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

by Albert Silver
5/13/2016 – In this final report on the Russian Team Championship, you will read about the trials and tribulations of being the top dog, either being beaten down to size as "Malachite" in the Higher League, or utter domination such as "Legacy Square Capital" in the Women's event, winning two rounds in advance! It had it all from guts and glory to children's delight.

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Photos by Vladimir Barsky

Higher League

The Higher League is the team championship just below the elite Premier. While it may lack the Kramniks, Karjakins, Grischuks and Svidlers of the top event, the chess is no less exciting, hard-fought, or memorable. These are all players who aspire to not only see their team champion, but also earn the winner's right to play in the Premier League the following year and faces those Kramniks and others themselves.

"The Bronze Horseman" were the victors in the Premier League, striking gold in the last round

22 teams partook in the competition over nine rounds, with ratings averages ranging from just 2155 (the Moscow State University Faculty of Law) to the all-grandmaster lineup of team "Malachite" from Ekaterinburg with an average of 2583. In fact, four teams boasted average ratings of over 2500, and were the obvious favorites, and it was no big surprise to see one of them win. However, it shuld be noted that the top-ranked "Malachite" was not only not the winner, but came in all the way in 9th place, suffering four losses, showing just how tough the field was.

The winners' cups and medals

The winners of the event were the Muscovite team "SergArk", sporting only one player over 2500, Uri Eliseev, while the others all ranged just under that threshold. The composition was also quite interesting considering that four of the five players were aged between 18 and 23, with the exception of GM Sergey Arkhipov whose 62 years certainly struck a significant contrast. Don't think for a minute he was the burden on the team as he started with 3.0/3, losing only one game in round six.

IM David Paravyan and GM Uri Eliseev, both 18 and 20 years old respectively, from team "SergArk"

The heaviest scoring player on their roster was 18-year-old IM David Paravyan (2497 FIDE), who scored 6.5/9 with a 2642 performance. Here is an example of his tactical awareness:

David Paravyan - Evgeny Levin

With the rook on e8 defended, and the white bishop pinned, Black
felt safe in taking the g4-pawn with 38... Qxg4. What had he missed?
White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Major League 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.09"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Paravyan, David"] [Black "Levin, Evgeny A"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2497"] [BlackElo "2510"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4r3/1p3Rpk/p1b1B2p/4Q3/6P1/P7/KPP3qP/8 b - - 0 38"] [PlyCount "6"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SergArk team Moscow"] [BlackTeam "SDYUSSHOR SHSH St-Petersburg"] {With the rook on e8 defended, and the white bishop pinned, Black felt safe in taking the g4-pawn with} 38... Qxg4 {Even after} 39. Bf5+ Kg8 {the black queen is defending g7 against mate, and the white queen has no checks. He missed the fatal little move} 40. Rf8+ $3 {and resigned since now} Kxf8 (40... Rxf8 41. Bxg4) 41. Qd6+ {and the queen will be captured on the next move.} 1-0

The winners of the Higher League, team "SergArk". From left to right: David Paravyan,
Yuri Eliseev, Sergey Arkhipov, Shamil Arslanov, and Ilya Ilyushenok.

There was no shortage of nice finishes, oversights, and all that one wants from such a competition. Consider this last-round shot:

Sergey Savitsky - Daniil Yuffa

Black just played 33...Rh3?? completely missing White's continuation.
White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Major League 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.10"] [Round "9.3"] [White "Savitskiy, Sergey"] [Black "Yuffa, Daniil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A05"] [WhiteElo "2401"] [BlackElo "2503"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4p1kp/2R1P1p1/8/4pPP1/3r4/4K2P/2B3b1 b - - 0 33"] [PlyCount "20"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Yamal Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenets District"] [BlackTeam "Bulbasaur Tolyatti"] 33... Rh3 34. Bb2+ Kh6 ({Obviously} 34... Kf8 {gets mated with} 35. Rc8#) 35. Bf6 $3 {This is the move Black overlooked.} e3 36. Bxe7 Rxh2+ 37. Kd3 Kg7 ({ Black would love to have the time to throw in} 37... e2 {but cannot because of} 38. Bf8#) 38. g5 {Black is getting mated.} Rd2+ 39. Ke4 Rd4+ 40. Kxd4 e2+ 41. Kc4 e1=Q 42. Bf6+ Kf8 43. Rc8# 1-0

Two of the top-rated players were Alexander Khalifman (left) and Denis Khismatullin (right).
Khismatullin was the strongest scorer of those who played all nine rounds, with 7.0/9 and
a 2742 performance. After a fall from grace, dropping over 100 Elo in the past two years
from a peak 2714, it would seem he is back to his winning ways.

Special mention must be made of GM Dmitry Kryavkin (2532), not so much because he scored
a superb 6.5/8 and a 2686 performance, which would be worthy of praise in and of itself, but
for his excellent running blog posted at the Russian Chess Federation's site, commenting after
every day on the moments and games he felt worthy of highlighting, as well as tournament
situations and players in all the events. He did this while playing great and preparing too. Kudos.

Another nice finish:

Shamil Arslanov - Grigoriy Palchun

The material is equal, and Black has a protected passed pawn on the c-file
as insurance he can push at anytime. Or so it seems. White to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Major League 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.09"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Arslanov, Shamil"] [Black "Palchun, Grigory"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E00"] [WhiteElo "2398"] [BlackElo "2320"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "7r/p2k1p2/1p3P2/1Pp1PKR1/P7/8/8/8 w - - 0 47"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SergArk team Moscow"] [BlackTeam "SDYUSSHOR SHSH St-Petersburg"] {It is often easy to miss a move like} 47. e6+ $1 {due to the automatic way we filter out moves where we are outgunned (more defenders than we can attack). Even though a few more seconds thought makes it clear the e-pawn will only be temporarily 'sacrificed'.} fxe6+ 48. Ke5 Rh4 49. Rg7+ Ke8 50. Rxa7 c4 51. a5 c3 52. axb6 Rb4 53. Kxe6 Re4+ 54. Kf5 Rb4 55. Rc7 c2 56. Rxc2 Rxb5+ 57. Kg6 Rxb6 58. Kg7 Rb7+ 59. Kg8 1-0

Final standings

 -   TB1   TB2 
1 4 «SergArk team» (Moscow) 9 7 1 1 15 22,0
2 6 "SDYUSSHOR SHSH" (Saint-Petersburg) 9 5 2 2 12 18,5
3 2 "Peter's Boat" (Saint-Petersburg) 9 4 3 2 11 21,0
4 9 "Automation" (Moscow) 9 4 3 2 11 21,0
5 3 "Bulbasaur" (Tolyatti) 9 4 3 2 11 19,5
6 7 "Boavista" (Moscow) 9 4 3 2 11 19,5
7 10 "Terrible" (Chechen Republic) 9 4 3 2 11 19,5
8 1 'Malachite' (G. Yekaterinburg) 9 5 0 4 10 20,0
9 8 "Yamal" (Salekhard, Yamalo-Nenets District) 9 4 2 3 10 20,0

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

Women's League

If the Higher League was an example of how challenging it was even for the top-rated teams, the Women's league was an example of the top-seed smashing the field so bad that they had effectively won with two rounds to spare. That bad.

Top seed "Legacy Square Capital" was without peers and had a perfect score. Impressive.

The team "Legacy Square Capital" led by Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno on the top board plowed through the rest with merciless efficiency, scoring a perfect eight wins out of eight matches. It is also perhaps a slightly ironic example of their domination that only Kosteniuk actually outperformed her rating with 4.0/5 and a 2601 performance. Everyone else on her team played around their ratings or just below, but this was enough for an 8-0 sweep.

Kosteniuk's success was also due to her willingness to push the ticket and go for a win even
when it entailed some risk. Calculated risks it is true. Here she (right) faces Shuvalova in the
sixth round. See below.

Polina Shuvalova - Alexandra Kosteniuk

[Event "TCh-RUS Women 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.07"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Shuvalova, Polina"] [Black "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2320"] [BlackElo "2556"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "SSHOR Youth of Moscow Moscow"] [BlackTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. O-O Bg7 5. c3 Nf6 6. Re1 O-O 7. h3 Qb6 8. Ba4 Rd8 9. d4 cxd4 10. cxd4 d5 11. e5 Ne4 12. Nc3 Nxe5 $5 {This move, though attractive, only offers equality via repetition. In theory.} 13. Nxe5 Bxe5 14. dxe5 Qxf2+ 15. Kh2 Qg3+ 16. Kg1 Qf2+ 17. Kh2 Qg3+ 18. Kg1 {White doesn't really have any choice so a draw seems reasonable, except that Black suddenly decides she wants more.} Nf2 {This is one of those do-or-dare situations where White needs to stay calm, look carefully, and find the refutation. (drum roll)} 19. Qf3 $2 {Admittedly the correct move did not stand out as the obvious choice, but this move is bad and rewards Black for the risk she took.} (19. Ne4 $3 {It is a bit counterintuitive, but with the rook undefended on d8, nor was it impossible to see. The key of course is to see the rest of the main line.} Nxh3+ 20. Kh1 Qh4 (20... Nf2+ 21. Nxf2 Qxf2 {and Black is just down a piece.}) 21. g3 Nf2+ {double-check.} 22. Kg1 Qxe4 23. Kxf2 {and Black is still down a piece, but the exposed white king, extra pawns that can come rolling down the kingside, and even passed d-pawn, promise some counterchances.}) 19... Nxh3+ 20. Kf1 Qh2 21. Be3 (21. gxh3 Bxh3+) 21... h5 22. Nxd5 Rxd5 $1 23. Qxd5 Be6 24. Qd4 Qh1+ 25. Bg1 Bc4+ {decoying the queen from its protection of Bg1.} 26. Qxc4 Qxg1+ 27. Ke2 Qxg2+ 28. Kd3 Rd8+ 29. Kc3 Qd2+ 30. Kb3 Rd3+ 31. Qc3 Rxc3+ 32. bxc3 Nf2 33. Bb5 Ne4 0-1

Ekaterina Kovalevskaya and Alina Kashlinskaya also scored heavily and when it mattered

Although Kateryna Lagno's campaign was somewhat marred by her first round loss to teenager Goryachkina, she bounced back with three wins in the final rounds, always on the look out for her chances. Watch how she trapped her opponent WGM Natalia Pogonina in round seven.

Natalia Pogonina - Kateryna Lagno

Black played 44...Be5 attacking the rook, and White obligingly played
45.Rfb4? Black responded immediately, having tricked her opponent.
Black to play and win.

[Event "TCh-RUS Women 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.08"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Pogonina, Natalija"] [Black "Lagno, Kateryna"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E61"] [WhiteElo "2490"] [BlackElo "2529"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6r1/k1r5/ppBp4/2qPbQ1p/P4R2/8/5PP1/1R4K1 w - - 0 45"] [PlyCount "8"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Yugra Khanty-Ugra"] [BlackTeam "SSM Legacy Square Capital Moscow"] 45. Rfb4 $2 {Falling for the trap set up by Black.} Rxc6 $1 46. dxc6 Bh2+ 47. Kxh2 Qxf5 48. Rxb6 Qxf2 0-1

Alisa Galliamova, twice runner-up in the World Women Championship

Waiting for the round to start, gold was decided soon, but silver and bronze were up for grabs

Although WGM Alexandra Goryachkina (right) held her own, most of her team floundered and
as a result team "University" ended in sixth place

Of note also was 11-year-old Bibasara Assaubayeva from Kazakhstan (2141) who scored
4.5/8 with a 2270 performance. In round six she beat...

... WGM Baira Kovanova (2391).

Bibisara Assaubayeva - Baira Kovanova

[Event "TCh-RUS Women 2016"] [Site "Sochi RUS"] [Date "2016.05.07"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Assaubayeva, Bibisara"] [Black "Kovanova, Baira"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D37"] [WhiteElo "2141"] [BlackElo "2391"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2016.05.01"] [WhiteTeam "Donchanka Rostov-on-Don"] [BlackTeam "Yugra Khanty-Ugra"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. e3 a6 6. a4 b6 7. Bxc4 Bb7 8. O-O Bb4 9. Qe2 O-O 10. Bd3 c5 11. dxc5 Bxc5 12. e4 Nbd7 13. Bf4 Nh5 14. Be3 Qb8 15. g3 Nhf6 16. Bxc5 Nxc5 17. Bc2 a5 18. Rfe1 e5 19. Rad1 Re8 20. Qd2 Qc8 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. exd5 e4 23. Nd4 Re5 (23... Nxd5 24. Nb5 {threatening Nd6 and the knight on d5 so} Rd8 25. Bxe4 Nf6 (25... Nxe4 26. Rxe4 Nf6 27. Rd4 Rxd4 28. Qxd4 $14 {and White's centralized pieces and control of the d-file promise a lasting pressure.}) 26. Qxd8+ Qxd8 27. Rxd8+ Rxd8 28. Bc2 {is just equal. If} Rd2 29. Rd1 $11) 24. Nc6 Re8 25. f4 Qh3 26. Qg2 ({The immediate} 26. d6 $1 { was best.}) 26... Qf5 27. d6 $1 {The young player doesn't need to be asked twice!} Qe6 28. f5 Qd7 ({The point being} 28... Qxf5 29. Ne7+ {and Black loses material.}) 29. Ne7+ Kh8 ({Possibly giving up the exchange with} 29... Rxe7 30. dxe7 Qxe7 {was best, but knowing that all one could hope for is a struggle to draw while suffering the rest of the game had to be a tough pill to swallow.}) 30. g4 Nd3 $2 {A serious error in judgement. Giving up the strong e-pawn, one of the only things keeping the wolves at bay, in exchange for the utterly useless a-pawn. 30...Rab8 or 30...Rad8 was normal and best though White is still very much in control.} 31. Bxd3 exd3 32. Rxd3 Qxa4 {Somehow, the famous line from the cult film 'Fight Club' comes to mind: "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."} 33. g5 {Your wish is my command.} Ng8 34. d7 Rxe7 35. Rxe7 Rd8 36. Re4 Qb5 37. Red4 Qxf5 38. Qd5 Qg6 39. Kh1 f5 40. h4 h6 41. Rc3 1-0

Final standings

 +   =   TB1 
1 5 ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) 8 8 0 0 16 23,5
2 7 "SDYUSSHOR SHSH" (Saint-Petersburg) 8 5 1 2 11 20,0
3 3 "Yugra" (Khanty-Ugra) 8 4 3 1 11 20,0
4 9 "Boavista" (Moscow) 8 3 3 2 9 17,5
5 4 "Donchanka" (Rostov-on-Don) 8 2 4 2 8 14,5
6 6 "University" (Belorechensk, Krasnodar 8 3 1 4 7 15,5
7 8 "Bukavushki" (Tolyatti) 8 1 3 4 5 11,5
8 1 "Rook" (Republic of Tatarstan) 8 1 2 5 4 12,5
9 2 SSHOR "Youth of Moscow" (Moscow) 8 0 1 7 1 9,0

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

Senior League

The senior event was won by team "University" led by their top board Evgeny Sveshnikov

Evgeny Sveshnikov scored heavily with 6.5/8 helping his team take gold

Final standings

Rk SNo Team Gms   +    =    -   TB1   TB2 
1 7 "University" (Belorechensk, Krasnodar 8 6 2 0 14 25,0
2 2 "The Bronze Horseman" (Saint-Petersburg) 8 5 2 1 12 21,0
3 8 'Malachite' (G. Yekaterinburg) 8 5 2 1 12 20,5
4 6 "Our Heritage" (Moscow) 8 4 3 1 11 21,0
5 3 "Good Heart" (Sochi) 8 4 2 2 10 16,5
6 1 "Rook" (Republic of Tatarstan) 8 3 0 5 6 14,0
7 9 "Zhiguli" (Samara region) 8 2 0 6 4 13,5
8 5 "Yugra" (Khanty-Ugra) 8 1 1 6 3 10,0
9 4 "On a visit to us" (Sochi) 8 0 0 8 0 2,5

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



The winners of the Girls Championship, for players born in 2002 or after, with "Belorechensk University" taking gold

The Boys Championship podium with team "Rook" from Krasnoyarsk - Nizhny Novgorod taking gold

The All-Russian Championship of Orphanages and Boarding schools

Held in parallel, as an innovation to the overall competitions, was the All-Russian Championship of Orphanages and Boarding schools. This was also a team event, but it was by no means limited to competition as innumerous activities were organized to the sheer delight of the children there.

The team from Simferopol won the All-Russian competition of Orphanages and Boarding schools

A group photo of the coaches and guardians of the children

The playing hall where it took place

First some makeup to join in the fun

Body-size bubbles were created with a photo to remember the moment

A magician was also on hand showing all kinds of tricks

Games with animators were set up keeping the energy levels and spirits high

The closing ceremony with dignitaries, notably Russian Chess Federation president Andrey Filatov

A variety of dance and musical acts concluded the closing ceremony


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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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