Sochi: Karjakin searches for his form

by Marco Baldauf
5/9/2016 – After winning the Candidates Tournament in Moscow Sergey Karjakin took a break from playing but at the Russian Team Championship in Sochi he is back at the board. However, the World Champion Challenger does not seem to be in top form yet. In round six he was convincingly outplayed by Peter Svidler and in round seven he almost lost against Vladimir Kramnik.

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Karjakin searches for his form in Sochi

The Russian Team Championship in Sochi is Sergey Karjakin's first event with classical time control after he won the Candidates Tournament in Moscow in March. But he seems to have trouble to continue to play the fantastic chess he had shown during the Candidates.

Karjakin plays for Legacy Square Capital Moscow and joined the event in round two. Karjakin played with White against Alexander Grischuk, who had no trouble at all to draw the game. After this draw Karjakin did not play in rounds three, four and five, but in round six he was back at the board and faced his old rival Peter Svidler, his rival in the Candidates Tournament and the World Cup.

Karjakin (right) against Svidler: In the Candidates Tournament they drew both of their games, in the World Cup Karjakin triumphed after a bad start.


Karjakin's team also lost the match and the lead.

Br. 5   ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) Elo - 2   «Медный всадник» (г. Санкт-Петербург) Elo 2½:3½
1.1 GM
Karjakin, Sergey
2779 - GM
Svidler, Peter
2762 0 - 1
1.2 GM
Nepomniachtchi, Ian
2703 - GM
Dominguez Perez, Leinier
2732 1 - 0
1.3 GM
Inarkiev, Ernesto
2686 - GM
Vitiugov, Nikita
2721 ½ - ½
1.4 GM
Zvjaginsev, Vadim
2672 - GM
Bu, Xiangzhi
2723 0 - 1
1.5 GM
Malakhov, Vladimir
2703 - GM
Matlakov, Maxim
2693 ½ - ½
1.6 GM
Popov, Ivan
2645 - GM
Khairullin, Ildar
2628 ½ - ½

In round seven Karjakin played with Black against Vladimir Kramnik, who is in splendid shape in Sochi. Not the easiest of match-ups.

Karjakin and Kramnik began their tense game in a relaxed mood.


Kramnik's strong 10.Na3! set Karjakin thinking.

Kateryna Lagno and Sergey Karjakin know each other from childhood.

But Karjakin's team won the match, thanks to a strong performance by Ian Nepomniatchi, who won against Grischuk.


Br. 3   «Сибирь» (г. Новосибирск) Elo - 5   ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) Elo 2 : 4
1.1 GM
Kramnik, Vladimir
2801 - GM
Karjakin, Sergey
2779 ½ - ½
1.2 GM
Grischuk, Alexander
2752 - GM
Nepomniachtchi, Ian
2703 0 - 1
1.3 GM
Tomashevsky, Evgeny
2722 - GM
Inarkiev, Ernesto
2686 ½ - ½
1.4 GM
Jakovenko, Dmitry
2731 - GM
Najer, Evgeniy
2681 0 - 1
1.5 GM
Rublevsky, Sergei
2692 - GM
Dubov, Daniil
2644 ½ - ½
1.6 GM
Korobov, Anton
2674 - GM
Malakhov, Vladimir
2703 ½ - ½

Standings after round eight:


Rg. Team 1a 1b 2a 2b 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b  Wtg1   Wtg2   Wtg3 
1 ШСМ «Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва)  *   *  4 3 3   5 10 26,5 0
2 «Сибирь» (г. Новосибирск) 2  *   *  4   4 5 10 25,5 0
3 «Медный всадник» (г. Санкт-Петербург) 3 2    *   *  5   9 21,5 0
4 «Жигули» (Самарская область) 3   2  *   *    3 14,0 0
5 «Ладья» (Республика Татарстан) 1 1 1      *   *  0 8,5 0

Two more rounds are to play but some teams have byes. But the team of Bronze Horseman, currently on third place, plays in both rounds and thus has chances to score twice whereas the teams which are currently first and second have only one more match to play. The crucial encounter might well be the match between Siberia-Bronze Horseman. If Bronze Horseman wins, the team from St. Petersburg only needs to win against tailender Ladya to become Russian Team Champion 2016.

Games of the Premier League (Rounds 1-8):


Women's Tournament

Nine teams play in the women's tournament but the fight for the title is much clearer than in the men's event. Legacy Square Capital Moscow won all their matches, leads with six point margin and will win the event.


Rg. Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9  Wtg1   Wtg2   Wtg3 
1 «ШСМ Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва)  *  3   3 14 19,5 0
2 «СДЮСШОР ШШ» (г. Санкт-Петербург)  *    1 3 4   8 15,5 0
3 «Югра» (ХМАО-ЮГРА) 1    *  2 2   8 15,5 0
4 «Боавишта» (г. Москва) 2  *  2   2 7 15,0 0
5 «Дончанка» (г. Ростов-на-Дону)   3 2 2  *    1 2 7 12,5 0
6 «Университет» (г. Белореченск, Краснодар ½      *  3 3 6 12,0 0
7 «Ладья» (Республика Татарстан) 1 1 ½   3  *    2 3 9,0 0
8 «Букавушки» (г. Тольятти) 0 ½ 2 2 1    *    2 7,0 0
9 СШОР «Юность Москвы» (г. Москва) ½   ½ ½ 1 2    *  1 6,0 0

The top pairing of round seven which effectively decided the Championship.


Br. 5   «ШСМ Legacy Square Capital» (г. Москва) Elo - 3   «Югра» (ХМАО-ЮГРА) Elo 3 : 1
1.1 GM
Kosteniuk, Alexandra
2556 - GM
Ushenina, Anna
2450 ½ - ½
1.2 GM
Lagno, Kateryna
2529 - WGM
Pogonina, Natalija
2490 1 - 0
1.3 IM
Kovalevskaya, Ekaterina
2467 - IM
Mkrtchian, Lilit
2434 1 - 0
1.4 IM
Kashlinskaya, Alina
2466 - IM
Nechaeva, Marina
2416 ½ - ½

Games (Rounds 1-7):


Alexandra Kosteniuk came from the Women's Grand Prix in Batumi directly to Sochi to help her team Legacy Square Capital Moscow to win the title.

Former Women's World Champion Anna Ushenina

Games of the Russian Higher League (Rounds 1-7):



Photos: Russian Chess Federation

Tournament page (Russian Chess Federation)...

All results at Chess-Results...

Marco Baldauf, born 1990, has been playing since he was eight. In 2000 and 2002 he became German Junior Champion, in 2014 he became International Master. He plays for SF Berlin in the Bundesliga.
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sharpnova sharpnova 5/13/2016 02:59
Karjakan is going to lose his World Championship match against Carlsen.

He is going to lose it worse than Anand. Anand is far more solid and one of the best players of all time who had the misfortune of a career at the same time as Kasparov.
sharpnova sharpnova 5/13/2016 02:58

I had to look up the word 'copacetic' since it's a very uncommon word. Did you think it was the best way to convey your meaning?
scoobeedo scoobeedo 5/10/2016 11:34
The picture with the title "Karjakin and Kramnik began their tense game in a relaxed mood." is a fantastic picture to advertise chess.
vladivaclav vladivaclav 5/10/2016 05:32
Karjak already hides his prep...
Cyric Renner Cyric Renner 5/10/2016 07:41
Mediocre or even poor results is the way to go for Karjakin. Why tip your hand ? It is called the rope a dope. May be Carlsen will fall asleep the way he did against Anand.
thlai80 thlai80 5/10/2016 02:57
Kinda exaggerated for Karjakin lost form. Obviously hiding his real strength at this moment. We had witnessed that with Anand in the run up to his title match Carlsen on both occasions. Only Carlsen didn't bother, since his strength is already well known and it is up to the challenger to find ways to defeat him.
Rama Rama 5/10/2016 02:31
The greatest talent doesn't always go as far as it seems that it should - Aronian and Ivanchuk are two other examples besides Svidler. It takes mental toughness with just enough talent. Fischer even used the term 'too much talent' when referring to one of his contemporaries. Karjakin displays his toughness when it really matters to him - at least since getting lots of support from Russia after it annexed his homeland.
Surfer ll Surfer ll 5/9/2016 07:39
karjakin is a (naive) joke
Saruman Carlsen will rip appart him 5/9/2016 06:22
By the way, was it Marco Baldauf who commented on Karjakin Svidler? It was very enlightening! I've quit playing the Ruy this year, but his commentary kinda rekindled the fire! 5/9/2016 06:20
While I didn't stretch it as far as the reason goes, I agree with LetsReason as to Svidler's underperforming overall. He has shown some amazing games, but overall he never seems to go as high as his talent suggests. But we have to remember that chess is to a huge part all about psychology. So most likely it's not Svidler's skill but his psychosynthesis that let's him down
LetsReason LetsReason 5/9/2016 04:57
I dunno. Something about Peter Svidler's results does not seem copacetic. My inclination is that Peter is actually one of the stronger players in the world (like top 2) and he plays down (whether for internal chess world political reasons or personal reasons). Just my opinion from long time observation.