Superfinals: Vitiugov and Gunina sole leaders

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/18/2021 – With three rounds to go in the Russian Superfinals, Nikita Vitiugov and Valentina Gunina are leading the tournament standings in the open and women’s event respectively. Vitiugov climbed to first place after surviving a lost position against Kirill Alekseenko, while Gunina is undefeated with five wins in eight games so far in Ufa. | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

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Alekseenko blunders

The incredibly fighting Russian Superfinal could have easily gone into the three final rounds with Kirill Alekseenko sharing the lead with Vladimir Fedoseev on 5/8 points, but a one-move blunder by Alekseenko gave Nikita Vitiugov an unexpected victory which put him in sole first place. The crucial mistake was made on move 59, when Alekseenko, playing white, threatened mate-in-one, failing to notice his opponent could capture a piece with check.


White left his queen unprotected on d3, as he threatened to give checkmate on h8 by playing 60.Rgh4. With both contenders playing on increments at this point, Vitiugov quickly responded with 60...Qxf4+, prompting his opponent’s immediate resignation. 

The new sole leader in Ufa later confessed:

Naturally, I'm sorry for my opponent, but I was looking for winning chances.     

Kirill Alekseenko, Nikita Vitiugov

Kirill Alekseenko and Nikita Vitiugov both playing with the white pieces during the seventh round | Photo: Eteri Kublashvili

Standings after round 8


All games


Hard to keep up with Gunina

The women’s section also has a sole leader, but one that has scored 6½ points in 8 rounds. Valentina Gunina, a player known for her fighting spirit and creativity, has won five games, many of which included up and downs in evaluations, with king hunts and sharp tactics often appearing on the board.

Evgenija Ovod is only a half point back, though, and she will face the tournament leader with the white pieces in Tuesday’s penultimate round — so she is still very much in the fight for overall victory in the national championship.

Gunina was interviewed by the International Chess Federation at the Women's Grand Prix in Gibraltar earlier this year. The ever-smiling grandmaster noted, “My style of playing chess, I guess it’s like a mess”.

Standings after round 8


All games



Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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