Gunina leads in the Russia Women's Superfinal

by ChessBase
8/27/2011 – This event, staged in the Central Chess Club in Moscow, determines the 2011 National Women's Champion. For the last two years Alisa Galliamova has taken the title, but this time after seven of nine rounds Valentina Gunina looks like the the runaway winner: she has 6.0/7 (performance: 2717) and is a point and a half ahead of her nearest rival. Big illustrated report by Anna Burtasova.

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Gunina leads in the Russia Women's Superfinal

Pictorial report by Anna Burtasova

This time, the number of participants was narrowed to ten. The Kosintseva sisters declined the invitation due to the tight tournament schedule: both played a super strong WGM Tournament in China in July and the first stage of FIDE Women Grand Prix 2011 in Rostov-on-Don in the first part of August. Both were Russian champions in the previous years. Without them, the tournament with a prize fund of 1,500,000 rubles (around 37,500 Euros, with 10,000 Euros for the winner) gathered all the other best players.

Qualified for the event were the two winners of the previous year were Alisa Galliamova and Natalia Pogonina (who lost the title to Galliamova on the tie-break), the winners of the Higher League Swiss (held in Taganrog in June) Elena Zaiatz, Baira Kovanova, Valentina Gunina, Daria Charochkina, Tatiana Shadrina and Olga Girya, as well as Alexandra Kosteniuk and Anastasiya Bodnaruk by rating. The average rating of the event is thus 2418.

Alexandra Kosteniuk and Alisa Galliamova (above) just returned from the Grand Prix Rostov-on-Don. Neither are in form, except that in the first round Kosteniuk won her game against the defending champion Galliamova.

Valentina Gunina is in the lead. She has been lucky in some games, like the one against Natalia Pogonina (above), who gave her half a point in their second-round game when she missed a winning line in the time trouble. Otherwise, Vanentina won several games quickly due to her great calculating skills. The tournament now looks like a runaway victory for the Moskovite, who after seven rounds, with two to go, leads the field by 1½ points.

Valentina was born in 1989 in Murmansk. Her father was her first coach, and taught her and her elder brother to play. Her first successes came early: She was Russian Champion under 10, 14, 16, 18, 20, world champion under 18, and also won the Higher League. In 2010 Valentina became Olympic Champion as a Russian team member. As a young girl she played very quickly, and even today she is known as a great blitz player, winning a lot of blitz events in Moscow, where she moved when became a student of Social University. For her this superfinal is already the sixth. The best result so far was the bronze medal in 2009.

Standings after seven rounds

Note that the draw ratio is a sensationally low 25.7%, with just one short game – which was not a draw but a fiery 21-move win by Valentina Gunina against Tatiana Shadrina (given below).

The participants, trainers and friends at the opening ceremony

The event is being held in the legendary Central Chess Club on Gogolevskiy Boulevard
in the center of Moscow (near Arbat street)

Valentina, how is the tournament going for you so far?

Compared with last year, when I had three zeros at the start, this superfinal is going great. I know that in the game with Pogonina the computer estimated my position at minus three! I lost the right path and spent all my time thinking of how to equalize. As a result, I was in a rough time-trouble, but somehow got lucky.

But what happened to the old Gunina who played so quickly that she did not even know what time trouble is?

I am working on chess much more now, and right away there are mand more things to think of! (laughs)

In second place, with 4.5/7, is Baira Kovanova, who has exactly the approach of the “old Gunina” – she plays very quickly, without time-troubles and not making obvious mistakes. This has worked well so far: three wins and one loss. Baira originates from Elista, Kalmykia, and now lives in Saratov, where she studied at the University and played for their team.

Moskovite Daria Charochkina, who has the lowest rating at the
event, is on 50% and stands to gain 12 Elo points

Daria, who is on the final grade of the Sport University, said: “I managed to save a not so good position against Kosteniuk, after I had mixed up something in the beginning. Generally, I am happy how things are going so far. Of course it is a pity that I lost my game against Galliamova just in a few moves, but on the other hand in the first game I was lucky somewhere. I don’t put serious goals in front of me, I just want to show good games and a decent result, because this is my first superfinal”.

Valentina Gunina, with a new hairstyle, beat Tatiana Shadrina in round five in
27 moves with black – a typical slugfest game that is worth replaying.

[Event "61st ch-RUS w"] [Site "Moscow RUS"] [Date "2011.08.23"] [Round "5"] [White "Shadrina, T."] [Black "Gunina, V."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2373"] [BlackElo "2487"] [PlyCount "42"] [EventDate "2011.08.08"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 c5 6. Be3 Qb6 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. O-O Qxb2 9. Nb5 c4 10. Nc7+ Kd7 11. Nxa8 Bxc2 12. Qc1 Ba3 13. Bg5 {[#]} h6 14. Qf4 Bf5 15. Rab1 Bxb1 16. Qxf7+ Nge7 17. Bc1 Qxe2 18. Bxa3 Bg6 19. Qxg7 Rxa8 20. Qxh6 Rg8 21. h4 Bd3 0-1

Natalia Pogonina with her husband Peter Zhdanov

Defending champion Alisa Galliamova with 3.5/7

The winner of Higher league Elena Zaiatz has 3.5/7

Daria Charochkina lost her last two games and is on 50%

Losing 13 rating points: Alexandra Kosteniuk with 3.0/7

Olga Girya, vice world champion under 20, is only at 2.5/7

Anastasiya Bodnaruk is on last place with 1.5/7


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