26 June 2016

Persisting Polyarchy

Round Three Review of the Russian Higher League by Eteri Kublashvili.

As was already mentioned, the Higher League venue is right at the foot of the Kolomna Kremlin, making it rather easy to spare some time to have a look at the ancient structure. The Kremlin territory is very vast, almost equal to that of the Moscow Kremlin.

The Kolomna Kremlin was up to a certain moment repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt (it was originally constructed of wood, just as many structures of that time), but, as it happens not infrequently, the decisive factor leading to downfall was the activities its inhabitants, who decided to take down the wall for their needs in the XVIII - beginning of the XIX century. Fortunately, there is a lot that has survived to the present day such as, for example, the towers and some individual sections of the wall. Perhaps the best known is the so-called the Tower of Marina’s, in which according to one of the stories Maryna Mniszech was imprisoned up until her death.

Besides the towers, the Kremlin has also many churches, museums, and even two active women’s monastery. There are cafes, shops, and a park as well. All in all, the Kolomna Kremlin bears a close resemblance to a real town with streets with numbered houses and is one of the favorite places for the town inhabitants to take their walks especially since the entrance is free of charge. It may take long to have a complete walking tour and even in this case you are unlikely to have a view of everything.

While the pictures from my brief walk around the Kolomna Kremlin can be seen at the end of the review, let us get back to the tournament hall itself. By the way, the latest statistics reads that both tournaments are represented by chess players from as many as 40 regions of our country, beginning with Kaliningrad and ending with Sakhalin. None of the tournaments has yet received its sole leader, with groups of participants leading both fields. 

In the men’s tournament the draws were agreed at the first four boards: Timofeev - Fedoseev, Shaposhnikov - Kokarev, Matlakov - Kryakvin, and Eliseev - Lysyj. The group of leaders has been added by those who scored victories: Grigoriy Oparin, Pavel Ponkratov, Alexei Goganov and Maksim Vavulin.

Grigoriy Oparin, playing White with Ivan Popov, employed an interesting exchange sacrifice:

Oparin – Popov 

Position after 26...Bd4+

The situation on the board is hot with both kings feeling insecure, and Ivan decides to make the white monarch decide on his retreat direction by having played 26...Bd4+.

Grigoriy’s response is tough: 27. Rxd4, upon which it turns out that the black king, undefended by the dark-squared bishop, is a lot more vulnerable than his white counterpart.

27…cxd4 28. Qd2! Qg7 29. Nb5 Rxe4 30. Nxd4 Qe5 31. d7 Nd6 32. Nb3 Qe6 33. Qc3 Qxd7 33. Qh8+ - White won material and converted it convincingly.

In the endgame Pavel Ponkratov and Alexei Goganov outplayed their opponents - Boris Savchenko and Miran Oganian respectively, while Maksim Vavulin trapped the strongest piece of Daniil Dubov’s.

Dubov – Vavulin

In a position with non-standard material balance, coupled with the looming time control, Daniil opted for playing actively, but a couple of moves later he needed to part ways with his queen, even if for a pair of rooks. 

35. Qh8?! Nf6 36. e4 Rc8?!

Stronger is a calm move 36…Rf4!, even though the queen drops anyway.

37. Qxc8 Qxc8 38. exf5 gxf5, and the queen and knight proved superior to a pair of rooks and a pair of pawns.

Thus, with 2.5 out of 3 points are Vladimir Fedoseev, Dmitry Kokarev, Alexei Goganov, Grigoriy Oparin, Artyom Timofeev, Pavel Ponkratov, Dmitry Kryakvin, Evgeny Shaposhnikov, and Maksim Vavulin.

Aleksandra Goryachkina has cleared yet another height by beating the awe-inspiring Denis Khismatullin with black pieces, having 2 points under her belt now.

The same number of points has been scored by Maxim Matlakov, Igor Lysyj, Alexander Riazantsev, Boris Grachev, Evgeny Alekseev, Sergey Volkov, Urii Eliseev, Mikhail Antipov, Kirill Alekseenko, Alexandr Predke, Maxim Chigaev, Dmitry Gordievsky, and Vadim Moiseenko.

At the women’s section the first tables have brought more decisive games than those of the men’s. A draw was agreed at the first table, where peace was negotiated between Evgenija Ovod and Polina Shuvalova.

After three rounds loss-free are Daria Pustovoitova, Elmira Mirzoeva and Alina Bivol.

On board two Daria Charochkina blundered against Daria Pustovoitova.

Pustovoitova – Charochkina

42…Bf3? 43. Rxg2 Bxg2 44. Kxg2 Re6 45. Nf7 Kg8 46. h6! – it might well be that it is this resource that Charochkina underestimated when opting for such a double-edged continuation. In the follow-up game the White’s material advantage proved the key to her victory.

Alina Bivol outfoxed Dinara Dordzhieva, who declined the threefold repetition at a certain moment of the game. Elmira Mirzoeva, playing Black against Surena Samdanova, got substantial advantage out of the opening and went on to bring it home.

In the women’s tournament trailing half a point behind the leaders are Polina Shuvalova, Tatiana Vasilevich, Evgenija Ovod, Daria Khokhlova, and Margarita Schepetkova.