15 October 2017

Agility and Vigilance

The Russian Rapid and Blitz Championships in Sochi reported by Vladimir Barsky

It is for the second year in a row that the Black Sea coast’ velvet season and the Sochi’s Grand Hotel Zhemchuzhina have embraced the Russian individual and team rapid and blitz championships. They say that even this summer is unable to boast such a streak of sunny and pleasantly warm days, with sea +23 and the swimming pool +28. Although the hotel was not as populated as on the May holidays, there was quite a crowd nonetheless. Running in parallel with our competitions were a convention of tour operators and the shooting of episodes for a domestic TV serial. Even so, there was enough room for everyone despite as many as 350 people having gathered to play chess. The individual tournament sections (men’s, women’s and veterans’) listed 320 participants, while the team’s crowd was less so with a partial rotation taking place right on the spot.

The chess weak started off with individual rapid championships, held to a Swiss system of 11 rounds played to a format of 15 minutes plus a 10-second increment per move. The technical meeting, which was unfortunately attended by not that many players, had the chief arbiter Mikhail Krjukov carrying out a detailed briefing as to new regulations in force since this year’s July. As things go nowadays, moving a passed pawn to the queening square is not a must as you are allowed to put a newly-born queen there directly. Meanwhile, castling with both your hands is a defeat and moving a piece with one hand and pressing the clock button with another is subject to some penal sanctions.

It is all about catching you red-handed, imposing penalties and punishing! Not a word is written about the gentlemanly attitude towards an opponent who made an involuntary mistake in the heat of the battle... Springing to mind is a phrase by an honored coach of the USSR Vladimir Nikolayevich Yurkov, who I was lucky to be coached by as a child - "Earlier chess was played by aristocrats - nowadays by everyone!" Below is an opinion by an arbiter, international master Andrzej Filipowicz, voiced in an interview for the Chess Pro website, "Those who issue regulations have never played serious games of chess themselves! FIDE is unable to grasp that these rules apply in equal measures to world championships and U6 schoolchildren events. They are in force both for the former and the latter. In connection with this, we need opinions from the world's leading grandmasters and chess coaches who conduct classes at school. As for the current regulations, they are terrible."

However, dura lex is sed lex, the meaning of dura in Latin being “severe, evil”. Let us have a look at several such dura lex cases in action from the Sochi event.

Andreikin – Savchenko

Rapid, individual championship

Black is in bad shape: queening the pawn fails to a checkmate several moves after 63.Qf8+ Kg6 64.g8Q+. Boris underpromoted to a knight in order to meet the king’s retreat with a pawn capture and a subsequent struggle of a rook and pawn versus a queen. The heat of action had Dmitry missing the fact that the pawn promoted to a knight with check and playing 63.Qf8+, which was a defeat based on the illegal move regulation. Meanwhile, this was an ultimate round game so pivotal for prize splitting…

Same error was committed by the author of these lines.

Korneev – Barsky

Blitz, team championship

Having just played 1…Qd2, I started casting frantic lookarounds for the second queen. Thoughts like --"Is it necessary to put a pawn to c1 or is it no longer necessary? Does the use of an inverted rook for a queen amount to a defeat? Likewise, you can stop the clock and head for the queen, but when - with a pawn on c2 or c1? -- flashed through my mind. "When you praxis is confined to a couple of tournaments a year, you are confident about nothing. Noticing my confusion, an arbiter Igor Sokrustov came to the rescue with a queen in his hand. The service was accepted with no small gratitude, and I immediately planted the queen to c1 only to hear a solemn voice of my opponent, "An illegal move!" "Why?" – an arbiter and I were taken by surprise as one. "The king is under check!"

It turned out that while I was being haunted by doubts as to how queen a pawn correctly, Alexander Korneev, a deputy Dean of the Moscow State University’s Law Faculty, played 2.Qa6-c8 +. I had to congratulate the opponent on his victory in the framework of chess legislation. It's nice that it was a source of great pleasure to the assistant professor, who hurried to inform his achievement to Sergey Karjakin, who, as you know, heads the chess club of the Moscow State University’s Law Faculty. Well, everyone has his own cause for being proud.


Rublevsky – Chos

Rapid, team championship

The last pawn was eliminated back on move 79, while the diagram emerged 53 moves later. However, Alexey Chos did not know how to go about checking the number of moves with the linesman absent and got checkmated as a result: 133.Rh7#.

Popov – Kozlov

Rapid, team championship

The black pawn arrived at а2 on move 93, White delivering checks ever since until the diagram position arose on the board. It is easy to see that White has run out of checks (although it is still a draw after 152.Qd1!). Nevertheless, my teammate from the Gogol-Mogol team, a FIDE master from Tyumen Mikhail Popov, acted as wise as it gets: he stopped the clock and asked the arbiter to have the number of moves counted. This is how a draw was fixed.

Styazhkina Tomilova

Rapid, team championship

Black’s last hope is… on the FIDE regulations! It turns out that taking the d7-pawn with one hand and the c8 rook with another to replace it with your queen qualifies it as a move made with both hands and renders your triumph into a disaster. Lena Tomilova claimed that this is exactly (i.e with both hands) what her opponent did, although Anna Styazhkina claimed the opposite. Unfortunately, a linesman Lyubov Gordyk, who was supposed to ensure an adequate level of monitoring, had her attention elsewhere at the moment. Black got a zero, and the next day the women’s blitz team championship was refereed by a more "omnipresent" Irina Krjukova.

All in all, if you are not willing to walk into a set of FIDE regulation traps – take a test from the book "Play by Regulations!", published recently by the Russian Chess Federation!

* * *

Alexander Motylev (the Moscow Oblast) has become the Russia's rapid chess champion with 9 out of 11 points. Evgeny Tomashevsky (the Saratov Oblast), Boris Savchenko (Moscow) and Daniil Yuffa (the Tyumen Oblast) finished half a point behind; it is in this particular order that additional tiebreakers sorted them in the tournament table.

In the women's tournament a clear first with 8.5 out of 11 points was taken by Anastasia Bodnaruk (St. Petersburg). Aleksandra Goryachkina (the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, 2nd place), Karina Ambartsumova (the Republic of Tatarstan, 3rd place) and Marina Nechaeva (the Moscow Oblast, 4th place) finished with 8 points.

Evgeny Sveshnikov (the Chelyabinsk Oblast) triumphed in the men's tournament with 7.5 out of 10. Vladimir Karasev (St. Petersburg, 2nd place), Vladimir Shushpanov (St. Petersburg, 3rd place), Evgeni Dragomarezkij (Moscow), Yury Balashov (the Moscow Oblast) and Valery Chekhov (Moscow) finished half a point behind.

In the women's veterans tournament, the native of Moscow Galina Strutinskaia gave away only half a point to her rivals, scoring 9.5 out of 10. Tatiana Chekhova-Kostina (Moscow) took second with 7.5; Natalia Titorenko (Moscow) finished third with 7.

On day one Alexander Motylev scored 5 out of 5 and to become a sole leader. Then he slowed down somewhat: a swift draw as White with Jakovenko, a defeat in the dramatic struggle from E. Tomashevsky, and yet another draw with D. Khismatullin. Despite this, three wins in the final three rounds again landed Alexander into the clear first.

Motylev Tomashevsky


As nice as it looks, this shot is only the beginning of further complications.

29.h3 Re2

Stronger is 29...e3 30.Qxe3 Nd5.

30.Rf1! h6 31.Nb3

Correct is 31.Nc4, and after 31…Qg6 32.g4! Black cannot sacrifice a knight 32…Nxg4 in view of 33.Rxf8+ Kxf8 34.Rd8+, and it is White to checkmate his opponent.

31...Qg6 32.Qxe6+ Kh7 33.g4 Re3 34.Kg2 Re8 35.Qc4 Qg5??

Winning was a simple 35...h5 or a more effective (as well as a stronger one) 35...Rxh3! 36.Kxh3 Qxg4+ 37.Kh2 Re5. Now the tables turn around completely.

36.Rfxf6! Rb8 37.Rb6??

Having just caught a bird of luck by the tail, White lets it go immediately. Winning was 37.Rxh6+! gxh6 38. Qf7+ Kh8 (if 38...Qg7, то 39.Rxh6+! Kxh6 40. Qh5#) 39.Rd7, and after 39…Rg3+ 40.Kxg3 Qe3+ 41.Kg2 Qe2+ 42.Qf2 Black rans out of checks, while the rook ending is hopeless for him.

37...Rxb6 38.Rxb6 Qf4

Despite White’s being up material, his king is in dire straits.

39.Rxh6+ Kxh6 40.Qe6+ g6 White resigns.

Motylev Timofeev

This is Motylev’s first of the last three victories: 23.Rxd6! Rxd6 24.Qg3+ Rg6 25.Rxd8+ Rxd8 26.Qc7! Re8 27.Qxb7 bxc3 28.Bd4 Black resigns.

Inarkiev Motylev

The diagram is from the last round game. It turned out later that a draw would have catapulted Inarkiev into the first because of his excellent tie-breakers. However, Ernesto, known for his uncompromising style, was after a victory only. And he overdid it.

36…Nc4 37.Ra2 Ne5 38.Rd2 Nc4 39.Ra2 Ne5 40.Rd2

Meanwhile, Alexander Motylev, an exceptionally gifted and profound player as he is, is known for his peaceful mindset… While watching the game live, I was absolutely confident that a three-fold repetition would end the game immediately. A surprising 40…Bb3! came much to my joy. Was it that Alexander felt the support of Yury Dokhoian and Sergey Karjakin, who came to Zhemchuzhina to root for him?


Ernesto simply lacked time to find a relatively complex draw: 41.gxf6 gxf6 42.Bc1 Nc4 43.Rd3 a3 44.Bxa3 Bc2 (bad is 44...Nxa3? 45.c4) 45.Re3! Nxa3 46.c4! Nb1 (after 46...Nxc4 47.Rc3 Black loses a piece again) 47.Re6+, and White is out of the woods.

41...Nc4 42.Bc1 fxg5 43.hxg5 a3 44.Bxa3

There is no keeping the bishop since 44.Ra8 a2, followed by 45…Kb7, finds the rook lacking squares along the a-file.

44…Nxa3 45.Rh8 Bc2 46.Rg8 g6, and Black had the upper hand.

* * *

Then the Russian individual blitz championships started. They were carried out in 10 double rounds to the Swiss system with a time control of 3 minutes to the game end plus a 2-second increment per move.

The native of St. Petersburg Anastasia Bodnaruk made a gold double: the Russian rapid champion’s title was added by a similar one in blitz. Nastya scored 14 points out of 20 and outrated the native of Moscow Alina Kashlinskaya by additional tie-breakers. Two points behind are Aleksandra Goryachkina (from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, she got a bronze medal) and Marina Nechaeva (the Moscow Oblast, 4th place).

Vladislav Artemiev (The Republic of Tatarstan) has become the Russian blitz champion with 15.5 out of 20. Finishing half a point behind were Boris Savchenko (Moscow, 2nd place), Daniil Dubov (Moscow, 3rd place) and Vladimir Fedoseev (St. Petersburg, 4th place).

In the men’s veterans' tournament a victory was once again celebrated by Evgeny Sveshnikov. He scored 9 out of 13, ahead of Evgeni Dragomarezkij (Moscow, 2nd place), Anatoly Shvedchikov (Moscow, 3rd place) and Sergey Pozin (the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Yugra, 4th place).

In the women’s veterans' tournament Galina Strutinskaia would give only half a point away to her opponents, as was the case with the rapid event, scoring 11.5 out of 12! The second place is with Ludmila Saunina (The Sverdlovsk Oblast) - 9.5, the third - with Tatiana Chekhova-Kostina (Moscow) - 9.

Then team championships started. Certain teams were partially or completely formed right then and there: the players would ask each other as to who was going to stay on in Zhemchuzhina and whether he or she was willing to play more chess, the intent being either to contest for prizes or just warm up. However, it has nothing to do with the formidable Naum Rashkovsky’s team from the Urals. His faithful friend and comrade-in-arms Boris Fradkin has the following to share:

- The Sima-Land Ural and the Nizhny Tagil Polytechnic teams took part in the competitions on behalf of the Chess Federation of the Sverdlovsk Oblast. An ambitious task to win the championship was set before Sima-Land Urals, while Polytechnic’s lineup of regional players was to pass a sort of trial test. Sima-Land Ural has coped with the set task brilliantly, taking first in blitz and second in the rapid chess. Here are the winners’ names: grandmasters Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dmitry Andreikin, Alexander Riazantsev, Sergey Rublevsky, Alexei Shirov. A team captain is the Sverdlovsk Oblast Chess Federation Board of Trustees’ chairman, 12 world champion Anatoly Karpov, and a team coach is grandmaster Andrey Shariyazdanov.

In the Russian veterans championship, the players of Sima-Land Ural left their rivals no chances, taking 1st place in both rapid chess and blitz. Below are names of those who have forged the victory in this championship: grandmasters Rafael Vaganian, Naum Rashkovsky, Evgeny Sveshnikov, Galina Strutinskaia, international masters Alexander Lisenko, Evgeni Dragomarezkij. A team coach is Boris Fradkin.

The Sima-Land Ural players Evgeny Sveshnikov and Galina Strutinskaia were second to none in the individual veterans' competitions, taking both blitz and rapid chess events. A grandmaster from Yekaterinburg Ludmila Saunina took second in the women’s veterans blitz championship. Yet another pupil of the Yekaterinburg chess school, grandmaster Alexander Motylev, triumphed in the individual Russian rapid championship.

The renewed Sverdlovsk Oblast Chess Federation has many objectives on its agenda, such as organizing a general chess education in schools, holding the Russian Cup among men and children, starting Anatoly Karpov’s chess school, lending support to young chess players, etc.

Let me note, as a sum-up, that the SOCH president Andrey Simanovsky and the executive director of SOCH, Albert Stepanyan, with the support from the SOCH’s Board of Trustees headed by the legendary champion Anatoly Karpov, are not without certain issues to deal with. The start has been great, however. We will be looking forward to more outstanding results!

* * *

Even though the Urals squad with Shakh on board one looked menacing indeed, the rapid was nonetheless won by Ladya from Tatarstan with 14 out of 18 points. The leader’s role was superbly coped with by the impenetrable Gata Kamsky, while crashing everyone on board two was Vladislav Artemiev, neither the team was disappointed by Artem Timofeev and Ramil Hasangatin. Even if Azat Sharafiev’s play did not go well, he only played three games. Sima-Land Ural is second, Yugra (The Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, lined up of Dmitry Jakovenko, Denis Khismatullin, Alexey Iljiushenok, Nikolai Kabanov) is on the third place. The silver and bronze medalists gained 13 team points.

In the women's tournament the Yugra team (the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug) won all 6 matches and triumphed with the result of 12 team points out of 12. Getting ahead of myself, I would like to add that the women's Yugra has set an absolute record in 2017, having won the Russian championships in classical chess, rapid and blitz! The autumn version of Pavel Lobach’s team featured Natalia Pogonina, Olga Girya and Baira Kovanova. On place two in the rapid event is SDYUSSHOR SHSH (St. Petersburg, with Anastasia Bodnaruk, Evgenija Ovod, Dina Belenkaya and Anna Styazhkina) with 10 points, while on the third is Ladya (Tatarstan, with Karina Ambartsumova, Vera Nebolsina, Zarina Shafigullina, Lubov Markelova and Olga Belova) - with 7 team points.

The Russian veterans team championship was topped by Sima-Land Ural with 10 out of 12 points, followed by the Moscow Region team of Yury Balashov, Valery Chekhov, Sergey Arkhipov, Arkadi Vul, Tatiana Kostina-Chekhova), whereas the third place is with ШСМ-Legacy Square-Просвещение  (Moscow, with Evgeni Vasiukov, Anatoly Shvedchikov, Vladislav Vorotnikov, Alexander Chudinovskikh, Elena Fatalibekova, Anatoly Kremenietsky) with 8 points. It is noteworthy that the Moscow senior team’s sponsor was the publishing house Просвещение (Enlightenment). It's never too late to learn!

Finally, the Russian men’s team blitz championship was won by Sima-Land Ural with 26 team points out of 30. Two points behind are The Idea Fighters (Moscow, 2nd place, the Idea (starting with a capital letter) was fought for by Daniil Dubov, Alexander Morozevich, Boris Savchenko and Dmitry Bocharov) and Ladya (3rd place).

The women's tournament was once again championed by Yugra (the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug) with 16 team points out of 20.

DGTU (the Rostov Oblast, 2nd place, lined up of Ekaterina Ubiennykh, Alina Bivol, Elena Tomilova and Anastasia Travkina) and  Cimmeria (The Republic of Crimea, 3rd place, with Tatjana Vasilevich, Daria Charochkina, Margarita Potapova, Oksana Gritsayeva, Julia Pischal).

The Russian veterans team championship was dominated by Sima-Land Ural with 24 points out of 24. The second place is with the Central Federal District’s Chess Federation (with Gennady Tunik, Vladimir Zhelnin, Nikolay Pushkov, Oleg Zilbert, Tatiana Bogumil, Yury Zhelnin) with 16; the third is with ШСМ-Legacy Square-Просвещение with 14 points.

We wrap up with several more episodes.

Rakhmanov Potkin

12...Nxd4! 13. Qxd4 Bg3+ 14. Kf1 Qxd4 15. Nxd4 Bxh4 16. g3 Bh3+

A petit combination would have been a crowning achievement to Black’s previous play: 16...Bg5 17.f4 Ne4! 18.fxg5 Nd2+, retaining a healthy extra pawn.

17.Kg1 Rad8 18.Nde2 Bg5 19.f4 Rd2 20.fxg5 hxg5

Even though Vladimir Potkin’s edge is still substantial here, Aleksandr Rakhmanov managed to bail out.

Rublevsky Timofeev

41.Rf3 Rd2+

Walking right into the net set by opponent. Tougher is 41...Re2.

42.Ke7 Re2 43.Rf6+! Kh5 44.Rxf7 Rxe5+ 45.Kf6 Black resigns as he either gets checkmated or loses a rook.

Artemiev Morozevich

White has lost a strategic battle, but the rapid chess is rather about not falling for tactical cheapos.

18.g4 fxg4 19.hxg4 Kg7??

19...Bg3! would have given a large edge to Black since the e1-rook has no comfortable square to retreat. A seemingly reliable king move proves a fatal howler.


That’s is. While the rook capture fails to 20…Kxh6 21.Rh1+ Kg7 22.Rh7+ Kf6 23.Rxe7 Kxe7 24.Qxc5+, not taking it is an option neither. Black resigns.

Triapishko Mamedyarov


Giving momentum to the passed pawns is a good plan: 34…Rc3! 35.Nxc3 dxc3 36.Rcd1 Rg8 37.Rf3 b3 38.axb3 axb3 39.Qf7 Rd8 40.Qe7 Rc8 41.Rb1 c2 42.Bxc2 bxc2 White resigns.

Garifullina Pogonina

This is yet another case of passed pawns making history: 23…e3 24.Nfd1 b4 25.Ne2 g4! 26.Qh5 f3 27.Nf4 f2+ 28.Nxf2 exf2+ 29.Kxf2 Qg5 30.Qxg5 hxg5 31.Ne6 Rd2+ 32.Ke3 Rxb2, and Black resigns.

Barsky Hasangatin


Having been given a sudden opportunity to hit into the undefended goal, I missed up on it.: 33.f6 exf6 34.exf6 Rxf2+ 35.Rxf2 Bxh3+! 36.Qxh3 Qg5+ 37.Qg3 Qxg3+ 38.Kxg3 Kxh7 39.Rd2 Kg6 40.Rd7 Rb8 41.Rd6 Kf5 42.c5, and the game was a draw.

Meanwhile, the diagram is a victory after 33.Kh1! Rxf2 34.Rg1!

Girya Bodnaruk

19.Ne3 20.Ne4? Rxe4! 21.Rxe3 Rxe3 22.Bxe3 Bxe3+ 23. Kh1 Re8 White resigns.