25 November 2020

Adventurous Spirit in High Esteem

Vladimir Barsky's Report from Sochi about Rounds 1-3 of the Russian Team Championships

Even if six months later, the Russian team championships have kicked off anyway and in its usual venue at that – the Sochi Grand Hotel Zhemchuzhina. This time, there are ten teams in the men's and 13 in the women's section of the Premier League; there is no crowded second division, no children, and no veterans, but this is clearly better than nothing. November is a poor substitute for May, but every three days the Black Sea spoils us with warm and sunny weather (and the water in the pool is +28 all year round). Players have missed the atmosphere of "live" chess, and it's nice to see virtually no easy games. We offer you some bright snippets of drama-filled struggle.

Paravyan (Molodezhka) –  Fedoseev (Mednyi Vsadnik)

Round 1

White on move

Vladimir Fedoseev treated the Catalan opening in a peculiar way by rerouting the light-squared bishop to h7 via d7-c6-d5-e4, and the dark-squared bishop to b6 via e7-f6-d8. White's hesitation allowed his opponent to realize his plan in full. Now, in the case of a calm 27.Rd1 Qf7!? 28.Qb2 Qh5, Black is gradually increasing the pressure, so David Paravyan decided to provoke a crisis. However, he seems to have underestimated Black's rejoinder.

27.d5? Rd8!

After 27...exd5 28.exd5 Rxe2 29.Rxe2 Rd8 30.d6! (30.dxc6? Qxc6 31.Qb2 Nd3 is underwhelming for White) 30...Bc5 31.Ne4 Bxe4 32.Rxe4 Qxd6 33.Qe1 Qd7 34.h5 White enjoys superb compensation for the missing pawn.


Paravyan attempts to muddy the waters. 28.dxe6 Qe7 29.Qb2 Nd3 30.Bxd3 Rxd3 31.Qc2 Rfd8 looks grim as well.

28...exd5 29.exd5 cxd5 30.Re7

30.Bb5 runs into the unpleasant 30…Qg4.

30...Qc8 31.Bb5 Bc5!




White needs to sound the retreat. White was already playing on the incremented time, and he made this move with only two seconds on his clock. However, no tricks work for White: 32.Rxg7 Kxg7 33.Nd4 Bxd4 34.Re7+ Rf7.

32...d4 33.Na2 d3 34.Re6 Nxa2 35.Qxa2 Bb4 36.Bc4 Bxe1 37.Rxe1 Rfe8 White resigned.

Vitiugov (Mednyi Vsadnik) – Triapishko (Kimmeria)

Round 2

Black on move

In the Caro-Kann Defense, Nikita Vitiugov outplayed his less experienced opponent and got a dream endgame: black lags behind in development, and his pawns are compromised. However, the Crimean player begins to come up with some tricky practical chances.

21...Ke7 22.Rd5 Rh5!?

It may seem that after White's answer, the rook is trapped, but this is not the case.

23.Bg5+ Nf6 24.Rhd1 Kf7 25.Rd6 Nh7

This is the point of Black's defence.

26.Be3 Nf6 27.Rxa6 Rxh4 28.Ra7+ Ke6!

In the case of 28...Kg8 29. a4, the passed queenside pawns should decide the battle outcome. Olexandr Triapishko banks on the active piece play.


Of course, you want to win "with all conveniences", but now Black gets the opportunity to initiate complications on the kingside. The immediate 29. a4 seems stronger here, after which 29...g3 30.fxg3 Rg4 31.Bf2 Nh5 does not work out due to 32.Ra6+.

29...g3! 30.Rxg6

Vitiugov must have underestimated the opponent's reply. This said, even after 30.fxg3 Rg4 31.Bf2 Nh5 32.Rb7 Nxg3 33.Rb6+ (33.Rg1?? Ne2+) 33...Kf5 or 33...Ke7 the situation would have escalated sharply.

30...Rg4! 31.Rh6

31.Rxg4 Nxg4 leaves the e3-bishop and the f2-pawn en prise and is bad for that reason.

31...g2 32.Rg1 Kf5

Black probably did not feel like playing 32...c4 because of 33. Bd4 Rf8 34.a4, although he seems to hold this position after all. Nevertheless, Triapishko has a different plan — he is ready to give up yet another pawn just to reroute the knight to the aid of his own passed pawn.

33.Rh2 Rcg8 34.Bxc5 Nd5

The knight is ready to hit the road via e7 and f5 and h4 to f3.

35.Be3 Ke5 36.a4 Ne7 37.a5

37. b4 Nf5 38.b5 is the alternative. Now the same defensive method as in the game works no longer: 38…Nh4 39.b6 Kd6 40.a5 Kc6 41.a6 Nf3 42.Rh6+! Kd7 43.Rd1+ or 42...Kb5 43.b7 Nxg1 44.a7. On the other hand, Black gets another opportunity: 38...Nxe3 (instead of 38...Nh4) 39. fxe3 Kd5 with good drawing chances.

37...Nf5 38.a6 Nh4 39.b4 Nf3 40.Rgxg2 Rxg2 41.Rxg2 Rxg2 42.b5 Kd5

The king arrives just on time. White wins back the rook at the cost of both connected passers.

43.b6 Kc6 44.b7 Rg8 45.Bf4 Kb6 46.b8Q+ Rxb8 47.Bxb8 Kxa6

Black holds this position without much effort. He just needs to post his knight on f5 (to keep the white king away from his pawn), and keep the king near the c6-square.

48.c4 Kb7 49.Bf4 Kc6 50.Kb2 Nd4 51.Be3 Nf5 52.Kc3 Kd6 53.Kb4 Kc6 54.Bg5 Nd4 55.Bf4 Nf5 56.Be3 Ne7 57.Bd4 Nf5 58.Bc5 Ng7 59.Bd4 Nf5 60.Be3 Ne7 61.Bd4 Nf5 Draw.

Artemiev (Ladya) – Lobanov (SShOR ShSh)

Queen's Pawn Opening A48

Round 2

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.e3 Bg7 4.Be2

In such cases, they usually say that his move promises a long fight to come. At the same time, White achieved a decisive advantage only 15 moves later without his opponent making any apparent mistakes. Let's try to figure out how Vlad managed to "pull it off."

4...c5 5.0–0 cxd4

5...d5 is a more principled move not to let the с1-bishop out. Black probably didn't want to invite any complications after 6.dxc5, so he opted for a simple move.

6.exd4 0–0 7.Re1 d5

7...d6 is perhaps more flexible, but this is a matter of taste. Black's next moves are again simple and without guile.

8.c3 Nc6 9.Bf4 Bf5 10.Nbd2 a6 11.Qb3

Artemiev asks his opponent the first concrete question, and black's position suddenly turns out to be not as good and safe as it seems. Black does not feel like playing like 11...b5 because of 12.a4, the queen on c8 or d7 will be misplaced. The computer offers a pawn sacrifice: 11...Nh5 12. Be3 Nf6!? (12...Na5 13.Qb4 Qc7 14.Ne5 is dubious), promising the counterplay after 13.Qxb7 Qd6 14.Qb3 Rfb8 15.Qa3 Qxa3 16.bxa3 a5. Of course, you don't want to give up a pawn for no particular reason…

11...Na5 12.Qb4 Ra7

Black seems to have realized that further play based on general considerations would amount to no good (12...Ne4 or 12...Rc8 runs into the unpleasant 13.Nb3! Nxb3 14. axb3, building up the pressure), so he tried to solve the problems tactically.

13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Nxd7 Nc6

14...Bxd7 fails to 15.Qc5.

15.Qb6! Qxd7 16.Nb3

White's pieces begin to dominate the weakened queenside.

16…Rc8 17.Bf3 e6 18.Nc5 Qd8 19.Qxd8+

Vladislav is not put off by any simplifications at all.


19...Rxd8 20.Bc7 Rc8 21.Bb6 Raa8 22.g4 is absolutely grim for Black.

20.g4 Bc2 21.Nd7!


White is perfect in exploiting disharmony in his opponent's setup. Now, 21...b5 is met by the same continuation seen in the game, 22.Nb6 Rc6 23.Nxd5, and 21...Bf8 is refuted by 22.Bxd5! exd5 23.Re8.

21...f5 22.Nb6 Rc6 23.Nxd5 exd5 24.Re8+ Kf7 25.Rxd8 Be4 26.Bxe4 dxe4 27.d5 Rc4 28.Rd7+ Black resigned.

Yuffa (Molodezhka) – Tsoi (Moscow Oblast)

Round 2

Daniil Yuffa has completely outplayed his young opponent but rushed things at the critical moment.



This breakthrough suggests itself, but it all turns out surprising well for Black. White should have started with 29. Bc2. Now 29...g6, of course, does not lose immediately, but all reasonable moves run out for Black soon, and White can safely go about consolidating his position to the desired condition. 29…Bg6 is a more principled move, but then 30.f5! Bxf5 31.Bg5+ Kf8 (31…Ke8 changes nothing) 32.Bxf5 exf5 33.e6 Qg6 34.Qe3, etc.

29...exf5 30.Bg5+ Kf8 31.Rdf2 Be6

The only but sufficient move. 31...g6 32.e6 Bxe6 33.Re2 Re8 34.Rfe1 Kf7 35.b5 loses.

32.Rxf5+ Bxf5 33.Bc2 g6 34.e6


Daniil must have overlooked this move in his calculations. 34...Ke8 35. exd7+ Kxd7 36. Rxf5! gxf5 37.Qf6 Raf8 38.Qd6+ Kc8 39.Bf4 loses as the bishop pair is superior to a pair of rooks. Now Black wards off the offensive.

35.exd7 Qxd7 36.Bf6 Bxh3+ 37.Kg1 Bxf1 38.Bxh8 Qf7 39.Bd4 Bh3 40.Kh2 Bf5 White resigned.

Goryachkina (Achimgaz YNAO) – Dubov (Molodezhka)

Catalan Opening E05

Round 3

This game turned into a real gem of round three.

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg2 0–0 6.Nc3 dxc4 7.Ne5 Nc6 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.Nxc6 Qe8 10.Nxe7+ Qxe7 11.Qa4


Instead of the theoretical mainline 11...c5, Daniil opts for a rare gambit continuation, which, however, has also been tested in the grandmaster practice.

12.Qxc4 a5 13.Bd2 Ba6 14.Qc5 Qd7 15.f3

Each opponent is true to what they are fond of: Dubov tries to develop the initiative for the material sacrificed, and Goryachkina attempts to consolidate the position. The text does not seem to have ever been tested at a high level before: Malakhov vs. Bacrot (Zagreb 2018) and Oparin vs. Bumanna (Skopje 2019) saw 15.Rc1. Anyway, we dare assume that this is not Alexandra's home preparation, but an improvisation.

15...Rfb8 16.Rb1

The move doesn't look very attractive. In the case of 16.b3 White must have been put off by 16…Rb6 17.Rc1 Rc6 18.Qa3 Nb4, and if 19.Be3, then 19…e5 20.dxe5 Bxe2! However, instead of 19. Be3 you can shift the queen to the other side of the board: 19.Qxa5 Qxd4 20.Qg5!, and White is in good shape.

16...Rb6 17.Kf2 Rc6 18.Qa3

18. Qxa5 is extremely risky because of even 18...Qe8!? 19. Nxd5 exd5 20.Rhe1 Rc2 – and you must be a computer to hold this position.

18...Nb6 19.Be3 Nc4 20.Qb3 Rb6

Black could have grabbed back a pawn via 20...Nxe3 21. Kxe3 Rc4 22.Rbd1 Rd8, but after 23.Kf2 Rxd4 24.Rhe1 White's position is at least no worse. Well, it is not for the sake of quiet equality that Dubov embarked on all this!

21.Qc2 Rab8



White decides to give up an exchange, hoping to consolidate and get a small edge afterward. White should have switched to tactical ideas – 22.Ne4!, intending 22…Rxb2 23.Nc5! Qc8 24.Qd3 Nxe3 25.Nxa6 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Rxb1 27.Qxb1 – and White is slightly better in the endgame, but a draw is the most likely outcome. Alternatively, Black has 22...Qd5, upon which White can force a repetition via 23.Nc3 (23.Nc5? Nxe3 24.Kxe3 e5! is not good) 23...Qd7 24.Ne4, etc.

22...Na3 23.Qd2 Nxb1 24.Rxb1 Rd8 25.Ne4 Rb5 26.Rc1 e5 


After 27.Nc5, White must have disliked 27...Qh3!? 28. Kg1 Rb6, with a double-edged play. But here is an interesting tactical solution: 27.Bg5!, after which 27...f6? fails to 28.Bxf6. After 27…Qxd4 28.Qxd4 Rxd4 29.Rxc7 h6 30.Be3 Black seems to need to bail out already: 30…Rxe4!? 31.fxe4 a4, with a drawn opposite-colored ending. An attempt to keep the game open to any result – 27...Ra8!? 28. dxe5 Qh3 29.Kg1 Rxe5, but here white's pieces are clearly better stationed than in the game.


This strong "intermezzo" must have dropped out of White's radar. He was most likely anticipating 27...Qxd2 28. Bxd2 Rxe5 29.Bf4 with a comfortable position.

28.Qc2 Qh3 



This is clearly not the way to go. 29.Kg1 is correct, which might have been followed up with 29…Rxe5 30.Bf4 Re7 31.g4 (31.Nf2!? Qe6 32.e4) 31...Bb7 32.Nf2 Qh4 – the initiative belongs to Black, but there is much fight ahead yet.

29...Rxe5 30.Qxc7 Rde8 31.Bf4

31.Bd4 R5e6 changes nothing.

31...R5e7 32.Qxa5 Bxe2! 33.Ng5 (33.Kxe2 Qg2+) 33...Qd7 34.Re1 Qd4+ 35.Kg2 h6 White resigned.


In the women's championship, the vital match between the reigning champion KMAO-Ugra vs. St. Petersburg ended in a 2:2 draw in round three.

Bodnaruk (SShOR ShSh) – Pogonina (Ugra)

Ruy Lopez C92

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Re8 10.d4 Bb7 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.d5 Nb8 13.Nf1 Nbd7 14.N3h2 c6 15.Ng4

A somewhat overcomplicated plan: White spends much time to force the trade of knights at the cost of her queenside development.

15…cxd5 16.exd5


Stronger is simple 16...Nc5!? 17. Bg5 Be7 18.Nxf6+ Bxf6 19.Bxf6 Qxf6 20.Bc2 a5, with counterplay.

17.hxg4 Be7

It is unclear whether Black really needs that dark-squared bishops' exchange. This maneuver is time-consumming, in the first place.

18.Ng3 g6 19.Be3 Bg5 20.Bxg5 Qxg5 21.Ne4 Qe7 22.a4 Nc5?

It seems to be a decisive mistake already.

23.Nxc5 dxc5 24.d6! Qd7 25.axb5 axb5 26.Rxa8 Bxa8 27.Bd5!



Black has failed to blunt the white bishop with the timely c5-c4, and now there is no compensation for the powerful d6-passer.


The pawn is clearly not to be touched: 27...Qxd6 28.Bxf7+.

28.Qxd5 Re6 29.Qxc5

29.Rd1 c4 30.Qc5 Re8 31.g5!? looked tempting, but White just decided to win the pawn.

29...Rxd6 30.Qxe5 Rd1 31.f3 Qd2 32.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33.Kf2 

White pressed his material advantage home 55 moves later.


Styazhkina (SShOR ShSh) – Badelka (Ugra)


Black's initiative looks quite formidable, but White also has a strong trump card – the b7-pawn.


This is a decisive mistake. 33.Qa1 Rc2 34.Rc6! Rxb7 35.Rxc2 Qxc2 36.Qxa3 Rb2 37.Rg1 was the way to keep the position together.

33...Rc2 34.Qb3 Qd2 35.Qg3

Or 35.Rg1 Rb2.

35...h4! White resigned.

Guseva (Ugra) – Chernyk (SShOR ShSh)


Winning by force was 29.Ng5+! Bxg5 30.Qb8 Kh6 31.Rh8+ Nh7 32.Qg8 Be3 (32...Bf6 33.Bd2+) 33.Rxh7+ Kg5 34.Qd8+ Kf5 35.Qd5+. White was indeed carried away with the effective-looking 29.Qb8 , counting on 29...Bxb8 30.Ng5+ Kh6 31.Nxf7+ Kh5 32.Rh8+. However, Black found a defensive resource.

29...g5! 30.Rh8+ Kg6 31.Qb1+ Ne4 32.Re8 f5 33.Qb6+ Nf6 34.Re6 Qxa2 35.g3 Qa3 36.Kg2 Bc7 37.Rxf6+ gxf6 38.Qe6 Qc5

This part of the game was in sharp mutual time trouble, so we will not delve into any lines. Note only that Black's last move loses, and the balance was maintained by 38...Re4!

39.Qg8+ Kh6 40.Qh8+ Kg6 41.Qg8+ Kh6


The time control is over, and after 42.Qh8+ the opponents agreed to a draw. Meanwhile, White had a spectacular winning resource: 42.h4 g4 (42...Qe7 fails to 43.Qxc4 - this is why the rook should have landed on e4 back on move 38; 42...gxh4 43.Bd2+ Bf4 44.Nxh4) 43.h5!! gxf3+ 44.Kh3! Rg4 (44...Kxh5 45.Qh7+ Kg5 46.Bd2+) 45.Qh8+ Kg5 46.Qh7 Rh4+ 47.gxh4+ Kf4 48.h6, winning. Needless to say, it was challenging to come up with all these quiet moves over the board after an intense four-hour struggle.