14 July 2018

What, Where, When and with Whom?

Dmitry Kryakvin continues reporting from the Higher League in Yaroslavl 

The second half of the Yaroslavl tournament is seeing new faces. Grandmaster Sergei Zagrebelny arrived to help his trainee Polina Shuvalova, and in the spectators’ area I spotted a mighty figure of Pavel Drugov, a member of the Children and Youth Committee of the Russian Chess Federation, organizer and arbiter from St. Petersburg.           

One of the rounds witnessed an amusing accident – Maxim Vavulin and Dmitry Kokarev started the game and made several moves, at which point it turned out that they forgot to start the clock!! The arbiters quickly set things to rights, and later into the game it became clear that it played into Kokarev’s hands as the grandmaster from Penza not only got a promising position, but pressed his opponent into time trouble as well. 

Vavulin – Kokarev


15...d4! 16.Na2   

16.exf6 dxc3 17.Qxc3 Rfc8 is not something to look forward to if you are a first player.   

16...Ne4 17.Qe1 Nxa2 18.Qxe4   

White should have taken another knight via 18.Kxa2 Nc3+ 19.Bxc3 dxc3, so as to carefully pull the c3-nail later: 20.Ne2 (20.Qxc3 Rac8 21.Qb2 Rfd8) 20...Rac8 21.Rf3; however, this is not for the faint-hearted.   

18...Nc3+ 19.Bxc3 dxc3 20.Ne2 Rfd8 21.Rd1  

White seems to have consolidated, but Kokarev’s followup with his queen proves otherwise.  


21…Qc5! 22.Bc4 Qb4! 23.Rd4   

23.Bd3 fails to 23...Qa3 24.Nxc3 Bxb3.   

23...Rxd4 24.Qxd4 Bxc4 25.Qxc4 Qxc4 26.bxc4 Rc8, and Black won the endgame after capturing the c4-pawn.   

Ernesto Inarkiev and Denis Khismatullin’s duel, who are known for their punching abilities in chess, promised to be the battle of the round. A very curious fact was shared with me by an arbiter Vladimir Makhnev. In the previous rounds Inarkiev’s sweater fell from his chair twice. As it is in Ernesto to display deep immersion into the game, he noticed nothing, and it was Khismatullin who took care of picking it up for his former clubmate from the legendary Tomsk-400. On day seven the drawing of lots pitted the two grandmasters against each other! The game was a fighting draw. 

By the way, Vladimir Makhnev's vigilance over what was going on in the playhall amazed me. Makhnev keeps a tracking record of everything taking place during the round. Thus, a local female chess player was seen frequenting one of the games. It was immediately taken note of by the arbiter. However, it turned out later that the game was being played by a very handsome and strong young grandmaster, which lifted all suspicions immediately.

As for the games at top tables, Grigoriy Oparin has caught up with Alexey Sarana. Meanwhile, Alexey did not rest on his laurels, trying to force an action against Alexander Motylev and Vadim Zvjaginsev, but both games ended in draws. However, Oparin scored twice over Pavel Ponkratov and Mikhail Kobalia. His victory over Ponkratov was a head to head combat.   His second victory was by taking an immediate advantage of Kobalia’s inaccuracy. 

Oparin – Kobalia


Black is already worse, and it was worth bringing the king closer to the theater of action- 24...Kf8.  Kobalia probably saw White’s break, but underestimated how nicely it fits for Oparin in terms of a tempo game.  

24...b6? 25.b5! cxb5 26.c6 e4   

The knight is not to be allowed into a shooting position: 26...b4 27.Nb5.   

27.Nxe4 Nxe4 28.Bxe4 Bf6 29.Ba3 Be7 30.Bb2 Bf6 31.Bxf6 gxf6 32.Qd5 g5 

There is no saving it now: 32...Kg7 33.Qxb5 or 32...Qe5 33.Qxe5 fxe5 34.h4 b4 35.Bc2; Black is reduced to keeping an eye over the opponent’s passers, and the matter is decided by the white king joining the battle.   

33.Qxb5 Qe5 34.Qxe5 fxe5  

Black lacks a tempo to bring his king closer to the c6-pawn! This tempo is Black’s undoing.  

35.f4! exf4 36.exf4 gxf4 37.Bf5 Nc7 38.Kf2 Kf8 39.h4 Ke7 40.h5 Black resigns..   

It should be added that in round six Mikhail Kobalia defeated David Paravyan in what involved a sacrifice of two minor pieces.  

A pack of top players is tight enough, a bulk of Superfinal contenders being in the "+2" group. Trailing behind them is only Vadim Zvjaginsev with 5 out of 7. Among other results deserving attention is a comeback of Igor Lysyj, who has proven once again who is a boss in the Urals Federal District. Igor defeated Roman Ovechkin and Aleksei Pridorozhni. The ex-Russian champion displayed consistency in bringing his edge home. 

Missing on his chance in time trouble was Aleksandr Rakhmanov.   

Rakhmanov – Najer



Winning was 39.Bc3! Ng7 40.Rd2 c6 (40...c5 41.Rh6 c4 42.Rd1 and checkmating on the h-file) 41.d6, with a decisive infiltration of white rooks.   

39...Nxd5 40.Nxd5 Rxd5 41.Bc3 Ng7 42.f4 Nh5! – and now that the knight defends the king, Evgeny Najer managed to keep his position together.   

Breaking ahead in the women’s section is Oksana Gritsayeva after taking a key point from another native of the Crimea.   

Vasilevich – Gritsayeva 

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Nc2 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qa5 8.Bd2 d6 9.e4 Nf6 10.f3 Qa4! 


This move order is not something to recommend to White – the first to demonstrate the trade of the g7-bishop to undermine the opponent’s structure was Mark Taimanov. This idea was quickly caught up by Robert Fischer, who was a fan of employing с5, Nc6, g6 against the English Opening. Everything that happened in Tatiana and Oksana’s opening was seen in the game Agzamov - Taimanov, 1975. Nowadays the main proponent of the undermining exchange is Maksim Chigaev.   

11.Qb1 0–0 12.Nd4 Bd7 13.Qb3 Na5 14.Qxa4 Bxa4 15.Rb1 Rfc8 16.Rb4 Be8 17.Bg5 Rc7 18.Bxf6 exf6, and shortly after the c4-pawn went down to the onslaught of black pieces.   

Anastasia Protopopova has won her fifth game in a row – the Saratov chess player has overcome an undermining start with heroic efforts and is now on clear second.   

Protopopova – Tomilova 

Black needs to choose between 22...Qd8 23.Re1 Re7 (where White is objectively better) and a sharp 22...g5!? 

22... Bg6? 23.f4!, and Black loses the root pawn:23…Nd7 24.Nxc7 Rc8 25.Nd5 Qd8 26.b4 and White won on move 42.   

A seamless game was won by Marina Nechaeva over Margarita Schepetkova, and Daria Charochkina outplayed Baira Kovanova in a complex position, the winners now sharing third with Tomilova.