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    Entries in 2013 Russian Championship (7)

    Monday
    Oct142013

    Svidler Wins Russian Championship In A Playoff

    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!

    Sunday
    Oct132013

    Ongoing Events: The Russian Championship and the Kings Tournament

    1. There's one round to go in the Russian Championship, and Peter Svidler continues to lead. He didn't get much with White against Nikita Vitiugov and drew quickly (23 moves), while his closest pursuer, Vladimir Kramnik, tried harder to get something with those same white pieces against Sergey Karjakin - also to no avail. So Svidler leads Kramnik by half a point, and thanks to his win with the black pieces against Anton Shomoev Ian Nepomniachtchi is also just half a point behind Svidler. In the final round Svidler will have Black against Karjakin, while Nepomniachtchi will have White against Kramnik. A tie is by no means out of the question, and if there is one there will be a blitz playoff.

    2. The Kings Tournament continued its drawful ways. Leader Fabiano Caruana had his second (and final) bye, leaving the pairings Nisipeanu-Ponomariov and Radjabov-Wang Hao to fulfill the daily drawing duty. After 7 rounds, Caruana leads with 3.5/5, Ponomariov and Nisipeanu have 3/6, Radjabov has 2.5/6 and Wang Hao has 2/5.

    Saturday
    Oct122013

    Ongoing: The Kings Tournament and the Russian Championship

    Bilbao has finished, but two major events are still going:

    1. Kings Tournament: We're one round into the second cycle of this five-player tournament, and Fabiano Caruana has maintained his lead over the field, and even extended it since we last reported on it after round 3. In the three rounds and six games since then, five have been drawn while the remainder was won by Caruana. He leads with 3.5/5 (because of the odd number of players each player will have one bye per cycle), ahead of Ruslan Ponomariov (undefeated) and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (lost one, but the only player besides Caruana to win a game in the tournament) who share second with 2.5/5. Teimour Radjabov has 2/5, while Wang Hao (who lost to Nisipeanu back in round 3) had the first bye of the second cycle and has 1.5/4.

    2. Russian Championship: When we last reported on this tournament Peter Svidler was in clear first with 4/5, half a point ahead of Nikita Vitiugov and Vladimir Kramnik. They had a rest day after round 5, and then in round 6 both Svidler and Kramnik won (against Alexander Motylev and Ernesto Inarkiev, respectively) while Vitiugov lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi. "Nepo" then jumped into third, along with Dmitry Andreikin, who had the remarkable achievement up to that point of having six decisive games out of six, every one of them won by the player with White!

    All five games in round 6 had a winner, but then things cooled off in round 7, with four of the five games drawn. (The one exception involved players firmly stuck at the bottom of the crosstable.) Thus after seven of nine rounds Svidler leads with 5.5 points, while Kramnik has 5 and Nepomniachtchi and Andreikin have 4.5.

    Wednesday
    Oct092013

    Ongoing Events: Bilbao, The Kings Tournament And The Russian Championship

    1. Bilbao. Michael Adams continues to lead, holding on in round 3 for a draw against Levon Aronian. In the other game, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave tied up Shakhriyar Mamedyarov's forces, then won by liquidating into a rook and bishop ending where he would wind up two pawns ahead. Adams thus has 2/3 at the halfway point, while Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave have a point and a half.

    UPDATE: I was reminded in the comments that they are using the 3-1-0 scoring system, so the totals are Adams 5, Vachier-Lagrave 4, Aronian 3 and Mamedyarov 2.

    A note about yesterday's post, in which I noted that Adams' defeat of Vachier-Lagrave indicated that Adams was building on his success back in Dortmund. A couple of commentators seemed to object, noting that Vachier-Lagrave lost on time, and in a "dead drawn" position according to one of them. By way of reply, I'm surprised that my anodyne statement provoked a couple of people to object. At any rate, I would note that losing on time isn't like being hit on the head by a meteorite, a random occurrence that just "happens" to a person. Vachier-Lagrave didn't become a 2740+ player by losing games on time for no reason. Adams gave him enough problems of a sufficiently challenging sort that Vachier-Lagrave was unable to solve them within the allotted time.

    I'd add to that while the position was drawn it wasn't yet dead drawn in the sense of being a position that's a known technical draw or one where no accurate moves are required. White can still fiddle around a bit in the final position without allowing a perpetual check or returning the extra pawn. (I'm not claiming that the position is anything but a draw, just that one shouldn't look at all the 0.00s on the monitor and think it's like rook vs. rook or defending king and h-pawn vs. king on the queening square.) Anyway, even if it is dead drawn, see the previous point about losing on time.

    2. Kings Tournament. Fabiano Caruana drew with Ruslan Ponomariov, maintaining a share of first with a game in hand. He has 1.5/2, while Ponomariov and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu have 1.5/3. Nisipeanu defeated Wang Hao (.5/2) in the day's other game while Teimour Radjabov (1/2) had the bye.

    3. Russian Championship. Peter Svidler drew his second game of the tournament, and leads with 4/5. Nikita Vitiugov is still half a point back after drawing his game. He is tied with Vladimir Kramnik, who defeated tailender (but not at all bottom seed) Alexander Motylev with the black pieces. In the remaining four rounds Svidler seems to have the easiest schedule based on his opponents' places on the crosstable while Vitiugov has the hardest, forced to face the top four players (other than himself).

    The rating flip-flops on the live list continue, with Kramnik back in second, Aronian in third and Caruana in fourth. I think that if Caruana wins the Kings Tournament, hits 2800 and leapfrogs at least one of Aronian and Kramnik it will be very difficult for whoever organizes the Candidates to avoid giving him the wildcard. But it depends on when the organizer is named. If Nakamura (or maybe even Gelfand?!) wins Wijk aan Zee in January that player would be strongly in the mix. Or if London hosts the Candidates and Adams somehow manages to hold on and win Bilbao, he might get selected. Still, I think if Caruana hits 2800, it will be very difficult for an organizer of any country to reject him.

    Tuesday
    Oct082013

    The Daily Update: Bilbao, Kings Tournament and the Russian Championship

    1. Bilbao. It's early yet (then again, it's only a six-round tournament, so two rounds in isn't that early) Michael Adams is building on his success in Dortmund. He defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave today to take the lead with 1.5/2; Levon Aronian and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who drew their game, are half a point behind.

    2. Kings Tournament. First-round winner and sole leader Fabiano Caruana had the bye today, while the round 2 games Ruslan Ponomariov - Liviu-Dieter Nispieanu and Wang Hao - Teimour Radjabov were drawn. Caruana, Ponomariov and Radjabov lead, but Caruana has an extra game to play.

    3. Russian Championship. Peter Svidler and Nikita Vitiugov entered round 4 tied for first, but now Svidler leads alone. He defeated Dmitry Andreikin, while Vitiugov only drew with Anton Shomoev. Vladimir Kramnik bounced back from yesterday's loss to defeat tailender Aleksey Goganov to stay within a point of first, tied with Ernesto Inarkiev for third.

    Monday
    Oct072013

    Russian Championship Update; The Kings Tournament and Bilbao Begin

    Let's start with the Kings Tournament, the 7th in the annual series, which started today in Bucharest. It's generally a small event in terms of the number of players, with five participants this time around: Fabiano Caruana, Ruslan Ponomariov, Wang Hao, Teimour Radjabov, and - of course - Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, there representing the home country. It's a double round-robin with no plenary rest days; the bye each player will have in each cycle is deemed sufficient. In round 1, Caruana defeated Nisipeanu with the black pieces, while Radjabov-Ponomariov was drawn.

    Possibly even more impressive: the 6th Bilbao Final Masters, starring Levon Aronian, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Michael Adams and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The first two have qualified for the next Candidates' tournament, while Adams and Vachier-Lagrave have a shot at being the wildcard if their country hosts that event. They too started today, with both Aronian - Vachier-Lagrave and Adams-Mamedyarov finishing in a draw.

    In the ongoing Russian Championship, Peter Svidler and Nikita Vitiugov lead with 2.5/3. Dmitry Andreikin defeated Vladimir Kramnik in round 3 - regaining his +2 score against the former world champion - and as a result he's tied for third (with Ernesto Inarkiev) with two points.

    Ratings news: Kramnik had been #2, Aronian #3 and Caruana #5, but thanks to today's results both Aronian and Caruana leapfrogged Kramnik into second and third places, respectively, on the live rating list.

    Saturday
    Oct052013

    The Russian Championship Is Underway

    The Russian Championship* started today, and round 1 had the following results:

    • Kramnik - Shomoev 1-0
    • Svidler - Nepomniachtchi 1-0
    • Andreikin - Karjakin 1-0
    • Motylev - Inarkiev 0-1
    • Goganov - Vitiugov 0-1

    The wins by Peter Svidler and especially Dmitry Andreikin were especially significant, as they defeated 2700+ opposition, but Vladimir Kramnik's game was spectacular. First he made an interesting and probably essentially sound sacrifice a full exchange, and then followed that with a further sacrifice of a piece for two pawns. It doesn't seem to have been sound, but Shomoev imploded and Kramnik bagged the full point. It made for an entertaining game, but if Kramnik plays that way against the 2700s he's not going to finish the tournament with a good score. Anyway, the game is here, with my comments.

    * For those of you who can't read Russian, TWIC's page is clean and easy.