2016 Russian Team Championship Rd1-5 (1/2)

by Albert Silver
5/5/2016 – While the Bundesliga is certainly the best-known of the world class league championships, it is hardly the only one, and no less impressive is the Russian Team Championships with players such as Kramnik, Karjakin, and Svidler, not to mention top women like Kosteniuk, Lagno, and others. It doesn't stop there, so read the report and check out the tons of exciting chess.

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Photos by Vladimir Barsky

Readers may recall the tragic death of Ivan Bukavshin, who passed away in January this year at the untimely age of 20 years old. He was not only greatly liked and respected by his colleagues, but was a serious talent on the rise. At the time, Sagar Shah wrote a fitting tribute to the young player who had garnered praise even from legends such as Gelfand, who singled him out during the famous Nutcracker event in December.

Boris Gelfand analyzes with Ivan Bukavshin as Mark Dvoretsky (right) looks on

The reason this is being brought up now is that the Russian Team Championship was full of tributes to him in small and big ways in a fashion that bespeaks of just how much his loss is felt in the Russian chess community.

The first and most obvious was the traditional minute of silence, in which players collectively paid their respects once more.

A minute of silence in honor of Ivan Bukavshin

However, tribute went much deeper than this in the form of the teams. Not one, but two actual teams were named specifically after him in their own ways. In the Women's Team Championship, one of the teams was called "Bukavushki" in his honor. The Higher League, one notch below the Premier, had a team from Tolyatti, the city where Ivan passed away, called "Bulbasaur". Needless to say, even many Russians had to have this curious name explained. It turns out that "Bulba" was a childhood nickname of Bukavshin, which they playfully enhanced to "Bulbasaur" to give a more threatening tone to the name. And not in vain considering their first board is none other than Denis Khismatullin, awaiting his victims.

Some teams came dressed casually, others with team shirts

General Director of the Grand Hotel "Pearl" Gennady Kovalev

Tournament Director Sergey Smagin and chief arbiter Stanislav Yanusheuski

The Pearl is a top hotel with a giant swimming pool enjoyed by the participants and guests

The Russian Team Championship can only be described as huge, with any lesser adjective failing to do the job. Naturally there is the Premier League, bringing in a host of names that could easily comprise the lineup of an elite tournament all by themselves, with no fewer than eleven topping 2700. Players such as Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, and Alexander Grischuk are gimmes, but even top foreigners such as Cuban Leinier Dominguez, Chinese Bu Xiangzhi, as well as Israeli Maxim Rodshtein have come to do battle.

The star, in spite of all the famous names, is unquestionably former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik

He is hardly alone with other Candidates such as Peter Svidler...

.... as well as Alexander Grischuk and Sergey Karjakin.

Beyond the Premier League though is the Higher League, the Women's Team Championship, the Senior Team Championship, the Boys championship, the Girls Championship, and even the All-Russian Championship of Orphanages and Boarding Schools.

Premier League

In spite of the great diversity of competitions, it goes without saying that all eyes will start at the Premier League, where the world's best are playing. The field may seem somewhat reduced with only five teams playing, but to make up for the fewer teams, the event has been turned into a double round-robin Scheveningen, meaning each team will meet the other twice!

Official Russian Women's Team coach Sergey Rublevsky

The top two teams in terms of lineups are undoubtedly "Siberia" from Novosibirsk, with Kramnik and Grischuk at the top boards and a 2729 average Elo, followed by "The Bronze Horseman" from St. Petersburg with Svidler and Dominguez and a 2720 average.

Gata Kamsky is a regular at the event, and faces Grischuk above with whom he drew

Vladimir Kramnik has stamped his authority already, defeating Sana Sjugirov in one game, and in the clash of the two titans he manhandled Peter Svidler with black on board one, taking his live rating to 2810! See his handiwork:

Peter Svidler - Vladimir Kramnik (notes by GM Dmitry Kryavkin)

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.04"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Svidler, Peter"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D35"] [WhiteElo "2762"] [BlackElo "2801"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Bronze Horseman St-Petersburg"] [BlackTeam "Siberia Novosibirsk"] 1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nf3 c5 6. g3 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 b6 11. Bg2 Bb7 12. O-O O-O 13. a4 Nc6 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. a5 b5 16. Qb2 a6 17. Nd3 Ba8 18. Bxc6 Rxc6 19. Nb4 Rc4 20. Nxa6 Qd5 21. f3 Rxd4 22. Nc7 Qc5 23. Kh1 $6 {Svidler protects his king from a possible invasion of the black rook on the second rank, but in light of what happened next 23.Kg2! was probably best. (Kryakvin)} Bc6 24. Rfc1 Rc4 25. Na6 $2 { A mistake in a very difficult position.} Qf2 $1 {And now we can see why 23.Kg2 might have been more precise as it would have prevented this.} 26. Qe5 Bd5 $1 27. Nc7 $6 {enticing, but no good.} ({Still, even the 'best'} 27. Rf1 {was hopeless after} Qa7 28. e4 Bxe4 29. fxe4 Qxa6 {when Black holds all the cards. (Kryakvin)}) 27... f6 28. Qd6 Rxc7 29. Qxc7 Qxe2 30. Ra3 {Svidler resigned without waiting for 30...b4 which wins the rook as it cannot hold the third rank and protect f3. (Kryakvin)} 0-1

Kramnik showed he was feeling refreshed in his two victories, starting with Sanan Sjugirov

Kramnik was brutal in his victory over Svidler and that's what he does to his friends. Imagine
his enemies...

In spite of this powerful performance, the team from Novosibirsk is actually only tied for first, losing out slightly on tiebreak. The Muscovite team "Legacy Square Capital" defeated them quite handily in round two, without Kramnik, and scored three wins to none. Their 'lower' boards such as Ernesto Inarkiev (only 2686 FIDE) and Daniil Dubov (a measly 2644) have both scored heavily for their team.

Daniil Dubov - Anton Korobov

Black just played ...Qb4 attacking the pawn on b6, bishop
on c4, and rook on e1. White replied Re4 tempting, no
daring Black to take either pawn or bishop. Can you see
what happens if Black takes in either case?

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.02"] [Round "2.5"] [White "Dubov, Daniil"] [Black "Korobov, Anton"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2644"] [BlackElo "2674"] [Annotator "Silver,Albert"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5q2/5pk1/1Pp2bp1/7p/1PBn1Q1P/6P1/5PK1/4R3 b - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] [BlackTeam "Siberia Novosibirsk"] 36... Qxb4 {Not a double attack, but a *triple* attack with pawn, bishop and rook all under fire by the queen. What to do?} 37. Re4 {Not worry!} c5 ({ It is not hard to see the bishop cannot be captured since} 37... Qxc4 38. b7 { and the pawn, supported by the queen on f4, cannot be stopped.}) (37... Qxb6 { can be a little trickier to refute.} 38. Re7 $3 {is the killer blow. f7 is under attack and Black cannot defend against Rxf7 except with} Bxe7 {after which all is lost.} 39. Qxf7+ Kh6 40. Qxe7 {Black's king is caught in a fatal web. The immediate threat is Qf8+ followed by mate so} Qb8 {is more or less forced. White could already win the knight with Qe3+ but there are much more attractive targets available.} 41. Bf7 $1 {The threat is Qf6 after which g6 and mate cannot be stopped, therefore} Qh8 {is the only move that can prevent it.} 42. Qg5+ Kg7 43. Qe5+ {and ther queen falls since} Kh7 44. Bxg6+ Kg8 45. Qe8+ Kg7 46. Qf7+ Kh6 47. Be4 {leads to mate.}) 38. Qd6 Qxc4 39. b7 Qb3 40. b8=Q Qf3+ 41. Kg1 1-0

There aren't many foreign players in the Premier League. Among them is Leinier Dominguez (right),
described as an 'honorary St. Petersburger'.

Initially, Li Chao had been scheduled to play, but after his last-minute invitation to play in
Stavangar (Norway Chess), Bu Xiangzhi was brought in to replace him. In spite of a rather
significant 2723 rating, he is on board four of his team, and this is actually respecting the
order of Elos! He has scored 2.5/4 so far witha 2747 performance.

Evgeny Najer - Vladislav Artemiev

After a masterful game by the reigning European Champion
Evgeny Najer, White has reached this position to finish the
game in style. White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.03"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Najer, Evgeniy"] [Black "Artemiev, Vladislav"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2681"] [BlackElo "2669"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r5/1p5k/pn3PpP/6B1/4p3/7P/P7/1R5K b - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "4"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] [BlackTeam "Rook Republic of Tatarstan"] 34... Rc6 35. Rxb6 $3 Rxb6 36. f7 1-0

After five rounds, the standings are:

Rk SNo Team Gms   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 5 ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) 4 2 2 0 6 15.0 0
2 3 "Siberia" (Novosibirsk) 4 3 0 1 6 14.5 0
3 2 "The Bronze Horseman" (Saint-Petersburg) 4 2 1 1 5 13.5 0
4 1 "Zhiguli" (Samara Oblast) 4 1 1 2 3 11.0 0
5 4 "Rook" (Republic of Tatarstan) 4 0 0 4 0 6.0 0

Tie Break1: Matchpoints (2 for wins, 1 for Draws, 0 for Losses)
Tie Break2: points (game-points)
Tie Break3: The results of the teams in the same point group according to Matchpoints

In the next part tomorrow, the other competitions will be covered. In the meantime, do not hesitate to follow the action live on Playchess.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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Thomas Richter Thomas Richter 5/8/2016 08:30
Maybe teams and where they come from don't matter!? Zhiguli might like to have Kramnik and Grischuk on the top boards, or maybe they are happy with their actual top boards Sjugirov and Lysyj. Bu Xiangzhi apparently replaced Li Chao (part of the Siberia lineup as well as Kramnik and Grischuk), but then somehow ended up playing for St. Petersburg.
KevinC KevinC 5/6/2016 11:51
Daniil Dubov - Anton Korobov, I would contend that 41.Bf7! (his exclam) is not stronger at all since your opponent is likely to play on for at least a few moves. In practice, Qe3+ picking off the N would cause most normal opponents to resign immediately. Winning the game in one move is stronger in my book.
Catastrophe Catastrophe 5/6/2016 08:54
I miss the Kosintseva sisters ;-(