Superfinals: Karjakin bounces back

by Klaus Besenthal
12/14/2020 – In Round 8 of the Russian Championship Sergey Karjakin immediately redeemed himself for his previous loss to Ian Nepomniachtchi with a win over Peter Svidler. As Nepomniachtchi had to settle for a draw against Vladimir Fedoseev, Karjakin is now only half a point behind the leader. In the women’s tournament, Polina Shuvalova, who continues to lead the field, suffered her first defeat. | Photos: Vladimir Barsky

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Karjakin beats Svidler

Peter Svidler spent too much time looking for ways to balance the position out of the opening. Finding himself with little time on the clock, he failed to correctly assess the position and made a serious, albeit not immediately obvious, mistake. Karjakin, on the other hand, correctly evaluated the consequences of his rival’s choice and went on to show a beautiful-looking final attack. 

Karjakin,Sergey (2752) - Svidler,Peter (2723) 
73rd RUS-ch Superfinal 2020 Moscow

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qc7 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Qd2 Nc6 10.0-0-0 b5 11.Kb1 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Be7 13.f5 Bd7 14.Qd2 


14...0-0-0 [Ten years ago Karjakin had already scored an easy victory in this variation: 14...Qc5 15.fxe6 fxe6 16.Ne2 Rc8 17.Nf4 0-0 18.Be2 a5 19.Rhf1 b4 20.Bh5 Kh8 21.Rf3 Rg8 22.Bf7 Rg4 23.Bxe6 Rxf4 24.Bxd7 Rxf3 25.gxf3 Rg8 26.Bg4 Qg5 27.Qf2 h5 28.Rd5 Qf4 29.Rf5 1-0 (29) Karjakin,S (2747)-Rombaldoni,D (2501) Khanty-Mansiysk 2010]

15.Ne2 [White was already better, but the more precise move here was probably 15.Be2! White has connected his rooks, controls the d5-square and can place the bishop on g4 or h5.] 15...d5! 16.exd5 Bc6 17.Qe3 Bxd5 18.Nc3 Bb7 19.Bd3 


White has connected his rooks, controls d5 and can use the bishop on g4 or h5

19...Kb8 20.fxe6 Bc5 21.Qh3 fxe6 22.Qxe6 Bd4 23.Be4 Bxc3 24.Bxb7 Kxb7 25.bxc3 Qxc3 26.Qe7+ Kc8 27.a3 Rhe8 28.Qxh7 Qxa3 


It is difficult to predict that Black will lose the game from this position.

29.Qf5+ Kc7 30.Qf4+ Kb7 31.Qxf6 Qb4+ 32.Qb2 Qg4! Black leaves the queens on the board, so being a pawn down is not that relevant for the evaluation. 

33.Rxd8 Rxd8 34.Re1 


34...Qxg2? Surprisingly, this leads to an immediate loss, but why this is so was difficult to see. [In the line 34...Rd1+! 35.Rxd1 Qxd1+ 36.Qc1 Qe2 the draw would obviously have been within Black’s grasp. Perhaps for this type of position, where there are still heavy pieces on the board and the kings are open, the following can be stated: It is better to give the next check yourself than to voluntarily allow your opponent to do so!] 

35.Re7+ Ka8 There is no danger for the black king on the long diagonal... 36.Qf6! ...but Svidler had overlooked this: a6 can no longer be defended. 

36...Qg1+ 37.Ka2! Qg8+ 38.Rf7!


A beautiful final attack by Karjakin: at first sight, the rooks seems to be fatally pinned, but the fact that White will capture on a6 next is way more relevant. 1-0

Sergey Karjakin is in sole second place

Standings after Round 8

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

All games


Galliamova takes down the leader

Psychology is often at play on the chessboard: when such a phenomenal winning streak as the 6/6 with which Polina Shuvalova started this tournament comes to an end, it often ends painfully. Shuvalova’s draw on round 7 was followed by her first defeat in the tournament — and she has only herself to blame. 

Shuvalova,Polina (2454) - Galliamova,Alisa (2438)
70th RUS-ch Women Superfinal 2020 Moscow 

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nbd2 Nd7 7.0-0 0-0 8.c3 Re8 9.Nc4 b5 10.Na5 Qf6 11.a4 a6 12.b4 Bf8 13.Nb3 Nb6 14.axb5 cxb5 15.Be3 Bg4 16.h3 Bh5 17.g4 Bg6 18.Nfd2 Na4 19.Qc2 Qc6 20.Rac1 Rad8 21.Rfd1 


Shuvalova did not come out of the opening with a good position, and there was an easy way for Black to show it. 21...Rd7 [With 21...f6! Galliamova could have — here, a little earlier or a little later — brought her light-squared bishop back into play, which would have given her the better position.]

22.f3 Red8 23.d4 exd4 24.cxd4 Qxc2 25.Rxc2 Bxb4 26.Rdc1 Ba3 27.Ra1 Bb4 


This position was completely balanced.

28.f4? But now comes this serious mistake by Shuvalova. The move looks both promising and suspicious at the same time. That is good enough reason to take a very critical look at the manoeuvre before executing it!

28...Bxd2 29.Nxd2 Bxe4! There it is: the refutation.

30.Nxe4 Re7 31.Bf2 Rxe4 32.Rxc7 


32...Rxf4?! Galliamova makes an imperceptible “counter-error”, which, luckily for her, did not prevent her from winning in the end. [Correct was 32...h5!] 33.Ra7? 


Now Shuvalova is losing again. [With 33.Bh4! White would have managed to push the rook away from the d-file. The dangerous passer could have created counterchances.]

33...h5 34.gxh5 Rd5 35.Ra3 Rxh5 36.Rxa6 Rg5+ 37.Rg3 Rxg3+ 38.Bxg3 Rxd4 39.Ra8+ Kh7 40.Rb8 Rd5 41.Kg2 Rf5 42.h4 Nb2 43.Kh3 Nd3 44.Kg4 Kg6 45.Rb6+ f6 46.Rb7 b4 47.Bb8 Rd5 48.Kf3 Rd8 49.Bg3 Rd4 50.Ke3 Nc5 51.Rb6 Rd3+ 52.Kf4 b3 



Polina Shuvalova (left) is still leading the event

Standings after Round 8

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

All games



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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