Superfinals: Nepomniachtchi and Karjakin still tied on top

by André Schulz
12/16/2020 – Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin are still tied atop the standings after 10 rounds (of 11) at the open section of the Russian Superfinals. Nepomniachtchi defeated Andrey Esipenko while Karjakin got the better of Vladislav Artemiev. In the women’s tournament, Polina Shuvalova and Aleksandra Goryachkina surprisingly drew their direct encounter rather quickly. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili

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Nothing yet decided

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin have often been tied on points induring this tournament, including before today’s final round. After losing to Daniil Dubov, Nepomniachtchi quickly recovered, playing for a win against Andrey Esipenko. ‘Nepo’ sacrificed a piece and then saw his young opponent, with an extra piece, not wanting to settle for a draw when that would have been the correct decision.

Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Andrey Esipenko


The position arose from a Petroff Defence. White tries to get something going!

16.Bxh6 gxh6 [Black takes up the gauntlet. 16...Bxh2+ 17.Kh1 Be5=]

17.Qg4+ Kh8 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.Qxf5 [Threatening Qf6 and Re4.]

19...f6 20.Rad1 [20.Re6!?]

20...cxd5 21.Rxd5 Qxc4 22.Rxd6 Qf7 23.h4 Qh7


24.Qxh7+ Kxh7 25.Re7+ Kg6?! [Black does not want to settle for a draw. After 25...Kg8 26.Rxb7 a5 27.Re6 Na6 28.Ree7 a perpetual ends the game peacefully.]


26.h5+ Kg5 [26...Kxh5? 27.Rg7 and there is no way to defend against Rd3-Rh3. Even after 26...Kf5 27.Rd5+ Kf4 28.g3+ Kg4 29.Re4+ Kf3 30.Rdd4 Black is mated.]

27.Rxb7 [27.Rd3!? f5 28.Rg3+ Kf6 29.Rxb7 with better chances for White, as Black has difficulties developing his queenside. 29...Nc6 30.Rg6+ Ke5]

27...a5 28.g3 Ra6 29.Rxb8 [White’s idea.]

29...Rxd6 30.Rxf8


With an interesting rook ending. Is it winning?

30...Rd2 31.a4 Ra2 32.Kg2 f5 33.Rc8 [33.c4!? with the idea 33...Rxa4 34.Kh3 Rxc4 35.f4+ Kxh5 36.Rxf5+ Kg6 37.Rxa5]

33...Rxa4 34.Rc5 Ra2 35.Kf3


35... Kf6? [The engines recommend 35...a4 36.g4 Kh4 37.Rxf5 Rc2 38.Ra5 Rxc3+ 39.Kf4 Rc4+ 40.Kf5 Rxg4=]

36.Ke3 Kg5 37.f3 Kxh5 [37...Ra3 38.g4]

38.Kf4 [Threatening Kxf5 and mate after Kf6.]

38...Kg6 39.Rc6+ Kg7 40.Kxf5 [with a decisive advantage.]

40...Rf2 41.Rc7+ Kf8 42.f4 Rf3 43.g4 a4 44.c4 a3 45.Ra7 Rc3 46.Kf6 Ke8 47.c5 Rc4 48.f5 Rxg4 49.c6 Kd8 50.Rxa3 Kc7 51.Rh3 1-0

Sergey Karjakin and Vladislav Artemiev

At the next board, Sergey Karjakin, also playing white, prevailed against Vladislav Artemiev.


The black king is weakened. White has a big advantage.

37.Qe2 Nf5? [Better was 37...Qc5 38.Re6 Ng8 39.Rg6+ Kh8 and Black still holds.]

38.Re6 Qd4 39.Rg6+ Kf8 [39...Kh8 40.Qe8+]

40.Nxf5 Rxf5


41.Rxh6 [41.Qc2 wins immediately: 41...Rf7 42.Qc8+ Ke7 43.Re6#]

41...Rf6 42.Rh8+ Kg7 43.Re8 g4 44.Qe7+ Kh6 45.Rh8+ Kg5 46.Rg8+ Kh4 [The king can hardly survive here for long.]

47.g3+ Kh3 48.Qe1 Qd3 49.Re8 a3 50.Re2 Rxf2 51.Qxf2!

[After 51.Rxf2 Qxg3+ 52.Kh1 a2


53.Re2? Black actually has another trick. (53.Qf1+ Kh4 54.Rh2 wins.) 53...a1Q 54.Qxa1 Qf3+ 55.Kg1 Qg3+ with perpetual check.]


Mikhail Antipov’s withdrawal makes for a lopsided tournament. The games he has played count. The remaining games are counted as a win without a fight for the opponent. Fedoseev and Dubov are the most affected. They are relatively high up, despite having given up a half point against Antipov.

Standings after Round 10

1-2. Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi - 7
3. Vladimir Fedoseev - 6
4-5. Maksim Chigaev, Daniil Dubov - 5½
6-8. Vladislav Artemiev, Peter Svidler, Nikita Vitiugov - 5
9. Andrey Esipenko - 4½
10. Maxim Matlakov - 4
11. Aleksey Goganov - 3½
12. Mikhail Antipov - 2

All games


A quick draw in the women’s top encounter

Polina Shuvalova suffered a few setbacks after her explosive start, including a loss to Alisa Galliamova in Round 8. Shuvalova faced Aleksandra Goryachkina in the penultimate day of competition. Runner-up Goryachkina is the rating favourite to win the title and was the leader’s closest pursuer, standing a half point behind Shuvalova. 

But with one round to go, Goaryachkina did not dare to attack her young opponent. The game between the two contenders for first place was over shortly after the start. Third-placed Leya Garifullina also signed a draw. Marina Guseva caught up with Garifullina with a win over Alexandra Kosteniuk.

Standings after Round 10

1. Polina Shuvalova - 7½
2. Aleksandra Goryachkina - 7
3-4. Marina Guseva, Leya Garifullina - 6½
5. Alisa Galliamova - 6
6-7. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Alina Kashlinskaya - 5½
8. Natalija Pogonina - 5
9-10. Olga Girya, Valentina Gunina - 3½
11. Tatyana Getman - 2
12. Yulia Grigorieva - 1½

All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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