The 61st Women’s Russian Championship took place in Moscow from August 18 to 29. This prestigious tournament didn’t get an adequate coverage in the chess media due to language barriers (most of the materials were available only in Russian), and the distraction caused by the World Cup.
This time there were 10 participants (instead of the traditional 12), and the Kosintseva sisters declined the invitations due to an intense schedule. Nonetheless, the field was quite strong and featured, among others, ex-Women’s World Chess Сhampion Alexandra Kosteniuk (2497) and two times runner-up Alisa Galliamova (2492). By the way, Alisa won the previous two Superfinals. After having competed at a Grand Prix stage in Rostov, both ladies were rather tired. #3 by rating was Valentina Gunina (2487), followed by me at 2442. Other players were Anastasia Bodnaruk (2431), Elena Zaiatz (2419), Tatiana Shadrina (2373), Olga Girya (2371), Kovanova Baira (2354), Daria Charochkina (2310).
From left to right: Galliamova, Bodnaruk, Kovanova, Pogonina, Kosteniuk, Zaiatz, Charochkina, Girya, Gunina, Shadrina
Photo by WGM Anna Burtasova, russiachess.org
For me it was my 6th Superfinal (I have missed only 2004 and 2006). So far my best result was sharing first last year, when I lost the rapid tie-break against Galliamova and got silver. Less delightful were years 2008, when I started by losing three games, and 2009, when I had to withdraw from the event due to health issues.
My starting number in the table was 6, so I had to play two Blacks in the first two games. Against Kovanova I had a slightly inferior position, and against Gunina I missed a win a couple of times. Both matches were drawn. Then I won with White against Girya and Galliamova and lost with Black against Bodnaruk and Zaiatz. In rounds 7 and 8 I defeated Shadrina and Kosteniuk and ended up in clear second. In the last round I had small chances for gold and could have got silver in case I did not lose. Alas, I played horribly and lost with White to Charochkina, which came as a surprise to most spectators and commentators. 4th place, a cold during the event, opening problems and other problems signified that my preparation for the tournament wasn’t perfect.
At the beginning of the tournament Gunina and Kovanova were leading. In round 6 Baira drew, while Valentina won. A convincing finish allowed Gunina to clinch the title, and Kovanova scored just 0.5 out of 3 and finished on 5th place. A last round victory brought Alisa Galliamova the silver medal, and Charochkina earned bronze in the same fashion.
There were no undefeated players at this tournament. As usually, most games were decisive, with the exceptions of two relatively short draws.
Today I would like to show you my first victory from the ’11 Superfinal. My opponent, Olga Girya, became the runner-up at the Junior Girls World Chess Championship just before the event.
The key moment was when Black played c4. My opponent shouldn’t have determined the pawn structure and given me a chance for a comfortable attack. However, Black could defend more successfully if she had relocated the knight to g6 via d7. I got a considerable advantage and converted it rather quickly due to a blunder by Olga.