2012 Russian team championship starts strong

4/11/2012 – The 2012 Russian Team Championship is underway with eighteen teams and no fewer than twenty players rated over 2700, such as Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Morozevich, and more. As if in reply to the recent controversies, the tardiness rules in play allow one to arrive up to fifteen minutes late, but only if a US$68 fine is paid on the spot. Report with GM commentary.

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The 2012 Russian Team Championship is under way in a microdistrict that lies 18 kilometres from the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The name "Loo" comes from one of the greatest Abazin feudal families, Lau or Loo. The open event is a seven-round Swiss with 18 teams, each sporting eight players, with six (maximum three non-Russians) playing in any individual round. The time controls are 90 minutes for 40 moves and 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with 30 seconds increment from move one. Games start at 15:00h local time (13:00h CEST, 12:00h London, 07:00 a.m. New York).The zero tolerance and and Sofia rules are being implemented, i.e. players must be seated at their boards when the starting gong is sounded and may not offer draws in less than 40 moves. The top four teams will qualify to represent Russia in the next European Club Cup.

Loo, a district of Sochi, lies on the Black Sea coast of Russia – Click to view larger Map

Of the 144 players 20 are rated over 2700: Caruana (2767), Karjakin (2766), Morozevich (2765), Svidler (2744), Tomashevsky (2736), Wang Hao (2733), Dominguez (2730), Jakovenko (2729), Ponomariov (2727), Leko (2720), Nepomniachtchi (2718), Giri (2717), Riazantsev (2710), Vitiugov (2709), Moiseenko (2706), Grachev (2705), Malakhov (2705), Eljanov (2704), Movsesian (2702 and Shirov (2701).

Parallel to this tournament the Russian Women’s Team Championship is being held in Loo/Sochi. There are seven teams with five players each (four playing in each round), and the event is a round robin.

2012 Russian team championship starts strong

The playing venue is AquaLoo

The arbiters prepare for the arrival of the teams and players

Top-seed ShSM-64 is bolstered by Fabiano Caruana (2767) on board one and
Wang Hao (2733) on board two

Though the strength of the top teams is among the highest in the world, only truly rivaled by the German Bundesliga, the disparity can be rather extreme in some cases as can be seen below:

No fewer than six teams include at least two 2700 players in their lineup. After three rounds, second-seed Economist is in the lead with three wins, followed by Tomsk-400 and ShSM-64 with two wins and a draw. None of the top players have three wins, due to the incredible strength of the tournament, though Karjakin leads the performance with 2.5/3. Of note also is Alexander Morozevich back in action with his singular brand of explosive chess, with one starting loss followed by two wins, and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who had only one event since the Tal Memorial last year.

In a curious twist on the ruckus created by the "zero-tolerance" episodes at the last European Championship, the rule used is that players may arrive up to fifteen minutes late, but if they do arrive late, they must still pay a fine of 2000 rubles (equivalent to USD 68) to be able to play.

Here is an endgame selected and annotated by noted endgame authority GM Karsten Mueller:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2012.04.09"] [Round "1"] [White "Frolyanov, D."] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2556"] [BlackElo "2766"] [Annotator "Mueller,Karsten"] [PlyCount "146"] [EventDate "2012.04.09"] [EventType "team"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "RUS"] [Source "Mark Crowther"] [SourceDate "2012.04.09"] [WhiteTeam "Zhiguli, Samara Region"] [BlackTeam "Tomsk - 400"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bc4 O-O 9. O-O Qc7 10. Bb3 Be6 11. Qe2 Nc6 12. Rfd1 Rac8 13. Bg5 Na5 14. Rac1 Nxb3 15. axb3 Nh5 16. Qd2 Rfd8 17. Bxe7 Qxe7 18. Qg5 Nf6 19. Nh4 Nd5 20. Qxe7 Nxe7 21. Nf3 f6 22. Rd2 b5 23. b4 Kf7 24. Rcd1 Nc6 25. Rxd6 Rxd6 26. Rxd6 Ke7 27. Rd2 Nxb4 28. Ne1 Rc4 29. f3 Rd4 30. Nb1 Nc6 31. c3 Rxd2 32. Nxd2 b4 33. cxb4 Nxb4 34. Kf2 Kd6 35. Ke3 Bd7 36. Nb1 f5 37. g3 fxe4 38. fxe4 g5 39. h4 g4 40. Kd2 Kc5 41. Ke3 h5 42. Nd2 Ba4 43. b3 Bb5 44. Nb1 a5 45. Nc3 Be8 46. Nb1 Bf7 47. Nd2 Be6 48. Nd3+ Nxd3 49. Kxd3 Kb4 50. Kc2 Bd7 51. Nb1 Be6 52. Nd2 Bf7 53. Kb2 Be8 54. Kc2 Bc6 55. Kd3 Bd7 56. Kc2 Bb5 57. Nb1 Bf1 58. Nd2 Be2 59. Nb1 Bf1 60. Nd2 Be2 61. Nb1 Bb5 62. Nc3 Bc6 63. Na2+ Kc5 64. Kd3 Ba8 65. Ke3 Bb7 66. Kd3 {Karjakin's King In the fight attacking bishop against knight one defensive strategy is to construct a fortress:} Bc6 $5 {But Black can break it as his king has two roads via b4 and d4 and his bishop two targets on b3 and e4. So the sharp endgame weapon zugzwang will overload the defense sooner or later.} 67. Nc3 ({After} 67. Ke3 Bb5 68. Nc3 Be8 69. Na2 Bf7 {forces White to open a gate:} 70. Nc1 Kb4 71. Kd2 Bxb3 72. Nd3+ Kc4 73. Nxe5+ Kd4 74. Nc6+ Kxe4 75. Nxa5 Bg8 76. Ke2 (76. Nc6 Kf3 $19) 76... Bd5 77. Kf2 Kd3 78. Kf1 Kc3 79. Kf2 Kb4 $19) 67... Be8 68. Na2 {For the moment the knight can stop Karjakin's king. The alternativs allow a direct invasion via b4:} (68. Nb1 Kb4 69. Kc2 Bc6 70. Nd2 (70. Nc3 Ba8 71. Na2+ Kc5 72. Kd3 Bb7 73. Ke3 Ba6 $19 {and White must open one invasion road.}) 70... a4 {Black must use his pawn to open the way.} 71. bxa4 Bxa4+ 72. Kb2 ({After} 72. Kd3 Bb5+ 73. Ke3 {Black catches the steed with} Kc3 74. Nb1+ Kb2 75. Nd2 Kc2 {and White is in deadly zugzwang.}) 72... Bb5 73. Nb1 (73. Kc2 Ba6 $19) 73... Bd3 74. Nd2 Be2 75. Kc2 Ba6 76. Nb1 (76. Kb2 Bd3 $19) 76... Kc4 77. Nc3 Kd4 78. Nd5 Kxe4 79. Nf6+ Ke3 80. Nxh5 Bd3+ 81. Kd1 Kf2 82. Kd2 Bf5 83. Ng7 Bh7 84. Ne6 e4 85. Nd4 e3+ 86. Kd1 Bd3 87. h5 e2+ 88. Nxe2 Bxe2+ 89. Kd2 Bc4 90. h6 Bg8 $19) (68. Nd5 Bf7 69. Nf6 Kb4 70. Nd7 Be8 71. Nxe5 Kxb3 72. Kd2 a4 73. Kc1 Kc3 $19) 68... Bg6 $5 69. Nc3 (69. Nc1 Kb4 70. Kc2 Bxe4+ $19) (69. Ke3 Bf7 70. Nc1 Kb4 $19) 69... Bf7 $5 {White can no longer prevent the decisive invasion of Karjakin's king.} 70. Kc2 Kd4 71. Nb5+ Ke3 72. Nd6 Be6 73. Kc3 (73. Ne8 Kf3 74. Ng7 Bf7 75. Nf5 Be8 76. Ng7 Bg6 77. Nf5 Kxe4 $19) 73... Kf3 (73... Kf3 74. Nb7 Kxg3 75. Nxa5 Kh3 76. Nc6 g3 77. Nxe5 g2 78. Nf3 Bg4 79. Ng1+ Kh2 $19) 0-1

Pictures by Dmitry Kryakvin


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