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First Round of Russian Chess Superfinal Finished in Chita

The first round of the 68th Russian Men’s Chess Championship and the 65th Women’s Championship was held in Chita on August 9. The Governor of the Zabaykalsky Krai, President of the regional chess federation Konstantin Ilkovsky made the symbolical first move in the game between the 12th World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (Moscow) and Grandmaster Anastasia Bodnaruk (St. Petersburg).

Official website

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The opening round’s most spectacular game was the showdown between the Superfinal first-timer Ivan Bukavshin, aged 20, and the reigning Russian Champion Igor Lysyj. White sacrificed two pieces, forcing the black king to make a dangerous promenade around the board center under enemy fire. Black defended skillfully, sometimes finding the only moves. White could have forced a draw by perpetual check several times, but the young Togliatti player persistently kept looking for winning chances. Nevertheless, Igor avoided all the traps, and on move 31 the opponents started repeating moves and a draw followed.

The only winner in the men’s tournament was Sergey Karjakin, who defeated Denis Khismatullin in a hard-fought battle. The position remained near equal for a long time, but in the endgame Denis, being in time trouble, chose a poor plan. He could have gone into a rook endgame with an almost inevitable draw several times, but he was reluctant to trade off his bishop for the enemy knight, which enabled Sergey to snatch the initiative and win a pawn. However, Black retained counterplay that was sufficient for a draw until Khismatullin made a few more inaccuracies in an acute time trouble. A position that was bad for Black ensued, with his queen opposing a white rook, a knight and three pawns. Karjakin consolidated his troops and converted his material edge with confidence.

Daniil Dubov, playing with Black versus Ildar Khariullin, opted for a sharp Benko Gambit. White achieved a comfortable position and kept the extra pawn taken in the gambit, and could have won a second pawn in a small combination shortly before the time control. Ildar overlooked this possibility, while the Moscow grandmaster defended very tenaciously in the endgame and managed to save half a pawn.

Other draws occurred in the games Vitiugov – Artemiev, Motylev – Svidler, and Tomashevsky – Jakovenko.

In the women’s tournament, the history of the 2014 Superfinal’s first round repeated itself: Russian Champion Valentina Gunina lost as White to Alexandra Goriachkina. In a complicated multi-piece endgame, Valentina confused her opponent and could have gained a material advantage through a combination. Gunina found the winning idea, but failed to bring it home after making the moves in the wrong order. Black suddenly had a defensive resource that White had overlooked in her previous calculations, and, instead of winning a piece, she lost all her pawns on the queenside. Gunina lost on time in a hopeless position.

Olga Girya outplayed Evgenija Ovod with flawless technique: after getting a promising position in the opening, the Yugra player gradually built up the pressure, won a pawn, and, with skill and composure, secured the win in the endgame.

Alina Kashlinskaya, who played White versus Natalija Pogonina, overestimated her chances and opened up the position on the queenside ill-advisedly, which enabled the vice champion to invade her opponent’s ranks with a rook, seize the initiative and gradually unhinge White’s defenses.

The games Lagno – Kovalevskaya, Savina – Guseva, and Kosteniuk – Bodnaruk ended in a draw.

The first tournament’s games were commentated in Russian by Grandmaster Sergey Shipov and the Russian Chess Federation’s Executive Director Mark Gluhovsky. Comments in English were provided by Grandmasters Evgenij Miroshnichenko and Anna Burtasova.

Enjoy the photo report, kindly provided by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky.

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Standings after round 1:

Men:

1. Karjakin – 1; 2-11. Svidler, Jakovenko, Tomashevsky, Lysyj, Vitiugov, Bukavshin, Dubov, Artemiev, Motylev, Khairullin – 0.5 each; Khismatullin – 0.

Women:

1-3. Girya, Pogonina, Goriachkina – 1 each; 4-9. Kosteniuk, Lagno, Savina, Bodnaruk, Kovalevskaya, Guseva – 0.5 each; 10-12. Gunina, Kashlinskaya, Ovod – 0 each.

Round 2 pairings:

Men:

Svidler – Jakovenko, Khismatullin – Tomashevsky, Lysyj – Karjakin, Vitiugov – Bukavshin, Dubov – Artemiev, Motylev – Khairullin.

Women:

Goriachkina – Kovalevskaya, Bodnaruk – Lagno, Ovod – Kosteniuk, Guseva – Girya, Pogonina – Savina, Gunina – Kashlinskaya.

The Russian Championship Superfinals are held by the Russian Chess Federation, the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation and the Zabaykalsky Krai Chess Federation, with support from the government of the Zabaykalsky Krai. The competition partners are Norilsk Nickel and the Baikalsk Mining Company.

The games will be played at the Megapolis-Sport Youth Palace. The rounds will begin at 15:00 (10:00 Moscow time), while the last round will start at 13:00 (08:00 Moscow time). The playing days are August 9-14 and 16-21. A day off will be provided on August 15. The tournaments’ total prize fund is 8 million rubles.

On the free day of August 15, simultaneous exhibitions will be held in Chita. Fifty young chess players from the Zabaykalsky Krai will cross swords with famous grandmasters: Evgeniy Najer, Sergei Rublevsky, and Evgenij Miroshnichenko.

As has become a tradition at these tournaments, the organizers are preparing an extensive additional program for chess lovers of any age.

The Russian Chess Federation’s official website will have online and video broadcasting, and well-known grandmasters will commentate the games both in Russian and in English.

The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) is a public non-profit organization that brings together individuals and chess federations of republics, regions, federal cities, autonomous regions and districts of the Russian Federation. The mission of the Russian Chess Federation is to promote and popularize chess in the Russian Federation. the RCF was founded on February 15, 1992. It organizes the annual Russian Children’s Championship, the White Rook tournament among educational institutions, the Russian championship and other chess competitions. In 2012, the Chess in Museums program was launched in Russia at the initiative of the RCF.

Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation. The family of Elena and Gennady Timchenko has been doing charity both in Russia and abroad for more than 20 years.  In late 2010, the Timchenkos founded a charitable foundation, which was called Ladoga until September 2013, in order to achieve long-term progress in philanthropy. Today it is named Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation (the Timchenko Foundation), and its program portfolio includes all the areas of family charity. The Timchenko Foundation focuses on promoting active longevity, developing sports and culture and aiding families and children. These strategic initiatives aim to provide a systemic solution for Russian social problems. The Foundation’s official website: www.timchenkofoundation.org.

The Zabaykalsky Krai. The history of the region as part of Russia dates back to the journey taken by the Cossacks from Peter Beketov’s hundred in 1652-1654, when they built the famous Nerchinsk settlement. The Zabaykalsky Krai was established on 1 March 2008 by merging the Chita Region and the Aginsk Buryat Autonomous District.

The region is the eastern economic, geopolitical, and historical outpost of Russia. Its southern and south-eastern border is also the Russian Federation’s border with Mongolia (863 km) and China (1095 km).

An important milestone in the Zabaykalsky Krai’s history was the exile of the Decemberists to this place starting from 1826, which is when the first data about the development of chess in the region dates from.

The region is a multiethnic land shared by Russians, Buryats, Ukrainians, Tatars, Byelorussians, Evenki, and other peoples.

The Zabaykalsky Krai is among Russia’s oldest mining regions and boasts vast mineral and commodity resources. It is among the leading Russian regions in terms of uranium, silver, copper, fluorite, tantalum, titanium, lead, gold, tin, and coal reserves. It also features many mineral deposits, including the Udokan copper deposit, the largest in Russia and one of the largest in the world.

The region also has a considerable tourism potential: the flora here is comparable to that of Southern Crimea, Moldova, Transcaucasia and the Amur basin. The region has plenty of mineral water sources (about 300, with a different chemical composition and temperature, and most of them have medicinal properties) and thermal sources, competing with the Carpathians, Southern Crimea, Caucasus, and the Black and Baltic Sea coasts.

There is also a unique place near Chita ― the Pallas mountain (1236 m), which is the starting point for as many as three great rivers: the Amur, the Lena, and the Yenisei.

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