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Reports Oct 17, 2016 | 6:48 PMby Colin McGourty

Russian Superfinal 2: Kosteniuk crushes Gunina

Alexandra Kosteniuk co-leads the Russian Women’s Superfinal with Olga Girya on 2/2 after beating Valentina Gunina in a game that left the 3-time champion as the only player in Novosibirsk yet to get off the mark. Peter Svidler again filmed a post-mortem for us, hinting his game might have ended in a draw in about a dozen moves if he hadn't thought about the video. There was little action anywhere in the men’s tournament until a late twist, when Dmitry Jakovenko pushed too hard and lost to Aleksey Goganov.

The clash of the top seeds Kosteniuk and Gunina was remarkably one-sided | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

There’s already snow lying on the ground in Novosibirsk, and the men’s games in Round 2 of the 2016 Russian Championship didn’t do too much to warm things up:

Let’s start with Peter Svidler, whose post-mortem analysis dwarfs the game itself. 

Both Svidler and Fedoseev found themselves thinking very early on in their game | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

Svidler described his opponent Vladimir Fedoseev as “my favourite type of person to prepare for” since the 21-year-old “plays more or less any opening known to man”. That meant that Peter looked at a few things, and then…

After staring at that for a while I came to the decision that the best course of action is just to pick the first move and then play some Arena – I have a 7-0 Mage hanging in the balance, which I will return to after I’ve done this, and watch some videos.

We’ve no idea what that means either  

Update direct from Novosibirsk: 

As Peter said, though, it “sort of worked out perfectly fine” at the very start, but then various adventures unfolded. He'd soon left, or was trying to invent, theory:

I started to try and calculate variations in this position. It is as ridiculous as it sounds – there are no variations on move 5!

Black was able to equalise comfortably, and Peter felt he should have simply taken a draw by repetition starting on move 12:

12.Ne5 was the path to a draw, but Svidler went for12.Nh4?!, remarking it was “connected with some kind of a brain virus”. He’d missed that Black replies 12…c5! and later follows up with d4, when White's greatest ambition is to hold on. Alas, the post-mortem format got some of the blame:

I need to probably check myself a little bit in regards to the expectations of me doing a video every day. If at some point I will start feeling that my decisions over the board are becoming influenced by the fact that, let’s say if I play Ne5 here I might not have anything to say in the video, I should probably revise this a little bit, because I think playing in the tournament should still take precedence over recording these videos.

Not a sentiment we can in any way agree with!  Here’s Peter Svidler’s 2nd Russian Superfinal post-mortem video:

Of the other draws only Bocharov-Kokarev seemed likely to end decisively. Both players missed chances in a murky game, but it seems Dmitry Bocharov has the most reason for regret:

43.Bxc5! was the way to play for a win, since 43…Bg3 can be met by 44.Bxa7! and the pawns are worth the exchange.

25-year-old Aleksey Goganov put up stubborn resistance before becoming the accidental hero of the round | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

The only game that actually did end in a win saw the winner, Aleksey Goganov, admit afterwards:

I don’t know what to commentate on. I was completely outplayed! I just didn’t know what was happening on the board.

Dmitry Jakovenko was in the driving seat, but must have been highly frustrated that he couldn’t find a clear way to force home his advantage. He kept on pressing, misjudging the moment when it was already time to play for a draw. Then disaster struck with 58.Kd4??

That ran into 58…c2! and suddenly it’s over. The pawn can't be taken, since 59.Rxc2 Rd7+ picks up the bishop, while 59.Bxc2 Bxa4 is a decisive pin. After 59.Be2 Bxa4 60.Bd3 Bb3 there was no stopping the a and c-pawns, so Jakovenko had to resign. The moment he blundered was captured on video:

Instead 58.Bc2! would still have held a draw.

That meant that Goganov joined Fedoseev, Riazantsev and Svidler in the lead on 1.5/2, though there are still nine rounds to go.

In the women’s event, meanwhile, two players, Olga Girya and Alexandra Kosteniuk, have a perfect 2/2. Olga’s win over Ekaterina Ubiennykh was a silkily smooth conversion of an extra pawn she was gifted on move 10 – another 76 moves were required, but the outcome was never in doubt. 

Girya has 2/2 as she chases a first Russian title | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

Kosteniuk’s win was much more in keeping with the general tone of victories in the women’s section on Monday – a brutal bulldozing down of her opponent’s position, as Valentina Gunina failed entirely to get the compensation she’d hoped for when she opened the g-file. Alexandra identified her knight getting to d6 as the point of no return:

Valentina gave up her rook for the knight, but the game only stretched on another five moves. As we mentioned yesterday, in 2014 Valentina lost the first two games before winning the next seven – if she wants to win her fourth Russian title she’ll have pull off a similar feat again.

There are lots of players out to take away Goryachkina's title | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

The reigning champion Aleksandra Goryachkina was unable to resist a mating attack from another 3-time Champion, Alisa Galliamova, while Anastasia Bodnaruk also had too much firepower for Daria Pustovoitova. Daria Charochkina escaped a losing position against Alina Kashlinskaya, leaving only Ovod-Pogonina as an unremarkable draw.

In Tuesday’s Round 3 the 2700-battles to look out for are Tomashevsky-Svidler and Grischuk-Jakovenko. Don’t miss all the games from 10:00 CEST, with commentary in English by Evgenij Miroshnichenko and Pavel Tregubov. You can rewatch their Round 2 commentary below:

See also:

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