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Goryachkina 1st Woman To Qualify For Russian Championship Superfinal
Aleksandra Goryachkina playing in the Higher League last week. Photo: Anastasia Domchenkova/Russian Chess Federation.

Goryachkina 1st Woman To Qualify For Russian Championship Superfinal

PeterDoggers
| 32 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina is the first woman ever to qualify for the open section of the Russian Championship Superfinal. The 22-year-old grandmaster from Orsk, Russia, finished in shared second place at the Higher League tournament in Cheboksary, Russia.

Goryachkina also crossed the 2600 Elo mark, something just five women in history achieved before her. Her score of 6.5/9 was good for a 2714 performance rating.

How to watch?
The games of the Russian Championship Higher League can be found here as part of our live events platform.


Because Goryachina is one of the strongest female players in the world, it doesn't make much sense for her to play in the women's section of the Higher League, which is a qualifier for the Superfinal (the main Russian championship). Since 2016, she has been playing in the open section instead to gain invaluable practice against strong grandmasters. This year it paid off.

In what was a big Swiss tournament with 54 participants, including 24 GMs and 14 IMs, Goryachkina finished among the top-five players. These five all qualified for the Superfinal to be held later this year.

Russian Championship Higher League 2021 | Final Standings (Top 15)

Rk. SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 9 GM Pavel Ponkratov 2627 7,0 51,5 47,0 5
2 7 GM Maksim Chigaev 2630 6,5 49,0 45,0 4
3 17 GM Aleksandra Goryachkina 2596 6,5 46,0 43,0 5
4 3 GM Alexander Rakhmanov 2651 6,0 49,5 45,0 4
5 6 GM Alexander Motylev 2639 6,0 47,0 43,5 4
6 16 GM Mikhail Antipov 2596 6,0 46,0 43,0 4
7 11 GM Evgeny Alekseev 2605 6,0 46,0 42,5 4
8 8 GM David Paravyan 2629 6,0 45,0 41,5 4
9 5 GM Aleksey Sarana 2640 5,5 49,0 45,0 4
10 1 GM Maxim Matlakov 2688 5,5 46,0 41,5 2
11 13 GM Anton Demchenko 2600 5,5 44,5 41,0 4
12 22 GM Ilia Iljiushenok 2530 5,5 43,0 40,0 4
13 14 GM Evgeny Romanov 2599 5,5 41,0 37,5 4
14 28 IM Polina Shuvalova 2489 5,0 50,0 45,5 4
15 12 GM Igor Lysyj 2605 5,0 46,5 42,5 2

(Full final standings here.)

The Russian Championship will be held for the 74th time. They have been held in different formats throughout the decades but since 2004, the final stages have been closed round-robins, the so-called Superfinals. Although it's not clear yet that she will be playing in it, the fact that Goryachkina qualified is a unique achievement in Russian chess.

The last time a female player took a shot at the main Russian title was in the year 2000 when IM Alisa Galliamova participated in the Open Russian Championship. She scored 7/11 and finished in clear seventh place out of 62 participants.

Playing hall Higher League chess 2021
The playing hall in Cheboksary. Photo: Anastasia Domchenkova/Russian Chess Federation.

Goryachkina's 6.5/9 in Cheboksary, a city along the Volga river 120 kilometers northeast of Kazan, included five victories with the white pieces. Goryachkina lost just one game, to the winner of the tournament, GM Pavel Ponkratov.

Among the players she beat were GM Aleksey Dreev, GM Alexandr Predke, and in the final round, GM Alexey Sarana.

Her exchange sacrifice against Dreev was spectacular, but she almost let her highly experienced opponent escape. The 52-year-old GM missed a draw in an instructive opposite-colored bishop endgame:

Also against Predke, she was tactically alert, and again she combined that with good endgame technique:

Goryachkina Higher League 2021 Russian Championship
Goryachkina next to Ponkratov at the award ceremony. Photo: Anastasia Domchenkova/Russian Chess Federation.

Sharing second with Goryachkina was the 24-year-old GM Maksim Chigaev, who played a brilliant game in round two of the tournament:

The Russian Championship Higher League took place June 26-July 5, 2021 in Cheboksary, Russia. The format was a nine-round Swiss. The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with a 30-second increment per move, starting from move one.

Female chess players who crossed 2600 rating
Only six female chess players crossed the 2600 rating mark.
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