Svidler Going for 7th Russian Title
Peter Svidler is the sole leader after four rounds at the Russian Championship in Nizhny Novgorod. Winning three games and drawing one, the six-times Russian Champion is half a point ahead of Nikita Vitiugov. World's number 2 Vladimir Kramnik suffered one loss and is on 2.5 points.
The Superfinal of the Russian Championship started on Saturday in Nizhny Novgorod. Often just called "Nizhny", it's the fifth largest city in Russia and the administrative center of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. Wikipedia also informs that from 1932 to 1990, it was known as Gorky, after the writer Maxim Gorky who was born there.
The tournament runs 5-15 October and is held in the Rukavishnikov Museum. When you say "Russia", "chess" and "museum", you're saying Gennady Timchenko, and indeed the billionaire and art lover, who also co-sponsored the Anand-Gelfand match and the Alekhine Memorial, supports this year's Superfinal of the Russian championship, together with his wife Helen.
The top favourites are GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin, who will fight it out in a 10-player round robin that also has GMs Dmitry Andreikin, Ernesto Inarkiev, Nikita Vitiugov, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Alexander Motylev, Anton Shomoev and Aleksey Goganov.
The tournament had a spectacular start with five decisive games in the first round. Especially Vladimir Kramnik's white game was just wonderful and yes, we deem it prudent to use that famous cliché, "in the style of Mikhail Tal"!
Dmitry Andreikin once again defeated Sergey Karjakin, just like he did at the World Cup. This time, with White he didn't play an irregular 1.d4 line, but an irregular line in the Queen's Indian! Yet another possibility to throw in an early h2-h4:
In the second round, Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Dmitry Andreikin in a bit of a funny 3...c5 Advance Caro-Kann. Not all the manoeuvres are easy to explain but it's clear that White got a big advantage thanks to the moves 25.g3 and 26.h4; from there even a solid player like Andreikin couldn't save himself.
In the only other decisive game, Nikita Vitiugov outplayed Alexander Motylev from an almost equal endgame:
On Monday there were again two decisive games. Peter Svidler beat Anton Shomoev from a Queen's Indian where Black pushed a pawn to b3 early on, but eventually, with his knight being worse than White's bishop, this pawn was doomed to fall.
Andreikin struck back the next day with an excellent win over Vladimir Kramnik. The opening variation, a sideline of the Berlin that avoids the infamous ending, is supposed to be harmless for Black but somehow Andreikin managed to win a pawn, and eventually the game.
Motylev-Karjakin was quite a nice draw in a Four Knights, but all theory:
Seven Russian chess titles would be an amazing feat, but Peter Svidler might just do it. On Tuesday the grandmaster from St Petersburg grabbed sole lead after beating Dmitry Andreikin from a Berlin Ruy Lopez where White skillfully created a 1.d4 type of middlegame.
Vladimir Kramnik defeated Aleksey Goganov after reaching a Sicilian Dragon with 1.Nf3. Well, with his pawn sacrifice ...e6 and ...d5 Shomoev avoided real a Dragon, but it doesn't look correct and it's a joy to watch Kramnik's technique.
Russian Championship Superfinal | Round 4 standings
Alongside the men, there's also a women's group with GM Valentina Gunina, WGM Alina Kashlinskaya, WGM Baira Kovanova, WGM Natalija Pogonina, GM Tatiana Kosintseva, IM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, WGM Daria Charochkina, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, IM Anastasia Bodnaruk, and WGM Aleksandra Goryachkina. After four rounds, Gunina and Kovanova are tied for first place with 3.5 points.
Gunina won a nice game in round 4, where she got three minor pieces for a queen: