No. 1 seeds Ladya, featuring Natalia Zhukova, Alisa Galliamova, Valentina Gunina and Nadezhda Kosintseva, beat Yamal 3:1 in their first match - they had a by in the previous round

It's also crunch time in the women's event, as this year's favourites, Ladya, come up against last year's winners, ShSM-RGSU. There's added spice, as Valentina Gunina defected to Ladya and criticised her former team in an interview given after she won the recent European Women's Championship. She plays her replacement, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya (full pairings here). 

You can follow the action live at the Russian Chess Federation website from 15:00 local time (12:00 London, 13:00 Paris, 07:00 New York).

You can find our first report here: Russian Team Championship gets underway

Colin McGourty's picture
Author: Colin McGourty


stevefraser's picture

An excellent report (lots of games), plus a great video (it really gives a sense of being there!). Thank you!

Bronkenstein's picture

+1 , but no1 expected to see anything less than that here =)

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