9 August 2019

Overture in the Rain

Eteri Kublashvili’s report on the Superfinals Opening at the Birthplace of Tchaikovsky 

August 9 saw the Russian Championships Superfinals open in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s estate museum in Votkinsk. It is for the first time in the Russian chess history that such a crucial event takes place in Udmurtia, and at two cities at that. Two rounds taking place in Votkinsk will follow by the event moving to Izhevsk. The competition will be accommodated in the Peoples' Friendship House.

The Chess in Museums program, co-organized by the Russian Chess Federation and the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation, is traditionally known to run in preselected locations. There is hardly any better place to suit the needs of the event than Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s estate museum in terms of providing a good mix of sport and culture. It is here, near the banks of the Votkinsk Pond, that the future author of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker was born in 1840, and a memorial house-museum was opened a hundred years later. 

In contrast to our hectic times, the tranquility of the museum estate seems to have time frozen in the 19th century. The opening ceremony was taking place here, under the open sky of the estate.

Greeting guests at the entrance to the estate were animators garbed in the19th-century clothing. One could take pictures as a memento with animators, and otherwise get to know a lot of interesting by taking a tour. Stretching along the avenue was the banner reading Chess as a Work of Art, and couples were dancing on the chess field.The children's ballet Raduga (Rainbow) performed a piece to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s music. 

The rain made certain changes in the event’s plan, but tea in the guest house, as well as a solid roof of the tent, helped the participants and visitors not to lose high spirits. 

The official part of the ceremony was preceded by a press briefing featuring Head of the Udmurt Republic Alexander Brechalov, Director General of the Timchenko Foundation Maria Morozova, and Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation Mark Glukhovsky. Aleksandra Goryachkina and Evgeny Tomashevsky also gave interviews to the press. The opening ceremony began after journalists had no more questions to ask. 

The ceremony started with a theatrical performance by “Tchaikovsky family” followed by a video clip about the tournament.

Head of the Udmurt Republic Alexander Brechalov, Director General of the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation Maria Morozova, and Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation Mark Glukhovsky addressed the participants and guests with a welcoming speech afterward. 

Head of the Udmurt Republic Alexander Brechalov: “To be selected as a host of the all-Russian event is a great honor for the Udmurt Republic. The playing sites selected as venues are quite symbolic as the competition kicks off in the museum estate of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Votkinsk and then relocates to the Peoples' Friendship House of Izhevsk. I hope the high status of the competition will help promote chess among children and youngsters. Sportive excitement, iron logic and high intellect are among prerequisites for success in chess and life and will effectively contribute to the good of the Republic.”

Director General of the Timchenko Foundation Maria Morozova: “Every year, the Chess in Museums project becomes an important event in the chess and social life of the host cities. The tournament, which unites sport and art, attracts different kinds of people and becomes an interesting meeting place for them. Regional museums get a unique opportunity to make themselves known, while the locals can become a part of the all-Russia event. The project handles two tasks that the Timchenko Foundation sets itself: it both promotes chess and raises the interest towards the cultural heritage of our country”.

RCF Executive Director Mark Glukhovsky: "Being the events of utmost priority on the RCF chess calendar, the Russian Superfinals are looked forward to by chess fans both inside and outside of our country. These tournaments are traditionally known for their strong lineups. I hope all players and fans enjoy some pretty and strong play and would like to thank the Tchaikovsky museum estate in Votkinsk for agreeing to accommodate this competition. We are pleased to open a new location on the chess map of Russia!"

Then a drawing of lots was held by the chief arbiter of the competition IA Elena Polovina. Chess players were offered the choice of books The Childhood Years of P. Tchaikovsky, which had the starting numbers hidden inside:

Men’s section:

1. Alexander Motylev, 2. Aleksandr Predke, 3. Dmitry Jakovenko, 4. Kirill Alekseenko, 5. Alexey Sarana, 6. Alexey Dreev, 7. Nikita Vitiugov, 8. Evgeny Tomashevsky, 9. Vladimir Fedoseev, 10. Maxim Matlakov, 11. Vladislav Artemiev, 12. Ernesto Inarkiev.

Women’s section:

1. Olga Girya, 2. Daria Charochkina, 3. Polina Shuvalova, 4. Alexandra Kosteniuk, 5. Natalija Pogonina, 6. Valentina Gunina, 7. Zarina Shafigullina, 8. Elena Tomilova, 9. Aleksandra Goryachkina, 10. Anastasia Bodnaruk, 11. Margarita Potapova, 12. Alina Kashlinskaya.

Worthy of note is that taking part in the drawing of lots instead of Vladimir Fedoseev was Mark Glukhovsky. The RCF Executive Director announced that the GM had more than a good excuse for missing as he was getting married literally at that very moment.

Round one pairings of August 10 are as follows:


Motylev - Inarkiev, Predke - Artemiev, Jakovenko - Matlakov, Alekseenko - Fedoseev, Sarana - Tomashevsky, Dreev - Vitiugov.


Girya - Kashlinskaya, Charochkina - Potapova, Shuvalova - Bodnaruk, Kosteniuk - Goryachkina, Pogonina - Tomilova, Gunina - Shafigullina.

The creative part of the evening began with the performance of Andrey Shashkin, the scholarship holder of Denis Matsuev's New Names charity foundation, winner of the Udmurt Republic Government Prize and of the All-Russian Young Talents Competition, a young pianist and child prodigy. It was followed by the musical ensemble Saikan (Awakening) performing Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings on the national Udmurt instrument krez. Towards the end of the ceremony several musical pieces were performed by Yuri Rozum, the People’s Artist of Russia, a laureate of international competitions and a famous pianist. 

The participants then headed for a technical meeting, which had to do with discussing and settling various organizational issues. Starting on August 10 is one of the strongest and most looked forward to national events. You will not be disappointed. GM Sergey Shipov will be commenting the games in Russian, and doing same in English will be GMs Pavel Tregubov and Daniil Yuffa. 

Let me add as a reminder that the total prize fund has been increased by 1,000,000 rubles, and now amounts to 10,000,000 rubles. 

The winners of the men's and women's tournaments are entitled to a brand-new coupe-crossover Renault ARKANA, which, according to the partnership agreement, has become the official car of the Russian Chess Federation since 2019. 

Photo album

Pictures by Eteri Kublashvili