Russia vs. China Match: Clash of the Titans

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Jul 31, 2012

From July 1-9 St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia, hosted the 8th unofficial match between Russia and China. The format of the event has usually been different each year. This time the participants had to play 5 classical games and 10 rapid ones. Each team was composed of 5 male and 5 female players. For the Russian grandmasters the match was especially important since it normally plays a large role in determining the Olympic Team.

Of course, the confrontation between the women’s teams is more important in the sense that Russia is the reigning Olympic Champion, while China is the current World Team Champion. The Russian men’s team is obviously stronger than the Chinese, but the best GMs of the latter team (Wang Hao, Wang Yue) are of world class and can also lead their comrades to victory over anyone else.

From the Russian side there were mainly candidates for the Olympic team and some juniors. Our women’s team was: Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Natalia Pogonina, Olga Girya, Baira Kovanova (average rating – 2451.4). The Russian men’s team: Dmitry Jakovenko, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ian Nepomniatchi, Nikita Vitiugov, Maxim Matlakov (average rating – 2711.6). The Chinese team was more or less at its optimal composition. Men: Wang Hao, Wang Yue, Li Chao, Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi (average rating – 2691.8). Chinese women’s team: Zhao Xue, Ju Wenjun, Huang Qiang, Shen Yang, Ding Yixin (average rating - 2472.8). At the Olympid Yu Yangyi will be replaced by Bu Xiangzhi and Shen Yang by Hou Yifan.

A separate score is kept for men and women; both for classical chess and for rapid. However, the final result of the match is the sum of the points of each of the national teams. Up to this point Russia was losing to China 4-3. Hence, we were hoping to equalize the score after this match. This article will be dedicated to the classical part of the women’s confrontation, while the second part will be about rapid chess. Also, you can find more details about the members of the team, ratings, etc., in this preview post.


Your columnist near one of the most beautiful churches in St. Petersburg

Five rounds is a very short distance, so the teams have to be extremely careful. On Day 1 our team missed two great chances to score:


Alexandra Kosteniuk vs. Ju Wenjun

I barely drew against Huang Qian, Olga Girya shared the point with Shen Yang, while Baira Kovanova lost to Ding Yixin. Summarizing, China won 3-2.

In round 2 the situation had reversed: Valentina Gunina and Alexandra Kosteniuk won; I and Olga Girya drew, while Baira Kovanova got another 0. 3-2 for Mother Russia.


The playing hall

Round 3, another defeat. I and Alexandra Kosteniuk lost; everyone else drew. Baira Kovanova had good winning chances, but I guess she was too tired after her spectacular performance at the Top League. Valentina Gunina was on the verge of falling into the abyss:


Valentina Gunina and her coffee ritual that she used to perform before each game.

Now we were trailing two points behind.

Round 4, another challenge. I lost again, Olga Girya couldn’t save her game as well. Alexandra Kosteniuk earned us a point; other games were drawn.


Grimly watching my friend Alexandra play vs. Ding Yixin

While we still had theoretical chances to save the classical part of the match, we failed to compensate for the 3 point lag. Four draws and yet another loss by Baira Kovanova (to Zhao Xue) defined the final score: 14.5-10.5 in China’s favor.


Gunina vs. Ju Wenjun was a thriller

Our men performed better and won their part of the match: 13.5-11.5. Now who do you think prevailed in rapid chess? In case you don’t know yet, stay tuned for Part II of the article! ;-)

All the photos except the first one are courtesy of Eteri Kublashvili,


  • 24 months ago



  • 2 years ago


    Thank you....Maghi Perak Malaysia @ Wellcome to Perak Malaysia.

  • 3 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3

  • 3 years ago


    Go China!

  • 3 years ago


    How people can love somebody they don't know anything about? Undecided

  • 3 years ago


    I rapid fall in Love to Alexandra Kosteniuk, Love her so Much....Laughing

  • 4 years ago


    @ diogens you should said "nice article pogonina and not talk with me please" pogonina want that you said that and not spend time to talk with me me italk about chess and i not talk about person like for example her life or i not talk about baby of pogonina or her husband what should i say ?  you are just a poor chessplayer you never know how to play chess i invit you to play with me in life in bullet game in my raiting in chesscube is 2325 so come and my loging is "chicou" and also i play with many IM and some GM play in chesscybe like Nijat abisov 2461 raiting so com.

  • 4 years ago


    Ovaido are you ok? Should we call a doctor?

  • 4 years ago


    really 1d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 ok how to win in blac ok i see fritz and here i see this variation 1d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5 4c*b5 a6 5 b*a6 g6 6 Nc3 B*a6 7 e4 B*f1 8 K*f1 d6 9 g3 Bg7 10 Bg2 00 11 Nf3 Nd7 12 h3 Qa5 13 Re1 Rb8 14 e5 N*e5 15 N*e5 d*e5 16 T*e5 Tb7 17 Qf3 Ne8 18 Re2 Nd6 this is your game Natalia i see this and i want to cry really i want that you win but sometimes i want to give somecritics in your play systeme why you try to complicate the game why you try to sacrifice a pawn it's old idea and isee 

  • 4 years ago


    ok pogonina  we need to see gunina loose and lahno loose and all loose so how to do this first of all is that gunina play in all time 1d4 and you respond by Nf6 if she play c4 you play c5  ok here not bad for blacbut im sure that she advance d5 pawn and after b5 she try to play a4 this and after you play Qa5+ so this is first reflexion about gunina . about humpy is that she change so she play d4 and when she loose she change c4 humpy and yifan they have a same systeme of play but yifan change more than humpy hifan play e4 most of the time but she change when she see that humpy play d4 and other type is kostinuk she played standar 1e4 so here the question is how to win humpy gunina kostinuk yifan 4-0 and not loose with  pogionina  systeme of playind like 1d4 Nf6 2 C4 C5  OR 1e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 ok here it's equal but the most here i should see fritz and now how fritz play in this tow variation 

  • 4 years ago


    Exxcellent Post...

  • 4 years ago


    About the endgame between Yixin Ding (2422) and Valentina Gunina (2533), there are a few additional details in the article "Beware of Endgame Checkmates!" written by Iryna Zenyuk and published on August 3rd, 2012.


  • 4 years ago


    all my article that i posted have are intereting i posted in your article the you whirte in 15/11/2011 " studing rook endgame" i talk about the tiviakov systeme so when we play 1e4 we should prepare all variation like 1e4 d5 2 e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qd6 and here after 8month et 15 day you play this pogonina i think that your openent read my article in i write this in"studing rook endgame "on 15/11/2011. this why here we need many information about many variation like this and when we loose we should respect other and not delait thier comment because their comment can be a good preparation for all who want to prevision his game.

  • 4 years ago


    now you see that the tiviakov systeme can be played this is my idea and i say to you that you can loose befor some month in 1e4 d5 2 e*d5 Q*d5 3 Nc3 Qd6

  • 4 years ago


    Dear Natalia,

    You do a great work and we love the way you write, it is both an opportunity and an honor to have you here. Please ignore those ignorant negative comments. Send you a good big smile!! :D

  • 4 years ago


    me too

  • 4 years ago


    I love you Natalina Pogonina, you are my dream girl!

  • 4 years ago


    Please win Russia!!!! For the Mother Land:)

  • 4 years ago


    Nice match, but I really like Russia, Let´s go Russia, Vamos Rusia!!!!

  • 4 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    @DutchBagel Classical chess=standard time control. In this case it was 90m/game + 30m after move 40 + 30s/each move.

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