2 February 2017

Mid-tournament Stars

An interview with the Moscow Open director Artem Akhmetov and the tournament pictures in the report by Eteri Kublashvili.

With the International RSSU Chess Cup Moscow Open 2017 inexorably approaching the midline, it is high time that we heard from Artem Akhmetov, the tournament and RSSU Chess House director. 

- Artem, please tell us about the current Moscow Open. Which novelties and changes have been introduced into this event? 

- This year we do not have much in the way of tournament structure modifications and carry on with the same number of eight tournaments as before, from A to H, speaking in the terms of chess notation. The program traditionally features a children's tournament and the Russian men's and women's Cup stages. A student's tournament has been gaining in priority lately. 

Among the novelties is that we have split the veteran's tournament to have women and men play apart because we recognize the challenges that the former have to go through when dealing with the latter. Besides, we have introduced a rapid tournament for visually impaired players. Our plans include introducing events for physically disabled players. Players with musculoskeletal system problems compete with the rest of the field, although we have separate tables for those games. It perhaps makes sense to organize a dedicated tournament for these players. 

- You are currently at the head of chess life in RSSU. Tell us about it, please. 

- Alexander Nikolayevich Kostyev stepped down as director of the International Scholastic Chess Center in August, but given that we have had a close cooperation virtually since the zero point of chess movement in RSSU and have been working as a joint team, I try to maintain this consistency, those benchmark ideas that have guided us since the very beginning. The first and foremost idea was to bring together not only the student sector, but also to set up a domain for children, students, adults, veterans - all social groups - to be able to coordinate and participate in various activities. A university is quite capable of being active in shaping the chess life and promoting our sport both in Moscow and on the entire territory of Russia. 

However, out initial scope had to be refocused somewhat. Unfortunately, we failed to keep our chess department functioning and are therefore looking into other form of chess life organization. One of the directions is that the Russian State Social University has became one of the founders of the National Student League, along with the Russian Student Union and the Russian Chess Federation. 

On January 30 we hold a conference as part of our festival to discuss various issues, including chess activities at local level, the burden of which, in the majority of cases, is carried out through the zeal of aficionadi only.  Those are few, unfortunately. Therefore, the task is not to help them by sharing our experience only, but also to carry the subject onto the level of political decision-making. I mean to bring the issue of assisting chess enthusiasts to the level of governors, ministries of sports and education. 

As for higher educational institutions, they can serve as a platform to line up work not only with pre-adults, but also with kids and veterans, who form an integral part of all social programs. A succession of generations is a crucial thing to keep in mind. 

- It is not infrequent that RSSU becomes a site of various Moscow chess events. What events do you have planned for this year?  

- It so happens, in fact, that the Russian State Social University has long since served as a  main club for the Chess Federation of Moscow, whereas the RSSU playhall is always open to all activities organized by the chess federation. The Moscow Open gives place to a rather "hot" season as spring is known to schedule a bunch of competitions, such as qualifications into men's and women's Moscow championship finals followed by the finals themselves to take place in March, coupled with the veteran competitions. 

In 2016 we got in touch with the Ministry of Defence to jointly carry out a tournament among pupils of pre-university institutions. This was the first important step towards embracing the Defense Ministry into the chess life. Chess is a game of war, after all. Therefore, it is only fitting that they become part of its promotion. This is why we plan to nurture our cooperation in future. 

Artem Akhmetov (photo credit: Galina Popova)

Let us now look at the tournament situation in different groups after round four. Thus, the men's section has Dmitry Gordievsky, Boris Grachev, Ramil Faizrakhmanov and Semen Lomasov with an unblemished score. At this moment it is Semen that I feel like picking as a star of the starting rounds. In rounds three and four the young native of Moscow outplayed a well-known Denis Khismatullin and a strong Ukrainian IM Oleg Ivanov respectively.

In the women's section a 4-point result is with Oksana Gritsayeva after beating Anastasia Bodnaruk, as well as with Polina Shuvalova, Olga Babiy and Baira Kovanova.

As for the veterans tournament, soloing among men are two Evgenys - Vasiukov and Sveshnikov, while among women beyond any competition is Galina Strutinskaya.

However, all surprises are out there in store for us with five rounds to go yet. As for now, it is about time we get down to watching the most exciting of English Premier League's matchups "Liverpool" vs "Chelsea".