26 April 2016

Rehabilitation of the White Color

Round Four review of the Russian Junior Championship by Eteri Kublashvili.

On April 22, on the day of birth of Immanuel Kant, Vladimir Lenin, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Nicholson and a number of other well-known persons, the Russian junior championship gave birth to yet another important event - further vocational training for coaches and arbiters. 

The coaching seminars, which are scheduled to take place in the morning time, have been traditionally organized by the Russian Chess Federation together with the Belgorod State National Research University. At different times the capacity of lecturers will be performed by Alexander Tkachev, Alexander Scetinin, Vladimir Barsky, and Alexander Ivanov. Certificates of advanced training completion of the established form will be issued to training program participants in accordance with the current legislation. 

At evenings, following the round completion, Artem Akhmetov holds the seminar for the international/FIDE/All-Russian arbiters. Those candidates who successfully pass the knowledge test for the category of "The National Arbiter" are awarded by RCF with registered certificates, whereas those who successfully pass the "FIDE Arbiter" tests are awarded with certificates confirming their achievement of the FIDE arbiter norm. Those who fail to pass the test will get certificates confirming their participation in the seminar. 

It's worth noting that there is little to no number of vacant seats at both seminars and that all classes are held in a friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, the audience never fails to show deep interest by coming up with a lot of questions. 

With this said, as many as four rounds of the junior championship are over, and it is perhaps high time that we summed up the preliminary results. However, it is not at each of the Higher League tournaments that the sole leaders have been singled out yet. 

The smallest boys group has Grigoriy Ponomarev with a clean score, while trailing half a point behind him are Ilya Makoveev, Volodar Murzin and Leonid Lystsov. The U11 girls group has the triumvirate of leaders - Evita Cherepanova, Margarita Zvereva and Galina Mikheeva, who have scored 4 points. 

Valery Skatchkov and Arseniy Gaydym are lossfree in the U13 group of boys. In the same age category of girls unstoppable are Leia Garifullina and Kseniya Bodnaruk. 

In the U15 boys group the failfree performance is delivered by Semen Lomasov, who defeated Vitaly Gurvich in a duel of principle. Half a point behind are Iman Nuristani, Kirill Shubin and Aram Yeritsyan. In the U15 girls tournament there is no longer anyone with a clean score: 3.5 points have been scored by Julia Pankova, Julia Vinokur, Varvara Budnikova, Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, Miroshnik Ekaterina and Alexandra Afanasieva. 

In the U17 boys group Artem Galaktionov has 4 points under his belt. With 3.5 points are representatives of the Bashkir chess school Arthur Gaifullin and Dinar Abelguzin. Leading in the group of girls with 3,5 points are Olga Mylnikova Polina Shuvalova, Anastasia Protopopova, Elizaveta Martynyuk and Darya Gorovenko.

The U19 boys competition has a shared leadership of Ivan Yeletsky and Maxim Vavulin, who have scored 3.5 points. As many as six participants are half a point behind. In the group of eldest girls leading with a clean score is Daria Rodionova. With 3.5 points are Anastasia Mamontova and Alexandra Obolentseva.

In the tournament of U17 boys round four yielded the highest number of fruits to its youngest participants Saveliy Golubov and Andrey Esipenko, who, playing with Black pieces, defeated Aleksandra Goryachkina and Dmitry Gordievsky respectively. 

Goryachkina - Esipenko 

Black proved well prepared in the opening and managed to put White up against certain problems. Not wanting to be committed to an exhaustive type of defense, Aleksandra decided to plunge straight into the battle. 

21. f4?! 

A safer option, although a lot more passive one, was to play 21.f3, upon which Black has yet to find ways of improving his position. 

21…d5 22. cxd5 Bxd5 23. Qf3 fxe4 24. Nxe4?! 

This is yet another error that allows Black capitalizing on the sensitive pin. Recapturing with the pawn was stronger despite setting the Black's d-pawn free, which starts to look like a highly menacing passer indeed. 

24…Qc6 25. Qh5 Bxe4 26. dxe4 c4, and Black's connected passed pawns sealed the fate of the game shortly after. 

Gordievsky - Golubov 

This position was preceded by a complex type of fight, in which a pair of bishops was by no means superior to that of knights. Shortly prior to the start of new time control Dmitry decided to provoke sharp struggle by offering the exchange sacrifice, but all threats were calmly thwarted by his opponent. 

30. g4?! 

As was proved by the later course of the game, this and subsequent decisions were unjustified. 

30…fxg4 31. Rf6? Nxf6 32. exf6 Qd7 33. Qc2 Kf8 34. Be5 Bb7 35. e4 Ke8 36. Qe2 Qc6 37. Kg2 Qc5 38. Bg3 Rxf6 39. Qb2, and White resigned without waiting for his opponent to make his move. 

The leader of the race Kirill Alekseenko successfully defended his black color in the game with Maxim Lugovskoy in what was a viscous lengthy struggle. A grandmaster draw in the Grunfeld Defense was demonstrated by Daniil Yuffa and Maksim Chigaev. David Paravyan and Urii Eliseev also sailed into a peaceful harbor by repetition of moves in the Sicilian Defense. 

Following completion of round four Kirill Alekseenko is still in the lead with 3.5 points. Half a point behind him are Maksim Chigaev and Saveliy Golubov. 

In the junior girls competition a clean score has so far been maintained by Dinara Dordzhieva. One point behind are Alina Bivol and Viktoria Chernyak. 

Round four in the girls group, just as all previous rounds, proved rich in win/loss games. Only the Dimitrova - Smirnova game ended in a draw. 

Daria Khokhlova, playing White against Dinara Dordzhieva, sacrificed a pawn as early as in the opening, but was unable to get initiative in exchange for the sacrificed material in the followup game. The precise play allowed the chess player from Kalmykia bringing her edge home. 

Anna Styazhkina and Alina Bivol were engaged in an approximately equal fight in the French Defense, but when the position became substantially simplified, Anna made a fatal error. 

Styazhkina – Bivol 

An innocent rook trades offer 25. Rd1? proved a sheer nightmare for White after 25…Qe4! 26. Qb3 a5 27. Rf1 Rh7 28. Qb6 Rdh8 29. f3 Rh1+ 30. Kf2 Rxf1+ 31. Kxf1 Rh1+ 32. Kf2 Qe1#. 

Irina Utiatskaja and Victoria Chernyak were also debating in the French defense. Dynamic equilibrium was maintained on the board prior to the end of time control, but in time trouble Black allowed her opponent's queen and minor pieces infiltrating into her home ranks and ended up losing the game. 

Irina Utiatskaja has thus scored her first victory in the tournament. 

Anna Kochukova, playing as Black with Aleksandra Makarenko, developed a substantial amount of initiative in the Keres attack, but certain inaccurate decisions and erroneous piece trades enabled White's getting counterplay and eventually winning the game. 

It is curious that four our of six successful tournament games in the U21 section were won with black pieces. Will we see the rehabilitation of the white color tomorrow?

As the tournament enters the home stretch not long from now, we are in for many key match-ups.