16 August 2019

Cold Summer of 2019

Dmitry Kryakvin’s report about rounds 2-3 of the Russian Superfinals

While the Russian Superfinals are underway in Udmurtia, chess life in the world is on the go as well. Taking place in the USA is the GrandChessTour, which interrupted Magnus Carlsen's winning streak; meanwhile, FIDE published the World Cup pairings (Khanty-Mansiysk, September 2019). The latter shows that two participants of the Votkinsk/Izhevsk tournament are pitted against each other as soon as round one – Alexey Sarana is to play Alexandr Predke.

The duel of these heroes is yet to come, while round two was a challenge for them both as they were pressed by players eager to avenge for their round one failures.


Fedoseev – Sarana

Vladimir has been putting great pressure on his opponent. Sarana was seemingly disliking the consequences of 25...h6 26.Be7 or 25...Rac6 26.Kg2 Kf7 27.Bf4 as not giving him complete equality. Sarana preferred bringing his king into the game and missed a teeth-crushing blow.

25...Kf7? 26.Nc7! Rc6

Since 26...Rd6 27.Nxe6 Rxc3 28.Nd8+ Kg8 (28...Kf8 29.Be7+) 29.bxc3 Bxh3 30.Re8+ Bf8 31.Be7 is losing, Black has to part with the pawn.

27.Bxe6+! Bxe6 28.Nxe6 Rxc3 29.bxc3 h6

Bad is 29...Rxc3 30.Nd8+ Kf8 31.Re7.

30.Nxg7 hxg5 31.cxb4 Kxg7 32.bxa5 Rc4

32...Ra8 33.Re5 Rxa5 34.Rxg5 loses material and results in a three vs. one ending.

33.Re5 Rxd4 34.Rxg5 Kf6 35.h4 Rd1+ 36.Kg2 d4 37.Rb5 Ra1 38.Kf3 Rxa4 39.Ke4, and Sarana resigned, deciding against prolonging his hopeless case.

Vladimir Fedoseev didn’t take long to bounce back from his round one failure


Motylev – Predke



48...Kf6 would have given Black decent chances to escape in one piece. Now White is in time to strike on the kingside.


49.c5 Bb5 gives Black ideas of planting the bishop on f1.


49...Kf6 is no longer going to work in view of 50.c5 Bb5 51.Ng4+ Kg6 52.c6 Rc2 53.Re5.

50.Nd3+ Kd8 51.Rxf4 g5 52.Rg4 h3 53.Rxg5 hxg2 54.Rxg2, and Motylev went on to bring the game home by converting his up two pawns advantage in a technical manner (a true disciple of Dvoretzky!).

Alexander Motylev is in no mood to joke

In a game between the winners of the 2019 Poikovsky Memorial Vladislav Artemiev employed a rare line against Dmitry Jakovenko: 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 Nf6 3.Bb2 Bg4 4.e3 Nbd7 5.h3 Bh5 6.g4 Bg6 7.g5 Ne4 8.h4. Let me share an interesting piece of information with you. The thing is, a wonderful chess author Ilya Odessky is going to publishing a new book dedicated to the tricky fianchetto of the queen's bishop. Still, his latest book came out when 1.b2-b3 seemed a sort of fad in the era of large-scale contributions into the opening from Kramnik, Anand and Gelfand. Now, this is a full-fledged opening known for its deep theory branching in all directions. Even Kasparov once said, answering questions: “This is nonsense, this line is nonsense, you can’t move like that at all... As for 1.b2-b3 - this is interesting indeed.”

Vladislav Artemiev has fianchettoed his bishop

Ernesto Inarkiev vs. Nikita Vitiugov and Maxim Matlakov vs. Kirill Alekseenko ended in draws. Finally, in a duel of two prominent technicians, Evgeny Tomashevsky and Alexei Dreev, White missed a great chance to take the game.

Evgeny Tomashevsky

Tomashevsky – Dreev

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 Nbd7 6.e3 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Rc1 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Ba3 10.Rc2 b6 11.Be2 Ba6 12.0–0 Bxe2 13.Rxe2 0–0

The Cambridge Springs Defense is a beloved tool of Alexey Dreev and his trainee Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

This said, Dreev has recently had two duels with a leading Chinese player. 14.Qc2 c5 (Alexey got a good position in the first game after 14...Rfe8 15.Rd1 Rac8 16.e4 c5 17.d5 exd5 18.Rxd5 Nf8 19.e5 b5 20.h4 c4 21.Nd4 Rc5 22.Qe4, but blundered a piece with 22…a6? 23.Rxc5 Bxc5 24.Qc6, as in Yu Yangyi – Dreev, Saudi Arabia 2017) 15.d5 exd5 16.Rd1 d4 17.Be7 Rfe8 18.Ng5 g6 19.exd4 c4 20.Bxa3 Qxa3 21.h3 Re7 22.Rxe7 Qxe7 23.Nf3 b5 24.a4 a6 25.Rb1 Rb8 26.axb5 axb5 – and here in the ProChess League match on chess.com (2018), Yu Yangyi again managed to outsmart Dreev in an equal position, but our grandmaster could not let the team down and managed to grind out a heroic draw.

14.e4 e5 15.Nh4!

A potent novelty from Tomashevsky.

15…exd4 16.Nf5 f6?

This is a blunder, but the engine-recommended 16...Rfe8 17.cxd4 Bf8 does not impress either.

17.Bf4 d3 18.Re3 Ne5 19.Bxe5 fxe5


White was immediately winning with 20.Rh3! g6 21.Qxd3 Rad8 (there is no taking the knight with 21...gxf5 22.Qg3+ Kf7 – 22...Kh8 23.Qg6 – 23.Rxh7+ Ke6 24.Qg7 with a checkmate soon after) 22.Qc4+ Kh8 23.Qxc6 gxf5 24.Qb7.

20...Rf6 21.Rd7 Bf8 22.Qb3+ Kh8 23.Rfd1 Qb5 24.Qxb5 cxb5

White has a significant edge in the ending, but Tomashevsky’s somewhat indecisive play and Dreev’s superb defense lead to a draw.

Alexey Dreev faces younger generation with confidence

The Superfinal produced its usual number of wins and losses, as if at a command, with two decisive games for men and three for women. Not let’s switch to the women’s section.


Tomilova – Gunina

The top player did want to confuse her opponent in the mutual time trouble, whereas making a draw was as simple as: 33...Bxd4 34.cxd4 Qe7.

33...Ba6? 34.Ne6 d4?

A good practical chance to bail out was in 34...Bc8! 35.Ng5! Kxg5 36.Rxd5 Qf6 37.Rxe5+! Qxe5 38.f4+ Rxf4 39.Qxf4+ Qxf4 40.gxf4+ Kxf4 41.Bxc8 Ke3, not to mention that White needed to find this sequence in the first place.

Now White's attack is irresistible.

35.cxd4 Bc4 36.dxe5! Qxd1+ 37.Kh2 Bxe6 38.Qf8+!

Black is in good shape after 38.Bxe6 Qd8.

38...Kh7 39.Bxe6 Re1, and although Black lost on time, there is no defending against the checkmate: 40.Qg8+ Kh6 41.Qh8+ Kg5 42.f4#.

Elena Tomilova

Aleksandra Goryachkina vs. Natalia Pogonina was a smooth draw; Margarita Potapova escaped from Polina Shuvalova, and Zarina Shafigullina missed her chances against Alina Kashlinskaya. 

Daria Charochkina went down to Olga Girya in time trouble.

Girya – Charochkina


White got an edge, but then Black was back in the game and could have equalized now with 32...Ne6 33.Qxh6 Rxc2.

33.g5! h5 34.Re7 Rf8?!

Being pressed for time, Black yet needed to come up with 34...Kf8! 35.Ra7 Re8 36.c4 Qf5.

35.Ne5 Ne4?

Black is up against an unpleasant defensive task, and needed to offer the trade of queens with: 35...Kg8 36.c4 Qe4! 37.Qf6 Qf5 38.Ra7.

36.Kh2 Nd2 37.Rd7 Nf1+ 38.Kg1 Qa2 39.Qf6+ Kg8 40.Nxg6! Black resigns.

Olga Girya and Sergey Shipov

In the third decisive battle of the round, Alexandra Kosteniuk also went for the opponent’s king during her opponent’s time trouble.

Bodnaruk – Kosteniuk

The engine is a mysterious thing. I understand 38.Rb3 as a logical defensive move, and had Bodnaruk a little more time on her clock, she would have undoubtedly executed it. However, the engine’s 38.Ra7 followed by 38.a4 is beyond the human player's grasp. Anyway, White should not have moved her f1-rook.

38.Rfb1? fxg3 39.fxg3 Qg7! 40.Nf1 e3

40...Ref7 is even stronger, but Kosteniuk made do with an exchange and went on to convert it.

41.R7b3 e2 42.Rxd3 e1Q 43.Rxe1 Rxe1 44.Rf3 Qxd4+ 45.Kh2 Rxf3 46.Qxf3 Kg7, and Black won.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Between the second and third rounds there was a rest day with the event relocating to Izhevsk. The participants went on a tour of the Tchaikovsky Estate Museum, then to the museum dedicated to the city's history, followed by taking a ride on the dam belonging to the city-forming enterprise. It was a pity to have to leave, and Votkinsk has branded on memory with responsive and enjoyable people - from inspiring guides to caring hotel staff.

Awaiting us was Izhevsk with its many-star Hotel Park Inn and the huge Peoples' Friendship House, which is the tournament’s venue. The city of gunsmiths met us very friendly.

The men remained true to their traditions by scoring no more than two victories. Jakovenko vs. Motylev was a quick draw, and Vitiugov - Tomashevsky, Dreev - Fedoseev and Sarana - Matlakov also drew, and Alexandr Predke managed to defeat Ernesto Inarkiev.

The game was opened with 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Qc2 dxc4 5.Qxc4 Bg4 (Ernesto used to commit the bishop to f5, and I had a game with him in this line back in 2010) 6.Nbd2 Nbd7 7.g3 e6 8.Bg2 Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.b3

Playing Black, your author constantly faces the classic of the line Evgeny Postny, thus having to go over the moves of this mysterious position time and again. White is solid and is going to enjoy his small edge without any fears whatsoever.

10…Rc8 11.Bb2 b5 12.Qc2 c5 13.Rfc1, and they would usually go for 13...Qb6 14.a4 here, whereas Inarkiev opted for 14…Nd5, and after 14.Qd1 Qb6 White did without a4.

Alexandr Predke is not the one cowed by top dogs

The insight into Vladislav Artemiev’s victory over Kirill Alekseenko was again taken from his fan page.

“In round three, Artemiev outplayed Kirill Alekseenko literally out of the blue. Opened with the 3.е5 Caro-Kann, the position remained complex and roughly equal for a long time yet. The middlegame gave way to an equal endgame, with only rooks and same-colored bishops remaining on the board.

Alekseenko – Artemiev

There followed 39.Bxf5? (The only move was 39.Rg1! with an equal pawn ending arising after 39...Bxg6 40.Rxg6+! Кxg6 41.Кxe5) 39...Rxf5+ 40.Ке3 Ке5! 41.Rg1 (41...Rf4 was a threat) 41...d4+ 42.Кf2 Кd5! and Black was already winning. Alekseenko resigned shortly after.

This crucial victory propels Artemiev into the lead.»

Indeed, the opponents swapped places in the tournament standings.

Tournament standings after round 3:

1. 1. Vladislav Artemiev - 2; 2-11. Ernesto Inarkiev, Kirill Alekseenko, Vladimir Fedoseev, Alexander Motylev, Nikita Vitiugov, Maxim Matlakov, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Dmitry Jakovenko, Alexey Dreev, Alexandr Predke - 1.5; 12. Alexey Sarana - 1.

In the women's tournament, our wonderful players have stepped up the average of three decisive games for as many as five!


Shafigullina – Tomilova


Black's position was very promising at first, but then she blundered and ended with the c3-queen out of the game.

30.Qf6+ Kh6

After 30...Kh7 31.Bxg6+ Nxg6 32.Qf7+ Kh6 33.Qxe8 Qc2+ 34.Kg1 Qxd3 35.Kf2 there would have been much fighting ahead yet, although White is up an exchange.

31.Qf4+ Kg7 32.g4 hxg4 33.hxg4 Qc2+ 34.Kg3!

Black would have escaped after 34.Kg1 Qe2, whereas now the rook joins the fray via h1.


Or 34...Kg8 35.g5.

35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Bd5+ Black resigns.

The Higher League's revelation Zarina Shafigullina is not a slouch in the Superfinal either

Shuvalova – Girya

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.h3 g6 7.Bf4 Bf5 8.Be2

A trendy line of the anti-Caro-Kann. Here are two fresh examples from my Molodezhka teammates: 8...Bg7 9.Nf3 0–0 10.0–0 Rc8 (10...Qb6 11.Qb3 Na5 12.Qxb6 axb6 13.Nbd2 Rfc8 14.Rfe1 Bd7 15.Bd3 e6 16.Ne5 Be8 17.a3 b5 18.g4 Nc4 19.Rab1 Nd7 20.Nxd7 Bxd7 21.Nf3 f6 22.Re2 g5 23.Bg3 Bf8 24.Kg2 h6 25.Nh2 Kf7 26.f4 with an endgame superiority, as in Esipenko – Vlasenko, Yaroslavl 2019) 11.Nbd2 Ne4 12.Re1 Qb6 13.Qb3 Rfd8 14.Bf1 Nxd2 15.Nxd2 h6 16.a4 g5 17.Bh2 e6 18.Qb5 Bf8 19.Nb3 Bd6 20.Bxd6 Rxd6 21.Nc5, also with a significant edge, as in Chigaev – Bocharov, Sochi 2019.

However, Girya preferred to put her pawn on e6 instead. It is not the first time she puts this idea in action, and now Girya is coming up with a refined order of moves. 5...Qc7 6.h3 Nf6 7.Nf3 g6 8.0–0 Bf5 9.Ne1 e6!? , as in Tomilova – Girya, Satka 2018.

8…e6 9.Nd2 h5 10.Qb3

Polina considered 10.Ngf3 Ne4 as unprincipled, but accepting the pawn landed her under attack.

10...Bd6! 11.Qxb7 Bxf4 12.Qxc6+ Kf8 13.Ngf3 Kg7

The king is safe now, while the queen is on the sidelines. Mystical, if you ask me.

14.Nb3 Rb8 15.0–0 Ne4 16.Rad1 Ng5!



Relying on superiority in forces, Girya launches an offensive against the king. There is no relief in 17.Rfe1 Be4 18.Nxg5 Qxg5 19.Bf1 Bc2 20.Ra1 Bf5 21.Kh1 Rb6 22.Qd7 Bb8, and White is up against the ropes. Shuvalova tries to bail out with a pawn, but to no avail.

17...Nxh3+ 18.Kg2 h4, and Black won.

Natalia Pogonina converted her endgame edge against Anastasia Bodnaruk in a calm and very technical manner, and Alina Kashlinskaya pulled off a beautiful combination against Daria Charochkina.

Charochkina – Kashlinskaya

Black enjoys excellent compensation for the pawn, but White has no reason to despair so far as she has 37.Rd1 at her disposal.

37.Bd3? Rxc1! 38.Rxc1 Qxb2 39.Rc8+

White has too much on her plate as the rook is hanging, Be5 is a threat, and White has yet to take care not to lose the d3-bishop. 39.Rb1 Qc3, 39.Bxe4 Be5 40.Rd1 Bxg3+ 41.Kxg3 Qb3+ 42.Rd3 Qxa4 or 39.Qg4 Be5+.

39...Kg7 40.Bxe4

Bad is 40.Rb8 Qc3 41.Rb5 Bxd3.

40...Be5 41.Bf3 Bxg3+ 42.Kxg3 Qb3 43.Ra8 Qxa4, White is missing her strongest piece, whereas her bishop has no say in combating Black's remote passer. Kashlinskaya went on to win the game shortly after.

The European champion Alina Kashlinskaya 

Margarita Potapova’s success over Alexandra Kosteniuk was the round’s biggest upset. The ex-world champion has uncorked a splendid opening idea, and her energetic play has resulted in a winning position. Nevertheless, she failed to come up with a final blow.

Kosteniuk – Potapova



21.Na5! Qxe4 22.Nxb7 Rxb7 (22...Kc6 23.Na5+; 22...Kc8 23.Ba6) 23.Bb5+ Kc8 24.Ra8+ Rb8 25.Ba6+ was an effective end of the game, whereas 21.Ba6 Qxe4 22.Na5 is not as productive in view of 22…Qg4


Margarita is up to the task and, being in a difficult position and playing on the 30-second increment, displayed her superb defensive skills.

22.Ba6 Kd8 23.Bxe5 bxa6 24.Nc5

Another nice opportunity was in 24.Qc3! Nd5 25.Bxd6 Bxd6 (25...Nxc3 26.Bxe7+ Kc8 27.Rc7#) 26.Qxh8, and it's anybody’s game.

24...Qxe5 25.Nxa6 Rxb6 26.Ra8+ Kd7 27.Qa3

While 27.Ra7+ Kc8 gives nothing, White is down two pieces.

27...Qb5 28.Qc3 Qc6

Black should have sacrificed the queen for a bunch of pieces with 28...Qxa6, but time trouble is not the best moment to start evaluating the consequences.


The last mystery of this fierce battle is why didn’t White give the perpet with 29.Ra7+ Kd8 30.Ra8+ Kd7?

29...Nd5 30.Nb8+ Rxb8 31.Rxb8 Nc7, and Margarita has scored her first victory in the Superfinal.

Yet another first-timer Margarita Potapova has scored her first victory as well

The tournament situation is not clear yet:

1-2. Olga Girya, Natalija Pogonina - 2.5; 3. Alina Kashlinskaya - 2; 4-8. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Margarita Potapova, Zarina Shafigullina - 1.5; 9-11. Daria Charochkina, Polina Shuvalova, Elena Tomilova - 1; 12. Anastasia Bodnaruk - 0.5.  


    Photo credit: Eteri Kublashvili