Russian Team Championship: Saint Petersburg still perfect

by Antonio Pereira
5/7/2019 – Saint Petersburg's "Bronze Horsemen" won all five matches so far at the Russian Team Championship to take a two-point lead over Sima-Land and Molodezhka — the leaders have not faced either of the chasing teams yet. In the women's section, SShOR — also from Saint Petersburg — defeated Yugra in round four and are now in clear first place. Monday was a rest day in Sochi. | Pictured: Gata Kamsky (Ladya) | Photo: Irina Chibikova

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Five in five

In our last report, we mentioned how the Mednyi Vsadnik had barely defeated Moskovskaya Oblast on Friday — a team that only tallied two match points in five rounds. The very next day, however, the European champions had no issues to defeat Ladya by a 4½:1½ score. Ladya have used the same line-up all five rounds, with top seed Vladislav Artemiev on first board, former FIDE World Championship finalist Gata Kamsky on board two and Artyom Timofeev as the third in line — their bottom boards are weaker in comparison to some others squads, though.

Horsemen's Leinier Dominguez came from winning two in a row and was paired against Kamsky. Gata is a long-time practitioner of the London System and used his pet opening against Leinier. By move 8, the players had left the well-trodden paths of theory, by choosing 8.a4 and 8...bd7:


With no knight on c6, Dominguez slowly but surely gained the initiative on the queenside until getting a passer on the c-file. With his pawn already on the second rank, Leinier forced his opponent to give up his knight:


Black knows that after 34...a1 35.xc2 b4 36.c7 he can gain a piece with 36...d3. Kamsky resigned after 37.h2 xc1 38.xf7. Leinier's performances at the US Championship and in Sochi have propelled him to overcome Wesley So as United States' number two in the live ratings list — he is also four points away from re-entering the Top 10.

Evgeniy Najer (3½/4) and Kirill Alekseenko (3/3) also won for Mednyi Vsadnik in round four.

Russian Team Championship 2019

The playing hall | Photo: Svetlana Ostrovskaya

Their next victims were Sibir, a team with a 2507 rating average and only one grandmaster in their line-up. Maxim Rodshtein from the defending champions suffered a second surprising loss in a row (this time against IM Zhamsaran Tsydypov), but his teammates saved the day by getting three wins and two draws on the other boards. Maxim Matlakov's attacking victory over Semen Khanin was particularly impressive:


The f-pawn continued its glorious crusade with 16.f5 g5 17.c1 e7 18.f6!, creating a bind that would cost Black the game later on. Can you find White's winning continuation in the following position?


24.xh7! and after 24...xh7 25.h4+ g8 26.h6 and Black needs to give up his queen to survive. Khanin did not capture the rook but went on to lose after 30 moves.

Sima-Land and Molodezhka are two match points behind Mednyi Vsadnik. Sima-Land have Alexander Riazantsev on first board (although Karpov is listed in their line-up as well) and face the leaders in round seven, while Molodezhka are led by Vladimir Potkin and Maksim Chigaev and will play the Bronze Horsemen in Friday's final round.

Alexander Riazantsev

Alexander Riazantsev from Sima-Land | Photo: Irina Chibikova

Maksim Chigaev

Maksim Chigaev from Molodezhka | Photo: Irina Chibikova

Standings after Round 5

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 «Мednyi Vsadnik» (г. Санкт-Петербург) 10
2 «ШК «Sima-Land» (Свердловская область) 8
3 «Мolodezhka» (Тюменская область) 8
4 «Strazhi Pravoporyadka» (г. Санкт-Петербур 7
5 «ШСМ Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) 7
6 «Sibir» (Новосибирская область) 3
7 «Ladya» (Республика Татарстан) 3
8 «Moskovskaya Oblast» (Московская область 2
9 «SShOR по шахматам и шашкам» (г. Санкт-Пе 2
10 «Мuzhskoe Dvizhenie» (г. Санкт-Петербург) 0

All games


SShOR impressive among the women

While Yugra have a squad with four 2400+ players, only SShOR's board one Anastasia Bodnaruk can boast about having surpassed that mark. Nonetheless, Bodnaruk led her team to a crucial 3:1 victory over the favourites on Saturday. Boards two and three finished drawn; Anna Styashkina (SShOR) upset Marina Guseva (Yugra) on board four; and Bodnaruk obtained a decisive win over Anna Ushenina.

Ushenina played a sharp variation of the Caro-Kann and a position with kings castled on opposite flanks appeared on the board. The computer thought Black was in the driver's seat, but condemned the Ukrainian's decision to tuck in her king on b8:


Follow the line played in the game on the diagram above

20...b8 escapes the pin along the c-file but leaves the black king vulnerable to an eventual discovered attack along the h2-b8 diagonal. After 21.b5 e4 22.f1 xg4 23.xg4 hxg4 24.xc7 xd4 we can see how dangerous the diagonal actually is for Black.


Now the danger is imminent. The game continued 25.xe6 f3+ 26.f2 xe1 27.f5+ and the all-important bishop has come alive. Ushenina fought on until move 44 but the result was never in doubt from this point on.

Anna Ushenina

Anna Ushenina | Photo: Irina Chibikova

A tough challenge awaited SShOR in the following round, when they faced Legacy Square Capital. Bodnaruk was paired against a former women's world champion for a second day in a row — in the end, Anastasia fell victim to Alexandra Kosteniuk's strong positional play. 2272-rated Anna Styazhkina saved the day, though, by getting a second upset victory in a row, this time over Alina Bivol (2393). 

Anna Styazhkina

The hero of rounds four and five, Anna Styazhkina | Photo: Irina Chibikova

The team from Saint Petersburg is one match point ahead of Yugra and will play Yuzhny Ural on Tuesday — thirteen teams are participating in the women's event, so the Swiss system is being used over nine rounds.

Standings after Round 5

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 «SShOR по шахматам и шашкам» (г. Санкт-Пе 9
2 «Yugra» (ХМАО – Югра) 8
3 «Bukavushki» (Самарская область) 6
4 (Истра-а.лв) (г. Москва) 6
  «Moskovskaya Oblast» (Московская область 6
6 «Yuzhny Ural» (Челябинская область) 5
7 «ШСМ Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) 5
8 «Ladya» (Республика Татарстан) 4
9 «FShNO» (Нижегородская область) 4
10 «Devyataya Gorizontal» (г. Москва) 4
11 «Ekspromt» (г. Москва) 3
12 СК «Tolpar» (Республика Башкортостан) 3
13 «Altaisky Krai» (Алтайский край) 2

All games



Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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