Gotta be Carlsen to Play this

Gotta be Carlsen to Play this

| 52 | Middlegame

{ed note: GM Vinay Bhat is on a lengthy tour of foreign tournaments, and will be replaced for two months by WGM Pogonina, who I believe requires no further introduction to the audience. She will continue with the column's theme of sharing experiences from international competitive play.}


Today we are going to talk about the Russian Superfinal, a strong chess event which took place this past December in Moscow. Most of the top Russian players have been participating in both the Men’s and Women’s sections, which is a guarantee in itself of top-level chess. has been posting updates on it in the News section, but I'll still rehash the details of who is playing in depth here for those who haven't read:

GM Kosintseva, Tatiana 2522 (#8 in the world women rankings)
IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2518 (#9)
WGM Pogonina Natalia 2501 (#15)
IM Galliamova Alisa 2460 (inactive)
IM Romanko Marina 2449 (#43)
WFM Gunina Valentina 2446 (#46)
IM Zaiatz Elena 2390 (#79)
WGM Stepovaia Tatiana 2384 (#82)
WGM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2372 (#90)
WGM Manakova Marina 2344 (#121)


Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintsevas, and Natalia Pogonina at the 2005 Superfinal

As Russia is the only country in the world to have 4 female players rated 2500+, due to the absence of Alexandra Kosteniuk the Kosintseva sisters and me were considered to be the favorites. In the previous years the Russian Chess Federation has been posting polls asking “who is your favorite in the Superfinal,” and I have always been the top candidate. Ironically, the significance of the event and everyone’s attention are a burden on me, so historically I have performed relatively unsuccessfully at the Superfinal.

This time the situation was even more dramatic: I had missed 8 months of tournament play due to pregnancy. Therefore, my goal for the event was just to enjoy chess and see how good or bad my chess shape was. 


 WGM Natalia Pogonina (2501) - IM Marina Romanko (2449)

The first round pairings left me with a feeling of déjà vu: I was to play IM Marina Romanko with White. Earlier this year I had faced her with White in the last round of the Moscow Open tournament – that victory allowed me to win the Swiss event one point ahead of the competition (8/9) with a 2663 performance. In case you’re interested, here’s an annotated video of the game.  By the way, it features the very same opening we’re playing right now in the Pogonina vs. challenge – you may still join the action if you wish!


Everyone wants to have a smooth start, so performing well in the first game is very important.  Here is how it proceeded:

To be continued...
Your comments on how to make the articles more exciting are very much appreciated!
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