Moscow beats St. Petersburg at 100th anniversary encounter

by ChessBase
9/26/2011 – Last week, St. Petersburg hosted the traditional and historic match between Russia`s two greatest cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. The first such chess match was held 100 years ago – in 1911, after which 21 more meetings have taken place. After a five-year break another was finally held, promising to be an annual event thanks to the sponsorship of “Gazprom”. Report by Anna Burtasova.

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Moscow beats St. Petersburg in 100th anniversary encounter

Report by Anna Burtasova

A view of the Church of the Savior on Blood

On the weekend of September 17-18, St. Petersburg hosted the match of two Russian capitals: current Moscow and former St. Petersburg. The first such chess match was held 100 years ago – in 1911. Since then, 21 more meetings have taken place. Moscow has had the upper hand more often, but in their last match in 2006 St. Petersburg painfully defeated the capital’s citizens. After a five-year break another match on ten boards was finally held this weekend, thanks to the sponsorship of “Gazprom”. They announced that as of this year the match would be held annually.

The famous and recently renovated Chigorin Chess Club. These walls have seen the
greatest masters of the game of the last centuries.

The chess crown above the entrance of the club

The security welcomes to the club. One can see the banner of the match between
Moscow and St. Petersburg on the left.

The line-up of both teams was extremely strong – all the best players of Russia’s two chess centers gathered in the old and famous Chigorin Chess Club in the heart of historical St. Petersburg.

The main hall is located on the second floor. The portrait of the
legendary Russian player Mikhail Chigorin looks at the visitors.

Near the main hall entranceone can see the display of the cups
and medals won by the club teams and members at different times.

The captain of Neva city’s team, grandmaster Sergey Ivanov, introduced his squad this way: “One of my tasks as captain was to gather all the players in one place at one time. And, of course, with the exception of Svidler’s absence, St. Petersburg came up with the best line-up possible. We decided to not seat our players according to rating, [referring to have experienced Sakaev and Khalifman on higher boards and juniors Matlakov and Shimanov in the middle. The leaders of the team were of course Vitiugov and Alekseev”.

Before the start of the round, Moscow team captain Aleksandr Zlochevsky puts some
organization questions to the match director WGM Irina Sudakova.

Moscow’s squad was also missing their top players Grischuk and Karjakin, however, aside from this, the line-up was impressive with Morozevich and Nepomniachtchi on the top boards.

Morozevich unhappy with his second game against Vitiugov

Ian Nepomniachtchi – two draws against Eugeny Alekseev

At the opening ceremony the representative of the Russian Chess Federation, Evgeny Bareev, noted that the match is actually held on eleven boards if one takes into account the final of the World Cup with Muscovite Alexander Grischuk competing against his friend Peter Svidler from St. Petersburg. 

Each player had to face his opponent twice – with White and Black. The winning team would received a prize of 400,000 rubles (approx. 10,000 Euros), divided by the players, while every team member received 40,000 (1000 Euros). 

Friends from Moscow Riazantsev and Nepomniachtchi have a laugh at the sudden
“force majeur” when all the building's lights went out!

The organizers called the responsible authorities and had to announce that there was no way to know exactly when the lights would be back. Thus, all the players were moved from the stage to the hall with more light coming from the windows.

Players smile over the unusual incident

The view on the players at the hall from the balcony. In the past, it was not uncommon
for it to be impossible to get a ticket to this balcony to see the games of USSR championships
or other important events.

The match was a friendly one – with no rating on the line, but the fight was real. On the first day St. Petersburg was close to losing against their higher rated opponents, but held dramatically. Vitiugov lost to Morozevich on the first board, but Romanov won against Malakhov who got confused in time-trouble in a promising position. Matlakov held a pawn down endgame against Riazantsev, and Khalifman was the real hero of the St. Petersburg team as he managed to draw a doubtful ending against Inarkiev by creating some kind of study.

The final score of the match was 11.5-8.5 in favor of Moscow, who lost on board one with Vitiugov's heroic win over Morozevich, but lost badly on the lower boards,

Here is a gallery from the second and decisive day of the match:

Grachev, Khairullin and Vitiugov chat before the game. The grandmasters are from
different squads but all friends.

Inarkiev and Khalifman ready to start at their workplace on the stage. Although, in
round one Khalifman successfully escaped, in the second game Inarkiev would finish
what he started and win.

Boris Grachev was one of the players from the “tail” of the Moscow team who brought
the victory to the capital – he took the upper hand against Vasily Yemelin.

Players at work

Matlakov – Riazantsev (another important point for Moscow) kibitzed by Romanov
playing against Malakhov.

Vitiugov lost the black game to Morozevich on board one board, but came back in the
second game. He was the only one from St. Petersburg to win a game on the second day.

The St. Petersburg team: Vitiugov and Yemelin

Vladimir Malakhov lost in the first round and drew in the second

Ildar Khairullin (St. Petersburg) drew twice against Alexey Dreev (Moscow)

Romanov and Malakhov (on stage)

Romanov- Malakhov

Grachev - Yemelin

Last board of St. Petersburg Valery Popov checking Nepomniachtchi's position

Players on stage

Not all the players were ready to move back to the stage in the middle of the game.
Some stayed where they were seated.

Evgeny Najer – another important point for Moscow as he won against Popov

One of the many views of St. Petersburg

The city is one of the most beautiful and also home to the largest museum in the world

A close view of the Church of the Savior on Blood

Red beetle in St. Petersburg


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