The main Russian chess event of the year started on August 2nd in Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel in Moscow. 10 male and 10 female chess players were to compete for the title of the Russian Chess Champion. In each section, the contestants were: three medalists from last year’s Superfinal, two – by highest rating, five – qualifiers from the Top League. For me it was my 7th Superfinal. Until this year my best result was tying for first in 2010 (I got the silver medal after a rapid two-game tie-break). As compared to the 2011 lineup, the Kosintseva sisters were back, but Alexandra Kosteniuk was absent.
Here’s the result of the computer-generated tournament table (normally the participants used to draw the lots themselves, but this year for some unknown reason the procedure was modified): 1. Charochkina, 2353 2. Ovod, 2419 3. Pogonina, 2448 4. Galliamova, 2465 5. Girya, 2433 6. N. Kosintseva, 2524 7.Kovanova, 2408 8. Ubiennykh, 2367 9. T. Kosintseva, 2530 10. Gunina, 2507. Hence, I was to play 5 games as White and 4 as Black. In top-level men’s chess an extra White is considered to be an advantage, so most people prefer to end up in the first half of the tournament table. In women’s chess, however, the importance is milder. For example, I scored 3.5/4 with Black, which made some analysts make witty observations that I had a “Black strategy” for this tournament.
Here is a more detailed preview – men’s tournament; my previous results, prizes, etc.
In the first round I missed a promising chance to win:
Round 2 was pleasant for me because I finally managed to defeat Tanya Kosintseva, my long-time nemesis:
Press conference after the game
Meanwhile, Valentina Gunina and Nadezhda Kosintseva were continuing the opening dispute in one of the lines of the Ragozin Defense, which was also employed in the WWCC match between Hou Yifan and Koneru Humpy. Valentina uncorked a good novelty (20.h4) and quickly won the game.
In the third round I had good winning chances, but the game ended in a draw.
Valentina Gunina is all smiles at the press conference
Valentina Gunina triumphed again.
In the fourth round I had my hotshot Black I earned a full point vs. Evgenia Ovod, who had a very tough tournament this year and finished in last place.
At this point I and the (at that time) reigning Russian & European Women’s Chess Champion Valentina Gunina were leading with 3 out of 4 points.
Let the game begin!
After round 5 a rest day was planned. Each player wants to do well on the day before the rest day in order to be in a good mood during the free time. Maybe for this very reason the 5th round was very fighting: 4 decisive games and one proprietary well-known draw between the Kosintsevas.
At a certain stage my position against Gunina was suspicious, but in the end I managed to win in a rather dramatic fashion. Many kibitzers appreciated the king’s promenade:
My good friend Baira Kovanova went through a really challenging and nerve-racking game too, but in the end she managed to convert her lost position into a full point:
Baira Kovanova. GM Alexander Motylev taking pictures on the background – that’s the answer to the trivia
Before the rest day I became the sole leader with 4 out of 5. Only four rounds to follow, but so many tense encounters ahead!
No matter whether you are well-versed in super tournaments, or have never been to one, here is one of the videos that you might find interesting. It gives a sense of in what environment we are usually playing; how the world’s top grandmasters (World Rapid Chess Champion Sergey Karjakin, World Blitz Chess Champion Alexander Grischuk, World Cup Winner Peter Svidler, etc.) are behaving before and during the round:
Finally, here is part of the plate featuring famous visitors of the hotel where we stayed and played – George Bush Jr. , Bill Clinton, Claudia Schiffer, Boris Becker and so on.
Vladimir Kramnik has pretty good company, right?
To be continued…
Part II will be more informal. Ask questions now if you want something specific to be covered!
Photos 1-4 are courtesy of Eteri Kublashvili, russiachess.org