Karjakin Grabs Early Lead As Superfinal Takes Off In Chita

Karjakin Grabs Early Lead As Superfinal Takes Off In Chita

| 1 | Chess Event Coverage

As the only winner on the first day, GM Sergey Karjakin is the first sole leader at the 68th Russian Championship Superfinal in Chita, Russia.

Karjakin defeated GM Denis Khismatullin, the player who won so brilliantly against Pavel Eljanov at the European Championship earlier this year. 

The game started with 1.c4, a move Karjakin had played only 10 times before in his career. The last time was against Vishy Anand at the Zurich Chess Challenge in February, which ended in a draw.

The opening wasn't very relevant for the outcome of the game. Khismatullin was absolutely fine in the middlegame, and was very close to a draw at several moments in the game. It was only in the endgame where things started to go wrong.

GM Sergey Karjakin showing his game with commentator GM Sergey Shipov looking.

The game of the round, however, was played on another board. It involved the reigning Russian champion, and it involved a classic Nxf7 sacrifice. Not often is that sac a theoretical novelty!

It was 20-year-old Ivan Bukavshin who played the double-piece sac, echoing the times of Rudolf Spielmann and Mikhail Tal. His opponent Igor Lysyj is a known as a theoretician, but thought for almost 10 minutes before taking the knight with his king.

He was probably trying to remember his notes, although it also takes some guts to have your monarch pulled out of its safe haven. The black king was forced to start a walk towards the queenside. Apparently it's the summer of king walks.

Up to move 18 the moves were forced, and played quickly, but from that point Lysyj used good time on the clock, but found all the correct moves. Quite an achievement.

Cool defense by Lysyj! | Photos Eteri Kublashvili & Vladimir Barsky.

In the women's group, which is also a 12-player round robin, three games ended decisively. Natalija Pogonina beat Alina Kashlinskaya, Olga Girya won against Evgenija Ovod and reigning champion Valentina Gunina went down against 16-year-old Aleksandra Goryachkina.

GM Sergey Shipov, the official commentator for the Russian-language viewers, had praised Goryachkina before, and must have enjoyed her Hedgehog — an opening he wrote two hefty volumes on. Well, it must be noted that Gunina was much better at some point...

2014 champion Gunina started with a loss. | Photos Eteri Kublashvili & Vladimir Barsky.

The games are played at the Megapolis-Sport Youth Palace in Chita, a city in Zabaykalsky Krai 4,750 km southeast of Moscow. The official press release provides information about the region:

The history of the region as part of Russia dates back to the journey taken by the Cossacks from Peter Beketov's hundred in 1652-1654, when they built the famous Nerchinsk settlement. The Zabaykalsky Krai was established on 1 March 2008 by merging the Chita Region and the Aginsk Buryat Autonomous District.

The region is the eastern economic, geopolitical, and historical outpost of Russia. Its southern and south-eastern border is also the Russian Federation's border with Mongolia (863 km) and China (1095 km).

An important milestone in the Zabaykalsky Krai's history was the exile of the Decemberists to this place starting from 1826, which is when the first data about the development of chess in the region dates from.

The region is a multiethnic land shared by Russians, Buryats, Ukrainians, Tatars, Byelorussians, Evenki, and other peoples.

The famous Chapel of St. Alexander Nevsky on Tito Hill, Chita | Photo Wikipedia.

The Zabaykalsky Krai is among Russia's oldest mining regions and boasts vast mineral and commodity resources. It is among the leading Russian regions in terms of uranium, silver, copper, fluorite, tantalum, titanium, lead, gold, tin, and coal reserves. It also features many mineral deposits, including the Udokan copper deposit, the largest in Russia and one of the largest in the world.

The region also has a considerable tourism potential: the flora here is comparable to that of Southern Crimea, Moldova, Transcaucasia and the Amur basin. The region has plenty of mineral water sources (about 300, with a different chemical composition and temperature, and most of them have medicinal properties) and thermal sources, competing with the Carpathians, Southern Crimea, Caucasus, and the Black and Baltic Sea coasts.

There is also a unique place near Chita ― the Pallas mountain (1236 m), which is the starting point for as many as three great rivers: the Amur, the Lena, and the Yenisei.

The rounds start at 15:00 local time (10:00 Moscow, 08:00 London, 03:00 New York, midnight Los Angeles). is streaming the official live commentary of all rounds at, with GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko and WGM Anna Burtasova. 

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