Grischuk leads "Play for Russia" charity tournament

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/13/2020 – The one-of-a-kind "Play for Russia" tournament is taking place from Tuesday to Thursday this week, with eight strong Russian grandmasters playing blitz online to raise funds for their country's regional hospitals and health workers fighting the COVID-19 epidemic. After seven rounds, played on Tuesday, Alexander Grischuk is leading the standings table. He is closely followed by former world champion Vladimir Kramnik.

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Over $300,000 USD raised so far

In an interview given to Kommersant, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik explained that he and his colleagues decided they had a unique chance to help their country by organizing an online charity tournament. Kramnik elaborated:

My fellow chess players naturally discussed the current situation and decided to organize a charity event. Now, for all the known reasons, there are no sports competitions. Chess is one of the few types that can exist even in the current conditions. Some online tournaments are held. But we did not want to organize a commercial, but a charity competition.

We have a big country, and it’s hard to help everyone. Nevertheless, we want to do what is in our power. So, we came to the conclusion that in large cities, regional centres, everything is more or less in order. But if you move a little further away, then the situation there is often much worse. In general, I wanted to help hospitals, doctors — with protective suits, equipment, drugs. So this tournament appeared.

Each of the eight participants represents a region of the largest country in the world, and they will determine the amount and recipients of the donation, depending on the needs of a particular institution. The entire amount will be distributed equally among the regions, regardless of the final standings.

As of May 11th24,130,000 rubles had been donated (over $325,000 USD). In addition, the Timchenko Foundation has committed to deliver individual protective gear and medical supplies to ten regions of Russia. 

If you want to donate, you can find the details for bank transfers following this link.

Andrey Filatov, Gennady Timchenko

Andrey Filatov and Gennady Timchenko | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

The chess tournament

The event, taking place on, is an eight-player double round-robin, with a time control of five minutes per game plus a two-second increment per move. The four top scorers of the round-robin will go through to a knockout playoff. The first half of the all-play-all section was played on Tuesday, with the second half scheduled for Wednesday and the semi-finals starting the day after. Games start at 3 p.m. Moscow time (2 p.m. CEST / 8 a.m. ET).

Despite having retired from competitive (classical) chess over a year ago, Kramnik is still the highest-rated player in the field, with a 2797 official blitz rating. The most active before the coronavirus crisis, however, were Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniachtchi, who played the seven first rounds of the Candidates Tournament in Yekaterinburg. 

Grischuk, also a former blitz world champion, is currently leading the standings table on 5½ out of 7, followed by Kramnik (5/7) and two-time Russian champion Evgeny Tomashevsky (4/7). Kramnik was leading until round three, but lost against Grischuk the next round. Grischuk also scored wins over Peter Svidler, Alexander Riazantsev and Sergey Karjakin.

Games - Rounds 1 to 7


Standings after Round 7

Rk. Name Blitz rating Points TPR
1 Grischuk, Alexander 2765 2946
2 Kramnik, Vladimir 2797 5 2878
3 Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2695 4 2776
4 Karjakin, Sergey 2754 3 2670
5 Svidler, Peter 2766 3 2674
6 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2785 3 2665
7 Inarkiev, Ernesto 2639 2631
8 Riazantsev, Alexander 2497 2 2578


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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