2016 Russian Team Championship Rd6-10 (1/2)

by Albert Silver
5/12/2016 – The last half of the Russian Team Championship was just as good as the first, with a slew of exciting battles. Although the story of the event was Vladimir Kramnik's majestic performance and ensuing 2812 rating, it could have been more had he not let Karjakin escape a won game. Herein find some of the great games and mind-boggling moves.

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Although it failed to make the first report, having been played in the fifth round already packed with noteworthy results, special mention must be made of the extraordinary game by Ian Nepomniachtchi against Sanan Sjugirov, who had already suffered a pummeling by Kramnik in round three. In round five, Sjugirov saw his name inscribed in the annals of all-time brilliancies... on the receiving end.

Ian Nepomniachtchi - Sanan Sjugirov

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.05"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Sjugirov, Sanan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2703"] [BlackElo "2674"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] [BlackTeam "Zhiguli Samara region"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. c4 Be7 6. d4 O-O 7. Bd3 Ng5 8. Nc3 Bg4 9. Bxg5 Bxg5 10. Bxh7+ $3 {The tactic is so unusual, aside from the first move, that Sjugirov can hardly be blamed for not being able to find it.} Kxh7 11. h4 $3 {This is the absolutely amazing point of the sacrifice. Let's take a look at some of the key variations:} Bd2+ (11... Bxh4 12. Qd3+ Kg8 13. Rxh4 f5 {The only move with both Qh7 mate and Rxg4 threatened.} 14. Rh2 $1 { and White stands better with an open h-file and superior development. The plan is now 0-0-0 followed by Rdh1 (hence Rh2 to prepare doubling the rooks)}) ( 11... Bxf3 {is the easiest to see after} 12. hxg5+ Kg8 13. Qxf3 Qxg5 14. Rh5 Qf6 15. Qxf6 gxf6 16. Nd5 {and Black is lost.}) (11... Bh6 12. Ng5+ Qxg5 (12... Bxg5 $2 13. hxg5+ Kg8 14. Qxg4) 13. hxg5 Bxd1 14. Rxd1 $1 {The bishop will fall, and White's better pawn structure plus monster knight ensure a strong lasting advantage.}) 12. Qxd2 Re8+ 13. Kf1 Bxf3 14. Qd3+ $1 {This zwischenzug guarantees White's advantage as the pawn structure stays intact.} Kg8 15. Qxf3 {White is up a pawn and has the better position.} Nd7 16. Rd1 Qf6 17. Qxf6 Nxf6 18. f3 d5 19. c5 b6 20. cxb6 axb6 21. Kf2 b5 22. a3 b4 23. axb4 Rab8 24. b5 c6 25. Rhe1 cxb5 26. Rxe8+ Rxe8 27. Rc1 Ra8 28. Nxb5 Ra4 29. Rc8+ Kh7 30. g4 Rb4 31. Nd6 Rxd4 32. Kg3 1-0

Ian Nepomniachtchi was over the moon, deservedly, and Tweeted:

Wait. Giant thanks to Dubov? Indeed, the spectacular sacrifice was actually home preparation by Daniil Dubov from a training camp from another time, that he shared with his teammate especially for his encounter with Sanan.

Daniil Dubov showed great team spirit and generosity in sharing his find, qualities he no doubt
picked up from his first major coach, Sergey Shipov. In any case, whether karma or just the way
the dice fell, Daniil had an exceptional event himself, scoring 4.5/6 and a 2781 performance. One
thing is clear: this mentality will make him the darling of teams seeking valuable additions.

As all top players will agree: preparation is always a hit-and-miss topic no matter how finely attuned one is to the opponent, but here it paid off beautifully and Nepomniachtchi was in awe of the concept and how well it played out. He was vocal in his gracious credit to the discoverer of the move, so hats off to both for their team work and sportsmanship.

Ian Nepomniachtchi was set on fire with this win, and scored full points against Dominguez
and Grischuk in the following two rounds. Scoring 5.0/7 his performance was 2870 Elo.

Vladimir Kramnik, by all appearances, feels great back in his home town. Tuapse, the name of the sea port where he was born, also extends south all the way to Sochi. Looking unusually at ease, highlighted by his regular walks into the hotel cafe, happy to swim in the saltwater pool, the ex-world champion came in the eighth round of the Premier League in a sports suit and a blue shirt with a sailboat on the chest.

Kramnik, who always lives up to the motto "dress like a grandmaster", showed how relaxed he
was feeling by coming in informal wear, which was the precursor to his second win over Sjugirov.

This has also translated into one of his best results in the last few years, with wins over Svidler and Sjugirov (twice!), and what should have been a memorable victory over Karjakin in round seven. Somehow, when all seemed done, he repeatedly missed the winning move, only to find Caissa, frustrated by this unexpected ineptness, play the most ironic of turns in his game.

Vladimir Kramnik - Sergey Karjakin

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.07"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A05"] [WhiteElo "2801"] [BlackElo "2779"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/1R6/8/4nPBK/3p4/b7/1p2P3/8 b - - 0 56"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Siberia Novosibirsk"] [BlackTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] 56... Nc4 57. Bf4 ({The great champion missed} 57. f6 $1 {not once, but twice.} Ne5 58. Bf4 Nf7 59. Kg6 Nh8+ {No need to be a grandmaster to see that disaster is but a knock away.} 60. Kh5 $1 {Zugzwang! (Kf5 also wins but one has to love a nice zuzgzwang position)} Nf7 61. Rb8+ Bf8 62. Rxb2 {Resistance is futile.}) 57... Na5 58. Rb6 Nc6 59. Rb3 Kf7 60. Bg5 Nb4 61. f6 $4 {This is about as ironic as chess gets. Four moves ago, 57.f6! was the killer blow, but here it throws away the win and is the drawing move.} (61. Kg4 $1 {would still have won the game for White.} Nc6 (61... Ke8 62. f6 Nc6 63. Bd2 Kf7 64. Kf5 Kg8 65. Ke4 {and the king plays a decisive role.}) 62. Rb7+ Ke8 63. f6 Nd8 64. Rb3 Nc6 65. Bd2 {and the white king now marches all over to pick up the pawns with Kf5-e4-xd4, etc.}) 61... Nd5 62. Rb7+ Ke6 63. f7 Bb4 $1 {cutting off the rook from the pawn and forcing} 64. f8=Q Bxf8 65. Rxb2 Nc3 {and try as he may (and he spent 70 moves trying!), Kramnik was unable to trip Karjakin, and they drew after 138 moves.} 1/2-1/2

In spite of his superlative result, his team came in third, due to losses coinciding at the worst possible moments and uneven results by most of his team mates. The exception was Evgeny Tomashevsky, on board two/three, who played all eight rounds with a plus three score, no losses and a 2806 performance.

This also led to sweet revenge or Svidler and his team "The Bronze Horseman" that came in first and avenged their 2-4 loss in round four with an even more decisive 4.5-1.5 win in the last round over Kramnik's team "Siberia".

Peter Svidler bounced back from unexpected losses in rounds two and four, with two wins in
rounds six and seven against Karjakin and Sjugirov. It provided some damage control for his
rating, but more importantly salvaged his pride.

One of the key figures in the victory of the team "The Bronze Horseman" was hired gun
Bu Xiangzhi (above), who came to replace Li Chao, and showed what a force he was to
reckon with. Take a look at some of his handiwork below from round nine:

Bu Xiangzhi - Sergei Rublevsky

Black just played ...Bc4. Can you see White's reply? White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.09"] [Round "9.4"] [White "Bu, Xiangzhi"] [Black "Rublevsky, Sergei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2723"] [BlackElo "2692"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/5p2/4b2p/PR4p1/2p1B3/7P/P4PP1/6K1 b - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Bronze Horseman St-Petersburg"] [BlackTeam "Siberia Novosibirsk"] 34... c3 ({According to the engines} 34... f5 $1 {was best here though White would maintain an edge. Above all, this would evict the bishop from its e4 perch where it threatens a natural catastrophe on a8 (i.e. an unstoppable a-pawn).}) 35. a6 Bc4 36. a4 $1 ({No doubt, Black was hoping (expecting) for} 36. Ra5 Bxa6 37. Rxa6 c2 38. Bxc2 Rxc2 39. a4 {and though White stands better, nothing is decided.}) 36... Rc7 {An unpleasant reality.} (36... Bxb5 {just loses after} 37. axb5 c2 38. Bxc2 Rxc2 39. b6 {and one of the pawns will make it to the finish line.}) 37. Rb7 Rc8 38. a7 Bd5 39. Rb8 1-0

Although he only played three games against lower-rated players, he performed as expected,
and 21-year-old Vladimir Fedoseev scored 3.0/3

Maxim Matlakov (left) was another player who performed well with 4.0/6 and a 2745 performance.
In round nine, playing black, he played a powerful game against Anton Korobov (right).

Anton Korobov - Maxim Matlakov

Although Black won the game, he missed a chance to play an exceptional
combination here. Can you find it? Be warned, this is a tough combination,
albeit beautiful, so don't be frustrated if it eludes you. Black to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.09"] [Round "9.5"] [White "Korobov, Anton"] [Black "Matlakov, Maxim"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2674"] [BlackElo "2693"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4qp1k/2b3pp/3pP3/1P1R1P1P/r3PB2/1rp3P1/2R1Q1K1 b - - 0 36"] [PlyCount "15"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Siberia Novosibirsk"] [BlackTeam "Bronze Horseman St-Petersburg"] 36... Bd7 ({The combination missed by Black was the utterly fantastic} 36... Rb1 $1 37. Rxb1 Rxe3 $3 {Obviously the queen cannot take or the pawn will recapture and queen so...} 38. Qf1 cxb1=Q 39. Qxb1 Qxh4 {Threatening Re1+ winning the queen therefore} 40. Rd1 Rxf3 $1 41. gxf3 Qg3+ 42. Kf1 (42. Kh1 Qxf3+ 43. Kg1 (43. Kh2 Qf2+ 44. Kh3 Bd7+) 43... Qg3+ 44. Kh1 d4+) 42... Bb5+ 43. Rd3 Qxf3+ {and it is game over.}) 37. Bxd5 Bf5 38. Rc4 Qa7 39. Kh2 Rxe3 40. Qg1 Rb1 41. R4xc2 Bxc2 42. Bxf7 Rxc1 43. Qxc1 Qd4 0-1

Evgeny Najer, the reigning European Champion, also showed his fighting spirit, by overcoming
a poor 1.0/3 start with a 2.5/3 finish. Look at his attractive finale against Timofeev in round eight.

Evgeny Najer - Artyom Timofeev

Najer did not need to be asked twice to join the party and unleashed
his final assault on the king. Try to work out the line until you reach a
clear evaluation. White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Men 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.08"] [Round "8.3"] [White "Najer, Evgeniy"] [Black "Timofeev, Artyom"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C10"] [WhiteElo "2681"] [BlackElo "2598"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5rk/ppqb1p1p/4pb2/5p2/2BN4/2P4R/PP2QPPP/3R2K1 w - - 0 20"] [PlyCount "19"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] [BlackTeam "Rook Republic of Tatarstan"] 20. Nxf5 $1 {The first of a sequence of precise blows that end Black's resistance.} exf5 21. Rxh7+ $3 {The point.} Kxh7 22. Qh5+ Kg7 23. Qxf7+ { Possible thanks to the first move in the combination Nxf5, opening the diagonal for the bishop on c4.} Kh6 {The first bifurcation in the attacking sequence.} 24. Qxf6+ ({White could have gone for} 24. Rxd7 Qxd7 25. Qxd7 { and though winning without a doubt, it would have dragged out the game.} Rad8 26. Qxf5 Rd1+ 27. Bf1 Rg6 {allowing Black to still dream of swindles.}) 24... Rg6 25. Qh4+ Kg7 26. Qe7+ Kh6 27. Rxd7 Qxc4 28. Qh7+ ({Theoretically, the most precise was} 28. Qe3+ f4 29. Qe7 {and now the queen on c4 is cut off and Qh4 mate is threatened. Black would be forced to start chucking piecee away to hold off a few more moves.}) 28... Kg5 29. Rd4 1-0

Although Gata Kamsky drew all eight of his games, it bears noting that the lowest rated
of them all was 2674 and his performance (and thus average opponent rating) was 2717.

Untitled 22-year-old Alexander Predke, rated 2535 FIDE, had an exceptional event with a
plus one score over the eight rounds, and a 2679 performance.

In the lobby of the Grand Hotel "Pearl" - with a large gathering of local media - there was
also an interesting exhibition of rare stamps and envelopes called "Chess 2016".

The initiators of the exhibition - Igor Mamaladze, chairman of the Sochi Society of Philatelists,
and Sergey Demin, chairman of the Philatelic Society of Krasnodar.

A wide assortment of stamps with a chess theme were on display

In fact, an official tournament envelope was released for the occasion. A nice initiative!

Final standings

Rk SNo Team Gms   +    =    -   TB1   TB2 
1 2 "The Bronze Horseman" (Saint-Petersburg) 8 6 1 1 13 29.5
2 5 ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) 8 5 2 1 12 31.5
3 3 "Siberia" (Novosibirsk) 8 5 0 3 10 27.0
4 1 "Zhiguli" (Samara-Oblast) 8 2 1 5 5 19.0
5 4 "Rook" (Republic of Tatarstan) 8 0 0 8 0 13.0

Tie Break1: Matchpoints (2 for wins, 1 for Draws, 0 for Losses)
Tie Break2: points (game-points)

In part two, the Higher League, Women's League and more will be covered.


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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