The SportAccord World Mind Games is 2/3 of the way in, and so far it has been a success for two men and two women. Alexander Grischuk won both the rapid and the blitz competitions, with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave coming in second in both events. On the ladies' side Valentina Gunina won the rapid event while Hou Yifan came in second, and they switched positions in the blitz. Next up for the last two days, the "Basque" competition, wherein the competitors play two simultaneous games with their partners, one with each color.
Entries in Valentina Gunina (2)
The Russian Championships have finished, and Igor Lysyj and Valentina Gunina have finished as the open and women's champions, respectively. Lysyj entered the round with a half-point lead over Dmitry Jakovenko and Ian Nepomniachtchi, but with "Nepo" having White against Nikita Vitiugov, who was having a terrible tournament, it seemed far from clear that Lysyj would be able to coast to the title with a draw. Lysyj did in fact draw with Black against Boris Grachev, and Jakovenko likewise drew with Black against Denis Khismatullin. So far, so good, both for Lysyj and Nepomniachtchi, but unfortunately for the latter Vitiugov played a great game on the black side of a French Winawer, crushing Nepo.
Thus Lysyj took clear first with 5.5/9, winning his first Russian Championship title. Jakovenko took clear second, and in a tie for 3rd-7th(!) were Peter Svidler (the day's other winner, defeating Vadim Zvjaginsev), Nepomniachtchi, Khismatullin, Vitiugov and Alexander Morozevich. The three remaining players were just another half a point behind, so this tournament was heavy on parity.
Not so for the women, where the spread from first to last was five points. The last round featured a showdown between co-leaders Alisa Galliamova and Valentina Gunina, and although Galliamova was better for a long time and for a while totally winning, Gunina's charmed existence continued. Galliamova fell apart in the lead up to the time control, going from about +7 (and not a particularly complicated +7, either) to -3 by the time move 41 rolled around. Gunina finished well, and took clear first with 7-2, winning her last seven games.
Olga Girya could have taken clear second, half a point behind, but her story was like Galliamova's. She too was better-to-winning for a fair chunk of the game, but let her opponent - Anastasia Bodnaruk - manage to equalize. In the run-up to the time control it was equal, equal, equal...until move 40, when Girya made a huge mistake, which to be fair was not so much an oversight or a stand-alone error but the culmination of a (very) bad plan. In the second time control Bodnaruk did a nice job of converting her advantage, sidestepping a few cute stalemating tricks by Girya.
So Galliamova wound up in clear second, while Girya finished tied for third with Aleksandra Goryachkina at 5.5/9. Goryachkina had the day's only draw, so the tournament maintained its blistering percentage of winning results to the very end: 80% decisive games, 20% draws. If only that were the case in all top tournaments!