Star-Studded Russian League Under Way, Kramnik Back To World #2

Star-Studded Russian League Under Way, Kramnik Back To World #2

After five rounds Moscow's SHSM Legacy Square Capital, led by Ian Nepomniachtchi, tops the standings at the Russian Team Championship in Sochi, where Vladimir Kramnik moved to 2809.6 in the live ratings.

The Russian Team Championships are currently under way in Grand Hotel Pearl in Sochi, Russia. Game days are 1-5 May and 7-10 May; this report is published on the rest day.

It's actually a rather big chess festival, with two main leagues (Premier and Higher), and separate groups for women, veterans, juniors and girls. It's all classical chess (90 min. / 40 + 30 min. + 30 sec. increment); later in the year Sochi will also host the national rapid and blitz competitions.

The Premier League consists of just five teams with six players and two substitutes, but the Higher League has no less than 23 teams of 4 players. The five teams in the Premier League, a double round robin, are the reigning champions and Eurocup winners Siberia (Novosibirsk), Bronze Horseman (St. Petersburg), SHSM Legacy Square (Moscow), Rook (Kazan) and Ladya (Togliatti).

The first round started with a minute of silence to commemorate Ivan Bukavshin, who died at 20 earlier this year. One of the women's teams has changed their name to “Bukavushki” and a team in the Higher League is called Bulbozavry (“Bulba” used to be Bukavshin's nickname).

A minute of silence for Ivan Bukavshin. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

In that first round Bronze Horseman and ShSM Legacy Square started with a 3-3 tie. Peter Svidler and Ian Nepomniachtchi drew their game on board one; a Fianchetto Grünfeld that ended with two bare kings as early as move 40.

In the same opening Nikita Vitiugov defeated reigning European Champion Evgenyi Najer to level the score after Moscow's Ernesto Inarkiev had won against Leinier Dominguez in yet another Grünfeld (but this time a 4.Bf4). The Cuban's pawn sacrifice was interesting but didn't work in the end:

In the other match (remember only two are played in the Premier League each day!) Siberia crushed Ladya 5-1 with two draws and four wins. Gata Kamsky surprised his opponent Alexander Grischuk by playing the Jänisch/Schliemann Ruy Lopez, an old Teimour Radjabov favorite. For his fourth move Grischuk took a 14-minute think but couldn't come up with anything critical.

The 3...f5 Spanish is still alive and kicking. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

In round two both matches ended decisively. SHSM Legacy Square beat Siberia 4.5-1.5, a surprising score since the teams were about equal on paper (the latter's average Elo was one point higher).

In this match Sergey Karjakin played his first official game since winning the Candidates' and drew with Alexander Grischuk (in what wasn't the most eventful encounter).

Karjakin back at the board, sporting a new jacket. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

Ernesto Inarkiev scored his second white with, this time with 1.e4. He tore down Dmitry Jakovenko's Berlin Wall in a game where Black was probably wondering where things went wrong:

Bronze Horseman won 3.5-2.5 against Rook despite a loss for Peter Svidler on board one. Two pawns down in an ending with opposite-colored bishops and queens wasn't the problem, until he forgot his own king safety for a moment:

Sjugirov's reward? Playing another giant of Russian chess, Vladimir Kramnik the next day! A few days after finishing his Stavanger tournament, Kramnik joined his team Siberia to beat Rook 4-2. He won on board one using another early e2-e3 in the opening. The game turned into a Schmid Benoni with a tempo less for White but that didn't seem to matter. The game is a wonderful example of supporting positional ideas with tactical ideas.

A smooth win for Kramnik. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

In the same round Lady went down 1.5-4.5 to Legacy Square. In that match Daniil Dubov won quickly in a kingside attack vs a lower rated player.

Round four saw the big clash between St Petersburg and Siberia, and you know what that means: Svidler vs Kramnik on board one! We've got our GM commentator to look at this top battle, eventually won by Kramnik.

Kramnik scored 2.0/2 so far. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

Together with his games in Stavanger and these two wins Kramnik has now gained 8.6 Elo points in the live ratings which brings him to 2809.6, 5.6 points more than Fabiano Caruana.

Sergei Rublevsky won his game with Maxim Rodshtein for Siberia as well, and with four draws on the other boards the team of Siberia won 4-2. Rook defeated Ladya 3.5-2.5 Moscow was sitting out in this round.

One more round was played before today's rest day. Bronze Horseman scored big vs Ladya: 5-1. Board one saw a great fight between Gata Kamsky, playing his favorite London System, and Leinier Dominguez.

The game of the day, however, was between Ian Nepomniachtchi and Sanan Sjugirov. The white player came up with an amazing idea in the opening! Another game that deserves GM analysis.

The women's championship has nine teams this year consisting of four players and one substitute. The favorites there are ShSM Legacy Square with Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno on the top boards.

Kosteniuk came straight from the Women's Grand Prix in Batumi to join her team ShSM Legacy Square Capital the night before the fourth round 4 onwards, and started with a win the next day.

Non-stop chess for Alexandra Kosteniuk. | Photo Vladimir Barsky.

To finish this report, here's one more game from the Seniors Championship where two famous Evgeny's faced each other Vasiukov vs Sveshnikov

Vasiukov and Sveshnikov, big names who are still enjoying the game of chess.| Photo Vladimir Barsky.

More from PeterDoggers
Topalov Breaks Draw Spell In Shamkir

Topalov Breaks Draw Spell In Shamkir

'Giri Perfection' Continues At Shamkir Chess

'Giri Perfection' Continues At Shamkir Chess