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Reports Oct 18, 2016 | 8:17 PMby Colin McGourty

Russian Superfinal 3: Who wants to win a queen?

Dmitry Kokarev chose not to pick up a queen in what Peter Svidler described as a “stunning” moment in Round 3 of the Russian Championship Superfinal. Dmitry stuck to his guns by not winning it in clever fashion a few moves later either, so that after some tense games we nevertheless got all draws in the men’s section (Svidler again takes us through his), while the women once more saved the day with five wins in six. Leaders Olga Girya and Alexandra Kosteniuk both moved to 3/3.

Alexander Grischuk probably wasn't the most puzzled player after Round 3 of the Superfinal | photo: Alexey Ziler

On the face of it, Round 3 of the Russian Championship Superfinal doesn’t look like a classic:

It would be an exaggeration to say that appearances are deceptive, but Alexander Grischuk’s pawn sacrifice against Dmitry Jakovenko was anything but routine, co-leader Vladimir Fedoseev pressed hard to exploit an endgame advantage against Ernesto Inarkiev and Aleksey Goganov and Dmitry Bocharov’s queenless position became tactical and tricky before fizzling out into a draw. 

Inarkiev held a very tough position | photo: Alexey Ziler

Grischuk looked somewhat unconvinced by his position... | photo: Alexey Ziler

We don’t need to wonder at the hidden drama in Tomashevsky – Svidler either, since once again Peter has shared his thoughts with us directly from Novosibirsk, in a 37-minute video:

The reason the above is a link is that you need to be Premium to watch the video – we really want to be able to keep doing stuff like this!

Svidler got a much easier draw against Tomashevsky than he did in the last round of the Tal Memorial | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

In the video Peter explains that he considers Evgeny Tomashevsky, “one of the premier theoreticians of our age”, and he got evidence for it in this game. Svidler started thinking early and came up with a plan to offer a pawn sacrifice to gain a Marshall Attack type of position. He noted Grischuk had told him:

You should probably record a whole new video series on how to try and play the Marshall even when your opponent plays Nf3 or c4 on move 1!

Peter was getting enthusiastic:

I felt we will be getting a very exciting game with chances for both sides. I was starting to kind of look forward to all of this because it felt like for a change I might actually get a very sharp, playable position with Black – yes, at the cost of two pawns, but who’s counting those little dudes!

Who needs those little dudes anyway?

Alas, it didn’t work out, since “all of this was completely nullified by Evgeny blitzing out 11.b3”. It turned out after the game that Evgeny had looked at it all at home, and after that he was the one who perhaps missed a chance to maintain some winning chances (check out the video for all the details).

Svidler explained his mixed reactions:

I don’t know if I should be more or less happy because I come up with these things at the board when hard-working chess players actually have a definitive opinion about all these ideas because they analysed them at home.

On the one hand, it very forcefully brings home the message, not that it’s a new message, that there are people out there who work more on opening theory than I do, but on the other hand, every time I manage to generate something which is actually playable over the board I feel like, you know, there is still some functioning machinery there. I can still at least generate ideas that are not entirely worthless.

Svidler ends the video by looking at the most incredible game of the day, the encounter between 34-year-old Dmitry Kokarev and the youngest player in the tournament, 19-year-old Grigoriy Oparin. It reached this remarkable position where, finding himself between a rock and a hard place, Oparin has just played 25…Be3:

Kokarev spent 13 minutes summoning up the inner resources required to play 26.Nxe3?!? rather than simply taking the queen with 26.Nxf6+ Nxf6 27.Kh1 Bxc5:

If Oparin bluffed that this is a fortress, it was a brilliant bluff!


This is the stunning bit about this game. White decided not to take the queen on f6. I’m not sure if the position is as winning as the machine seems to immediately suggest it is, but still it’s a reasonably strange decision not to do it considering that in the game Black wasn’t particularly troubled.

That’s not quite the end of the story, though, since the computer also points out that 28.h4!! is an extraordinary win for White:

As you can see from the computer analysis, the point is that Rb6 will win the queen, and there’s nothing Black can do about it. 28…Qe6 is met by 29.Rd5, shutting off the escape route on the a2-g8 diagonal, while 28…g6 29.Rb6 Qh8 30.Ne7+ leads to multiple crushing wins, including 31…Nxg6 next move against anything. It would perhaps have been surprising, though, if after rejecting taking a queen offered on a silver platter Dmitry had gone on to win it in such a study-like variation.

Non-queen grabber Dmitry Kokarev | photo: Eteri Kublashvili, Russian Chess Federation

So the standings in the men’s section remain essentially unchanged, with Svidler, Fedoseev, Riazantsev and Goganov still leading on 2/3.

Olga Girya continues to lead the Women's Russian Superfinal | photo: Alexey Ziler

The women, meanwhile, were having none of this draw nonsense:

The leading two maintained their serene progress, with Olga Girya effortlessly dismantling Daria Charochkina’s attack, while Alexandra Kosteniuk showed no mercy to Superfinal debutant Daria Pustovoitova (it was a bad day to be a Daria). She talked about her game during the live show:

After two losses Valentina Gunina was relieved to have a game where she felt her big achievement was remembering all her analysis, as she followed it into an endgame where even in bad form there wasn’t too much left to blunder.

Alina Kashlinskaya looked absolutely composed, but she was in trouble right out of the opening | photo: Alexey Ziler

Natalija Pogonina moved into sole third place on 2/3 after beating Anastasia Bodnaruk, while defending Champion Aleksandra Goryachkina found the perfect antidote to getting crushed on the kingside when playing with the white pieces the day before… crushing her opponent, Ekaterina Ubiennykh, with the black pieces on the kingside. Afterwards she could find nothing to say to commentator Sergei Rublevsky, since White was dead lost on move 15, and the final position said it all:

Let’s give the women’s standings, since they’re currently of more interest than the men’s:

The Russian Championship Superfinals are hardcore chess, with another three rounds until the single rest day! Tune in for live commentary (Men's | Women's) in English by Evgenij Miroshnichenko and Pavel Tregubov each day from 10am CEST. 

You can rewatch their Round 3 commentary below:

See also:

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