20 April 2016

Let’s Meet More Frequently!

The closing day of the V.Sergievsky Memorial in the review of Vladimir Barsky.

The closer to the finish line, the more cautious and solid the play of the tournament favorites tends to become. The reason is quite obvious since a single inaccurate move can mar the fruition of three days’ hard work. There is no doubt that the prize fund for this tournament, 650 thousand rubles, is quite high. However, as Okudzhava used to sing, “there are never enough sweet cakes for everyone out there." (However, let us note in brackets that Cheboksary is famous not for its cakes but rather for its chocolate sweets “a marvelous bird”, if the Russian brand name is translated into the English language) The first prize is 120 thousand rubles, the second prize - 100, the third prize - 80, whereas the prizes from 11th to 15th places are rewarded with 5 thousand rubles only.

Following the end of two game days Alexander Morozevich became the sole leader with 7 out of 8 points. He went on to score victory in round nine, following it up with two short draws. It was enough for him to take the clear first place. Within a single week Morozevich managed to win two Russian Rapid Grand Prix stages so that both times in Cheboksary, as well as in Korolev, he scored 9 out of 11 points.

Morozevich – Gunina

Black emerged in good shape out of the opening and had a pleasant choice between 13...Nf5 and 13...Rc8. Gunina tried to achieve more, but failed to properly assess the activity of White’s pieces.

13...cxd4 14.Nxd4!

Perhaps, Valentina believed this move to be a failure in view of  14...Nxe5, but after 15.Qg3 Ng4 16.Rae1!? e5 17.Qa3! the black king starts to feel rather uncomfortable.  Therefore, she had to alter her plans and to agree to a permanently inferior position.

14…Qb6 15.Rfe1 g6 16.a4 Nc5?!

Black needed to keep her guns permanently trained at the e5-pawn. After 16...a6 17.a5 Qc7 Black’s position is although passive, but quite a defendable one at that. 

17.Qe3 a6 18.a5 Qc7 19.b3 0–0 20.Rad1 Qxa5 21.Nh3 Ne4??

Black should have by no means allowed the white fox in his henhouse. Although after 21...Kh7 22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.g4!? hxg4 24.Qf4 Black’s position looks rather precarious, trying to keep it together is not out of the question yet. 


This is the very case when they say that the cruder the threat the more difficult it is to fend it off. White is about to get rid of the e4-knight (by ditching the exchange, for example) to mount his own knight to g5 followed by checkmating on h7.

22…Qb6 23.Rxe4 f6 24.exf6 Rxf6 25.Rxe6 Rxe6 26.Ng5 Rf6 27.Qh7+ Kf8 28.Re1Ng8 29.Nde6+ Ke8 30.Nc5+ Black resigns.

Khismatullin – Rublevsky

Table two of the same round witnessed a real thriller unfolding, even though in the beginning there was nothing to forebode it...

Is it time that a draw be agreed? Both opponents have little time on their clocks, and the white king’s position is somewhat exposed - therefore the game does not stop here. 

36...Ne6 37.f4?

This is a poor move both in terms of general considerations (there is no need to expose your king even further), as well as in terms of purely specific reasons. It was better to opt for somehow neutral, for example, 37.a3 and to throw the onus of taking forthcoming decisions on Black.


Black overlooks a nice little stab 37...Qd3!, which would have given a very hard time to White. For example: 38.Kf2 (38.Qxd3 Nxf4+) 38...Qc2+ 39.Qe2 Qc1 40.f5 Nf4 41.Qe8+ Kh7 42.Qxf7 Nxh3+ 43.Kg2 Qxb2+ 44.Kxh3 Qxc3+, etc.


White overextends his forces.  White should have consolidated by 38.Kf3.

38...Nf4+ 39.Kf1 Kh7

This is a useful prophylactic move to remove the king from any potential checks along the ultimate rank.

40.a3 b5 41.h4 f6 42.Qe4 Qd2 43.Ne2 Nd3 44.Kg2

More stubborn is 44.g5!?


Even stronger is 44...Nc1! 45.Kf3 Qxb2. In the course of subsequent struggle with very little time on the clocks it seems like there happened no threefold repetition; however, I am not Giisen and can be wrong about that.

45.Qe8 Qd5+ 46.Kg1 Nd3 47.Qg6+ Kh8 48.Qe8+ Qg8 49.Qe4 Qd8 50.Nd4 Ne5 51.Kg2 Qc8 52.g5 Qc4 53.Qa8+ Qg8 54.Qe4 Qa2+ 55.Ne2 Qc4 56.Qa8+ Qg8 57.Qe4 Qc8 58.Nd4 Qc4 59.Qa8+ Qg8 60.Qe4 Qa2+ 61.Ne2 a5 62.Qa8+ Qg8 63.Qb7 hxg5

Having accumulated some incremented time, Rublevsky made up his mind in favor of this exchange, which provides his king with the escape route via the h-file.

64.hxg5 Qc4 65.Qa8+ Kh7 66.g6+ Kh6 67.Ng3


Although it looks risky, Sergei has it all calculated. Meanwhile, a simpler way to a victory through the exchange of queens 67...Qc6+ was missed by Black

68.Qh8 Ng4 69.Kh3 Nf2+ 70.Kg2 Ne4!

Fortune favors the daring! White has only a couple of checks at his disposal now.

71.Qh5+ Kf4 72.Qf3+ Ke5 73.Nh5

Pinning the black knight via 73.Qe3 yields nothing to White since after 73…Qc2+ 74.Kh3 b4 Black simply follows up with advancing his passed pawn. 

73...Qc2+ 74.Kg1 Qc1+ 75.Kh2 Qd2+ 76.Kh1 Ng5 77.Qc6 Qd1+ 78.Kg2 Qe2+ 79.Kg1

If 79.Kg3, then 79…Ne4+ 80.Kh4 Qh2+ 81.Kg4 Qg2+ 82.Kh4 Qg5+, etc.

79...Nf3+ White resigns.

To the credit of Denis Khismatullin it should be added that this failure did not break his spirit - he won the last two games and finished third. Below given is a spectacular finish of his round ten game.

Timofeev – Khismatullin

39...Ng4+! 40.hxg4 Qxg3+ 41.Kg1 Rf1+! White resigns.

The following combination turned into a real gem of the last game day.

Motylev – Glek 


It appears that this move has to do with some sort of miscalculation. It was essential that the king be evacuated – 26...Kf7! after 27.Ne5+ Ke8 the position remains double-edged.

27.Ne5 Bh4

Frankly speaking, it is difficult to understand what Black had in mind in response to the simple 28.Qg4 (if 28 ... Rf6, then 29.Bxg6), but Alexander Motylev found a much more effective solution, and became the guest of our column “Position of the day.”

28.Qxg6+!! Nxg6 29.Rxg6+ Kh7 30.Rxe6+ Black resigns.

Final standings:

1st place - Alexander Morozevich with 9 out of 11 points; 2nd - Sergey Rublevsky; 3rd - Denis Khismatullin with 8.5; 4-15 places - Alexander Motylev, Aleksey Dreev, Valentina Gunina, Aleksej Aleksandrov, Evgeny Alekseev, Daniil Lintchevski, Igor Lysyj, Igor Glek, Vladislav Nozdrachev, Mikhail Kobalia, Ivan Rozum, and Olga Girya with 8 points.

Immediately following the end of the closing ceremony Igor Burshtein, the organizer and mastermind of the tournament, answered the questions posed by your correspondent:

– Igor Moiseevich, your childhood years passed in Cheboksary. What  are the city’s chess traditions?

– Vladimir Sergievsky won the 1966 Russian Championship, and in 1967 a chess club was opened at the Sports Palace “Spartak” (the building is adjacent to the Ice Palace, which used to host the tournament). The radio announced the registration into the club being open and it was followed by a great deal of kids becoming its members. I was one of them. The Sergievsky’s victory of the Russian Championship was a milestone event for Chuvashia.

We had three chess classes per week. All classes were conducted by Vladimir Dmitrievich; only when leaving for the tournaments was he substituted by Yuri Andreevich Gordeev, but it did not happen often.

–  Sergievsky was then around 30 years old - just in the prime of his life. What about his own sport’s career?

– In fact, he was a strong tournament master and was performing for the national team, among other things. Meanwhile, he graduated from the pedagogical institute and enjoyed teaching kids. We also felt drawn to studying chess. When we were children I remember us looking forward to wintertime because when the ambient temperature used to drop below -20 we were exempted from having to go to school, whereas the chess club would be functioning as usual at that!

Twice a week we used to have classes with home assignments, while Sundays would be reserved for category qualification tournaments. I reached the first category quite fast, but making the candidate master’s norm proved impossible in Cheboksary, that’s why I made it only in 1975 after having entered the higher educational institution in Moscow. 

– How would Sergievsky organize his classes?

– We used to analyze games and study opening lines, coupled with checking home assignments and solving problems that he saddled us with. The coach would spell positions and we arranged the pieces on the board accordingly and were bound to come up with solutions within established time frame.  However, playing blitz games was prohibited to us! Once a year there used to be organized an occasional blitz tournament - that’s all about blitz.

– I wonder if he was a strict coach.

– No, he was not. I do not remember him ever raising voice at any of his students.  He loved children without having any favorites at that.  I believe he was fond of teaching chess to children. 

– Which competitions did the young Chuvashia chess players take part in?

– There used to be a great deal of events. I remember playing a match against Nizhny Novgorod - it was then that I got to know Sergey Smagin. We played a match against the Tatar Republic, which was represented by Rafik Abdrakhmanov and Valeri Yandemirov. The chess life used to be teeming with various individual events such as semi-finals and finals of Cheboksary as well as with team competitions. Each Sunday the chess club used to turn into their homes for many!

– Has the club survived to the present day?

– Unfortunately not. Once I was passing by to see that this building has been now converted into a fitness center. A couple of years ago the State Duma member Anatoly Aksakov and I opened the chess club in another area. He succeeded in having the accommodation allocated, while we supplied the premises with chess sets, clocks and other required items. 

– Is Anatoly Aksakov a chess fan?

– Yes, he is. He chairs the State Duma committee on economic policy, and his deputy is no other than Anatoly Karpov!

– How did the idea of the current rapid tournament come into existence?

– The idea has existed since long ago. It is very good that it has been supported by the local sport’s management and the Russian Chess Federation, the latter having included the event into its official calendar. In my opinion the tournament went off very nicely. The venue is just ideal in the sense of being both well-lit and spacious. The audience members are also conveniently suited so as to be able to watch games from their balcony seats. It feels as though this hall was specifically designed to serve chess events!

Vladimir Dmitrievich passed away young when he was not yet 60 years of age. Ten years ago we held the Russian Junior Championships in Cheboksary, dedicating them to the 70th anniversary of Sergievsky. Looking through the tournament tables I noticed that a great deal of tournament participants of those years have become renowned grandmasters nowadays. Among them are Ian Nepomniachtchi, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Igor Lysyj, Nikita Vitiugov, Boris Grachev, Ildar Khairullin, and Valentina Gunina...

This time we had in mind to arrange a small celebration of chess throughout the city, therefore the simuls were carried out in three different locations. Ten years ago the simuls took place as well and were given by Lev Psakhis and Sergei Rublevsky. Chess fans are always looking forward to such events, especially since they are not scheduled very often.

I was happy to see many children participating in the event. When I entered the game hall not via the main entrance, but through the opposite door, it so happened that certain moments from my childhood immediately flashed back in my mind. Looking at the far-most 3-4 rows of tables you start feeling as though you were in a “kindergarten”! However, this is very important! When children are seated next to grandmasters and masters they have something to look up to.

– Will the V.D.Sergievsky memorials be later organized on a more frequent basis than once every 10 years?

– I wish it were like this, of course. It doesn’t take so much money to run a similar event because chess is neither football, nor hockey, nor basketball. Besides, many participants attend events and pay the majority of expenses such as board and lodging and travel costs themselves simply because they are fond of chess.  Just today I have had a conversation with Alexander Morozevich. He admitted not having planned participating in this competition, but when he knew of it he thought why not going. So, he finally did come to take the first place. In today’s situation the first prize of 120 thousand rubles for three days’ work is probably not so bad at all.

– Does it mean that the tournament is going to take place if backed up by Cheboksary?

– I was told that both the city’s mayor Leonid Ilyich Cherkasov and the Head of the Republic of Chuvashia Mikhail Vasilyevich Ignatiev took an interest in the tournament. When people unfamiliar with chess visit a tournament and feel its environment and see a huge number of people using their heads as thinking vehicles, it makes an impression on them! I do wish that V.Sergievsky Memorial started taking place on a regular basis.