Superfinals: Dubov beats Nepomniachtchi

by André Schulz
12/15/2020 – Due to a loss against Daniil Dubov, Ian Nepomniachtchi gave up the sole lead in the open section of the Russian Superfinals — Sergey Karjakin, who drew Vladimir Fedoseev, caught up with ‘Nepo’ atop the standings. In the women’s tournament, Polina Shuvalova saved a draw and is still in the lead. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili

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A sharp Grünfeld

The final tournaments of the Russian National Championships, played at the Central Chess Club in Moscow, are coming to an end. Twelve male and twelve female players are competing in the tournaments dubbed as Superfinals.

Before the ninth round, Ian Nepomniachtchi, the rating favourite, was alone in the lead. He had to face the very dangerous Daniil Dubov though, and he ended up losing the full point. His attempt to make a positional exchange sacrifice in a not-so-familiar variation of the Grünfeld Defence turned out to be a complete failure. Dubov went for an attack, and Black’s position on the kingside was soon in ruins.

Daniil Dubov vs. Ian Nepomniachtchi

Dubov,Daniil (2702) - Nepomniachtchi,Ian (2784) 
73rd RUS-ch Superfinal 2020 Moscow 

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ c6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bb3 a5 10.Nf3 0–0 11.0–0 a4 12.Bc2 c5 13.Rb1 Nc6 14.d5 Ne5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Bh6 


16...Ba6!? [A somewhat speculative exchange sacrifice. Black relies on the bishop pair and his queenside pawns. “Normal” was 16...Re8 and now the c3-pawn cannot be defended properly. 17.Qd2 Qa5]

17.Bxf8 Kxf8 18.f4 [The alternative was 18.Qf3 Qa5 19.c4 (19.Rfc1 Bxc3 20.Bxa4) 19...b4 20.Bd3]

18...Bxc3 19.Rf3 Qa5 20.e5 [Locks out the dark-squared bishop and threatens the strong pawn push f4-f5.]


20...Kg8? [The black king moves out of the f-file, but to the wrong square. This might already be the losing move. 20...Kg7 21.Rh3 (21.e6 is not so effective here: 21...Bd4+ 22.Kh1 Bb7 with counterplay.) ]

21.Kh1 [21.e6! With the king on g8, White gains a tempo because the pawn captures with check on f7. 21...Bd4+ 22.Kh1 Bb7 23.exf7+ Kg7 24.Rh3 -- 25.Rxh7+ Kxh7 26.Qh5+]


21...Rd8? [More counterplay offered 21...Bb7 but perhaps the black position is already hopeless in the face of 22.e6! (In case of 22.Rh3 Bd4 23.f5 Bxd5 24.Qc1 Black can still defend with 24...Qd8 25.Qh6 Bxg2+ 26.Kxg2 Qd5+) 22...fxe6 23.Rg3 with a strong attack for White. There is an immediate threat of giving up the piece on g6.]

22.e6+– fxe6 [22...Bb7 23.exf7+ Kxf7 (23...Kf8 24.Be4 followed by f5) 24.f5 g5 25.f6 Bxf6 26.Rxf6+ exf6 27.Qh5+]

23.Bxg6 [The black position falls apart.]

23...hxg6 24.Qc2 Bg7 25.Rg3 g5 26.Qg6 Qd2 27.Rxg5 Qc3 28.Qxe6+ Kf8 29.Re1 Qxe1+ [Delays the end just a little.]

30.Qxe1 Bf6 31.Qh4 [A good-looking move, which is also the strongest alternative in the position!]

31...Rd6 [31...Bxg5 32.Qh8+ Kf7 33.Qxd8 Bxf4 34.Qa8]

32.Qh7 Ke8 33.Qg8+ Kd7


34.Qa8 [34.Rg3 should also be enough to win.]

34...Bxg5 35.fxg5 c4 36.h4 b4 37.Qa7+ Ke8 38.Qb8+ Kf7 39.Qxb4 Rxd5 40.Qxa4 1–0

Sergey Karjakin’s draw with Vladimir Fedoseev allowed him to catch up with Nepomniachtchi at the top of the standings table, while Daniil Dubov’s second win in a row — and his third overall — have him half a point behind the leading duo.

Andrey Esipenko also scored a full point. It was his first win in this tournament. 

Mikhail Antipov has withdrawn from the tournament. The reasons are not known.

Standings after Round 9

1-2. Sergey Karjakin, Ian Nepomniachtchi - 6
3-4. Maksim Chigaev, Daniil Dubov - 5½
5-6. Vladislav Artemiev, Vladimir Fedoseev - 5
7-8. Andrey Esipenko, Nikita Vitiugov - 4½
9. Peter Svidler - 4
10. Maxim Matlakov - 3½
11. Aleksey Goganov - 2½
12. Mikhail Antipov - 2

All games


Shuvalova in the lead

In the women’s championship, a draw against Yulia Grigorieva was enough for Polina Shuvalova to maintain her lead. The 19-year-old has a half point lead over Aleksandra Goryachkina, whom she will face in round 10.

Polina Shuvalova

Standings after Round 9

1. Polina Shuvalova - 7
2. Aleksandra Goryachkina - 6½
3. Leya Garifullina - 6
4-5. Alexandra Kosteniuk, Marina Guseva - 5½
6-7. Alisa Galliamova, Alina Kashlinskaya - 5
8. Natalija Pogonina - 4½
9. Valentina Gunina - 3½
10. Olga Girya - 3
11. Tatyana Getman - 1½
12. Yulia Grigorieva - ½

All games



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


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