Russian men's Superfinal – Svidler sole leader

by ChessBase
12/17/2010 – The event had all the hallmarks of an explosive tournament, with a 2700+ average rating and worth the very prestigious title of Russian Champion. Sadly, the bomb has been a dud so far, with barely over 27% of the games ending with a decisive result. This has been compensated slightly by Svidler, now sole leader, who has played strong original chess, and the lovely pictures by Yana Melnikova.

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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.

Gogolevsky Boulevard, named after the famous writer Gogol, where the Central House
of Chess is located.

The entrance to the locale

In spite of the remarkably high average rating, worthy of a super GM event (2709 Elo, and Category 19), the Russian Men’s Superfinal has been somewhat of a letdown for spectators hoping for dynamic gutsy chess, especially after the London Classic where we were obviously spoiled with the incredibly high win-rate.

This odd-looking monument located on Gogolevsky Boulevard, depicts horses crossing
Don River, a reference to the fantastic book, "And Quiet Flows the Don", by Nobel
prize winner, Mikhail Sholokhov.

Here it has been just the opposite, and after six rounds and 36 games, with only ten decisive games, the win rate has been an extremely peace-and-love 28%. It would be unfair to claim this is all about not wishing to take chances and protecting their ratings, though this is inevitably a factor, as some cases were the result of extreme fights that just happened to end that way. The marathon Malakhov-Nepomniachtchi was an example, where Ian was on the ropes trying his best to save an essentially lost game, and did.

The playing hall in round five

Another possible explanation is that the players are mostly reared on a diet of events where they are often the strongest players, and just playing strong correct chess is enough as inevitably their lesser opponents will trip all by themselves and they need only mop up the mess. Thus risk-taking is essentially unnecessary and unprofitable. Still, this also means that the original thinkers or players willing to push a little harder than their peers, seeking the tournament victory as opposed to just a good result and some extra Elo at the end, will have the best chances.

Peter Svidler has scored 30% of all the wins in the tournament so far

At the midway point, that player is five-time champion and sometime world top-ten Peter Svidler who has pulled ahead with 4.5/6 and a third of all the wins (in a twelve player event) all by himself. He is followed closely by Karjakin at 4.0/6, and then Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi at 3.5/6.

Karjakin is currently second with 4.0/6 in his first Russian Championship

After a disappointing loss to his fellow talent, Nepomniachtchi came back with a
win against Tomashevsky in round four.

Grischuk is the current title-holder, but the lion has not awakened yet

In round two he had completely outfoxed Kurnosov with his combination of tactics and original strategic play, and here in round six, he overpowers Malakhov after they both followed the first thirteen moves of Adams-Howell played in London less than a week earlier.

Svidler,P (2722) - Malakhov,V (2712) [C67]
63rd ch-RUS Moscow RUS (6), 16.12.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.c4 0-0 10.Nc3 f6 11.Re1 fxe5 12.Qxe5 Bf6 13.Qh5. 13.Qg3 Nc5 14.Bg5 Nd3 15.Re3 Nxb2 16.Rae1 Bxg5 17.Nxg5 Qf6 18.Rf3 Qd8 19.Nce4 Ba6 20.Nxh7 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Kxh7 22.Ng5+ Kg8 23.Qh4 Bxc4 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Re5 Be6 26.Qh8+ Ke7 27.Qxg7+ Kd6 28.Ne4# 1-0 Adams,M (2723)-Howell,D (2611)/London 2010/CB49_2010 13...g6 14.Qh6 Bg7 15.Qh3 d6 16.Qg3 Qd7 17.h3 Nc5 18.Qh4 Ne6 19.Ng5 Nxg5 20.Bxg5 Rf7 21.Ne4

Suddenly the black squares around the king aren't looking quite so healthy. The queen on d7, preventing the bishop from joining on the kingside, is also an inconvenience. 21...Bb7 22.c5! Making sure the bishop won't play on the queenside either. 22...Raf8 23.cxd6 cxd6 24.Rad1

24...c5. The alternative 24...d5 would also lose material after 25.Nc5 Qf5 26.Ne6 Qxf2+ 27.Qxf2 Rxf2 28.Nxf8 Rxf8 29.Re7 25.Nxd6 Rxf2 26.Qxf2 Rxf2 27.Kxf2 Bf8 28.Re8 Qg7 29.Kg1! [29.Nxb7? Qf7+ 30.Kg1 Qxe8] 29...Bc6 30.Rc8 h6 31.Rxc6? [31.Bf4!] 31...hxg5 32.Ne4 Qe5 33.Nf6+ Kh8 34.Ng4 Qe8 35.Rc7 Bg7 36.Rxc5 Qb8 37.Kh1 Qxb2 38.Rc8+ Kh7 39.Rd7 Qb1+ 40.Kh2 Qb6 41.Rf8! -- Threatening mate with 42.Nf6+ Kh6 43.Rh8+ Bxh8 44.Rh7# 1-0. [Click to Replay]

Dmitry Jakovenko (2726), was first-board at the Olympiads for

Vadim Zviaginsev is a highly orginal player and author of the Zviaginsev Sicilian that
starts 1.e4 c5 2.Na3!? that he used to beat notable players Khalifman and Ponomariov.

Vladimir Potkin was the captain of the Russian team that played the recent marathon
Russia-China match that took place with no less than 250 games!

Pictures by Yana Melnikova

Current standings after round six


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