11 May 2019

When a Rest Day Is Needed

Dmitry Kryakvin’s report from the Russian Team Championship held in the Zhemchuzhina Hotel

With the tournament having just crossed the midline and the coveted rest day over, the Russian team championship is just about to gear up. The football matches in both women’s and men’s sections saw the fiercest battles, determining a winner only in a penalty shootout. This video fromAlexandra Kosteniuk shows a finale of highly-rated female players vs. citizens-in-arms decided by a cannonball from Daria Trapeznikova.

Getting even more attention was the Russian Bughouse Chess Championship that listed as many as 38 teams! This time I also got a chance to participate together with Andrey Esipenko (there are fears with such a teammate even if you do not know the rules at all). As it happens, the bughouse rules applied in Zhemchuzhina are rather specific. There is no planting pawns on the penultimate rank, nor is it legal to place pieces with a checkmate. Arbiters would step in time and again to add a penalty minute for an illegal attempt. However, the team of arbiters, led by Alexander Shukan, did well to keep match situation from escalating, as was the case with the initial championships with the tournament rules not well stipulated. True, the old-timers would question all those deviations from the standard rules used by such an authority as chess.com, among others.

Making everyone happy with their participation were Konstantin Krylov and Oleg Gavrilov– true game professionals flying the colors of Strazhi Pravoporyadka. In the final battle, they were challenged by the current Russian champions team Petyunki made up of ‎Daniil Yuffa and Kirill Alekseenko– this time the GM team was the one going down. The third place is with Wizards (players representing the Internet team Moscow Wizards), in which Zhamsaran Tsydypov was assisted by one Oleg Vastrukhin, also known as Ace. This said, the rest of the quarter-final lineup was very decent (the Nozdrachev brothers, Kobalia, Murzin, Esipenko, Kryakvin, Alekseev, Sychev, Tsoi, Nesterov). We give a shoutout to the sponsor of the Russian Bughouse Chess Championship Vladimir Shumilin, thanks to whom the event is taking place even without any entry fees. It is high time we had the bughouse and Chess960 competitions here in Loo! Why, say, spend as many as two days for solving compositions?

Immediately upon arrival, my colleague Vladimir Barsky made the championship audience happy by issuing a photo album. I also recommend the photos from our chief accountant and a very creative person, Svetlana Ostrovskaya. Many thanks also go to Evgeny Vashenyak and Irina Chibikova for having helped me a lot in the first days! 

Click here for pictures by Svetlana Ostrovskaya.

As for the championship, dominating so far are the St. Petersburg teams. In the women's section, St. Petersburg defeated Ugra, while the potent team of Moscow is still in a creative search of itself despite being the only team having taken a point from the leaders. In every key matchup for St. Petersburg a crucial word has belonged to Anna Styazhkina, so that her teammates only had to follow in her footsteps.

Styazhkina – Bivol

29.g4! g5 30.Qf3 Rd6 

Things are no less grim-looking for Black after 30...Kg8 31.Ne3, and now the knight is trapped.  

31.Qd3 h5 

Or 31...Kg8 32.f3.  

32.Bxf6 Rxf6 33.Rxe4 Black resigns.  

Winning all matches in the men's section is Bronze Horseman, while their competitors were dropping points when playing each other. Lagging a point behind are Molodezhka (the Bykov’s team is to face Tyumen in the last round) and Sima-Lend, with the legendary Anatoly Karpov arriving to strengthen the latter in a short while.  

An incredibly dramatic match took place between Nukhim Rashkovsky’s students and team Sibir. The favorite team was being ahead thanks to Riazantsev's victory over Ivan Bocharov, but the last board was giving Sibir some real hopes of a comeback. A 12-year old Volodar Murzin was giving a hard time to a many-seasoned Denis Khismatullin and could have decided the game then and there, but allowed the opponent to escape into a rook vs. rook and bishop ending. Denis was long true to Kokhren’s drawing mechanism (it is ironic that I had managed to draw Khismatullin in a similar position myself), but faltered at the last steps to an onslaught from the wonder kid.

Murzin – Khismatullin


This is his Majesty Philidor. Nevertheless, Volodar was running short of time as the 50-move mark was looming ahead big-time. Immediately coming to mind is the Yevseev – Gabrielian endgame in which the former lacked half a move to win the game as the latter claimed a draw despite getting checkmated or losing the rook the next move.

101…Kf1 102.Rh2

To fend off a checkmating threat Black has to doom the rook. It feels scary to step into the very heart of the Philidor position with 102...Ke1. The Sima-Lend player must have precisely calculated till the coveted 50-move. 

102…Rg8 103.Ra2 Kg1 104.Ra1+ Kh2 105.Rh1+ Kg3 106.Rg1+

Game over? Not quite as it was at this moment that Khismatullin appealed to arbiters for the 50-move rule coming in force after 106…Kh4 since White is not in time to capture the rook!  

It’s not for nothing that a coach-arbiter was emotional in telling me in Loo that nowadays knowing the rules is more important than knowing the algorithm of checkmating with a bishop and a knight. This is a controversial statement, and we have seen the opposite. While you will definitely run into the bishop and knight ending once in a while, there is no escaping chess rules at any all. It is unlikely that everyone is aware of how to claim a draw in a correct way, but Khismatullin is not one of them. Thus, I recall a well-known junior miss out on a medal at one of the children’s championship.  

We are definitely in for a sanguinary finale. The hell is about to break loose!

Photo credit: Svetlana Ostrovskaya and Irina Chibikova