17 October 2021

Nikita Vitiugov Grabs Lead at Russian Superfinal

Valentina Gunina is ahead in the women's tournament.

The eighth round of the Russian Championships Superfinals was played in Ufa on the 17th of October.  

Nikita Vitiugov, the leader of the open tournament, demonstrated a miraculous safe in his game against Kirill Alekseenko, having won as Black in a lost position after the opponent's mistake in a time trouble. The grandmaster shared his impressions on the game in a short interview:

- At first, we had a rather tenacious struggle in the Ruy Lopez. In general, Kirill is quite skilful in such structures, where each move doesn't cost too much and Black has no real counterplay. Somewhere I spent more time than it was necessary. I equalised by the time trouble for sure, but then I misplayed somewhere and took on d5 by the e-pawn, after which my position became hard from the human point of view. It was hopeless with no counterplay, while White only strengthened himself. However, I got lucky in the end. I understood that my only chance was to play as quickly as possible, and Kirill mixed things up in a winning position with 30 seconds on the clock. I had lost millions of points with this time control. Naturally, I'm sorry for my opponent, but I was looking for winning chances.     

Alexandr Predke scored his first tournament win by defeated Aleksandra Goryachkina. According to the grandmaster, it was a very complicated game. 

"I managed to surprise Aleksandra in the opening, and after that, we got a very complex position. During the game, I couldn't understand where a turning point had happened because we constantly balanced around equality. At some point, it became obvious that my position was more promising than hers; moreover, a time trouble was approaching. I think that Aleksandra made several decisive mistakes before the time control, after which her position became very tough. I think I was quite good at converting", said Predke after the game. 

The St. Petersburg derby Matlakov vs Fedoseev turned out to be very exciting. White chose a new continuation in the Winawer Variation of the French Defence and sacrificed two pawns for the initiative. Black soon gave back extra material to develop his pieces and made it to the endgame. However, White's passed pawn on the h-file was a real threat, so Fedoseev had to defend a tough position finding various tactical chances. White went wrong in a time trouble and gradually lost his advantage; right after the time control, a draw was agreed.   

The games Motylev - Esipenko, Ponkratov - Rakhmanov, and Andreikin - Chigaev were also drawn.

Standings after Round 8:

1. Nikita Vitiugov - 5.5
2. Vladimir Fedoseev - 5
3-4. Maxim Matlakov, Dmitry Andreikin - 4.5
5-6. Andrey Esipenko, Kirill Alekseenko - 4
7-10. Aleksandra Goryachkina, Maksim Chigaev, Alexander Motylev, Pavel Ponkratov, Alexandr Predke - 3.5
12. Aleksandr Rakhmanov - 2.5.

Round 9 pairings:

Vitiugov - Matlakov
Esipenko - Alekseenko
Rakhmanov - Motylev
Chigaev - Ponkratov
Predke - Andreikin
Fedoseev - Goryachkina

In the women's event, the leader Valentina Gunina achieved the second victory in a row by winning against Alisa Galliamova. The rivals led a very complicated fight in the Slav Defence. After the centre was opened up, a tense and double-edged position appeared. It seems that Black made a fatal mistake there, having underestimated White's threats. Gunina won a pawn. However, the converting stage lasted for quite a long time. Eventually, Valentina won on the 78th move in an endgame with rooks and the same-coloured bishops. 

Evgenija Ovod outplayed Anastasia Bodnaruk in the Sicilian Defence, the anti-Najdorf system with 5.f3. White got an advantage and won a pawn on the kingside. In her turn, Bodnaruk started an assault on the kingside, but White skillfully regrouped her forces and built a firm line of defence. Black's attack brought her nothing, while her queen got stuck on h3 and out of play. Black lost an exchange in a severe time trouble and resigned on the 41st move. 

Alina Kashlinskaya and Leya Garifullina played the Nimzo-Indian Defence with 4. Qc2. Garifullina lost a pawn in the opening and then weakened her king's position, trying to take it back. White organised a dangerous attack, so Black had to give a rook and a knight for the queen in order to defend against checkmate. Kashlinskaya convincingly covered her material and won on the 65th. move. 

Olga Girya and Natalija Pogonina had a long manoeuvering battle, which boiled down to an ending with minor pieces. White erroneously made it to a knight endgame, which gave Pogonina a big advantage immediately. Black won a pawn and gradually converted her material edge.  

The games Guseva - Bivol and Shuvalova - Voit (where Black had good winning chances) were drawn.

Standings after Round 8:

1. Valentina Gunina - 6.5
2. Evgenija Ovod - 6
3. Polina Shuvalova - 5.5
4. Alina Kashlinskaya - 5
5. Natalija Pogonina - 4.5
6. Leya Garifullina - 4
7-8. Alisa Galliamova, Olga Girya - 3.5
9-11. Anastasia Bodnaruk, Daria Voit, Marina Guseva - 2.5
12. Alina Bivol - 2.

Round 9 pairings:

Garifullina - Ovod
Bivol - Kashlinskaya
Pogonina - Guseva
Voit - Girya
Galliamova - Shuvalova
Bodnaruk - Gunina.

The tournament is a part of the Chess in Museums international programme realised by the Chess Federation of Russia and the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation. 

An exhibition featuring the chess sets from the Chess Museum is organised at the venue. The Museum's curator, Cand. Sc. History Dmitry Oleinikov conducts tours around the exposition for everyone.

The spectators are not allowed in the playing hall due to the anti-Covid measures. However, the chess fans are welcome in the commentating area where they can listen to GM Sergey Shipov in Russian. 

GMs Evgenij Miroshnichenko and Alexandr Shimanov are commentating on the tournament in English. 

Tournament on Chess-Results

Tournament page

Photos by Eteri Kublashvili