Nepomniachtchi and Goryachkina are the 2020 Russian champions

by André Schulz
12/17/2020 – After beating Ian Nepomniachtchi in round 9, Daniil Dubov also beat Sergey Karjakin, the second rating favourite, to decide the title race in the open tournament — in favour of Nepomniachtchi. The women’s championship was decided in a playoff. Aleksandra Goryachkina defeated long-time leader Polina Shuvalova in Armageddon. | Photo: Eteri Kublshvili

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Photo finish

There was tension until the very end at the Russian Championships, played with 12 players each — open and women’s — at the Moscow Central Chess Club. Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin were tied in the lead before the final round. Both grandmasters had to play with the black pieces — Nepomniachtchi was paired up against Maksim Chigaev, while Sergey Karjakin had the more difficult task of facing Daniil Dubov.

When Dubov is in an attacking mood...and he was!

Dubov, who enjoys opening experiments, found a nice old gambit variation in the Italian and caught the 2016 World Championship challenger by surprise — Karjakin simply was not ready to face this line. 

Dubov,Daniil (2702) - Karjakin,Sergey (2752) 
73rd RUS-ch Superfinal 2020 Moscow (11.1)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 [Nowadays 5.d3 is almost obligatory.]



6.b4!? [The designation ‘Wuppertal variation’ would be appropriate, see below.]

6...Bb6 7.e5 Ne4 [According to the Mega Database, in the correspondence game Barmen (today a district of Wuppertal) against the Academic Chess Club of Berlin, there followed 7...d5 8.exf6 dxc4 9.b5 Na5 10.fxg7 Rg8 11.Qe2+ Be6 12.cxd4 Bxd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.Bb2 Qc5 15.Bf6 Qf5 16.Qf3 a6 17.Nc3 axb5 18.0–0–0 c6 19.Rd6 b4 20.Qxf5 Bxf5 21.Re1+ Be6 22.Red1 Nb3+ 23.axb3 Ra1+ 24.Nb1 Rxb1+ 25.Kxb1 Bf5+ 26.Kc1 Bd7 27.Re1+ Be6 28.Rd8# 1–0 (28) City Barmen CC-City Berlin Academy CC corr 1873.]

8.Bd5 [A young Lawrence Trent played here 18 years ago 8.0–0 0–0 9.b5 Ne7 10.Nxd4 d5 11.Bd3 Nf5 12.Nf3 f6 13.Nbd2 Nxf2 14.Rxf2 Ne3 15.Qe2 Ng4 16.Nd4 Nxf2 17.Bc2 fxe5 18.Qh5 e4 19.h3 c5 20.Nc6 bxc6 21.Ba3 c4 0–1 (21) Trent,L (2246)-Borisek,J (2341) Peniscola 2002.]

8...Nxc3 9.Nxc3 dxc3 10.Bg5 Ne7 11.0–0


So here we are: White is ahead in development but is also two pawns down. The one on c3, however, is not worth much. Above all, Black has difficulties in completing his development.

11...h6 12.Bh4 0–0 [12...g5!? with the idea 13.Nxg5 (Better was 13.Bg3 Nxd5 14.Qxd5 and Black still has a few nuts to crack.) 13...Nxd5]

13.Re1 [In the following moves Black does not get a grip on the position. However, we will certainly see this variation more often, and Black will find improvements.]

13...Qe8 14.Bb3 a5 [14...Nf5!?]


15.Bf6! [A small demonstration of power. But there is also a decisive threat of 15...-- 16.Nh4 followed by Qg4 and annihilation on the g-file.] 

15...a4 [15...Ng6 16.Qd3 Kh8 17.Nh4 Nxh4 18.Bxh4 followed by Bf6 and Bc2 with unavoidable mate.] 16.Bc4 [The bishop is strongly placed.]

16...Ng6 17.Qd3 [Threatening mate with Qxg6 and Qxg7.]

17...d5 18.exd6 Be6


19.Qxg6! [19.Bxc3 Bxc4 20.Qxc4 Qd7 and Black would have survived the attack.]

19...fxg6 20.Rxe6 Qf7 [The alternative was 20...Qc6 21.Re7+ Qxc4 22.Rxg7+ Kh8 23.Rxc7+ Rxf6 24.Rxc4 Rxd6 25.Rxc3 and White is a pawn to the good.]

21.Bxc3 Kh8 22.Re4 Qf5 

23.Re7 [Again threatening mate with Bxg7, etcetera.]

23...Rg8 [Another attempt was 23...Bxf2+ 24.Kh1 (Not 24.Kxf2 Qc2+ 25.Be2 Qxc3 26.Rd1 cxd6) 24...Rfe8 e.g.: 25.Rf7 cxd6 26.Bxg7+ Kh7 27.Rxf5 gxf5 White has two pieces for a rook and a pawn, and can play for a win.]

24.Bxg8 Rxg8


25.dxc7 [White has a rook and a minor piece for the queen and is very active. Black cannot find any counterplay and can only watch White improve his position. The game is over.]

25...Qc2 26.Be5 Bxf2+ 27.Kh1 Bb6 28.h3 Kh7 29.Re1 a3 30.Kh2 g5 31.Nd4 Qc4 32.Nf5 Qxb4 33.Rc1 Kg6 34.Rxg7+ Kxf5 35.Rxg8 Bxc7 36.Bxc7 Qb2 37.Rc5+ Ke4 38.Rd8 1–0

Ian Nepomniachtchi drew his game against Maksim Chigaev to become the winner of the 2020 Russian Championship.

All results - Round 11


Final standings


All games


Goryachkina prevails

The women’s event offered even more excitement than the open championship. The world girls U20 champion Polina Shuvalova had a dream start with six wins in as many games, as she clearly outpaced the rest of the field. Then the Shuvalova express stuttered and the pursuers, above all Aleksandra Goryachkina, shortened the gap. In round 10, the leader met her pursuer, but the two contenders for the title postponed the decision until later and quickly signed a draw.

In the final round, Shuvalova, playing black, could not get more than a draw against the experienced Olga Girya, while Aleksandra Goryachkina got the better of Tatyana Getman. Both players were now tied on points. That meant a playoff would decide who gets the title!


The two rapid playoff games ended in a draw. In Armeageddon, Shuvalova seemed to be nervous, as she lost the thread against the rating favourite.


16.Bxf6 Qxf6? [16...gxf6 17.Bxh7+ (17.Ng4? f5; 17.Qh5 Ne4) 17...Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 (18...Kg8 19.Ng4? Ne4) 19.Qg4+ with perpetual check.]

17.Nxd7 [Or 17.Qxf6 gxf6 18.Nxd7 Na4 19.Nxf8 Bxf8 winning the exchange.]

17...Qxf3 18.gxf3 Rfd8? [Slightly less bad was 18...Na4 19.Nxf8 Bxf8]

19.Nxc5 Rxc5 20.bxc3 [Black is now a whole piece down.]

20...Rxc3 21.a4 Rd7 22.Rfb1 g6 23.Rb6 Kg7 24.f4 Kf6 25.Rab1 Rcc7 26.Kg2 h5 27.Kf3 1–0

All results - Round 11


Final standings


All games



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


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