Russian Men's Superfinal - Nepomniachtchi beats Svidler

12/20/2010 – The tournament has been a mixed affair, and though the 70% draw rate is uninspiring, a few players have conspired to make it a memorable event nonetheless. After the break, Svidler drew two games, while Karjakin beat Kurnosov to join the lead. Then in round nine, Nepomniachtchi, a half point behind, beat Svidler, and now shares the lead with Sergey. Report with pictures and games.

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The Russian Men's championship Superfinal is being held from December 11-22 at the Central Club of Chess in Moscow, Russia. It is an 11-round round-robin event with a 3.5 Million ruble prizefund (~USD 115,000).

The time control is 40 moves in 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and a 30-second increment as of move one.

The Russian Men’s Superfinal has decidedly been a fine balance between the lackluster and the lively. The lackluster is because of the sub 30% winrate even after nine rounds and 54 games, but the lively because a few players are have no intention of sticking to the status quo.


A crowd gathers in front of Nepomniachtchi's game against Jakovenko

Peter Svidler started on track for a sixth title, and with inspired play had reached clear first with only Karjakin in position to really challenge him. Nepomniachtchi, who had won the only game in the opening round, and seemed intent on repeating his success in the Russian Super Semifinal, where he took clear first. That isn’t actually what it was called, but with some 50 players rated 2500 and up in the semifinal of a national championship, you could have fooled us. However, he then played his fellow prodigy, Sergey Karjakin, and lost in an exciting game that did them credit. This left him with some significant catching up to do, and mid-tournament, after the break, he has begun making his move and in no uncertain fashion. In round seven he defeated Zviaginsev, joining Karjakin and Grischuk, snapping at Svidler’s heels a half point behind, and it was Karjakin who joined Svidler first after the latter had drawn two games, by beating Kurnosov in a Berlin that took the oddest direction.


Peter Svidler had unwanted company at the top of the leaderboard after round eight

Normally, black’s queenside majority is merely numeric in its superiority as its doubled structure is stymied by white’s three pawns, however Karjakin managed to outplay Kurnosov in such a way that the pawns actually queened.


150 years later and Steinitz's teachings are still rote

Kurnosov,Igor (2676) - Karjakin,Sergey (2760) [C67]
63rd ch-RUS Moscow RUS (8), 19.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Ne2 b6 12.Rd1 Ba6 13.Ned4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 c5 15.Nf5 Be2 16.Rd2 Bc4 17.Ne3 Be6 18.Nd5 Rc8 19.b3 c6 20.Ne3 Rd8 21.Rxd8+ Kxd8 22.Bb2 g6 23.Rd1+ Kc7 24.f3 Bh6 25.Kf2 a5 26.a4 b5








It is rather remarkable how Black has managed to activate what is usually a dead queenside majority. To his credit, the treatment of the bishop pair against bishop and knight would have made Steinitz proud. Notice how the knight is completely denuded of any squares at the moment. 27.axb5 cxb5 28.Nd5+ Kc6 29.Nc3 Bf8 30.Rd8 c4. Threatening Bc5+ and Rxd8. 31.Ke2 b4 32.Ne4 cxb3 33.cxb3 Bg7 34.Rd6+ Kb5 35.Rd3. The engines suggest the clever 35.Nc5! protecting b3 and attacking e6. The knight cannot be taken with 35...Kxc5 due to the mate after 36.Bd4+ Kb5 37.Rb6# 35...Bh6 36.Kd1 Ra8 37.Kc2 Rc8+ 38.Kb1 Rc7 39.g4 Bf4 40.Nd6+ Ka6 41.Ne8 Rd7 42.Rxd7 Bxd7 43.Nf6 Be6








44.gxh5? Though Black was much better, this mistake is decisive. 44...Bxb3! 45.Bc1 Bxc1 46.Kxc1 gxh5 47.f4 a4 48.f5 a3 49.Nd7 Bd5 50.e6 fxe6 51.f6 e5 52.Nxe5 b3 53.f7 b2+ 54.Kc2 Be4+ 55.Kd2 b1Q 56.f8Q Qc2+ 57.Ke3 a2 58.Qd6+ Kb5 59.Qb8+ Kc5 60.Nd7+ Kc6 61.Ne5+ Kd5 62.Nf7 Qc3+ 63.Kf4 Qf6+ 0-1. [Click to Replay]

With this victory, Karjakin joined Svidler in the lead, with Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi right behind.


Rapt afficionados follow the action


Malakhov shares his first win of the tournament, against Vitiugov.


Svidler and a young fan observe Ian's game

In round nine, It was Ian’s turn to take on the leader.

Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2720) - Svidler,Peter (2722) [C45]
63rd ch-RUS Moscow RUS (9), 20.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.Nd2 g6 10.Nf3 Qb4+ 11.Kd1 Nb6. 11...Rb8 12.Qc2 Ne7 13.b3 Bg7 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.c5 Qb7 16.Bxa6 Qxa6 17.Qc4 Qxc4 18.bxc4 h6 19.h4 d5 20.cxd6 cxd6 21.Bc3 d5 22.Kc2 c5 23.Rab1 0-0 24.Rxb8 Rxb8 25.cxd5 Nxd5 26.Rd1 Nb4+ 27.Bxb4 cxb4 28.Kb3 Bf8 29.Rd7 1-0 Ponomariov,R (2734)-Leko,P (2734)/Dortmund 2010/Mega2010 Update 32 (57) 12.b3 Bg7 13.Qd2 Qe7 14.Bb2 0-0 15.Kc2 c5 16.h4 d5 17.exd6 Qxd6 18.Bxg7 Qxd2+ 19.Nxd2 Kxg7








Not easy to understand why Svidler accepted to enter this line, since the pawn structure is shattered and weakened, and there is no obvious compensation for it. 20.Ne4 Nd7 21.Rd1 Bb7 22.Nc3 Nf6 23.f3 Rfe8 24.Bd3 a5 25.Rhe1 Bc6 26.Nb5 Rxe1 27.Rxe1 Re8 28.Rxe8 Nxe8








29.Kb2! White's plan to bring his king to a3-a4 and pick up the pawn is straightforward and strong, and forces Black to play precisely. 29...Kh6 30.Be2








To protect f3 and be able to answer Kh5 with g3. 30...Ng7? A mistake. Black cannot capture the pawn with the king with Kh5, since White has g3, so he goes for it with his knight instead. The problem is that this takes far too much time. The immediate 30...g5 was necessary. 31.hxg5+ (31.g3? gxh4 32.gxh4 Kh5) 31...Kxg5 32.g3 Ng7 33.f4+ Kh6 34.Nxc7 Nh5= 31.Ka3 Nf5 32.Ka4 Nxh4 33.Bf1 Nf5 34.Kxa5 Ne3 35.Nxc7 Nxf1 36.Kb6 Bd7 37.Nd5 Kg7 38.a4 Bc8 39.Ne7 1-0. [Click to Replay]

An astonishing result, and one that changed the outlook of the podium. Peter is still capable of coming from behind to take it in the end, but the momentum is clearly on the side of the young lions.

Pictures by Yana Melnikova

Current standings after round nine


Links

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