4 July 2018

Performing in a Positive Mood

Dmitry Kryakvin continues reporting from the Higher League in Yaroslavl 

If my initial report is titled “A Flood of Grandmasters”, its followup could be safely called ‘A Flood of Children.” According to Alexey Moskvin’s prediction, young chess players showed up shortly after the kickoff of the Higher League. As far as I see, they are not from the Yaroslavl Oblast only; thus, among the spectators I identified Alexey Prutskov, a junior from the Vladimir Oblast, who has recently attended the training camp of the Kostroma grandmaster school. By the way, chairman of the Children and Youth Committee of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Beletsky came to Yaroslavl for a few days too. He came to visit the event and support his trainee Aleksandra Dimitrova, a hero of my previous report. Soon Kostroma gives start to one of the Russian Children's Cups titled "The Volga Cup" – those who have not signed up for this event yet, welcome to Andrey Beletsky! 

Little girls and boys, full of enthusiasm, were galloping in the aisles between the rows of tables, while parents and accompanying persons were taking pictures and making selfies against the background of participants. Here it is, this very feeling of a big day in the regions not spoiled by presence of strong chess players, and so many of them at that! I asked a young princess wearing a dress and a bow: “Who are you rooting for?” The princess blurted out without hesitation, “For Vladimir Potkin!” He comes from Rybinsk, which is our place! Not only does he have very kind eyes, but he also prepares the opening novelties for Sergey Karjakin!” 

It will not be inappropriate to add that the European champion with kind eyes and many novelties under his belt celebrates birthday June 28. The editorial board of the RCF website sends its warmest congratulations to Vladimir! Potkin is now with +1 with the round one victory and subsequent draws with his comrades-in-arms Motylev and Zvjaginsev. Let's wish him good luck! 

Celebrating his birthday is a grandmaster with kind eyes and many novelties under his belt! 

Before the start of round three, I had a chance to converse with Alexey Moskvin. The chief arbiter was brimming with happiness, "The participants’ feedback is that this is the best official hotel in the Higher League’s latest history! If last year people were giving a thought to possible alternatives, now the overwhelming majority opts for the Ring Premier Hotel.” Well, there are some who stay in Kotorosl, but the majority is here!” Having mentioned the ongoing struggle for the increased quality and quantity of food, the arbiter ran off to join the tournament director Alexander Tkachev to look into the air temperature in the playhall issue. They used a trial and error method to bring the temperature to the optimal level. 

The entrance is permanently besieged by local mass media, which is not the only media to cover this event. One of the participants, a well-known GM and coach Roman Ovechkin, keeps a video blog and uploads clips about his games on a daily basis. As you may already know, in round one Ovechkin forced Dmitry Gordievsky to fight for a draw, and in round two had an extra pawn against Vadim Zvjaginsev. However, as he ran out of firepower, he ended up blundering and underestimating, which enabled Mark Dvoretsky's student (Zvjaginsev) to shine with his trademark technique and even winning in the end. In a fit of temper Roman reacted by declaring his intent to no longer upload any video clips unless winning in round three.  Meanwhile, he was pitted against a serious opponent, a South Federal District champion Oleg Vastrukhin. 

Ovechkin – Vastrukhin

Being in time trouble, Roman failed to deliver a crushing 34.Rg8+!, and prior to the time control move Vastrukhin managed to trade rooks and grab the vital а2-pawn! 

All hell broke loose in Internet! The blog’s audience literally wrung their hands and called on the Tyumen grandmaster to show the will to win. To Ovechkin credit, he added significantly after the time control, and White's pawns decided the outcome of the encounter in the end. Konstantin Mesropov, Semen Lomasov’s coach, noted with a smile that the pawns versus bishop contest reminded him of the "wolf and sheep” game!

Therefore, there is nothing to stop Roman Ovechkin from posting his videos any longer! 

Roman Ovechkin teaching to play nice chess 

Let me say my apologies to the participants in advance. Each round has a huge number of games, the majority of them being very captivating. However, to cover every game is too monumental a task. Therefore, preference will be given to the duels of leaders and those heroes that have not been part of my previous reports. If you are the one producing “evergreens” each and every round, please do not be too hard on me. This said, there was a lot of blood drawn in the men’s section. The group of pursuers had Ivan Popov with an expected victory over a less experienced Ahmad Bimiev, as well as Sanan Sjugirov upsetting a former team-mate from the Ugra team Alexei Pridorozhni; however, these were not the first games to come to an end. 

Alexander Motylev is a true artist. Not only does he deliver, but in a spectacular manner at that, so as to shine in our website’s "Position of the Day" section for a second time in a row. It is true, however, that in doing so he is much helped by his opponents... Valery Sviridov opened with 1.b3 to find himself suffering same fate as Bent Larsen, annihilated by Boris Spassky in a span of few moves. The patterns differ, but the number of moves is virtually the same. 

Sviridov – Motylev

1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 Nc6 3.e3 Nf6 4.c4 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.a3 Bd6 7.d3 0–0 8.Nf3 Qe7  

Two spectators were watching the game on a large screen. “This is Fischer’s reversed hedgehog! This is his game against Ulf Andersson! At his moment Sviridov lashed out with 9.b4?!, at which point a co-spectator literally screamed out: “What are you doing??? Fischer did push the g-pawn!” 

Motylev’s reaction demonstrated that Sviridov was indeed overdoing it.  

9…a5! 10.b5 Na7 11.d4 e4 12.Ne5 Be6 13.Nd2 f6 14.Nec4 f5 15.Nxd6 cxd6  

The initiative is with Black, and he is clearly better after 16.Bc4 Nc8. A preventive attempt 16.g3? only provoked Alexander into a gambit type of offensive. 

16...f4! 17.exf4   

Losing is 17.Nxe4 Nxe3 18.fxe3 Bd5 or 17.gxf4 Nxe3 18.fxe3 Qh4+.   

17...e3 18.Nf3 Rae8 19.Be2 Bh3 20.Bc1! exf2+?! 

In lieu of a trivial 20...Kh8 21.fxe3 Nxe3 the grandmaster essayed to pull off a beauty. Should we really criticize him for that?   

21.Kxf2 Nc3 22.Qb3+ Kh8 



23.Re1! Nxe2 24.Qc4 Bg4 25.Rxe2 Qxe2+ 26.Qxe2 Rxe2+ 27.Kxe2 Nxb5 was a saver, leaving Black with only a slightly better endgame. The bishop move fails to a crusher!   

23...Qe2+!!White resigned because the rest is obvious.   

Artyom Timofeev outperformed Igor Lysyj in a complicated position, and continuing his rise is Alexey Sarana – a player who delivered the best performance vs team China (at least in the classical part of the matchup). In round two Alexey outplayed a seasoned Aleksey Dreev, and followed it up by defeating Kirill Alekseenko. 


Alekseenko - Sarana


Who could have foreseen at this moment that Black would soon pile up on the white king with all his pieces?   


There is no taking the pawn:23.Qxf5? Rf8 24.Qg4 Nd3but what about driving the knight off first? 

23.b4 Na4 24.Qxf5 Rf8 25.Qg4 Nb2  

The knight takes a detour to join the theater of action. The engine suggests a cool-headed 26.Re4 Rf7 27.Be3, but Kirill was unlikely able to calculate through the whole sequence of blows in store for him.  

26.Re2 Nd3 27.Nh2?  

This is when all hell broke loose!  

27…e4! 28.Qxe4 N7e5 29.Rf1 Qf7 30.Bg4   

After 30.Kg2 Rae8 the last inactive piece of Black’s joins the fray.  Alekseenko was undoubtedly pinning his hopes on the bishop move as creating a threat of pinning from e6.   

30...Nxf2! 31.Rexf2 Bxf2+ 32.Kg2 Nxg4 33.Nxg4 Rae8 34.Qd3 Re3!  

It is all about this final strike! Black wins back material while maintaining an attack.  

35.Bxe3 Qf3+ 36.Kh2 Qg3+ 37.Kh1 Qxh3+ 38.Nh2 Qxe3 39.Qc2 

Alas, the endgame after 39.Qxe3 Bxe3 is hopeless for White. Now Sarana appropriates the g5-pawn and converts easily.   

39...g6 40.c4 bxc4 41.Qxc4 Qxg5, and 0-1 on move 57.   

Now Alekseenko is to face Denis Khismatullin, who had a superior position against Oparin, but the latter managed to hold it together.   

Almost winning was Konstantin Sakaev, who is known to coach students at the Sirius center. 


Rakhmanov – Sakaev

Both kings are unsafe, and after 40... Rc2+ 41.Kf1 a5 42.Qxa5 Rc1+ 43.Ke2 Rc2+ 44.Kf1 Rc1+ 45.Ke2 Rc2+ a draw was agreed.   

Konstantin Sakaev, “The engine shows a host of winning continuations for Black, which is other than obvious to a player sitting at the board. However, there also was a clear and logical win that does not defy a human player:40...Qh5+! 41.Rf3 Rc2+ 42.Ke3 Rc3+! 43.Qxc3 Qxf3+!! 44.Kxf3 Rxh3+ - a decoy along the third rank.   

However, Sakaev was not upset about such a turn of events, saying that being on vacation from chess work, it does not matter to him that much.   

Finally, an important game in the group of leaders was on table two, where Ernesto Inarkiev defeated Sergey Volkov in his trademark style. 


Volkov – Inarkiev

I want to praise Sergey Volkov’s fervor worthy of a young fearless player! If I were in his shoes, I would never have sacrificed a pawn to Inarkiev. Not even if the entire football team Uruguay was there to force it on me! Meanwhile, a 44-year-old grandmaster from Saransk gave and threw all his army against the opponent's king.   

However, a critical moment saw Ernesto carry out a brilliant counter queen sacrifice to tip the scales in his favor.  

21...exf4! 22.Nf5   

Neither 22.Qxf4 Ne5 nor 22.e5 f5 23.exd6 Ne4 promises anything to White.   

22...Ne6 23.e5  

Does Black cave in on h7? Not quite.  

23…dxe5 24.Ne7+ Nxe7 25.Bxg6 Nxg6 26.Qxh7+ Kf7 

Black has two knights and two pawns for the queen, but White's attacking pieces are bogged down, unable to prevent a retaliatory blow. With the queen on h7, this is a direct reminder of the Geller-Euwe game (1953) commented in David Bronstein’s famous book!  


Likewise, the rook drops after 27.Qh5 Ng5 as well.   

27...Be4 28.Rxg6 Bxg6 29.Qh4 Rd3 30.Qe1 Rc8 31.Rc1 f3!  

There is no saving the game now. The game is highly likely to enter the Ingush grandmaster’s collection of best victories!  

32.gxf3 Ng5 33.Qe2 Nxf3+ 34.Kf1 Rh8 White resigns.   

Let me repeat once again that the event is rich in interesting games. Suffice it to mention the Vavulin - Gordievsky duel! We wish Maxim and Dima to quickly get back into the plus zone, so that their battles are still of a strategic value for the event!   

In the last report we gave you a whole panorama of women's battles. This time we confine ourselves to saying that the lead has been taken by Evgeniya Ovod and Elena Tomilova. No any bright revelations were seen in the leaders' games as it was the case of favorites just outclassing their opponents. This is also true about victories scored by Alisa Galliamova and Tatjana Vasilevich.   

As for tragedies so customary for women's chess, there happened one such. 


Lingur – Balaian


The b7-pawn will cost black a rook, and there is a bunch of winning continuations for White to choose from:57.Re6+ Kh5 58.Rb6 g3 (58...Rb8 59.Bd6) 59.b8Q Rxb8 60.Rxb8 Nf5 61.d5 Kg4 62.d6; 57.Bd6 Nf5 58.Re6+ Kf7 59.Rf6+! Kxf6 60.Be5+; 57.Ba7. The text suffices as well.  

57.Re2 g3 58.Re3??   

Marking time with the rook moves proves fatal; instead, 58.Bd6 Nf5 59.b8Q Rxb8 60.Bxb8 Nxd4 61.Re3 was a decider.   

58...Nf5 59.Re1 Nh4 60.Re3   

60.Ra1 Nf3+ 61.Kf1 Re8! 62.d5 Kf5 63.d6 h2 64.Kg2 Kg4 helps no longer as Black’s forces checkmate the white king. Now Balaian has no problems converting.   

60...Nf3+! 61.Kf1 g2+ 62.Ke2 g1Q 63.f5+ Kh5 64.Rxf3 Qg2+ White resigns.   

So far, so good. Excellent weather is a perfect match to the state of mind. My next report is coming out after the Russia-Spain football match...   

With this in mind, the upcoming rest day feels more like a mental ordeal to go through.