Esipenko impresses as Mednyi Vsadnik dominates the Russian Premier League

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
5/11/2021 – There was no stopping the favourites at the Premier League and the Women’s Tournament of the Russian Team Championships. Mednyi Vsadnik and the Moscow Chess Team won their final matches despite having secured first places with a round to spare. In the open section, the winning team had an inspired Andrey Esipenko on board 4 — the 19-year-old scored 6½/7 points. | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

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Lagno the strongest among the women

The Russian Team Championships, played in Sochi on May 1-10, saw rating favourites dominate the Premier League and the Women’s Tournament, as both teams finished the event with perfect scores. Moreover, the winners of the open section, the Mednyi Vsadnik, suffered only one individual loss in the whole tournament (in 48 games). Meanwhile, the Moscow Chess Team won 21 out of their 36 individual games in the women’s category.

While the team from Saint Petersburg in the open section had its top scorer in Andrey Esipenko, the Muscovite female squad was well-led by top seed Kateryna Lagno (the highest rated Russian woman player, Aleksandra Goryachkina, played in the open section).

Esipenko is currently the second highest-rated junior player (under 20) in the world, only behind wunderkind Alireza Firouzja. The 19-year-old rising star gained 15.4 rating points in Sochi, after collecting 6½ points in seven games, five of which were played with black. Back in January, the youngster from Novocherkask had beaten none other than world champion Magnus Carlsen in Wijk aan Zee.

A comparable performance was achieved by Lagno, who also scored 6½/7 in the national team championship. The experienced grandmaster and former World Championship challenger gained 11.6 rating points and climbed to fourth place in the women’s live ratings list.

Kateryna Lagno, Alexandra Kosteniuk

Kateryna Lagno and Alexandra Kosteniuk were an unstoppable duo | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

In his fifth consecutive win with black in the event, Esipenko got the better of Rudik Makarian, who mistakenly entered a forced tactical sequence on move 26.


26.Rxb7 Qxb7 27.Qxd6 and it turns out that Black has a stronger attack after 27...Qxb2


28.Re1 Qc3 29.Re3 d4 30.Bc4 Perhaps White calculated this line and thought that his attack would break through or push Black to make concessions, but that was not the case.


Black simply takes the rook with 30...dxe3 and his king is safe after 31.Bxf7+ Kh7 32.Bg6+ Kh8 33.Bxe8


Makarian resigned after 33...exf2+, as 34.Kxf2 fails to 34...Ne4+ and 34.Kg2 would be responded by 34...Bxe8.

Kirill Shubin, Maxim Matlakov

Kirill Shubin v Maxim Matlakov (0-1) on top board of the match Mikhail Botvinnik School v Mednyi Vsadnik (2-4) | Photo: Vladimir Barsky 

Final standings - Premier League

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Mednyi Vsadnik 16
2 Moscow Chess Team 13
3 Gogolevsky, 14 12
4 KPRF 9
5 Wildberries Molodezhka 7
6 Mikhail Botvinnik School 5
7 Ladya 5
8 SShOR 3
9 Kimmeria 2

Full info at Chess-Results

All games


In round 3, Lagno, playing white, got to hunt the king of the ever-adventurous Valentina Gunina — in typical style, Gunina did not draw any of the nine games she played in Sochi, winning seven of them to gain 14.8 rating points!


31...Kb6 loses quickly to 32.Bd8+ Kb5 33.a4+


Gunina resigned with mate-in-6 on the board.

Alina Bivol, Kateryna Lagno, Polina Shuvalova, Daria Voit, Alexandra Kosteniuk

The Moscow Chess Team — Alina Bivol, Kateryna Lagno, Polina Shuvalova, Daria Voit and Alexandra Kosteniuk | Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Final standings - Women’s tournament

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Moscow Chess Team 18
2 Southern Ural-1 15
3 Ugra 13
4 Southern Ural-2 11
5 Kimmeria 11
6 Youth of Moscow 10
7 SShOR-1 10
8 Ladya 9

Full info at Chess-Results

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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