14 July 2017

Attention All! Please Leave Chess Tables Immediately!

Higher League’s latest rounds and rest day events in the review of Dmitry Kryakvin 

All in all, chess is known to be a demanding game. This is true even if you play in such a spectacular place as Rosa Khutor. The older you are, the more you are fond of rest days. It sometimes feels as though a rest day is the best time on the tournament. If the prizes take a non-cash form and there will no holding crisp bank-notes in your hands on the last tournament day, it should definitely mean even more than the closing ceremony. Even if with different baggage of points, all participants lived to see the rest day. A couple of examples will help you understand my reasoning better.

Solozhenkina - Mirzoeva


That evening I intended to approach Evgeny Alexandrovich, Liza’s father, to clarify a couple of points with him. You might have read his remarkable articles about an exchange sacrifice in Anand’s games and about chess players fallen at war. However, the talented player’s game from the Leningrad Oblast was not going her way - the diagram is winning for a grandmaster and well-known journalist. “The timing is inopportune now. You know better how it feels like at moments like this...” was your correspondent’s train of thoughts as he closed the broadcast and delved into writing an article for the website. Imagine my surprise when chess-results had the results of the round displayed...  

Elmira attacked the queen, but it was nowhere near retreating.   

37... Rdc8?? 38.Qxc8+! Black resigns. What a tragedy!  

A no less severe blow was in store for the Higher League men’s section participant Konstantin Savenkov A young native of Moscow got an edge against the Central Federal Okrug champion Alexander Zabotin and was busy converting his being up an exchange for a minor piece and a pawn. Zabotin put up a tenacious defense and engineered a fortress, at which point this last tournament game in progress arrived at its culminating point.

Savenkov – Zabotin


Alexander told that his opponent played 69.g4+ and offered a draw. Zabotin’s first urge was to accept, but then he thought of the offer as somewhat suspicious. A near-Moscow chess player decided to quickly check whether the reason lies in the e4-pawn making it to the queening square. Looking at the clock he saw Savenkov’s half of it display zeroes… 0-1.  

A long-anticipated rest day offered the participants a choice of two options. There were not a few who, thanks to the "ski pass", headed for the mountains, including your humble servant, while others opted for a free transfer to the Sochi seaside. Well, while there is not much to talk about Sochi and sea, the mountain views is a real feast to your eyes! I wish pictures could do full justice to the beauty that opened before our eyes.  

The hotel had a small test in store for the players on their return. A siren went off suddenly around the hotel at 19.00, and a pleasant female voice, devoid of any trace of alarm to it, suggested that the Tyulip Inn guests vacate the premises immediately. It is not uncommon for such things to happen when some irresponsible persons light cigarettes in their hotel rooms for smoke detector to take note of it, although this time it was accompanied by a power outage, which only lent more credit to the alarm announcement. There is no shortage of mishap pictures that your vivid imagination, coupled by a roar of footsteps thundering downstairs (the elevators stopped functioning, needless to mention), would come up with, beginning with a fire fountain gushing from the upper floor windows to something like artillery squads of Rosgvardia shooting back the extraterrestrials, who wished to spend their holidays in the mountain resort but without unwanted neighbors. However, the alarm turned out to be false, and everyone was on the way to the dining hall shortly after.  

As for the men's tournament intrigue, uproar was created by a young Vadim Moiseenko and a highly experienced Sergey Volkov. The former produced a genuine pearl of Rosa Khutor’s event in coauthorship with Evgeny Alekseev, and then went on to unsaddle Denis Khismatullin. Volkov achieved even more - a couple of ordinary victories scored by the Alekhine Memorial’s triumphant advanced him into sharing first with Evgeny Romanov.

Rozum - Volkov


White is up a piece, while winning it back fails to 26...exf4? 27.Qb3+ Kh8 28.Rc4 Qe6 29.Rxc3, with a winning position for White. However, it was never Volkov’s intention to restore the material balance.

26... Rxc7! 27.Bg3 Rb8! 28.f3?

This mistake is decisive. Rozum had a good practical chance to introduce complications: 28.Rh4 g5 29.Rh6 Rb2 30.Qf5 c2 31.h4 with mind-boggling consequences, whereas a passive strategy does not pay out as Black’s passer is not to be stopped.

28...Rb2 29.Qc1 Qb5 30.Be1 c2 31.Kf2 Rb1 

White has to resign himself to allowing his opponent having a second queen.

32.Rxb1 cxb1Q 33.Qxc7 Qxa2+ 34.Kg3 Qf7, and two queens on the board is virtually same as being armed with two aces in a two-player poker game. The grandmaster from Saransk went on to convert his edge in a confident manner. This said, the following example demonstrates that being up some queens is not a sure victory yet.  

Moiseenko – Alekseev


There is nothing to herald the outbreak of chess violence, but Vadim is known to be a real Tal from Vologda, this game being yet another confirmation of this credo of his.  

36.Ra6!? b4 37.c4   

Since 37.cxb4? fails to Bb5, White has no option but to allow his opponent create a strong passer. Anyway, Moiseenko was paying no heed to where Evgeny’s pawn was marching down the board towards the queening square.  

37...b3 38.Qc3 Bd4 39.Nxd4 b2 40.Rxg6+ Kf8   

There is no taking the rook 40...fxg6? in view of 41.Ne6+. Nevertheless, Alekseev’s king is now safe with his pawn one inevitable step away from queening.  


A real feast of chess! An alternative way to a draw by repetition arises after 41.Qg3 b1Q+ 42.Kh2 Qc1 43.Rg8+ Ke7 44.Qh4+ Kd7 45.Qg4+ Kd6 46.Rxe8 Qf4+ 47.Qxf4 exf4 48.Nb5+ Rxb5 49.cxb5 Qc2 50.f3 Qf2, but Moiseenko allows a former Russian champion end up with a couple of extra queens.  

41...Qe7 42.Nf5!! b1Q+ 43.Kh2 Qxa3 44.Rxh6

Black faces a checkmate and has to give one of his queens back immediately for this reason.

44…Qg1+ 45.Kxg1 Qc1+ 46.Kh2 Qf4+   

Even losing is 46...Qxh6? 47.Nxh6 Rb2 48.Ng4, which means no avoiding the repetition.  

47.g3 Qxf2+ 48.Kh3 Kg8 49.Rg6+ Kf8 50.Rh6 Qf1+ 51.Kh4 Qh1+ 52.Kg4 Qd1+ 53.Kh4 Qh1+ Draw. This is definitely the main nominee for the best game of July. Anyway, if they ask me, it is this game that I vote for.  

The women’s section is confidently led by Polina Shuvalova, "in hot pursuit" of which are Marina Nechaeva and Alina Kashlinskaya. A very interesting ending between a rising starlet (maybe a real star already?) and a rating-favorite ended in an exciting draw.

Assaubayeva – Girya

Who is going to queen first? Now Bibisara could have edged out the opponent’s king into the sideline, while advancing her own into the center with 36.Rb7+ Kg6 37.Kd6, with a likely draw.

36.Kb6? Rxh2 37.c5 Rc2 38.c6   

With the black passers about to start racing towards the prize squares, White is not helped by 38.Rh1!? f5! 39.c6 Kf6 40.c7 fxe4. 

38...g5 39.c7 g4 40.Rb5!?   

All of a sudden, this White's last practical chance, in lieu of an obvious failure 40.Kb7 h5 41.Rg1 f5 42.exf5 exf5, had an embarrassing effect on a formidable opponent. The time control move had Olga let go of victory that was so close already.


A technical 40...Ke7! would have resulted in a swift destruction of the c7-passer , while the text enables Assaubayeva to hook up to the upstart pawn.  

41.Rb3! g2 42.Rg3, and Black had to agree to repeating moves: 42…Rb2+ 43.Ka7 Ra2+ draw.  

Thus, the rest day is over, the inner energy balance has been restored and the batteries recharged, the aliens have been pushed back into deep space. It is time to resume seats to plunge into decisive battles!