Russian Team Ch: Economist can afford to be generous
After four rounds of the Russian Team Championship only Economist-SGSEU can still boast a 100% record, having beaten Navigator in Round 3 and last year’s winners and top seeds ShSM-64 in Round 4. That was despite Evgeny Tomashevsky “doing a Navara” by offering a draw after his opponent’s flag fell. Elsewhere the struggle was fierce, with spectacular attacks, disastrous blunders and a miraculous match-saving win for Aleksey Dreev.
The venue in Sochi | Photos courtesy of Eldar Mukhametov (more here)
We didn’t need to wait long for a showdown between the big guns at the Russian Championship, as all six teams with 2700-players in their ranks met in Round 3. There was stalemate at the top, with ShSM-64 and Tomsk-400 drawing all 6 games:
|1||ShSM-64, Moscow||3.0 - 3.0||Tomsk - 400||4|
|1||2767||Caruana, Fabiano||0.5 - 0.5||Karjakin, Sergey||2766||1|
|2||2733||Wang, Hao||0.5 - 0.5||Ponomariov, Ruslan||2727||2|
|3||2720||Leko, Peter||0.5 - 0.5||Inarkiev, Ernesto||2695||3|
|4||2710||Riazantsev, Alexander||0.5 - 0.5||Bologan, Viktor||2687||5|
|5||2669||Potkin, Vladimir||0.5 - 0.5||Khismatullin, Denis||2656||6|
|6||2640||Najer, Evgeniy||0.5 - 0.5||Areshchenko, Alexander||2688||7|
It was a close-run thing, however, as Tomsk-400’s Alexander Areshchenko was on the verge of beating Evgeny Najer in the last game to finish:
Navigator’s bold decision to combine two experienced 2700 GMs with players who are young and hungry, but much lower rated, has proved a success so far, though they met their match in Round 4:
|9||Navigator, Moscow||1.5 - 4.5||Economist-SGSEU, Saratov||2|
|1||2700||Sutovsky, Emil||0 - 1||Morozevich, Alexander||2765||1|
|2||2703||Sasikiran, Krishnan||0.5 - 0.5||Tomashevsky, Evgeny||2736||2|
|3||2536||Dubov, Daniil||0.5 - 0.5||Nepomniachtchi, Ian||2718||3|
|4||2474||Mozharov, Mikhail||0.5 - 0.5||Eljanov, Pavel||2704||4|
|5||2451||Moskalenko, Alexander||0 - 1||Andreikin, Dmitry||2689||6|
|6||2441||Demidov, Mikhail||0 - 1||Alekseev, Evgeny||2673||7|
Emil Sutovsky tarried with the development of his pieces and was brutally punished by Alexander Morozevich:
Alexander Moskalenko had a tricky but balanced position against Dmitry Andreikin, until he made a disastrous pawn grab:
Evgeny Tomashevsky - Krishnan Sasikiran
Perhaps the greatest talking point of the round, however, came at the end of Tomashevsky – Sasikiran. In the final position, after 77 moves, it appears simply to have been a logical draw with Black unable to make further progress:
However, there was much more to it than that. GM Sergey Shipov explained at the Crestbook forum:
Today in the Tomashevsky – Sasikiran game we saw the second episode of the series "Chivalry".
The first, if you recall, was the famous Moiseenko – Navara game from the 2011 World Cup [where Navara offered a draw just before mating his opponent due to an earlier touch-move incident - CV].
So then, Sasikiran played better overall, was applying pressure and had a significant edge. The game went on for a long time, and in the end Black’s edge proved insufficient to win. In the final stages Sasikiran made a move and apparently didn’t press the clock very well – it continued to tick and his time continued to slip away. And he let his flag drop!
That’s when it all kicked off… Sasikiran was totally dazed, in a state of shock. The guy simply couldn’t get up from the board. Tomashevsky, meanwhile, appears to have had guilty feelings. He offered his opponent a belated draw and… met with a lack of understanding from his team. In general, they spent a long time arguing the ins and outs but ultimately the game was adjudged to have been a draw – the Saratov team won the match with something to spare, so the incident didn’t have a serious impact on the teams’ tournament situation.
So that’s what happened. I can understand Evgeny… And I can understand his captain.
But I don’t understand the arbiters. They’re the ones who should have decided the issue, and it seems the only possible result, after the flag had fallen, was 1-0.
It’s perhaps worth noting that if teams are tied on match points after 7 rounds the game points will matter – so if it all comes down to half a point Tomashevsky might prefer to quietly slip out of the playing hall/country!
Dmitry Jakovenko did his chances of a place on the Russian Olympiad team no harm by dismantling Peter Svidler's ambitious attacking setup
The most exciting match of the round, however, saw European Champions St. Petersburg put to the sword by Ugra:
|3||St. Petersburg Chess Fed.||2.0 - 4.0||Ugra, Khanty-Mansiysk||5|
|1||2744||Svidler, Peter||0 - 1||Jakovenko, Dmitry||2729||1|
|2||2709||Vitiugov, Nikita||0.5 - 0.5||Shirov, Alexei||2701||2|
|3||2730||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||1 - 0||Dreev, Aleksey||2698||3|
|4||2702||Movsesian, Sergei||0 - 1||Malakhov, Vladimir||2705||4|
|5||2695||Efimenko, Zahar||0.5 - 0.5||Rublevsky, Sergei||2686||5|
|6||2683||Zvjaginsev, Vadim||0 - 1||Korobov, Anton||2679||6|
Dmitry Jakovenko soon got over his loss to Morozevich the round before by winning an extraordinary game against Peter Svidler, who got a little carried away. 11.Bc7?! already seems to be asking for trouble, but that’s only the start of the contortions Svidler’s pieces end up in:
Malakhov – Movsesian was if anything even more dramatic, though it would be a brave man who actually tried to analyse what was going on!
Leinier-Dominguez Perez’s efforts in beating Aleksey Dreev ultimately made little difference, though his smooth conversion of a slight endgame edge did win him high praise from his team captain Vladimir Bykov (as reported by Dmitry Kryakvin):
Perez is a top-class guy! It’s just a pity he doesn’t understand a word of Russian.
Round 4 saw the perfect match-ups at the top, with the first and second and third and fourth seeds paired against each other:
|2||Economist-SGSEU, Saratov||3.5 - 2.5||ShSM-64, Moscow||1|
|1||2765||Morozevich, Alexander||0.5 - 0.5||Caruana, Fabiano||2767||1|
|2||2736||Tomashevsky, Evgeny||0.5 - 0.5||Wang, Hao||2733||2|
|3||2718||Nepomniachtchi, Ian||0.5 - 0.5||Leko, Peter||2720||3|
|4||2704||Eljanov, Pavel||0.5 - 0.5||Riazantsev, Alexander||2710||5|
|5||2706||Moiseenko, Alexander||0.5 - 0.5||Grachev, Boris||2705||6|
|6||2689||Andreikin, Dmitry||1 - 0||Potkin, Vladimir||2669||7|
|4||Tomsk - 400||2.5 - 3.5||St. Petersburg Chess Fed.||3|
|1||2766||Karjakin, Sergey||0.5 - 0.5||Svidler, Peter||2744||1|
|2||2727||Ponomariov, Ruslan||0.5 - 0.5||Vitiugov, Nikita||2709||2|
|3||2695||Inarkiev, Ernesto||0.5 - 0.5||Dominguez Perez, Leinier||2730||3|
|4||2683||Motylev, Alexander||0 - 1||Movsesian, Sergei||2702||4|
|5||2687||Bologan, Viktor||1 - 0||Efimenko, Zahar||2695||5|
|6||2656||Khismatullin, Denis||0 - 1||Matlakov, Maxim||2632||7|
A curious situation soon developed, as Morozevich – Caruana and Karjakin – Svidler were identical up until move 19, with Caruana and Svidler both playing the somewhat dubious 18…Qa5?!
Not only the moves were coordinated! Men in green...
...followed men in black!
There were shades of the famous “Argentinian Tragedy” at the 1955 Interzonal, where three Argentinian players “unleashed” the same novelty against Keres, Geller and Spassky, only for the Soviet players all to refute it at the board. Here Karjakin went first with the spectacular but less effective 20.Nb5?!, after which Svidler managed to exchange queens and achieve a relatively painless draw. The same couldn't be said about the other game...
Wang Hao also spent 116 moves trying to convert an extra pawn against Evgeny Tomashevsky, causing chess journalist Ilya Odessky to write on Twitter:
Ah, I’m worried Zhenya Tomashevsky’s generosity yesterday is going to backfire on him. The sporting gods are fearsome.
If you can stand the tension you can watch the latter stages of those two games in the following video by Evgeny Potemkin. It gives a good idea of the emotions involved in a team event. At the start of the video Morozevich has just played 108.Kd3. Caruana's 115...Nc4? comes at 6:50, and Morozevich misses a win when he plays 116.Rd7+ at 7:25 (the filming is a bit erratic at that stage!). This video doesn't show the very end of that game, but don't miss the end of Wang Hao - Tomashevksy, with Wang Hao clearly upset and teammates congratulating Tomashevsky, at about 8:45:
In the end, however, the match came down to Dmitry Andreikin’s win against Vladimir Potkin on the bottom board:
It was a tough day at the office for Vladimir Potkin
St. Petersburg recovered from their loss the day before to overcome Tomsk-400 3.5:2.5, though the result could have gone either way. Maxim Matlakov’s attack against Denis Khismatullin wasn’t entirely convincing, but fortune favoured the brave:
While those two matches involved closely matched teams, Ugra should have dealt with University with little difficulty. Instead they scraped a 3:3 draw:
|5||Ugra, Khanty-Mansiysk||3.0 - 3.0||University, Belorechensk||7|
|1||2729||Jakovenko, Dmitry||0.5 - 0.5||Tregubov, Pavel V.||2599||1|
|2||2701||Shirov, Alexei||0.5 - 0.5||Landa, Konstantin||2645||2|
|3||2698||Dreev, Aleksey||1 - 0||Brodsky, Michail||2558||3|
|4||2705||Malakhov, Vladimir||0.5 - 0.5||Burmakin, Vladimir||2592||4|
|6||2679||Korobov, Anton||0 - 1||Panarin, Mikhail||2523||5|
|7||2524||Pridorozhni, Aleksei||0.5 - 0.5||Poluljahov, Aleksandr||2505||6|
It could have been worse, as a real upset was on the cards after Mikhail Panarin’s win. The last hope for Ugra was Aleksey Dreev, who played on in a clearly drawn ending. Sergey Shipov commented:
It was stunning the ending Dreev managed to win today against Brodsky. Both sides had a rook and a knight, and also two pawns against two on the kingside. Symmetrical with no weaknesses!
It’s hard to imagine that a solid grandmaster could lose something like that. But he managed. And he did it without blunders, slowly, gradually.
Dreev’s a monster of technique!
The standings at the top of the men's event with only three rounds remaining are:
|3||3||St. Petersburg Chess Fed.||RUS||2711||6.0||15.0||12;8;4;||3||2.0|
|4||8||Chigorin Chess Club, St. Petersburg||RUS||2553||6.0||13.5||17;14;15;||3||2.0|
|5||4||Tomsk - 400||RUS||2708||5.0||16.0||13;7;||2||3.0|
Apart from the dominance of Economist what stands out, perhaps, is that Navigator and particularly the Chigorin Chess club (wins against the 14th, 15th and 17th seeds!) have exploited easier pairings to edge into a prime position. Perhaps that's one of the flaws of the Swiss system (as discussed by the players in the run-up to the event), but it's hard to complain when each round is throwing up fantastic matches. In Round 5 it’s St. Petersburg’s turn to try and stop Economist (Svidler - Morozevich on top board), while Ugra take on Tomsk-400 (Jakovenko - Karjakin and Shirov - Ponomariov).
Nazi Paikidze's Yamal drew against Alexandra Kosteniuk's ShSM-RGSU. There was also a first half point for 13-year-old Aleksandra Goryachkina - someone we can expect to hear a lot more about in future!
The women’s event, meanwhile, is still delicately poised after four rounds.
|4||6||Chigorin Chess Club, St. Petersburg||RUS||2321||4.0||7.0||5;||1||0.5|
|6||5||Polytechnik, Nizhniy Tagil||RUS||2139||2.0||4.0||7;||1||2.0|
Ladya beat last year's winners ShSM-RGSU 3:1 in Round 3, though Valentina Gunina (who had switched teams in acrimonious circumstances, as mentioned in our previous report) was lucky her opponent took a draw by repetition in a won position. Her luck ran out in the next round, however, as she was demolished by Olga Girya and her team could only draw against rivals Ugra. Nevertheless, Ladya are still the team to beat, as they’ve played a match less.
Nadezhda Kosintseva and Valentina Gunina don't seem too downhearted!
The top games from the event can be watched live at the Russian Chess Federation website.
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