Lysyj Beats Karjakin, Leads Russian Championship

Lysyj Beats Karjakin, Leads Russian Championship

| 9 | Chess Event Coverage

Just past the midway point in the Russian Championship, also called the Russian Superfinal because of these qualification steps, surprise frontrunner GM Igor Lysyj leads a bunched-up field with 3.5/5 after a fifth-round win over top-ranked GM Sergey Karjakin.

The tournament in Kazan, Tartarstan, now in its 67th edition, is a single round robin, and the field has four games remaining. Today was a rest day, but the 10 GMs will play the next four days to determine a 2014 Russian champion.

All but three players are within one point of Lysyj. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (the world champion's surprise second last month) and GM Dmitry Jakovenko trail by a half-point.

GMs Alexander Morozevich, Nikita Vitiugov, Vadim Zvjaginsev, and Denis Khismatullin are all on a level score of 2.5/5.

The tournament is usually GM Peter Svidler's personal playground; he's won it seven times in the last two decades but he currently sits at 2.0/5. Rounding out the field are GMs Boris Grachev (2.0/5) and, amazingly, Karjakin (1.5/5).

Yesterday Lysyj, one of the few non-2700s, played his part in the nightmare performance of Karjakin, who has now shed 14 rating points and dropped out of the world top-10 live list.

27-year-old GM Igor Lysyj is playing well and not suffering from hair loss -- see below for an explanation!

Black waited patiently against the Maroczy Bind, then got the standard counterplay -- if you can't get in ...d5, go for ...b5!

Round five was a bad day for White favorites, as Morozevich also went down to Khismatullin. The normally sure-handed tactician failed to spot 35. f6+ in time trouble, leading to a very strong passed pawn on e7 since 35...Kxf6 loses to a knight fork on d5.

In the end, Black didn't need any pawns to win, but he did need to avoid the embarrassing 65...Nb6 stalemate!

GM Alexander Morozevich: tricky until the end (photo: Peter Doggers).

Lysyj is on a roll after losing a short game in round three. Prior to beating Karjakin, his extra pawn led to a vicious attack against the sputtering Morozevich.

Karjakin is mired at -2 thanks to some early adventurousness from Nepomniachtchi, who trotted out Bird's Opening in round two. His experiment faired far better than GM Andrey Vovk's, who just two days prior lost with the Bird's against GM Vladimir Kramnik in Qatar.

Like Nepomniachtchi and Svidler, GM Sergey Karjakin was in Sochi for much of the world championship. He's struggling in Kazan (photo: Peter Doggers).

Lysyj also produced the prettiest final position in the championship. After being on the receiving end of a Greek gift in round one, he didn't need his queen to force a mating net against Vitiugov.

In the concurrent Russian Women's Championship (which uses the same format), teenaged WGM Aleksandra Goryachkina leads with 4.0/5. At 2441, she is the highest-rated U-16 female in the world.

Goryachkina is followed by notables WGM/IM Alisa Galliamova (who is from Tatarstan) and former Women's World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk.

The ladies tournament has been quite a spectacle for fighting chess. An astounding 22 out of 25 games have produced a winner (88 percent!).

Tired of the world championship draws resulting from the Berlin Defense? Goryachkina had a good antidote for that in round one:

The total prize fund is 5 million rubles for the men (about $94,000 USD) and 2 million rubles (about $37,500) for the women.

You can follow all of the live and archived broadcasts here. Below are the two parts to the round five shows:


One final note for those using Google's translate feature for the Russian Chess Federation's informational pages. "Igor Bald" is actually "Igor Lysyj". The tournament leader does in fact have a full head of hair, but his last name is close to the Russian word for bald.

Men's Crosstable:

Women's Crosstable:

(tables courtesy Russian Chess Federation)

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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