20 August 2015

Eluding Leaders

Round Nine of the Superfinal in the review of Eteri Kublashvili.

On August 18 the senior championship of the Zabaykalsky Krai started off in the Officers’ Club. The tournament features over fifty players. The eldest of them, Bolot Gomboev, was born in 1929. Interestingly, he comes to every competition equipped with his own chessboard and a set of pieces. This event has become no exception either. The eldest female participant – Svetlana Nosar – is from Chita and was born in 1931.

Konstantin Ilkovsky, the governor of the Zabaykalsky Krai, followed the development of veterans’ play. Before the start of the competition, he wished that the participants would demonstrate a bright creative play. "Within the framework of the Russian Championship Superfinal, we tried to organize as many regional events as possible in order to involve not only the residents of the Zabaykalsky Krai, but also those of the neighbouring regions and countries. Thus, we have been visited by players from the Irkutsk region, the Republic of Buryatia and Mongolia. Therefore, I believe that our goal has been achieved," said the head of the Zabaykalsky Krai during the opening ceremony

Konstantin Ilkovsky welcomes the tournament participants (photos provided by the Zabaykalsky Krai Governor’s Press Service)

Let’s switch on to the Superfinal now. Just as we expected, round nine has turned out to be a lot more murderous than the preceding one. It should be noted that the majority of the games ended shortly after having passed beyond the time trouble zone.

Evgeny Tomashevsky defeated Ivan Bukavshin to solidify his lead.

Tomashevsky – Bukavshin 

Although Ivan came up with a novelty in the Anti-Moscow Variation of the Queen's Gambit, a couple of moves later White’s edge became quite obvious. 

In this position Evgeny, by his own admission, could not recall the line leading to the mate. He analyzed 20. e5, but failed to find a straightforward win. For example, 20...Nd3+ 21.Rxd3 cxd3 22.Qxd3 Rd8 23.Nf5+ exf5 24.Qxf5 Rg7. It was then that the leader took the most controversial decision of the whole game.

20. Be2

According to Tomashevsky, after this move Black should objectively be all right, but the duty of evaluating various dynamic possibilities has nevertheless passed on to Ivan. 

20…Rd8 21. e5 Rg7 22. Nf3 b4 23. Ne4 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 c3 


Evgeny Tomashevsky, “Ivan must have missed the positional 25. Nd6. If not for this move, Black would have solved his problems by trading the queens. Now, however, every check is going to turn into mate.” 

25…b3 26. axb3 Nxb3+ 27. Kb1 cxb2 

Black has run out of any sensible ideas, whereas almost every White’s move leads to winning the game.

28. Bc4 Nc5 29. Nh4 Nd7 30. Ng6+ Kd8 31. Nxb7+ Kc7 32. Nd6, and White has remained up a piece.

Sergey Karjakin, Evgeny’s pursuer, defeated Peter Svidler. In the sharp variation of the Ruy Lopez Black sacrificed a piece for two pawns, while after winning a third pawn he went on acting  aggressively, which certainly played into the hands of White.

Karjakin – Svidler 


Sergey believed 29...Bb6 to be a more accurate continuation, with the following exemplary line 30.Ndf3 Qe7 31.b4 Re2 32.Rc2 – Black's position is somewhat inferior, but remains viable.

30. Qd3 Qf6 31. Nc6 Bb6 32. b4 f3 33. Qxf3 Rf4 34. Qc3 – forcing the exchange of queens. 

34…Qxc3 35. Rxc3 Bxf2 36. Rf3 Rxf3 37. Nxf3, and White converted his advantage in a short while. 

Vladislav Artemiev left the Najdorf variation on the shelf to gather some dust and instead resorted to the Paulsen variation against Dmitry Jakovenko. Black equalized first, and then went on to completely overtake the initiative. White granted access for the black queen and rook to penetrate into the second rank and then resigned in view of irresistible threats.

Denis Khismatullin scored his second win in a row, this time playing White against Ildar Khairullin. White arranged his pieces ideally and launched an onslaught on the opponent's king. Denis’s militant strategy has paid itself off, and as soon as move 28 Black had to resign.

The first encounter to end in a draw was the game between Nikita Vitiugov and Daniil Dubov, whereas the last one to finish was the game Lysyj – Motylev, also in a peaceful manner.

The girls have played three decisive and three drawn games. The game of the day Kosteniuk – Goryachkina ended in a draw, which allowed the younger Aleksandra to retain the lead. A draw was registered in the game Kovalevskaya – Savina. In the game Guseva – Pogonina the initiative belonged to White, who then committed an error, and the advantage changed hands. However, Natalia was unable to squeeze a win and the game ended in a draw nonetheless.

Now let’s discuss the decisive games.

The sensation of the day has been created by Evgenija Ovod, who defeated Valentina Gunina. Valentina has remained true to herself and advanced the queenside pawns in the Slav Defence in a rather tartish style. White grabbed the c-file to go on successfully regrouping his pieces and winning a pawn. Black resigned in the knight ending featuring zero chances to bail out.

Kateryna Lagno sacrificed a piece to Olga Girya, but the offering failed to yield the desired effect.

Lagno – Girya 

20. Bg6?!

In the course of the press conference Olga labelled this move as a decisive blunder. 

20…Ba8 21. Nxf7 Qb7 22. Be4 Qxf7, and White’s attack didn’t pan out, whereas Black later penetrated the enemy’s lines and won the game in the final run.

The game of Anastasia Bodnaruk and Alina Kashlinskaya turned out to be very rich in events.

Bodnaruk – Kashlinskaya 

It's not often that you are going to catch sight of such a position: the black pawns are advanced as far as a4 and b3, while the emperor is without clothes.

21. Ne4! dxe4 22. Rxe4 Nb7 23. d5 Ne7?

The computer-suggested 23…Nfd6 is more stubborn. 

24. d6 Nc8 25. Rc4 Nb6 26. Rc7, etc. Although Black had to part ways with his queen, this measure allowed him but brief relief only. Anastasia went on to press her advantage home in an error-free style.

After nine rounds Evgeny Tomashevsky goes on leading the men’s tournament with 6.5 points. Sergey Karjakin is half a point behind. Nikita Vitiugov and Vladislav Artemiev feature 5.5 points.

In the women’s tournament Aleksandra Goryachkina with 7 points is half a point ahead of Alexandra Kosteniuk. Anastasia Bodnaruk has broken into the third place with 5.5 points.

Round ten will see the tournament leaders Evgeny Tomashevsky and Sergey Karjakin facing each other. The grandmaster from Moscow will be in charge of the white pieces.

The encounters Goryachkina – Pogonina and Kosteniuk – Lagno will no doubt become the key games of the round in the women’s tournament.