2 October 2023

Russian Championships Superfinals Kick Off in Tsarskoe Selo

Rather unexpected results happened in Round 1.

Sunday, October 1, Round 1 games of the Russian Championships Superfinals were played at Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site (Saint Petersburg). In the open tournament, Ivan Rozum defeated Andrey Esipenko, Kateryna Lagno outplayed Maxim Matlakov, while the games V. Artemiev – P. Ponkratov, E. Tomashevsky – A. Goryachkina, K. Sychev – E. Najer, and V. Murzin – A. Timofeev ended in a draw.  

Ivan Rozum, "Andrey surprised me in the opening, I was about half an hour behind in the clock and probably didn't react very well. He completely outplayed me somewhere along the way. My position seemed  difficult, but I did my best to defend. He had to find a nice 'final blow', but must have miscalculated instead and it was anyone's game again after that.    

In the severe mutual time trouble, Andrey did not react in the best way and gave White's passed pawn free way to the promotion square (also see our "Position of the Day" section). Black's position was already hopeless after the time control move".  

Kateryna Lagno surprised Maxim Matlakov with her opening choice: she would usually follow 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 with the Rossolimo system, but this time she opted for the more forced Sveshnikov Variation. For a long time the opponents followed the blitz game Kramnik – Grischuk of Astana 2023, where the former World Champion had come up an original gambit idea and challenged Black with difficult problems to solve. It is unlikely that this game escaped Matlakov's attention – most likely, he simply couldn't remember his analysis because he hadn't expected this continuation.  Maxim's reaction was not the best and he had to fight back from an unpleasant endgame.  However, Lagno then followed up with a hasty exchange of queens and the position became a draw, objectively speaking, but Black had to maintain the balance with the only moves. Nevertheless, Matlakov was the last to blunder in this tense duel. 

Pairings of Round 2:

Ponkratov – Timofeev, Matlakov – Murzin, Esipenko – Lagno, Najer – Rozum, Goryachkina – Sychev, Artemiev – Tomashevsky.

In the women's tournament, Leya Garifullina defeated Olga Badelka, Baira Kovanova outplayed Mariya Yakimova, Anna Shukhman outperformed Olga Matveeva, and Alina Bivol beat Natalija Pogonina. E. Goltseva - V. Gunina and M. Korneva – P. Shuvalova ended in a draw.  

Pairings of Round 2:

Gunina – Kovanova, Shuvalova – Yakimova, Bivol – Korneva, Shukhman – Pogonina, Badelka – Matveeva, Goltseva – Garifullina.

Games online (Open)

Games online (Women)

Official website

Tournament on Chess-Results

Tournament page

Pictures by Vladimir Barsky and Anastasia Vasina