Winners decided with a round to spare at the Russian Team Championships

by Klaus Besenthal
5/10/2021 – Already one round before the end of the event, the Russian team champions in the Premier League as well as in the women’s competition have been decided. In the Premier League, the Mednyi Vsadnik from St. Petersburg secured their fourth consecutive title after winning seven out of seven matches. The women’s tournament was similarly won by the Moscow Chess Team, which also has a perfect score. | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

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Russian Team Championships 2021

In Round 8, the match between the champions from Saint Petersburg and the Wildberries Molodezhka resulted in a narrow 3½-2½ victory for Mednyi Vsadnik (Iron Horsemen). With draws on five out of the six boards, Andrey Esipenko’s win with the black pieces against Mikhail Antipov was decisive.

Antipov, M. (2609) - Esipenko, A. (2701) 
RUS-chT Premier 2021 Sochi

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.h3 Nc6 6.c3 g6 7.Nf3 Bf5 8.Be2 e6 9.0-0 a6 10.Re1 h6 11.a3 Qc7 12.Nbd2 g5 13.c4 


What White has done so far in this Exchange Variation of the Caro-Kann is not really convincing, as his pieces don’t look well coordinated. On the other hand, the black king is still in the centre of the board.

13...Rd8 14.c5?!


And now he takes the pressure off the black centre and refrains from opening up a file on the queenside. White must now somehow try to survive the advance g5-g4 on the kingside.

14...Ne4 15.b4 h5?!


Black goes for it. [Good was 15...Nc3 16.Qb3 Nxe2+ 17.Rxe2 h5! and White can’t play 18.Nxg5? due to 18...Nxd4 etc.]

16.Bb2? Once again, this is too slow.

[After 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.Nxg5 there might have followed 17...Nxd4 18.Bxh5 Nf3+ 19.Bxf3 Rxd1 20.Bxd1 and White will capture on e4, getting a slight material advantage.]

16...g4 17.Ne5 gxh3 18.Nxe4 Bxe4 19.Bf3 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Rg8 21.g3 h4 


Black has a promising advantage, but first he must find a way to bring more pieces to the kingside.

22.g4 f5! Opening up paths for the black queen - be it on the 7th rank or after the disappearance of the e5-pawn.

23.exf6 Rxg4+!


White obviously cannot capture this rook.

24.Kh1 Qf4 25.Re3 Bxf3+ Black goes into the endgame, and even if objectively it wasn’t the best choice, in terms of practical play it was certainly a tried and tested remedy. Black retains a comfortable advantage.

[The simple 25...Bh6 was also strong.]



[After 26.Rxf3 Qe4 threatening Rf4, the queen swap cannot be avoided.]

26...Qxf3+ 27.Rxf3 Kf7 28.Kh2 Re4 29.Kxh3 d4 30.Rd1 


30...e5?! This looks good, but it’s not particularly strong.

[30...Bh6! was the priority.]

31.Bc1! Now White suddenly has a tenable position again.

31...Rd7 32.Kg2?!


White misses the best move.

[32.Bg5! was clearly stronger.]


[And here 32...Rg4+ 33.Kh3 Rg6! was the strongest: Bg5 is prevented, Bh6 is now possible, as well as capturing the pawn on f6.]



[Correct was 33.Kh3! controlling g4.]


[And again 33...Rg4+! was better, for the reasons already mentioned.]



[Stronger was 34.Bg5! Rxf7 35.Rxf7 Kxf7 36.Bxh4 Contrary to the continuation of the game, the white king is better on g2 (than on f1) and the black rook is worse on e2 (than on c2). 36...Bg7 would be followed by 37.Kf3 Ra2 38.Ke4 Rxa3 39.Rb1! with excellent drawing chances.]

34...Rc2 35.Bg5 Rxf7 36.Rxf7 Kxf7 37.Bxh4 Bg7 38.f3 Ke6 39.Rb1 Bf8 40.Re1 Bh6 41.Bg3 Be3 42.Re2 Rc1+ 43.Re1 Rc2 44.Re2 Rc3 45.Bf2 Rxa3 46.Bxe3 Rxe3


[46...Rxe3 47.Rxe3 dxe3 48.Ke2 Kd5 49.Kxe3 Kc4 50.Ke4 Kxb4 51.Kxe5 a5]  0-1

Standings after round 8

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Mednyi Vsadnik 14
2 Moscow Chess Team 11
3 Gogolevsky, 14  10
4 Wildberries Molodezhka 7
5 KPRF 7
6 Ladya 5
7 Mikhail Botvinnik School 5
8 SShOR 3
9 Kimmeria 2

Find more info at Chess-Results

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Women’s tournament

The Moscow Chess Team, early winners of the women’s championship, had several top Russian players in its ranks. Kateryna Lagno, Polina Shuvalova and Alexandra Kosteniuk had remarkable performances on the top boards. 

Kateryna Lagno, Polina Shuvalova

Moscow Chess Team v Amazonki ADDA (3-1) | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Standings after round 8 (top 10)

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Moscow Chess Team 16
2 Southern Ural-1 13
3 Ugra 11
4 SShOR-1 10
5 Moscow Region 9
6 Kimmeria 9
7 Southern Ural-1 9
8 Youth of Moscow 8
9 Amazonki ADDA 8
10 SShOR- 8

Find more info at Chess-Results

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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