The last day of the 2013 Russian Championship was an exciting one. The spectators got their money's worth! Peter Svidler came into the last round with a half point lead over Vladimir Kramnik and Ian Nepomniachtchi, and had the challenging pairing of Black against Sergey Karjakin. Karjakin tested Svidler's Gruenfeld in the now-old, former main line of the Exchange Variation with 8.Rb1, and Svidler followed the old recipe to a draw.
That left Nepomniachtchi and Kramnik, who just so happened to be playing each other. Kramnik did much of the pushing, and was better for good chunks of the game, though never winning. A draw was just about always there for the taking, but no guts, no glory: he kept pressing, and with 67...Kh3 he was on his way over the edge. Maybe 69...Rd3 or 69...Ng4+ would have kept things together, but 69...b5? got him in trouble, and 71...Nf7 left him lost. (Maybe he didn't see that 75.Bd4 would stop all of his threats?) Nepomniachtchi's good defense and Kramnik's overextension allowed the former to catch Svidler, and so it was on to a rapid tiebreak - two g/15s.
In last year's Russian Championship tiebreak Svidler was eliminated, while Nepomniachtchi's previous tiebreak experience was a good one - he defeated Karjakin in 2010 to win the title of Russian champion. This time around, however, it was Svidler who came through to win his seventh(!) national championship. Svidler won the first game with White and was winning the second game too when Nepomniachtchi offered a match-conceding draw that was accepted.
Congratulations to Peter Svidler!