Russian Superfinals, Rd. 4: Nepomniachtchi catches up to Karjakin

by André Schulz
12/9/2020 – After four rounds Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sergey Karjakin share the lead at the Russian Superfinals. In round 4 Nepomniachtchi scored a fine win with Black in the Najdorf, while Karjakin drew. In the Women's Tournament Polina Shuvalova continues to win and now leads the field with 4.0/4. | Photos: Eteri Kublashvili

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Russian Superfinals: Round 4

The Russian Superfinals are one of the strongest tournaments of the year and FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich appeared at the Central Chess Club in Moscow to follow the fourth round of the Russian Championship.

Arkady Dvorkovich

Sergey Karjakin was leading the field before the fourth round, and with a draw against Maksim Chigaev he defended his lead.

The venue

However, Karjakin's draw allowed top seed and tournament favourite Ian Nepomniachtchi to catch up to Karjakin. Nepomniachtchi had Black against Mikhail Antipov and showed the attacking potential of the Najdorf.


Maybe White underestimated Black's chances in this position.

22.Qc6? 22.Qa7 leads to equal chances, e.g. 22...Rd2 23.Rfe1 Qg5 24.Qe3 etc.

22...Rd2 23.Rfe1 Qg5 Black threatens ...Bf3, and White's queen on c6 cannot go to e3 to help defending.


24.Rxe2 24.Qxd6 fails to 24...Rxd5! (But not 24...Bf3? 25.Qxf8+ Kxf8 26.Rb8+ and White mates first.) 25.Qxd5 Bf3 26.g3 Qh5.

24...Rxe2 25.Qxd6 Re8 26.Qd7 Re6 27.g3 Qh5 Idea: Rg6xg3 and Qh2.


28.Kg2 White could have tried 28.Ne7+ Kh7 29.Qd8 and threaten mate. Black's only defense is 29...Rxe7, but that is more than enough: after 30.Qxe7 Qf3 31.Rf1 Rxe4 32.Qd7 h5 Black is winning.

28...Kh7 29.Qd8 With the Idee Ne7. 29...Qg4 30.Rb4 Rg6 Threatening Qxg3 with mate. 0–1

Nikita Vitiugov also scored a full point – in impressive fashion.

Nikita Vitiugov

Vitiugov played against Aleksey Goganov and won with a textbook-attack:


16.Ng3 A new move by Vitiugov. In a number of previous games White played 16.g4.

16...a5 17.b5 a4 18.Nh5 g6? The white knight is annoying and Black wants to chase it away, but...



19... gxh5 After 19...Kh7 20.Qf4 Rf8 21.Nf6+ White has a clear plus on the kingside. 19...Bf8 20.Nf6+ Kh8 21.Ng4 Kh7 22.Qf4 Qc7 23.Rac1 Qe7 24.Bd3 is also unpleasant.

20.Qxh6 Nd7 21.Bd3 f5 21...Nf8 22.Ng5 Bxg5 23.Qxg5+ Kh8 24.Qxh5+ Kg7 25.Qg5+ Kh8 26.Re1 followed by Re4 and "game over".

22.Qg6+ 22.exf6 Bxf6 23.Ng5 also wins.

22...Kf8 Black is helpless against White's attack.

23.Bc4 Nc5 24.Nxd4 Rxd4 25.Rxd4 Qc7 26.Re1 Nb3 27.Rf4 Bc5


28.Rd1 Or first 28.Rxf5+ exf5 29.Qf6+ Ke8 and now 30.Rd1, with the idea 31.Rd8+ Qxd8 32.Qf7# 1–0

The other three games of round 4 ended in a draw.





Women's Championship

In the women's tournament, a number of young and talented players take part. Alexandra Goryachkina is only 22 years old, but is already one of the world's best players, and at the beginning of this year she almost defeated reigning World Champion Ju Wenjun in their World Championship match. Goryachkina will soon pass the 2600 Elo mark and is the top favourite to win the women's title.

But it was Polina Shuvalova who had the best start into the tournament: after winning all her games in the first three rounds, she also won in round 4 to keep a perfect score of 4.0/4. Shuvalova is 19 years old, and slightly younger than Gorachkina. But three other participants in this Championship – Yulia Grigorieva (18), Tatyana Getman (17) and Leya Garifullina (16) – are even younger.




In round 4 Shuvalov played against Getman and won a smooth game.


White is better.

30.b5 cxb5?! 30...c5 31.dxc5 bxc5 32.Nxc5 Nxc5 33.Rxc5 Rxc5 34.Rxc5 Ra1+ 35.Kg2 Qe7 also leads to an unpleasant position for Black.


31.Rc7 Rxc7 32.Rxc7 Ra1+ 32...Rb8 33.Rxb7 Rxb7 34.Bxd5

33.Kg2 Ba8 34.Qxb5 Ra3 34...Nf6 35.Qb4 Qe8 36.Ne5 with a mating attack.

35.Rxd7 Rxd3 36.Ra7 1–0

In the game between Goryachkina and Galliamova (49) the younger generation was more successful.



This is a position from the English Opening and the typical patterns are well-known from the Sicilian (with colours reversed). Black has to be careful.

17...c6? Black seems to be oblivious to the danger...

18.h5 After this move, White is already winning.

18...Bg5 Threatening mate with 19.Ng6+ hxg6 20.hxg6+

19.Ne6 Now 19.Ng6+ hxg6 20.hxg6+ does not work because of 20...Bh6.

19...Bxe3 After 19...Bf6 20.Nxf8 Qxf8 White is an exchange up. But the text-move costs a whole rook.

20.Nxf8 Bh6 21.Ne6 b5 22.Qb3 Re8 23.Nf4 e3 Black tries to muddy the waters but without success – she is simply a whole rook down.


24.fxe3 Bxf4 25.gxf4 Qxf4 26.Ke2 c5 27.dxc5 Qg4+ 28.Kf2 f4 29.e4 f3 30.Qxf3 Qg5 31.b4 Qd2+ Black has nothing but a few checks.

32.Kg3 h6 33.Rhd1 Qg5+ 34.Kh3 Qe5 35.Rac1 Qe6+ 36.Qg4 Qxa2 37.c6 Qb3+ 38.Kg2 1–0





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


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