Superfinals: Nepomniachtchi beats Karjakin in key matchup

by Klaus Besenthal
12/13/2020 – A big point for Nepomniachtchi. In Round 7 of the Russian Superfinal, Ian Nepomniachtchi won the top match against Sergey Karjakin in fine style. With 5½ points, the leader now has a full-point lead over Karjakin, who despite the defeat managed to hold on to second place for the time being. In the women’s competition, Polina Shuvalova did not win for the first time in Round 7, as she “only” managed a draw against Leya Garifullina. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili

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Striking when it matters the most

Some bad news from Moscow: Mikhail Antipov withdrew from the tournament, with the reasons not provided for the public immediately. The games played by him are rated, so whoever can no longer play against him receives a point without a fight. 

Should one make a safe move, aimed primarily at holding one’s position together, or is it justified to move forward risking getting in trouble? This might be the question of all questions in a game of chess, which simply cannot be answered satisfactorily under time pressure while at the board. Sergey Karjakin was faced with this problem on move 18. The former World Championship challenger opted for the brute liberation of his position constricted by the white pawn on d6 — but his decision was a mistake:

 

Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin — two top players sitting opposite a real board, a rare sight during this terrible pandemic

Standings after Round 7

 

All games

 

Shuvalova draws

In the women's tournament, the leader Polina Shuvalova gave up half a point for the first time in the tournament — against Leya Garifullina. Formally, the game was drawn by a threefold repetition, but in fact the players repeated the position no fewer than five times!

Leya Garifullina facing leader Polina Shuvalova

Aleksandra Goryachkina, one of the favourites to win the title, came within one point of Shuvalova. The two players are scheduled to meet directly in the tenth round on Tuesday.

In her game against Olga Girya, Goryachkina was on the better side of an uncommon ending:

 

Aleksandra Goryachkina is still in the hunt

All games

 

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Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.

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