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Gunina, Vitiugov Winners At Russian Championships
Valentina Gunina and Nikita Vitiugov. Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/Russian Chess Federation.

Gunina, Vitiugov Winners At Russian Championships

PeterDoggers
| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

On his 15th attempt, GM Nikita Vitiugov won his first-ever Russian championship title on Wednesday in Ufa. The 2017 runner-up finished in clear first place, half a point ahead of GM Maxim Matlakov. GM Valentina Gunina won her fourth women's championship.

How to watch?
The games of the Russian Championship Superfinals can be found here: Open | Women.


He had finished in third place three times and lost the playoff to eight-time winner GM Peter Svidler in 2017. This year, it finally clicked for Vitiugov, who remained at the top of the leaderboard until the very end.

"When the game was about to finish, I was confident that this was going to be a tiebreak," he said after drawing his final-round game. "It was a difficult moment: on the one hand, the tournament is over, and on the other hand, the fight for the first place is not yet out of the question."

Vitiugov vividly had the 2017 playoff in his mind, but that scenario wasn't repeated. "I went for a walk because I simply wanted to be as fresh for the game as possible," said the tournament winner. "I relaxed only when the situation clarified after the last move in the Esipenko–Matlakov game."

Playing the black pieces, Matlakov could have caught Vitiugov but eventually had to settle for a draw as well. For a while it was very sharp:

Despite playing many topsy-turvy games, Vitiugov stayed undefeated with eight draws and three wins. After the rest day, he scored one victory with the black pieces which was a good example of the wild chess he sometimes played:

"I have played in as many Superfinals as all other participants together, and maybe even more," Vitiugov pointed out afterward. "I was lucky in some games, but the opposite happened to me as well. The evaluation bar's sudden spikes towards one or the other player happened in nearly every game. I would not give up and keep on fighting, but it was not without lucky strikes for me either. You will never win such a tournament without them."

Nikita Vitiugov 2021 Russian Championship
Nikita Vitiugov, receiving the top prize. Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/Russian Chess Federation.

2021 Russia Superfinal Vitiugov
Vitiugov posted a celebratory tweet after the tournament. Image: Twitter.

GM Aleksandra Goryachkina, the first-ever woman to qualify for the main section of the Superfinal, was still on an excellent 50 percent score before the rest day but lost some steam at the end. She lost two games in the second half, to finish on minus two which was a performance close to her own rating.

Final standings

# Fed Name Rating Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Vitiugov,Nikita 2727 2769 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 7.0/11
2 Matlakov,Maxim 2682 2739 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 6.5/11
3 Esipenko,Andrey 2720 2705 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 6.0/11 32.5
4 Andreikin,Dmitry 2728 2704 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 6.0/11 31.5
5 Fedoseev,Vladimir 2704 2705 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 6.0/11 31.25
6 Ponkratov,Pavel 2659 2678 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 5.5/11 30
7 Motylev,Alexander 2624 2681 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 5.5/11 29.75
8 Alekseenko,Kirill 2710 2674 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 5.5/11 28.5
9 Predke,Alexandr 2666 2646 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 5.0/11
10 Goryachkina,Aleksandra 2602 2619 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ 4.5/11 25
11 Rakhmanov,Aleksandr 2657 2615 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5/11 24.75
12 Chigaev,Maksim 2639 2583 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.0/11

Also in the women’s tournament, the winner finished half a point ahead of the pack. Gunina managed to stay ahead of IM Evgenija Ovod and IM Polina Shuvalova by drawing her games with these players in the final two rounds.

After the rest day, Gunina had grabbed the lead with two straight wins in rounds seven and eight. She won with a small combination in the first of those two games:

The key game in the final round was a great fight, where Gunina eventually got the desired half point but not before she survived a dangerous position:

Gunina Shuvalova 2021 Russian Championship
Gunina-Shuvalova. Photo: Eteri Kublashvili/Russian Chess Federation.

“Of course, I am very happy, but the final game was quite nervous," said Gunina. "I'd been preparing for one thing, but Polina chose a line that she had never played before. Of course, it is hard to play against an unexpected variation. I thought that I acted right, but it's rather difficult to assess it without due analysis."

Final standings

# Fed Name Rating Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Gunina,Valentina 2462 2588 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 8.0/11
2 Shuvalova,Polina 2509 2546 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 7.5/11 37.75
3 Ovod,Evgenija 2331 2562 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 7.5/11 37.75
4 Kashlinskaya,Alina 2493 2480 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 6.5/11
5 Pogonina,Natalija 2467 2450 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 6.0/11 29
6 Garifullina,Leya 2409 2454 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 6.0/11 28.5
7 Galliamova,Alisa 2421 2421 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 5.5/11
8 Girya,Olga 2410 2359 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 4.5/11
9 Guseva,Marina 2394 2327 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 4.0/11
10 Bivol,Alina 2392 2292 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 3.5/11 18.75
11 Voit,Daria 2357 2296 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 3.5/11 18.75
12 Bodnaruk,Anastasia 2415 2290 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 3.5/11 18.5


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