Russian Team Ch: All set for a thrilling finish

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What a difference two days make! Economist’s 100% record now lies in tatters after they lost to their closest rivals in rounds 5 and 6, leaving them out of the hunt for gold medals. Instead Peter Svidler’s St. Petersburg lead by a point, with only ShSM-64 and Tomsk-400 still capable of denying them the title. In the women’s event favourites Ladya have been crowned winners with a round to spare.

Svidler - Morozevich in Round 5 | Photos courtesy of Dmitry Kryakvin (more here)

EventRussian Team Championship | PGN via TWIC
DatesApril 9-15, 2012
LocationLoo, Sochi, Russia
System7-round Swiss, teams
Players

The strongest participants are Caruana (2767), Karjakin (2766), Morozevich (2765), Svidler (2744), Tomashevsky (2736), Wang Hao (2733), Dominguez (2730), Jakovenko (2729), Ponomariov (2727),Leko (2720), Nepomniachtchi (2718), Giri (2717), Riazantsev (2710), Vitiugov (2709), Moiseenko (2706), Grachev (2705), Malakhov (2705), Eljanov (2704), Movsesian (2702 and Shirov (2701)

Rate of play90 minutes for 40 moves + 30 minutes to finish the game + 30 seconds increment from move 1

Day Five

If Economist-SGSEU had beaten the St. Petersburg Chess Federation in Round 5 it’s unlikely they could have been stopped, but instead they fell to a narrow defeat:

3 St. Petersburg Chess Fed.3.5 - 2.5Economist-SGSEU, Saratov 2
12744Svidler, Peter0.5 - 0.5Morozevich, Alexander27651
22709Vitiugov, Nikita0.5 - 0.5Tomashevsky, Evgeny27362
32730Dominguez Perez, Leinier0.5 - 0.5Nepomniachtchi, Ian27183
42702Movsesian, Sergei1 - 0Eljanov, Pavel27044
62683Zvjaginsev, Vadim0.5 - 0.5Moiseenko, Alexander27065
72632Matlakov, Maxim0.5 - 0.5Andreikin, Dmitry26896

Sergei Movsesian, so often the hero for the Armenian team, scored the critical win, following up a sharp trick in the early middlegame with excellent technique to convert his slight edge:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Eljanov, P."]
[Black "Movsesian, S."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D15"]
[WhiteElo "2704"]
[BlackElo "2702"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rr2b1k1/4ppbp/1P3np1/p3N3/PpBP4/8/1P3PPP/R1B2RK1 w - - 0 19"]
[PlyCount "118"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

19. d5 $2 {The desire to activate the dark-squared bishop is understandable,
but this move leaves the e5-knight undefended.} Rxb6 20. Be3 Rd6 $1 21. Bc5 $6
(21. Rad1 {may be the best option here, but it's already a question of White
struggling for compensation for material losses.}) 21... Ne4 $1 22. Bd4 (22.
Bxd6 $2 Nxd6 {and White's bishop and knight are both under attack.}) 22... e6
23. Rfd1 exd5 24. Bb3 Rc8 25. f3 Ng5 26. Ng4 Ne6 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. Rxd5 Rxd5
29. Bxd5 Nf4 30. Ne3 Nxd5 31. Nxd5 Rc2 32. Ne3 Rxb2 33. Nc4 Rb3 34. Nxa5 Ra3
35. Rb1 Rxa4 {When the dust has settled Movsesian is again a pawn up - the
rest is by no means easy, but he handles the pressure better than his opponent.
} 36. Nb7 Bd7 37. Rb2 Bf5 38. Kf2 h5 39. g4 $2 {An unnecessary concession.} (
39. Nc5 {was better, as after} Ra5 40. Nb7 {Black would probably have to give
up the b-pawn to continue the game, as} Rb5 {runs into} 41. Nd6) 39... hxg4 40.
fxg4 b3 41. Rxb3 Rxg4 42. Nd6 Be6 43. Re3 Rh4 44. Kg1 Rd4 45. Ne4 Bd5 46. Nc3
Bc6 47. Kf2 g5 48. Ne2 Rh4 49. Kg1 Kg6 50. Rc3 Bd5 51. Rd3 Be6 52. Rd6 Kf6 53.
Rd4 Rh8 54. Rb4 Kg6 55. Nd4 Bd5 56. Rb5 Be4 57. Ne2 Bd3 58. Rb6+ f6 59. Ng3 Rh4
60. Rd6 Bb5 61. Re6 Rc4 62. Ne2 Bc6 63. Kf2 Rc2 64. Ke3 Bd7 65. Re4 Bh3 66. Rd4
f5 67. Rd6+ Kh5 68. Rf6 Kg4 69. Kf2 f4 70. Rf8 Bg2 71. Ke1 Rb2 72. Rf7 Rb1+ 73.
Kf2 Bh3 74. Nc3 Rh1 75. Ne4 Rxh2+ 76. Kg1 Rg2+ 77. Kh1 Re2 0-1

Dmitry Kryakvin captioned his photo: "Alexander, this is a lucky pen!" The hand belongs to Economist team captain Alexey Vetrov

It’s impossible, however, to avoid mentioning Peter Svidler’s draw with Alexander Morozevich on the top board, which featured a staggering exchange of blows. The 17…Kd7! countercheck and Svidler’s quiet 19.0-0-0!! are worth the price of admission alone:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Svidler, P."]
[Black "Morozevich, A."]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2744"]
[BlackElo "2765"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. a3 b6 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.
Nxd5 exd5 9. Qc2 c5 10. dxc5 bxc5 11. e4 dxe4 $1 $146 {It's for theoreticians
to determine the objective value of this novelty, but it surely deserves an
exclamation mark for demonstrating all the richness of chess. My engine
initially doesn't list 11...dxe4 among its top 16 options! An earlier game was
less dramatic:} (11... d4 12. Bd3 Ba6 13. Bxa6 Qa5+ 14. Nd2 Qxa6 15. Bxb8 Raxb8
16. Nc4 d3 17. Qxd3 Rfd8 18. Qe2 Bg5 19. h4 Rd4 20. hxg5 Qxc4 21. Qxc4 Rxc4 22.
O-O Rxe4 23. Rac1 c4 24. f3 Rd4 25. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 26. Rxd1 h6 27. gxh6 Rxb2 28.
Rc1 Ra2 29. Rxc4 Rxa3 30. hxg7 Kxg7 {1/2-1/2 Wojtaszek,R (2721)-Roiz,M (2660),
Lublin 2011}) 12. Qxe4 Re8 13. Bd3 Bf6 14. Ne5 Nc6 15. Qxh7+ Kf8 16. Qh8+ Ke7
17. Nxc6+ Kd7+ 18. Be5 Kxc6 19. O-O-O $3 {As Sergey Zagrebelny notes, Svidler
had to have foreseen this resource when he played 13.Bd3.} Bxe5 20. Be4+ Kc7
21. Rxd8 Rxh8 22. Rxh8 Bf4+ 23. Kc2 Bb7 24. Bxb7 Rxh8 25. Bd5 Rd8 26. Rd1 Bxh2
27. Bxf7 Rf8 28. Bd5 Rxf2+ 29. Rd2 Rxd2+ 30. Kxd2 Be5 31. b3 Bf6 1/2-1/2

However, GM Sergey Zagrebelny, who commented on the game live for ChessPro, expressed some lingering doubts about whether the players had really been playing at the board:

I've got mixed emotions, and I don’t even know how to “sum up” what we’ve witnessed. Questions, questions… Above all, naturally, to the players. How far did Svidler’s knowledge stretch? And Morozevich’s? Alas, we’re a long way away and we can’t ask. If we ignore the home preparation then we saw extremely spectacular chess today: forks, pins, discovered checks, tactical shots – simply a feast for those who like their dishes served spicy! And the unexpected 19.0-0-0!! But still, what was really going on? I’ll leave that question hanging in the air…

Another curiosity, as pointed out by Dmitry Kryakvin in his blog at the Russian Chess Federation website, was that the game ended in a position where the tournament rules (no draw offers before move 40) would have required the players to play on. Instead it seems to have been agreed that it was senseless to ruin a masterpiece with some additional shuffling of pieces.

The day’s other real battle came between Ugra and Tomsk-400, and again it was settled by a single game:

5 Ugra, Khanty-Mansiysk2.5 - 3.5Tomsk - 400 4
12729Jakovenko, Dmitry0 - 1Karjakin, Sergey27661
22701Shirov, Alexei0.5 - 0.5Ponomariov, Ruslan27272
32698Dreev, Aleksey0.5 - 0.5Inarkiev, Ernesto26953
42705Malakhov, Vladimir0.5 - 0.5Motylev, Alexander26834
52686Rublevsky, Sergei0.5 - 0.5Bologan, Viktor26875
62679Korobov, Anton0.5 - 0.5Kurnosov, Igor26578

Dmitry Jakovenko had already had a rollercoaster tournament, losing to Alexander Morozevich but beating Peter Svidler. In Round 5 he lost a long and tough game to another member of the Russian team, Sergey Karjakin, who has the best results on Board 1:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Jakovenko, D."]
[Black "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A15"]
[WhiteElo "2729"]
[BlackElo "2766"]
[PlyCount "106"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 c5 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. d4 cxd4 8. Qxd4
d6 9. Rd1 Nbd7 10. Be3 Rc8 11. Rac1 a6 12. b3 O-O 13. Qh4 Rc7 14. g4 Rc8 15.
Bh3 b5 16. cxb5 Qa5 17. Bd2 Bxf3 18. exf3 axb5 19. g5 b4 20. gxf6 Bxf6 21. Qe4
bxc3 22. Bxd7 Rcd8 23. Bxc3 Bxc3 24. Qxe7 d5 25. Bb5 d4 26. a4 Rd5 27. Qe4 Rf5
28. Kh1 Qb6 29. Rg1 Qf6 30. Rg3 Rd8 31. Bd3 Rf4 32. Qb7 Qd6 33. Kg2 $6 {It's
hard to pinpoint where Jakovenko went wrong, but it seems his life would have
been easier if he'd played} (33. Bc4 {here, holding onto the b-pawn.}) 33...
Rb8 34. Qa6 Qxa6 35. Bxa6 Rxb3 36. Rg4 Rf6 37. Bb5 Kg7 38. Re4 d3 39. Rd1 d2
40. Re3 Rd6 41. Be2 Re6 42. Rxe6 fxe6 43. Bc4 Rb4 44. Bxe6 Rxa4 45. Bd5 Rd4 46.
Be4 Bb4 47. Kf1 Bd6 48. Ke2 Bf4 49. h3 Kh6 50. Rg1 Rc4 51. Bd3 Rc1 52. Rd1 Kg5
53. Bb5 Kh4 {Jakovenko admitted defeat, as the h3-pawn can no longer be
defended:} (53... Kh4 54. Bd7 Rc7 55. Bg4 h5 56. Be6 Re7 {(Kryakvin)}) 0-1

Elsewhere ShSM-64 were compensated  for their loss to Economist the day before with a match against the much weaker University, who they duly dispatched 5:1, including wins for Fabiano Caruana and Peter Leko on the top boards.

ACP President Emil Sutovsky

The dark horses Navigator and the Chigorin Chess Club (entering the round in joint second place) had a chance to stake a real claim for tournament victory, but could only draw against each other. Emil Sutovsky’s win against Evgeny Romanov was highly entertaining, if not exactly flawless!

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.13"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Sutovsky, E."]
[Black "Romanov, E."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C84"]
[WhiteElo "2700"]
[BlackElo "2625"]
[Annotator "Doe,John"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r3r1k1/1p2qp1p/2p3pB/p1PpPP2/P1nn4/6QP/2B2P2/R3R1K1 w - - 0 27"]
[PlyCount "29"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

27. e6 $5 {Spectacular chess, but the computer's not convinced.} Qf6 {It
recommends taking the bishop with an inhuman calm:} (27... Nxc2 28. Qc3 fxe6
29. Rxe6 Qf7 30. Qxc2 Rxe6 31. fxe6 Qxe6 32. Qc3 Qe5 {and Black's just two
pawns up. The rest of the game swings from side to side too often to annotate!}
) 28. exf7+ Kxf7 29. Rab1 Ne5 30. fxg6+ hxg6 31. Rxe5 Nf3+ 32. Kh1 Nxe5 33. f4
Nd7 34. Rxb7 Rad8 35. Bg5 Qa1+ 36. Rb1 Qa2 $2 {But now it's curtains - the
queen had to return to g7 to stop} 37. Bxg6+ $1 Kxg6 38. Bxd8+ Kf7 39. Rg1 Rxd8
40. Qg7+ Ke6 41. Re1+ 1-0

Evgeny Potemkin continues to film the event. In the following video you can see him on his way to the playing hall and greeting various players before the round begins:

He also seems to have spent much of the day following a cat that strayed into the playing hall. It was clearly a chess fan, as it eventually took up a position underneath the table of one of the day's most eventful matches, the 3:3 draw between Navigator and Chigorin Chess Club (screenshot from another video):

Reinforcements for the Chigorin Chess Club on, or rather under, Board 4

Day Six

While it's been a tough schedule for the men each women's team had a day off - here ShSM-RGSU enjoy the sunshine (Alina Kashlinskaya, Anastasia Savina and Alexandra Kosteniuk) | photo: Eldar Mukhametov

Economist’s woes continued, as their hopes of tournament victory were destroyed by another narrow loss, this time to fierce rivals Tomsk-400:

2 Economist-SGSEU, Saratov2.5 - 3.5Tomsk - 400 4
12765Morozevich, Alexander0.5 - 0.5Karjakin, Sergey27661
22736Tomashevsky, Evgeny0.5 - 0.5Ponomariov, Ruslan27272
32718Nepomniachtchi, Ian1 - 0Inarkiev, Ernesto26953
42704Eljanov, Pavel0 - 1Bologan, Viktor26875
52706Moiseenko, Alexander0.5 - 0.5Areshchenko, Alexander26887
62689Andreikin, Dmitry0 - 1Kurnosov, Igor26578

It’s perhaps worth starting with Economist’s one success story. Ian Nepomniachtchi had started the tournament with a bang (see our Rounds 1&2 report), but then had a sequence of four solid draws. He woke up in Round 6 to put in a powerful performance against Ernesto Inarkiev, whose counterplay was never quite enough:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.14"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, I."]
[Black "Inarkiev, E."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2718"]
[BlackElo "2695"]
[PlyCount "115"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 a6 6. b3 Bb4 7. Bd2 O-O 8. Bd3
Nbd7 9. O-O Bd6 10. Re1 h6 11. Rc1 Re8 12. h3 dxc4 13. bxc4 e5 14. Qc2 Qe7 15.
Nh4 Nf8 16. Nf5 Bxf5 17. Bxf5 e4 18. h4 b5 19. Ne2 N8d7 20. a4 g6 21. Bh3 Reb8
22. Rb1 Ra7 23. Rb3 Rab7 24. Reb1 h5 25. g3 Nf8 26. Bg2 bxc4 27. Qxc4 Rxb3 28.
Rxb3 Rxb3 29. Qxb3 c5 30. Qc4 cxd4 31. Nxd4 Qb7 32. Bf1 Ng4 33. Qxa6 Qb2 34.
Qa5 Nd7 35. Qc3 Qb8 36. Kg2 Nxf2 37. Kxf2 Bxg3+ 38. Ke2 Bxh4 39. Kd1 Ne5 40. a5
Qb1+ 41. Bc1 Ng4 42. Qb3 Qa1 43. a6 Bg5 44. Nc2 Nf2+ 45. Kd2 Qa5+ 46. Qb4 Qd5+
47. Qd4 Qa5+ 48. Nb4 Be7 49. Bb2 Bxb4+ 50. Kc2 Qa4+ 51. Kb1 f6 52. Qd5+ Kg7 53.
Bb5 Qa5 54. Qb7+ Kh6 55. a7 Be7 56. a8=Q Qb4 57. Qd5 f5 58. Qe5 1-0

Dmitry Andreikin had been a key player behind Economist’s earlier wins, but he eventually lost a tough ending against Igor Kurnosov, while Pavel Eljanov had another day to forget, failing to get out of the opening against Viorel Bologan:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.14"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Bologan, V."]
[Black "Eljanov, P."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2687"]
[BlackElo "2704"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r2qk2r/pp2b1pp/1nn1ppb1/3pP3/1P1P4/P7/1B1NBPPP/R2QNRK1 w kq - 0 14"]
[PlyCount "29"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

14. h4 fxe5 15. h5 $1 Be4 $6 {The problem with this move soon becomes clear.}
16. dxe5 O-O 17. Qb3 $1 {The threat is taking on e4 when the e6-pawn falls
with check.} Nc4 ({It was already time to take drastic measures with} 17... Bf5
$6 18. g4 {as after} Bg5 $3 19. f4 Bxg4 20. Bxg4 Bxf4 21. Bxe6+ Kh8 {the
threats to the white king mean it's far from over. In the game, however,
Bologan puts his opponent to the sword quickly and brutally.}) 18. Nxc4 dxc4
19. Bxc4 Kh8 20. Rd1 Qb6 21. Bxe6 Rad8 22. h6 Nd4 23. hxg7+ Kxg7 24. Qe3 Nxe6
25. Qxe4 Rf4 26. Qe2 Rdf8 27. Rd7 R4f7 28. Rd6 $1 1-0

ShSM-64's luck of the draw continued, as they were paired against 8th seeds the Chigorin Chess Club and pulled off a perfect 6:0 victory. There were also six decisive games in the match between Navigator and St. Petersburg, but it was all much more exciting!

9 Navigator, Moscow2.0 - 4.0St. Petersburg Chess Fed. 3
12700Sutovsky, Emil0 - 1Svidler, Peter27441
22703Sasikiran, Krishnan1 - 0Vitiugov, Nikita27092
32536Dubov, Daniil1 - 0Dominguez Perez, Leinier27303
52451Moskalenko, Alexander0 - 1Movsesian, Sergei27024
62441Demidov, Mikhail0 - 1Efimenko, Zahar26955
72424Mesropov, Konstantin0 - 1Zvjaginsev, Vadim26836

As we saw in the game from the previous round, Emil Sutovsky isn’t a man for playing solid, predictable chess. Peter Svidler has also been in bellicose form, so we could expect fireworks, and the players didn’t disappoint:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.14"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Sutovsky, E."]
[Black "Svidler, P."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C84"]
[WhiteElo "2700"]
[BlackElo "2744"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5bk1/2p2pp1/Q1n1q2p/P1r1p3/1r6/5NN1/1P3PPP/R1R3K1 b - - 0 26"]
[PlyCount "17"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

26... e4 $1 {Just as in his game against Morozevich, Sutovsky's Ruy Lopez has
given his opponent ferocious activity.} 27. Rxc5 Bxc5 28. Re1 $2 {The losing
move. He had to try} (28. Qe2 $1 exf3 29. Qxe6 fxe6 {and now} 30. Rc1 $1 {
reclaims some material, as} Rb5 {is met by} 31. Ne4) 28... Qd5 29. Qc8+ Kh7 30.
Nh4 {The problem is the knight has no other square, which Svidler exploits
with his next move.} e3 $1 31. f4 e2+ 32. Kh1 Bf2 33. Nf3 Bxe1 34. Ng5+ hxg5 ({
There would have been a high price to pay for showing off!} 34... Qxg5 $4 35.
fxg5 Bxg3 36. Qf5+ $1 {with perpetual check.}) 0-1

In terms of the match St. Petersburg exploited their superiority on the lower boards perfectly, but it wasn’t one-way traffic. Krishnan Sasikiran impressively diffused his opponent’s over-ambitious attack, while Daniil Dubov scored a win which must be one of the highlights of his short career. The 15-year-old talent got the better of the opening and then converted in style just when it seemed Dominguez had weathered the storm:

[Event "19th TCh-RUS 2012"]
[Site "Sochi RUS"]
[Date "2012.04.14"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Dubov, Danii"]
[Black "Dominguez Perez, L."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E60"]
[WhiteElo "2536"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[PlyCount "87"]
[EventDate "2012.04.09"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 c5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bg2 Qa5+ 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. O-O cxd4 8.
Nxd4 Qc5 9. Ndb5 O-O 10. Be3 $146 Qxc4 11. Rc1 Qb4 12. Nc7 Rb8 13. a3 Qa5 $6
14. N3b5 $1 {White is threatening to win the queen with b4.} Ng4 $1 15. Bc5 (
15. b4 $2 Nxe3) 15... Bxb2 16. Rc4 d6 17. Ra4 Qxa4 18. Qxa4 dxc5 19. Nxa7 Bd7
20. Rd1 Rbd8 21. Nxc6 bxc6 22. Rb1 Be5 23. Na6 Bf5 24. e4 Bc8 25. h3 Bxa6 26.
Qxa6 Nf6 27. f4 Bd4+ 28. Kh2 Ra8 29. Qxc6 Rxa3 {Dubov has conceded some of his
edge to consolidate, but his pawn storm reaps a rich reward.} 30. g4 $1 Be3 31.
Rf1 Rd8 32. e5 Ne8 33. e6 Nf6 $2 {After this natural move Dominguez's position
falls apart.} (33... Rad3 $1) 34. Qc7 Rd6 35. g5 Nh5 36. Qb8+ Kg7 37. Qb2+ Rd4
38. Qxa3 Bxf4+ 39. Kg1 Ng3 40. Re1 Nf5 41. Qxc5 Bd6 42. Qc8 f6 43. gxf6+ Kxf6
44. Be4 1-0

Going into Sunday’s final round the standings at the top are:

PlaceSNo.TeamFed.LocalMatch PointsTotalvs+WinsB.1
13St. Petersburg Chess Fed.RUS271110.022.512;8;4;2;9;53.5
21ShSM-64, MoscowRUS27259.025.010;6;7;8;44.5
34Tomsk - 400RUS27089.023.013;7;5;2;44.5
42Economist-SGSEU, SaratovRUS27208.021.011;5;9;1;43.5
56Polytechnik, Nizhniy TagilRUS25838.020.514;13;11;10;42.5
65Ugra, Khanty-MansiyskRUS27007.021.015;3;12;33.0
79Navigator, MoscowRUS25517.020.518;10;6;33.0
87University, BelorechenskRUS25707.020.016;17;11;33.5
98Chigorin Chess Club, St. PetersburgRUS25537.016.517;14;15;32.0

It couldn’t be set up better, as St. Petersburg will take on ShSM-64 (Svidler – Caruana, Dominguez – Wang Hao, Movsesian – Leko…). It looks as though both teams need to win, as Tomsk-400 play the much weaker Polytechnik and are likely to win by a heavy margin. Economist also finally have an easier match, and therefore good chances of taking a medal.

It was a very convincing victory for Ladya, featuring Nadezhda Kosintseva, Valentina Gunina, Natalia Zhukova, Daria Charochkina and, not in the photo, Alisa Galliamova

With so much top men’s chess to cover it’s been hard to devote much time to the women’s event, which has also been something of a disappointment. Many of last year’s top teams are absent, and victory for favourites Ladya has never looked in doubt. The only team to hold them to a draw, second seeds Ugra, have a bye in the final round (it might have been worth following the example of last year’s London Chess Classic, where the pairings were altered so the bottom seed would be the one to miss the final round). The standings with a round to go are:

PlaceSNo.TeamFed.LocalMatch PointsTotalvs+WinsB.1
11Ladya, KazanRUS24939.014.52;3;5;6;44.0
24Ugra, Khanty-MansiyskRUS23938.015.05;7;2;32.0
33ShSM-RGSU, MoscowRUS23926.011.57;4;23.5
46Chigorin Chess Club, St. PetersburgRUS23215.09.55;10.5
57Udmurtia, IzhevskRUS22063.08.02;14.0
62Yamal, YNAORUS23283.08.05;11.5
75Polytechnik, Nizhniy TagilRUS21392.05.57;12.5

The remaining intrigue is whether last year’s winners ShSM-RGSU can beat the much weaker Polytechnik (rated 2268 - 1920) by a sufficient margin to take silver. At least 3.5:0.5 (or possibly 4:0?) seems to be required.

You can follow all the action from the final day of the Russia Team Championship live at the RCF website

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