9 July 2017

Galaktika and Space Overloads

Dmitry Kryakvin continues his report from Rosa Khutor about the Russian Higher League 

On the whole, the Higher League runs its normal course, the tournament participants delight spectators with bright, exciting duels, whereas in the evenings the fierce battles give way to enjoying the enchantment of Krasnaya Polyana’s breathtaking nature. By the way, all hotels residents get a special "ski pass" to get a ride into the mountains by means of the longest existing cable railroad. The place's beauty is overwhelming, but this topic is coming in one of the next reports. Meanwhile, your correspondent  has undertaken a sortie into the local mega-center named Galaktika. This is a stunning building constructed through the efforts of Gazprom. It is more than hard to imagine the volume of blue fuel that had to be pipelined to our neighbors and at what price to have this and other Sochi facilities built.

The tournament features severe measures against potential cheaters. The smoking area at the playhall exit is monitored by a legendary arbiter Yuri Lobanov. Should a bald person bearing ill intentions and speaking a French accent show up suddenly from around the corner to start making hand signals to smokers in the a la Khanty-Mansiysk-2010 style, Yuri Ivanovich is instructed to neutralize him before the arrival of special reaction forces commanded by the chief arbiter Alexey Moskvin. However, the smokers are few, and all of them are noble and honest people. 

Noble and honest people

It should be mentioned that apart from our website, the Higher League is covered by our colleagues from ChessPro, which came out with a very detailed review of round two games. Therefore, to avoid any repetitions, I will draw your attention to only one amusing event from game day two. This said, Vadim Moiseenko was playing Mikhail Kobalia, and after the opening moves 1.е4 е5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6  the former opted for 4.Rb1!? The move was executed following a 7-minute thinking. A young master later admitted to feeling embarrassed about making a move like that against a famous grandmaster. The move’s idea is that when Black carries out d7-d5 and trades his d5-knight for his white counterpart on c3, the rook is there to join the battle via the open b-file. Even though it may sound unrealistic, the rook did make a hit in the game after all!

By the way, the technical meeting advised participants to abide by the dress code, avoiding wear of anything that would remind Salvador Dalí’s meeting of the Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian. This is where the junior teams coach shines as a true role model. It goes without saying that taking care of our country’s younger generation is an exhausting business... The mighty Mikhail Robertsovich of the "zeros" was unlikely to let an opponent with similar mysterious rook moves off the hook. 

Mikhail Kobalia - a true role mode

Pavel Ponkratov, a Chelyabinsk filibuster, missed an opportunity to grab a sole lead in round three. A player entering the tournament at the last moment would usually perform well. This event has become an exception neither. The Rosa Khutor’s tournament regulations did not entitle Pavel to participate until he gained the coveted 2600 rating points at the last possible moment. Having upset Vlad Artemiev in round two, Ponkratov then turned against Evgeny Romanov. 

Ponkratov – Romanov

White is on move in this crazy position and has to act according to the rule "Punch first, Freddie!” Having been hardened in the Urals blitz and rapid events (Pasha is rated 2720 in the rapid and is in the Russian top 10 at the moment), the gladiator displayed no hesitation. 

22.Rxd6! Nc3+

This natural check had a misleading effect on White. Later Ponkratov grieved about not having played 23.Nxc3! Bxd6 24.c5!, attacking the bishop and threatening Bb5. Another knight capture brought Evgeny back into the game and he went on to thwart all opponent’s threats. 

23.Bxc3? Bxd6 24.Bxg7 Rg8

24…Bха3 sets an interesting trap of taking the b5-knight with a queen.

25.Bb2 Be7 26.Qxh7 f5! 27.Bd3 Qd7 28.Rd1 Rxc4!, with a perpetual.

29.Qh5+ Kf8 30.Qh6+ Kf7 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32.Qh6+ Kf7 33.Qh5+ Kf8 34.Qh6+ draw.  

Chess tournaments are known for their multitude of miscalculations! On the one hand, the lineup is tough; on the other hand, the responsibility is high. The Higher League is prone to some space overloads so that even huge-rated players start blundering on every move. In the evening, I met Alisa Galliamova, who complained about hardships of a coffeeless chess life, buying which in a bar at a price of 200 rubles is somewhat expensive. However, we need to account for Rosa Khutor’s specifics: special types of coffee beans are harvested by hands of trained moors and transported over mountain paths by mules, whose ancestors carried Alexander the Great back from his Indian military campaign.  

The European Championship with its free magic drink brings pleasant recollections in this respect... The Tyulip Inn offers chic, real grain coffee on breakfast, lunch and dinner, but there is no fetching it from the neighboring hotel after the time control move, if you live to see it at all. 

Zvjaginsev – Antipov

In lieu of 17...b6 Misha suddenly captured the central pawn. Kaspersky’s image on his T-shirt gave out a howl as if in presence of Wonna Cry, but this was a point of no return. 

17... Qxe4?? 18.Nd5! Qxd5 19.Qxd5+ Nxd5 20.Rxe8+ Kf7 21.Rae1 b5 22.Bd6 Bb7 23.R8e7+ Black resigns.

 Tsydypov - Dreev

33.Rd2 is a most likely way to the draw, but Zhamsaran makes a sudden knight capture of the opponent’s pawn.   


White’s idea becomes clear after 33...hxg6 34.hxg6 Ra8 35.f4, creating a protected passer, and a very dangerous one at that. However, Tsydypov faced one of the best technicians of our time, who coldly scooped up all opponent's pawn material from the board. 

33...Rxd4! 34.Rc8 Rxg4 35.Nh8 Ke7

Poor knight!

36.h6 Rh4 37.Rg8 Rxh6 38.Rg7+ Ke8 39.Kg2 d4 40.Kf3 d3 White resigns.  

Vadim and Alexey have landed into the top ten with 2.5 out of 3. So much for the density of results!  

The women's section has Polina Shuvalova and Elena Tomilova with three victories in a row - they face each other in round four. Let us now leave Polina and Elena alone to prepare for their crucial encounter. Instead, let us turn our attention to a couple of other duels played on tables 6 and 7. 

Baraeva – Belenkaya


It is not immediately clear ass to what is going on here. At this moment the grandmaster from the northern capital city set a devilish trap for the round one hero.

46... b5! 47.Rxh6 Rc7 48.Rh8+?   

The engine does not care, promising an easy draw in the following spectacular line: 48.Re4 Rxe4 49.fxe4 b4 50.Rf6 b3 51.Rf1 a5 52.h6 a4 53.h7 Rc8 54.Rc1 Rd8+ 55.Ke7 Rh8 56.Rc4. However, Marina misses the mating threat.    

48...Kb7 49.Rd1 Rfc4 White resigns.

Travkina – Ovod

It is somewhat scary to imagine what it is going to be like with Anastasia driving a car. Especially, if she drives it same as she plays chess. However, Travkina is a brave fighter and is not the one to back down easily.   

26.Ng5+!? hxg5?

Evgenija takes Anastasia's word at face value, but she shouldn’t have. Winning was 26...Kg8! 27.Nf3 f4! 28.Qxf4 gxf3 29.Qxh6 Qxd4+ 30.Kxf3 Qe4+ 31.Kf2 Qh7, defending against checkmate and emerging up a whole piece.    

27.Qxg5 Qxd4+ 28.Kg2, and Ovod had to bail out with a perpetual:

28…Be4+ 29.Kf1 Bd3+ 30.Kg2 Be4+ 31.Kf1 Bd3+ 32.Kg2 Be4+ 33.Kf1 Bd3+ Draw.  

Among players pursuing the leader their games were won by Marina Nechaeva, who knows to convincingly persuade her friends to keep home pets, and Bibisara Assaubayeva, who took the upper hand over Alexandra Maltsevskaya in a home computer preparation duel . A lot in the child prodigy contest was decided in the opening. 

Assaubayeva – Maltsevskaya

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Nge2 a6 8.Qd2 Na5

This is an interesting idea by Alexander Khalifman, tested at the highest level by Nikolay Kabanov and Anton Korobov, his teammates from Ugra.  Black intends b7-b5 since the pawn in untouchable due to the knight fork from b3. However, the legend says that it was Khalifman himself to refute the line shortly afterwards... 


The move gradually displaces a calm and unambitious 9.Nc1 or 9. Ng3 with a draw down lengthy computer-generated lines.

9…b5 10.h4 h5 11.g4 e5 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Nfd5 Nc6

Nxc4 15.Bxc4 bxc4 16.Bc5 Bxd5 17.Bxf8 Qxf8 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Qxd5 c3 20.gxh5. Aleksandra has already employed the knight move at the 2017 Dvorkovich Memorial. However, Black’s position proves to be untenable. Assaubayeva’s sequence of home moves puts a swift end to the struggle.  

14.Bg5! Nd4 15.0–0–0 Be6 16.Qg2! c6 17.Nxf6+ Bxf6 18.gxh5 Bxg5+ 19.hxg5 Kg7 20.f4 Qb6 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.f5 Qc5 23.fxe6 Rf2 24.Qh3 Kf8 25.Qh8+ Ke7 26.Qg7+ Kxe6 27.Bh3+ Black resigns.  

If such is Bibisara’s level of opening theory knowledge, what does it take to deal with her from now on? A gifted girl plays Alina Kashlinskaya in round four. Alina is known to be on good terms with the opening theory as well, which is also true about her husband. Let us wait and see!