64th Russian Championship – Svidler lifts title with a round to spare

8/14/2011 – With one round to spare, Svidler continued his amazing run with a win over Nepomniachtchi, securing his sixth Russian title. If one might shake one's head at the diminished length of the event, one cannot besmirch his near 3000 Elo performance at the expense of top-ten players such as Kramnik, Karjakin, and Grischuk. Grischuk, Karjakin, and Moro will decide second. Round six report.

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Prize fund: 90.000€ (24.000 - 17.500 - 12.500 - 11.000 - 9.000 - 7.500 - 4.000 - 2.500)
Tourney mode: round robin with 7 rounds
Time mode: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move starting with the 1st move.
Game start: 13:00, last round 11:00
Rest day: 12th August

64th Russian Championship Super Final

This year's Russian Championship Super Final also marks a special edition: the 64th. Oddly though, instead of some mega event with more, the tournament has been cut down from last year's eleven-round edition with twelve players to a mere seven rounds and eight players. Still, don't think that makes it a lesser event by any means, as it also brings together a fantastic field with Kramnik, Karjakin, Grischuk, Morozevich, Svidler, Nepomniachtchi, and Galkin for a 2715 average rating. Once more the Russian Federation hosts the championship at a level that few can rival, with high resolution video broadcasting and of course grandmaster commentary. Round one through four will be commented by GM Sergey Makarichev, while rounds five through seven will be commented on by world-famous coach Mark Dvoretsky.

Round six

Peter Svidler has signed off his championship campaign in style with another thumping win. His victim today was Nepomniachtchi. The burly Russian, who is reclaiming the national title after three years, made his intentions clear early in the encounter. He employed the Symmetrical English from White and worked hard to keep Black from castling by planting his queen in the exposed a2-g8 diagonal and throwing in the distracting 16. b4 break.

Nepomniachtchi passed over the chance to hound white into equality with 17….Qg4 which offers to exchange queens or seal off the weak diagonal. He instead matched his opponent's aggression with 17….Ke7, a decision that cost him dearly. Svidler immediately seized space with 18. b5 and went on to cast Black into a painful queenside bind that won him a piece in the endgame.

Six-time Russian champion Peter Svidler

[Event "64th ch-RUS"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.08.14"] [Round "6"] [White "Svidler, P."] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, I."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A35"] [WhiteElo "2739"] [BlackElo "2711"] [PlyCount "81"] [EventDate "2011.08.08"] 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nc7 7. O-O e5 8. a3 f6 9. e3 Qd3 10. Ne1 Qg6 11. d3 Be6 12. Qa4 Bd7 13. Nb5 Nxb5 14. Qxb5 Rb8 15. Qc4 Bd6 16. b4 cxb4 17. axb4 Ke7 18. b5 Nb4 19. Qb3 Be6 20. Qb1 Qe8 ({It is worth noting that challenging the b5 pawn would not have helped Black. For instance} 20... a6 21. Bd2 Nd5 22. Nf3 Qe8 23. d4 $1 Qxb5 (23... exd4 $4 24. Nxd4 {and Black loses material.}) 24. Qe4 Nc7 25. dxe5 fxe5 26. Rfc1 {and Black is struggling to protect his queen, knight and e5 pawn.}) 21. Rxa7 Qxb5 22. Bd2 Qb6 23. Ra3 Bc5 24. d4 exd4 25. exd4 Na6 26. Qxb6 Bxb6 27. Bf4 Bc7 28. Nd3 Bxf4 29. Nxf4 Bc8 30. Re1+ Kd6 31. Rae3 Nb4 32. Rb1 Nc6 33. Rc3 Bf5 34. Rb6 Kc7 35. Rb5 Bd7 36. d5 Rhe8 37. h4 Re5 38. Rb2 Rc8 39. Nd3 Ree8 40. dxc6 Bxc6 41. Nb4 1-0

The two other decisive games Grischuk-Galkin and Karjakin-Timofeev were also won by white.

Galkin, facing the Caro Kann Advance Variation, repeated the less played move 5….Be7 that had fetched him a draw from Inarkiev at the Russian Higher League Championship in June. He allowed his kingside pawn structure to be destroyed in exactly the same fashion but did not get the same counterplay -- unlike Inarkiev, Grischuk did not castle queenside.

The spectators watch the games entranced...

...while listening to the game commentary by trainer and author Mark Dvoretsky

In the long positional battle that followed, Black's main error seems to have been the opening of the a-file (He could have put off 15….axb3 and played the patient 15….b5, aiming to build up pressure with Qa5-b4 first)

Grischuk's active minor pieces proved stronger in the resulting closed pawn structure and Galkin was left clutching a useless bishop as the white queen and knight bullied their way to victory.

Grischuk is tied for second with Karjakin and Morozevich

Timofeev was the other player to make an uncommon opening choice that boomeranged. He played 3….Nc6 against Karjakin's Nc3 variation in the French Defence and was doing reasonably well until he messed up with the tempting 12….Qg6?

White now gets the upper hand after 13. Bd2 regardless of Black's actions. In the game Black played 13….fxe5, giving white the strategic knight outpost on e5 and eventually losing an exchange for naught.

Although he was unable to win the championship this year, Karjakin is tied for
second and will decide the podium in the last round.

[Event "64th ch-RUS"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.08.14"] [Round "6"] [White "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Black "Timofeev, Arty"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C10"] [WhiteElo "2788"] [BlackElo "2665"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2011.08.08"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. e5 f6 5. Bb5 Bd7 6. Nf3 Qe7 7. O-O Qf7 8. Re1 O-O-O 9. a4 Nge7 10. b4 Nxb4 11. Rb1 Nec6 12. Ne2 Qg6 $2 {Bad, but Black probably needs to rethink this setup asn White's initiative is real and dangerous anyhow.} ({Black could try} 12... a6 {instead but after} 13. c3 axb5 14. axb5 Nb8 15. cxb4 Bxb5 16. Nc3 Bc4 17. Qa4 {Black's king safety is starting to look iffy.} Be7 18. b5 $14) 13. Bd2 $1 {Black has no good choices now.} fxe5 (13... a5 $6 14. c3 Nd3 15. Nf4 Nxf4 16. Bxf4 f5 17. Qb3 { Threatening Ba6!} Kb8 (17... b6 18. Rec1 $1) 18. Rec1 $1 $16) (13... Qxc2 $2 14. Bxc6 Bxc6 15. Bxb4 Qxd1 16. Rexd1 $16) (13... Nxc2 $4 14. Nf4 Qf5 15. Bd3 $18) 14. Bxb4 Nxb4 15. Nxe5 Qxc2 16. Bxd7+ Rxd7 17. Nxd7 Kxd7 18. Nf4 Qxd1 19. Rbxd1 Bd6 20. Nxe6 Nc2 21. Re2 Re8 22. Nc5+ Bxc5 23. Rxe8 Kxe8 24. dxc5 Nb4 25. a5 a6 26. Kf1 Kd7 27. Rd4 Nc6 28. Rxd5+ Ke6 29. Rh5 h6 30. Ke2 Nxa5 31. Kd3 b6 32. cxb6 cxb6 33. Rh3 Nb7 34. Rg3 Nc5+ 35. Kc4 Kf6 36. Kd5 a5 37. Rf3+ Kg5 38. Kc6 Ne4 39. Kxb6 a4 40. Kb5 Nd2 41. Rg3+ Kf6 42. Kxa4 g5 43. Kb4 1-0

Morozevich, who needed to beat Kramnik from black to keep his title chances alive, drew in 56 moves of a Semi-Slav Defence after his attempts to conjure something out of a queen and knight ending proved futile despite an extra pawn.

Svidler has consequently stretched his lead to 1.5 points over Moro, Grischuk and Karjakin and is assured of his sixth national championship, the first of which he won seventeen years ago, in 1994. The final round will be played tomorrow.

Photographs by the Russian Federation (Russiachess.org)

Standings after six rounds


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 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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