Rozum and Guseva winners in Moscow

by Diana Mihajlova
3/6/2021 – The International Russian Cup, also known as the Moscow Open, took place from February 19 until March 1 partly at the Russian State Social University and partly online. The two main events, which serve as stages of the Russian Cup, were won by GM Ivan Rozum (open section) and IM Marina Guseva (women’s section). Diana Mihajlova tells us all about the traditional festival. | Pictured: Marina Guseva | Photo: Anna Shtourman

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International Russian Cup at the RSSU

There are only a few chess tournaments in the world that are famous for having been organized for a very long time without interruption. Hastings (1895) and the Moscow Tournament are probably the most famous. The Moscow City Chess Championship was first played in 1899. Among the winners we find the names of Alekhine, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Averbakh, Petrosian and, more recently, Morozevich. Over the years it has changed formats and names, but it still is an important yearly event played in Moscow. 

This year’s edition, which took place from February 19 until March 1, did not include famous figures in the lineup. With so many opportunities bestowed upon the elite players, it is understandable that they bypass tournaments that live on ‘old glory’. Neither were there many foreign players as in previous years. The current Covid-19 crisis naturally contributed to the absence of foreigners, so this year the tournament was predominantly a Russian affair.

Nonetheless, the Moscow Open, undeterred, kept up with the tradition and even became a larger Festival as eight tournaments were added — including competitions for students, veterans and problem-solvers. Additional activities like seminars, conferences and online events were also organized.  

Moscow Open 2021

On its website and in the Russian press it goes under various names: Moscow Open, Moscow Festival, Russian Cup Stage, RSSU International Chess Cup — are all these titles referring to one and a same event?

I turned for help to my good friend, the wonderful WGM Elmira Mirzoeva. Elmira is regularly involved in the Russian chess press, and this year she was commenting on the event on their specialized TV chess program ‘The Game of Kings’.

For me personally, this is a very interesting event and I eagerly expect it every year. But in, 2021 with the pandemia on, I had doubts that it would be organized. But we have done it! The Russian State Social University has done it!

The tournament  regulations changed a bit and this year it was played part over the board and part online, for students and veterans. 

I was impressed by the play of Marina Guseva! She won the women’s competition again. I believe she did it 3 times before. She missed only half a point and finished with 8½ out of 9! In the men’s competition Ivan Rozum is the winner, and it was unclear till the very end who would finish in first place. 

In my opinion, the most important thing is that the Moscow Open even took place this year. As a Grandmaster and the author of the chess program on the Russian TV channel Match TV, ‘The game of Kings’, I had done reports on the Moscow Open all previous years. I would also play on occasions — once I came second and once third in the women’s event. I hope next year this traditional chess event will be held again, and I hope to be able to cover it and also play!

Regarding the title of the event, the previous years it was Moscow Open and International Russian Cup. But this year it would be correct to call it only International Russian Cup.

Elmira Mirzoeva

WGM Elmira Mirzoeva | Photo: Elmira Chess

OK. So be it. In the title however we see the abbreviation ‘RSSU’. It stands for the Russian State Social University, which takes an eminent place in the whole event. It acts as a sponsor, and it is largely responsible for the event going ahead. Its ample, beautiful premises served as playing venue for the many sections of the Festival. It organized the event with the support of the Constellation of Good Foundation, the Russian Chess Federation (FSHR), and the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Its main partner, the Stakes of Russia, the only betting company in Russia, provided the prize fund of 1,800,000 rubles (approx. 20,200 euro). 

Russian State Social University

The Russian State Social University | Photo: RSSU website

The two main events, Tournament A and Tournament B, are actually Russian Cup stages for men and women respectively.  

By the seventh round, in the men’s group, Muscovite GM Nikita Afanasyev and GM Kirill Stupak from Belarus, were in the lead with 6 points each. Kiril drew his game in the seventh round against the eventual winner, GM Rozum Ivan, but faulted in the following rounds and  had to be contented with a tenth place in the final standings as he scored 6½/9 points.


Ivan Rozum, Kiril Stupak

GM Ivan Rozum and GM Kiril Stupak | Photo: Anna Shtourman

GM Ivan Rozum won the main event on a better Buchholz score, after sharing the first spot with six other players on 7/9: GM Bocharov Ivan (RUS), GM Afanasiev Nikita (RUS),  IM Lobanov Sergei (RUS),  IM Zarubitski Viachaslau (BLR), GM Nesterov Arseniy (RUS),  and IM Korchmar Vasiliy (RUS). 

In the women’s tournament, IM Marina Guseva led throughout and finished, undefeated, with a brilliant result of 8½/9.    

Marina Guseva

IM Marina Guseva | Photo: Anna Shtourman

Two women had strong performances in the men’s section, which would probably be more correct to be called Open section. IM Assaubayeva Bibisara (KAZ) and IM Badelka Olga (BLR) both obtained 6½/9 points and were placed 12th and 13th respectively, among the 150 participants. In the March rating list they both figure among the 100 highest-rated girls in the world — Badelka on 3rd place and Assaubayeva on 9th place. 

Assaubayeva Bibisara, Badelka Olga

IM Assaubayeva Bibisara from Kazakhstan and IM Badelka Olga from Belarus | Photos: FIDE

The prize giving ceremony was attended by RSSU’s rector Natalya Pochinok, FIDE President’s Advisor Berik Balgabaev, Deputy General Director of Sberbank-AST JSC Yulia Obalyaeva and Tournament Director IA Artem Akhmetov.

Moscow Chess Open 2021

The winners in the men’s section: Russian GMs  Rozum Ivan, Bocharov Ivan and Afanasiev Nikita | Photo: Official site 

Moscow Chess Open 2021

The winners in the women’s section: IM Marina Guseva, 8½/9; IM Bodnaruk Anastasia, 8/9; WGM Kovanova Baira, 6½/9 | Photo: Official site )

12-year-old Muscovite Kirill Kondrashev won the online solving competition held on February 28 on the ChessKing platform as part of the additional Cup program. He made 1579 points and was best among 23 participants.  

On the premises, as Group E, the RSSU International Cup of Problem and Studies Solving was held. The best problem solvers were Pavlov Danila (85/90), Moiseev Danila (77½/90) and Popov Aleksey (71/90)
Moscow Chess Open 2021

Group E, the problem solvers at work | Photo: Official site 

All available games - Moscow Open A


All available games - Moscow Open B



A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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