Inarkiev Wins Higher League, Qualifies for 2014 Tal Memorial
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On Saturday Ernesto Inarkiev won the Russian Championship Higher League in Yekaterinenburg. This tournament served as a qualifier for the Russian Championship Super Final, which will be held later this year. Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Motylev, Alex Goganov and Anton Shomoev also went through. This year there was something else in store for the winner: a ticket to the 2014 Tal Memorial!
The Russian Championship Higher League took place June 20th-29th in Yekaterinenburg. It was a 9-round Swiss and in fact a terribly strong one. Like the Ukrainian Championship, this event had five 2700+ participants: Nikita Vitiugov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Evgeny Alekseev, Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Riazantsev.
As always, it was all about finishing among the first five players, because these would be allowed to play in the Super Final in October. However, this year the Russian Chess Federation made an attempt to motivate the players to play not only for the first five spots, but for clear first as well: the winner of the tournament would be granted participation in next year's prestigious Tal Memorial!
After six rounds, 7th seed Ernesto Inarkiev was in clear first place with 5/6. However, in the next round he was beaten by the relatively unknown player Anton Shomoev, rated 2565, who took over the lead. By then the federation might have regretted their decision, because a 2500 player in the 9th Tal Memorial was probably not what they had in mind!
By then an even lesser known player, IM Aleksey Goganov (2562) had reached the top region of the leaderboard as well and he drew with Shomoev in the penultimate round.
Inarkiev recovered well with a black win against Evgeny Tomashevsky, but in the last round he dropped another half point against Alexander Motylev. This meant that Shomoev could have won the tournament outright, but he lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi, who thus caught Inarkiev in the standings. The latter was declared the winner on tiebreak: Buchholz score. And so, besides Inarkiev, two "regular guests" (Motylev and Nepomniachtchi) and two surprises (Alex Goganov and Anton Shomoev) qualified for the Super Final.
Inarkiev, who was born in Kyrgyzstan but took Russian citizenship in the early 2000s, also won the Higher League in 2006. That year he even came third in the Super Final. He is also known for wearing a Che Guevara armband because his parents named him after the Argentine revolutionary.
The women's section was won by Anastasia Bodnaruk, who scored 7.5/9. Alina Kashlinskaya and Alexander Goryachkina shared second place with 6.5 points. Ekaterina Kovalevskaya and Baira Kovanova, who took 4th and 5th place, also qualified for the Women Super Final.
Below are a few key games of the men's tournament.
Russian Championship Higher League 2013 | Final standings (top 30)