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3 December 2017

Chess, Mathilde and Revolution

Eteri Kublashvili’s report from the Opening Ceremony of the Russian Championships Superfinals 

On December 2, the Russian Championships Superfinals among men and women were officially opened in Saint Petersburg. The City on Neva hasn’t hosted national championships since 1998, but this time the event is being held on a large scale, as it is a part of the Chess in Museums program, carried out by the RCF together with Timchenko Foundation since 2012. 

The venue is the State Museum of Political History of Russia. One of its buildings was Mathilde Kschessinskaya's mansion. It is funny that this year the name of a famous ballerina is connected not only with cinema, but also with chess.


The Museum, located in the historic centre of Saint Petersburg, recounts key events, which influenced the destiny of Russia, changes of political regimes, wars, revolutions, and reforms.  

The exhibition “USSR – A Great Chess Power” is represented at the Museum’s atrium. One will manage to see the Soviet chess posters of the 1930s-1960s, rare archival photos and many other interesting items. The exposition was presented by its author, Deputy Head of the Museum's Scientific and Exhibitory Department Margarita Samoylova. 

Then there was a press conference with Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation Mark Glukhovsky, Director General of the State Museum of Political History of Russia Evgeny Artemov, Deputy Director General of Timchenko Foundation Igor Baradachev, Deputy Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation Vladimir Barsky, many-time Russian and Olympic champions Peter Svidler and Valentina Gunina. 

Mark Glukhovsky thanked all the partners for their support in organizing the Superfinals. He also told about Chess in Museums program and reminded of the tournament’s regulations and schedule.

Evgeny Artemov noted that hosting the Russian Championships Superfinals is a big honour for the Museum. He expressed gratitude to the RCF and Timchenko Foundation for choosing the State Museum of Political History of Russia as the venue of this prestigious tournament and told about the Museum’s history.

Igor Baradachev reminded of the day of a social program (December 8), when the Superfinals’ participants would give simuls to young chess players. «Children will see their chess idols, will play them, and maybe someone of them will win”, said he.

Valentina Gunina admitted that it had always been a great honour for her to play in Superfinals. «The tournament is always strong, and I hope I will perform decently”, added she.

Peter Svidler: «It is always pleasant and exciting to play at home; let’s see will it help me or not. As many citizens of metropolises, I go to museums when abroad or in some other city, and I don’t do it quite often being in my hometown because I think I will always have time to do it. That’s why I am glad that while “working” I will manage to visit one of many museums of my city”.

A Chess Schools: Second Academic Level tutorial by Vladimir Barsky, issued by the RCF with support of the Timchenko Foundation, was presented by its author during the press conference. Vladimir Barsky told about the learning kit in detail. “I hope children, their parents and teachers will like it and will use it with great pleasure”, said he.  

Finally, the Opening Ceremony itself was held. It took place in the White Hall, where in spring of 1917, Vladimir Lenin had spoken before workers of Petrograd (from the balcony) and declared a new political course oriented towards socialism. In a few months, the Bolsheviks’ conference had taken place in this room to legalize its leader’s statements. And soon the events had started to dramatically change the history of Russia. And the whole world as well.

Mark Glukhovsky, Evgeny Artemov, and Igor Baradachev spoke at the Opening Ceremony. 

Chief Arbiter IA Igor Bolotinsky conducted a drawing of lots. The players got the following starting numbers:


1. Sanan Sjugirov, 2. Maxim Matlakov, 3. Vladimir Fedoseev, 4. Vladimir Malakhov, 5. Nikita Vitiugov, 6. Daniil Dubov, 7. Sergey Volkov, 8. Peter Svidler, 9. Evgeny Romanov, 10. Alexander Riazantsev, 11. Evgeny Tomashevsky, 12. Ernesto Inarkiev.

Round 1 pairings:

Sjugirov - Inarkiev, Matlakov - Tomashevsky, Fedoseev - Riazantsev, Malakhov - Romanov, Vitiugov - Svidler, Dubov - Volkov.


1. Aleksandra Goryachkina, 2. Olga Girya, 3. Anastasia Bodnaruk, 4. Alisa Galliamova, 5. Valentina Gunina, 6. Oksana Gritsayeva, 7. Marina Nechaeva, 8. Alina Kashlinskaya, 9. Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, 10. Evgenija Ovod, 11. Polina Shuvalova, 12. Natalija Pogonina.

Round 1 pairings:

Goryachkina - Pogonina, Girya - Shuvalova, Bodnaruk - Ovod, Galliamova - Kovalevskaya, Gunina - Kashlinskaya, Gritsayeva - Nechaeva.

St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra performed several pieces of classical music: Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, and Ernesto Calavallini. Pianist Vadim Rudenko played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Sergei Rakhmaninoff’s Fragments. The audience broke into applause, the current Russian champion was applauding on his feet and cried “Bravo!”

After the official part, the guests and journalists were invited to a reception where they had a fine opportunity to communicate with each other in an informal setting.

Schedule. Opening ceremony: December 2. Playing days: December 3-7 and 9-14, rest day – December 8. 

Total prize fund is 9,000,000 roubles. Besides, the winners of men's and women's tournaments will also receive a special prize – a four-wheel-drive crossover Renault Kaptur.  

The organizers are the Russian Chess Federation, Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation, the State Museum of Political History of Russia, Chess Federation of Saint Petersburg, and Physical Culture, and Sports Committee of Saint Petersburg. The competition is also supported by Renault Russia Company, Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System (FGC UES), and PhosAgro. Logistics partner of the Russian Chess Federation is Russian Post.


Photos by Vladimir Barsky

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