17 October 2020

Molodezhka on the March

Dmitry Kryakvin’s report about rounds 4-5 of the Russian Higher League

Sochi, the sea, the charming hotel Zhemchuzhina — what a good mix! The participants are posting happy weekend pictures on their social network accounts. We may even claim that the Black Sea coast is a sort of appeasement territory that keeps its residents well away from any pandemic news heard on TV broadcasts. A promising young chess player Dinara Dordzhieva is celebrating her newly awarded WGM title. I sincerely congratulate Dinara and I hope that this event has been celebrated on a grand scale!

On the other hand, WGM Tatjana Vasilevich has abandoned the tournament over her father's death. My condolences go to Tatiana; this is a terrible misfortune. All in all, this round has proved somewhat fatal for a powerful delegation of Crimean athletes. Oksana Gritsaeva lost her game, and Margarita Potapova's game was a real drama.

Potapova – Charochkina

1.e4 c5 2.g3!?!

They say that the Crimean women's team's coach is a local master armed with a supercomputer. His hardware is allegedly so unique that its cost equals that of the annual budget of Feodosia. He allegedly operates from a sports camp in Primorye, sending his trainees necessary home analyses and novelties from there. After 1.е4 e5 they would usually employ 2.Kf3, although Sveshnikov claims that 2.c3! is a must. Some chess romantics even probe into 2.Nc3 here. As for the Crimean supercomputer calculating as deep as move 60, it raises objections in that the strongest move is actually 2.g3!

Margarita's opponent Daria Charochkina is also very creative about the opening part of the chess game. Not only does she resort to supercomputer analyses, but she looks into all sorts of interesting books as well. Charochkina came prepared for the last-year Superfinal with analyses from a kind of dissident book on Trompovsky, trendy in the West but utterly unknown in Russia. She won several crucial games and eventually demonstrated an excellent result.

In a clash of unorthodox approaches, the success sided with Rita first. Potapova was confidently following the multiprocessor monster analysis and was clearly for choice.

2…Nc6 3.Bg2 g6 4.Ne2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 6.0–0 b5 7.c3 d6 8.d4 cd 9.cd Bg4 10.f3 Bd7 11.Be3 a5 12.h3 Nf6 13.d5 Ne5 14.b3

White has grabbed the center and is clearly better, so Dasha decided to resort to unorthodox measures.

14…g5?!! 15.Na3 Rg8!?!

Valentina Gunina has suffered her first failure at the hands of Leia Garifullina. 


Gunina – Garifullina

White is up a pawn, but Black's pieces are very active. Probably the last opportunity to contest the edge was in 27.Nc1!? Rd8 28.c4 b5 29.Nd3 Bd4+ (29...N:d3 30.B:d3, retaining the extra pawn) 30.Kf1 bc 31.Nb4!? Kf8 32.Rf4 Bc3 33.R:c4 B:b4 34.R:b4 R:d5 35.Bg4 in the hope that the bishop is going to be superior to the knight and that the black h4-pawn may drop one day.

27.Bg4 Rd8 28.c4 b5 29.Rf5?!

She urgently needed to take safety measures with 29.cb ab 30.g3 to trade as much material as possible to make a draw. What is the purpose of the rook on f5 in the first place?

29...f6 30.c:b5 a:b5 31.Bf3?!

While 31.Nf4 Ra8 32.Ng6+ Kd6 33.N:e5 fe 34.Be2! is not a big deal for White yet,  34.Rf2? b4 gives Black all chances for success.

31...Kd6 32.Nf4

As a result, the many-time national champion's army has bogged down on the kingside, and it is not clear who will deal with the dangerous passed pawn of Black's. 32.Rh5 Ra8 33.R:h4 R:a2.



The last step into the abyss, although 33.Nh5 R:a2 34.N:f6 b4 was no relief either because following the exemplary 35.Ne8+ Kd7 there is no 36.R:e5? in view of 36...Ra1+ 37.Kf2 Nd3+ -+

33...Bd4+! 34.Kf1 R:a2 35.Bd1 b4

Supported by the pieces, the passed pawn crawls to the queening square, and you can't help but recall Nimzowitsch's endgame motto, "Rally your forces and move forward!”

36.Rf4 Rd2 37.Ke1 Bc3! 38.R:f6+ K:d5 39.Bf3+ Kc4 0–1 The threat of the discovered check will inevitably cost White a lot of material. 

As a result, Gunina and Garifullina are now sharing the first place with Marina Guseva. As far as I know, there has taken place the election of the Deputies Council head of Fryazino, but Marina Guseva was remotely keeping everything under control, and her candidate from the Communist party has won. A no less noteworthy story happened as the round was underway.


A long time ago, my blog published the article "Radjabov's Bishop, Fedorov's Knight," which, in particular, highlighted the Zakharov – Salinnikov game in which White had his bishop stalemated on h2 and g1 squares but ended up winning the game anyway. Alexander Zakharov is a Soviet master, famous coach, a man of the highest culture and fantastic sense of humor who has recently celebrated his 77th birthday. About 15 years ago, one of his favorite students asked him, "Alexander Ivanovich, how did you end up with such a terrible bishop?" Zakharov instantly reacted, "Dmitry, a person that studied Marx with Engels will definitely know what to do with the h2-bishop!"

When I looked at Marina's game, I realized that the master was right, as usual.

Guseva – Schepetkova


A chess player of the Vladimir city was meticulous about "walling in" of the white bishop for the entire game, but we already know something about those allegedly bad bishops…

29.Qd3! ab 30.ab f3?!

Black should have breathed life into the d7-pawn via 30...Rf5! 31.f3 (31.Q:d7? Nh4) 31...d5, and Black is close to equality.

31.gf Qh5 32.f4!

Once again, the bishop's self-isolation is the strongest solution.

32…Rf5? Tougher is 32...Qf5.

33.Rd8 Rf7 34.Kg2 b5

It is not too late to transpose into the endgame via 34...Qf5 35.Q:f5 R:f5 36.R:d7 N:f4+ 37.Kf3!, and White should have no problems converting her extra pawn.

35.c:b5 Rf5 36.Bg3 R:b5 37.R:d7 Rb6 38.Qd4 and went on to score a confident victory.


In the open tournament, there has taken yet another duel in the trendy opening setup arising after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6. As we know, the old theory used to highlight 4. Bb5, 4.d4 and even 4.g3 in this position. However, from the modern theory point of view, 4.Rb1 (Moiseenko–Kobalia, 2017), 4.a3 (Caruana–Aronian, 2018), or 4.a4 (Paravyan-Korotylev, 2017) deserve attention here and might lead to the famous Carlsen-Radjabov game (1.a4!?, 2012) via a transposition of moves. They say that a legendary coach Vladimir Tukmakov analyzed 4.Bd3 at the training session with the team Belarus. This is not to mention Alexander Grischuk's brainchild 4.Be2.

Maksim Chigaev opted for 4.h3 against Aleksandr Rakhmanov. Needless to say, the move is quite relevant and poisonous, which its so frequent appearances in the elite games testify to. 


Chigaev – Rakhmanov

The Four Knights Opening


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.h3!? Bb4

White's idea shines in the lines 4...Bc5 5.N:e5 N:e5 6.d4 Bd6 7.de B:e5 8.Bd3 0–0 9.0–0 and 4...d5 5.ed N:d5 6.Bb5 (Dubov told me that in one of blitz tournament in St. Petersburg he had been challenged with the incredible 6.N:e5!? N:e5 7.Qe2 f6 (or 7...Qd6 8.d4) 8.d4, winning back the piece) 6...N:c3 7.bc Bd6 8.0–0 0–0 9.Re1, when h2-h3 comes in handy in all lines.



5...N:e4 6.Qe2 Nf6 7.N:b4 N:b4 8.Q:e5+ Qe7 9.Q:e7+ K:e7 10.Nd4! c5 11.a3 gives White a clear edge in the ending. The 5...Bc5 6.c3 line from the Carlsen – Le Quang Liem game of 2020 needs further testing.

6.c3 N:e4

Rakhmanov boldly grabs the central pawn, not to mention that this approach has always been considered risky in the line 4.Be2 Bb4 5.Kd5 Ba5 6.c3. It has been met in Alexander Morozevich's games, as well as in Carlsen vs. Le Quang Liem via the transposition of moves: 6...0–0 7.b4 Bb6 8.N:b6 ab 9.d3 d5 10.Qc2 – and White pins his hopes on the bishop pair.

7.d4 Ne7?!

The alternative line runs 7...d6 8.Bd3 f5 (8...Nf6 9.N:f6+ gf 10.a4) 9.Bc4!, and White enjoys excellent compensation for the missing pawn.


The straightforward 8.de is also good, but Chigaev is not a person to back out of complications.


White enjoys free and substantial advantage after 8...N:d5 9.Q:a5 c6 10.Q:d8+ K:d8 11.de, which compels Aleksandr to opt for a non-standard material ratio instead.

9.N:e7 N:c3 10.bc B:c3+ 11.Bd2



A bishop pair gives White powerful initiative after 11...B:a1 12.N:c8 R:c8 13.de 0–0 14.Bd3 B:e5 15.N:e5 Re8 16.0–0 R:e5 17.Bc3, to which Black prefered having three pawns vs. knight ratio.

12.B:c3 ed+ 13.Be2 dc 14.0–0 0–0 15.Bd3 Qf6

it is easier for White with queens on the board after 15...d5 16.Qd4 as he can mount threats against the black king, while the pawns are likely to have their say later in the endgame. Therefore, the focus on exchanging queens is correct.

16.Qb4 Rd8 17.Rfc1


Tougher is 17...b6!? 18.Q:c3 Q:c3 19.R:c3 Bb7 so as not to saddle oneself with more weaknesses. The white knight is definitely superior to the pawns, but White would have faced more complex problems compared to those in the game.

18.Q:c3 Q:c3 19.R:c3 a4 20.a3 g6 21.Bc2! Ra7 22.Rd1 Re8

Black runs the risk of losing his a4-pawn after 22...d5 23.Rd4, and the attempt to keep it alive led to grave repercussions for the entire pawn chain.

23.Rd6! Re6 24.Rd4 b5 25.Rd1 Ra8 26.Ng5 Re7 27.Ne4! Kg7 28.Nd6 Ba6

Not even Karl Marx could have cured this bishop.

29.f4 Rb8 30.Rd4 f6 31.Kf2 Kf8 32.g4!

As White opens a second front, Black's defenses come crumbling down.

32…Rg7 33.h4 Re7 34.f5 b4 35.ab a3 36.R:a3 Re2+ 37.Kf3 R:c2 38.R:a6 Rc3+ 39.Kf4 Rh3 40.Ne4 Ke7 41.Ra7 Rd8 42.Nc5 R:h4 43.N:d7 Black resigned.


Mikhail Antipov, Maksim's teammate from the Molodezhka super club has also joined the tournament lead with 4 out of 5. The Moscow champion has again achieved success in his trademark style that is known to give his opponent's king hard time until the end of the game.


Antipov – Alekseev

How is White supposed to get to the black monarch? There is no decisive check in sight despite the king's extremely exposed situation on f6.

36.Rcd8 Red7 37.Rde8 Rc1+

If Antipov was Black, I have little doubt that we would have witnessed something along the lines of 37...Qc6! 38.Kh2 Qc1 39.d4 Qe1 40.de+ de 41.Rgf8 Kg5!? 42.Qb2 Rc3 43.R:e5+ Kh4!? 44.Rd5 Rdc7, and it is anybody's game! Being in time pressure, Evgeny Alekseev continued marking time.

38.Kh2 Rdc7 (38...Qc6!?)

39.Rd8 Rd7?

Now 39...Qc6 was simply a must to keep the white queen out.


This is not the rook to land on this square: instead, after 40.Rgf8! Kg7 41.Qa2 Rf1 42.Rg8+ Kf6 43.Qe2 White has a ferocious attack.


Missing the last opportunity to play 40...Qc6, and when the time control was over, Antipov had no problems prosecuting hie advantage with a final blow.

41.Qa2! Q:d3

41...R1c2 fails to 42.R:f7+! R:f7 43.Q:c2.

42.Qf2+ Ke6 43.Re8+ Re7 44.Rg7, and Black resigned because of 44…Rf1 45.R:e7+ K:e7 46.R:f7+.

The pursuers keep a tight group with as many as eight grandmasters trailing half a point behind. 


Goganov – Ponkratov



Goganov has delivered a powerful performance and after 49.a4! he would have enjoyed excellent winning chances despite the limited amount of material remaining on the board: 49…Rh5 (49...Rf1 50.Re4) 50.Kf6 Rh6+ 51.Ke7 Rb7+ 52.Kd6 Rf7 53.Ke5 Rh5 54.Rf3 – not only has the king's marathon helped fend off Black's threats, the a-pawn promotion is on the agenda.

49.Ra7? Rb5+! 50.Kf4

After 50.Ke4 Rh4+ 51.Nf4 Bd5+ 52.Ke5 Bg8+ White needs to either repeat moves or give up the f5-pawn. Because of 50...Rf1+ 51.Rf3 R:f5+ the players agreed to a draw.


The rating favorite Vladislav Artemiev has also joined the +2 group. 


Artemiev – Makarian

Black is up a pawn, but white's pieces are active.


There is no taking the pawn back: after 23.Q:d6? Q:d6 24.R:d6 Rc8 Black generates a dangerous attack. However, White aims at taking control over all central squares first and take the material back afterwards.

23...N:d5 24.B:d5 Bf6?!

The rook's penetrating the seventh rank immediately makes Black's position very difficult. Black should have tried to trade a pair of rooks 24...Rb5!? 25.Rdc1 (25.Bb3 Rb6 26.Rdc1 (26.Qd5 Bf6 27.Rdc1 Bd8!?) 26...Rc6) 25...Rc5.

25.Rdc1 Qb5 26.Qd1 Kg7 27.Rc7 Qa5 28.Bb3

Artemiev once again ignores a pathetic opportunity to regain the pawn via 28.R:b7?! R:b7 29.B:b7 Q:a2 30.Q:d6 Qb2.


Black must have blundered something in the heat of battle because it is otherwise impossible to explain his giving up two pawns at one go instead of 28...Qb5.

29.Q:d6 Rf5 30.R:b7 Be5 31.Qd3

Now it is White with the extra material, and his pressure against f7 seals the fate of the game.

31…a6 32.Rd1 h5 33.Qc4 Rf6 34.Re7 Bd6 35.Ra7 Bb8

Black would clearly want to address the situation somehow: 35...Qf5 36.Qe2 h4 37.R:a6, but the last cartridge proves blank in this position — after 37…hg 38.hg B:g3 39.fg R:a6 40.Q:a6 Qf3 41.Qd3 Q:g3+ 42.Kf1 Qf3+ 43.Ke1 Re8 44.Kd2 – the king has escaped and Black is still material down.

36.Rb7 Be5 37.Kg2 Bb8 38.Rdd7 Qf5 39.f4! h4 40.e4 h3+ 41.Kf2 Qa5 42.R:f7+ R6:f7 43.R:f7+ Kh6

43...R:f7 results in checkmate after 44.Q:f7+ Kh6 45.Qf8+ Kh7 46.Qg8+ Kh6 47.Qh8#

44.R:f8 1–0 Black's army is defeated, and Artemiev's powerful bishop is number one hero.


There is nothing doing without rook and bishop vs. rook endgame, which is also a convenient way to wrap up this report. They have recently calculated that only a reporter named Kryakvin has contributed to the CFR (RCF) website with as many as 124 articles dedicated to this endgame. However, people keep losing them, because chess has never been a simple game. 

Iljiushenok – Samusenko

Black has covered 20 moves, with 30 more to make the draw deadline. Although his king has been edged out to the homerank, a draw is still within reach after 116...Rc8! 117.Ra5 Kc1 118.Rb5 Kd1. Alas, the blunder does not allow even as much as the Philidor position to Black as the strongest side wins by the simple shift of his rook between the flanks.

116...Kc1? 117.Rc2+ Kd1 118.Rc5 Re7 119.Rh5 Kc1 120.Rb5 Black resigned.

The fight will resume with renewed vigor after the weekend. See you again after round seven! Take care of yourself!