72nd Russian Championship SuperFinals
Votkinsk/Izhevsk, Udmurt Repoublic, Russia
Aug. 10-22, 2019
Final Standings (all; players are GMs)
1 Evgeny Tomashevsky 2706, 7.0/11
2-4 Nikita Vitiugov 2728, Maxim Matlakov 2710, Ernesto Inarkiev 2682, 6.5/11
5-8 Alexander Motylev 2668, Vladislav Artemiev 2757, Alexandr Predke 2650, Kirill Alekseenko 2668, 5.5/11
9 Aleksey Dreev 2662, 5.0/11
10-11 Alexey Sarana 2635, Vladimir Fedoseev 2671, 4.5/11
12 Dmitry Jakovenko 2704, 3.5/11
Average ELO 2688 — Category 18
Time Control: 90 minutes for the 1st 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move (the so-called increment) starting move 1
GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, nicknamed “The Professor,” won the Championship for a second time with an undefeated 3 wins and 8 draws, 7.0/11, half a point ahead of his pursuers Vitiugov, Matlakov and Inarkiev. Tomashevsky was in the leading group for most of the tournament but it was only in the final round, when he defeated tournament revelation Kiril Alekseenko in a tremendous battle, that he managed to grab the solo lead.
Tomashevsky, Evgeny (2702) — Alekseenko, Kirill (2650) [D78]
72nd RUS-ch Superfinals 2019 Izhevsk/Votkinsk (11.3), 22.08.2019
22–year–old GM Kirill Alekseenko from St. Petersburg qualified for the SuperFinals by finishing among the Top 5 of its qualifying event the Russian Higher League. In contrast with Tomashevsky, GM Kirill is a very aggressive player. You can see the clash of styles in this game.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 c6 5.Bg2 d5 6.0–0 0–0 7.Qb3 a5 8.Rd1 a4 9.Qb4 Re8 10.Bf4 Nbd7 11.Na3 e6 12.Qe1 h6 13.Rac1 g5 14.Bd6 Ne4 15.Bb4 f5 16.Nc2 g4 17.Nh4! b6 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.f3 Ng5 20.Ne3 Nf6 21.Ng6 Nf7 22.fxg4 fxg4 23.Ne5
White has played very well and is now threatening to capture Black’s g4 pawn. The only move to defend it is …
But now comes …
24.Nxf7! Kxf7 25.Nc4!
White’s knight gets access to either d6 or e5. Black’s d-pawn is, of course, pinned against his rook in the corner.
25…Bh6 26.Nd6+ Kg6 27.Nxe8 Bxc1 28.Rxc1 Qxe8 29.e4! Ba6 30.e5 Nd7 31.Rc6 Kh7? <D>
Position after 31…Kh7
Alekseenko lets his guard down and it will cost him. He should not have tolerated the rook on c6 and opposed it right away with 31…Rc8.
Just because you are a positional player does not mean that you are poor in tactics.
[33.Qe3 is the more accurate move, putting his queen on the dark squares]
33…Kg7 34.Qf5 Bd3!
A miraculous resource which almost saves him. Emphasis on “almost.”
Allows Kirill’s tactical resource next move. Tomashevsky should have continued his attack with 35.Qg5+! Kh8 (35…Bg6 36.e6! Nf6 37.Rc7+ the end) 36.Rh6+ Bh7 37.Qf5 Qg8 38.Qxd7 Qg7 39.Qc6 Rb8 40.Bd2! intending to put his bishop on f6.
35…Nxe5! 36.Rc7+ Nf7 37.Qf5 Qe3+ 38.Kf1 Qf3+ 39.Qxf3 gxf3 40.Kf2
White is still winning because of Black’s scattered pawns, but the path to the full point is by no means easy.
The black knight should be prevented from getting to e4, either through d6 or g5. 41.Kxf3? Ng5+ 42.Ke3 Re8+ 43.Kd3 Ne4 makes White’s task harder.
Simplest is just to take the pawn 42.bxa3.
Don’t do 43.Rxb6?! axb2 44.Kxf3 (44.Rxb2 Ke4 it is now White who is in trouble) 44…Ng5+ 45.Bxg5 Kxg5 the win is not so clear.
43…Ke4 44.bxa3 Nh8 45.Rxb6 Kxd4 46.Kxf3 Nf7 47.Rb4+ Ke5 48.Rh4 Nd6 49.Bxd6+ Kxd6 50.a4 Kc5 51.Ke3 Rb8 52.Kd3 Rb2 53.Rxh5 Rxa2 54.Rh8 Ra3+
Alekseenko should have just simply taken the a4–pawn, but he obviously did not see Tomashevsky’s next move.
Moving back to the kingside where he will make the passed kingside pawns tell. 55.Kc2 Rxa4 is a draw, for example 56.Rg8 (56.h4 Rg4 holds) 56…Ra2+ 57.Kc3 Rxh2 book draw.
[55…Rxa4 56.h4! the two passed pawns win]
This is a very difficult ending with not much time left for either side, which accounts for the inaccuracies. Passed pawns must be pushed and here 56.g4! is the correct winning method. 56…Rxa4 57.g5 Ra6 58.h4 Ke5 59.Rf8! With the black king cut-off, this is clearly decisive.
56…Ra2+ 57.Kf3 Rxh2
Finally the draw is in sight.
The losing move. After such a heroic defense Kirill slips up, even though he took 12 minutes on this move. By going after the a-pawn with the king he allows White to cut him off the kingside and win with his passed pawns. The correct drawing method is to go after the a-pawn with the rook: 58…Rh7! 59.g4 (59.a6 Kd3 60.a7 Rf7+ 61.Kg4 d4 white cannot win as Black has his own passed pawns to keep him honest for example if: 62.Kg5 Rd7 63.Kg6 Kd2 64.g4 d3 65.g5 Rc7 66.Kh6 Kc2 67.g6 d2 68.Rd8 Rxa7 clearly a draw) 59…Rf7+ 60.Kg3 Rg7 61.a6 Re7 62.g5 Ke3 63.Kg4 d4 it does not look like it, but actually Black can hold the draw here. For example: 64.Kf5 d3 65.Kf6 d2! 66.Rd8 Ra7 67.g6 Rxa6+ 68.Kf5 Rxg6 69.Kxg6 Ke2 drawn by the skin of his teeth.
59.a6 Kb6 60.Rd8 Kxa6? 61.Rxd5
With the Black king cut-off from the kingside White has an easy win.
61…Kb6 62.g4 Rh8 63.Kf4 Kc6 64.Rd1 Rf8+ 65.Ke5 Rg8 66.Kf5 Rf8+ 67.Ke6 Rg8 68.Rd4 Kc5 69.Ra4 Re8+ 70.Kf7 Rb8 71.g5 Rb7+ 72.Kg8 Kd5 73.Rf4 Rb1 74.g6 Ke6 75.g7 Ke7 76.Rh4 1–0
With this victory Tomashevsky earned 1 million rubles (approximately P800,000) and a Renault Arkana car. The top 3 finishers automatically qualified for next year’s SuperFinal. There was a 3-way tie for 2nd place so tie breaks had to be applied to eliminate one of them. The first criteria is number of games played with Black, which did not change anything because all three had 5 whites and 6 blacks. The second criteria, the Sonneborn-Berger system (the scores of everybody you beat added to half the scores of everyone you drew with, therefore giving more value to wins/draws against a player ranked high, than for a win/draw against a player ranked low in the tournament) favored Vitiugov and Matlakov. This was a particularly glaring development for Ernesto Inarkiev, the one eliminated. He was the fightingest player in the field, scoring 4 wins and 2 draws. Considering that there were a total of only 23 decisive results out of a total of 66 games in the tournament, that meant Inarkiev had been involved in 25% of the decisive games in the whole event.
In keeping with the “Chess in Museums” initiative of the Russian Chess Federation together with the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation, the first 2 rounds were held in the Votkinsk Museum-estate of Tchaikovsky (yes, the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who spent his early childhood there in that area) and the rest of the tournament at the House of Friendship of Peoples, Izhevsk, both located in the Republic of Udmurtia in Central Russia, not far from Moscow. The historical significance of this area is that during World War II, many industrial factories were evacuated from Ukraine and western borderlands to Udmurtia.
Tomashevsky is not as well known as he should be, but he is right there on the fringes of the exclusive circle of the chess elite. He was European Champion in 2009 and first won the Russian Championship in 2015. That was his biggest year so far, as in February 2015 Tomashevsky took clear first place in the Tbilisi leg of the FIDE Grand Prix 2014–15 scoring 8/11, 1.5 points ahead of second-placed Dmitry Jakovenko, with no losses and wins over Baadur Jobava, Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Rustam Kasimdzhanov. His performance rating in this tournament was 2916.
In team events he has twice won the European Club Cup, helped Russia to gold in the 2009 World Team Championship, and played in the Russian bronze medal-winning team to the 2016 Olympiad in Baku.
Tomashevsky is nicknamed “the Professor” because (1) he is the son of a university professor, (2) with his glasses on and professional bearing he looks like a professor, (3) he is well-educated, having graduated from Saratov State Socio-Economic University, and, most especially, (4) for his academic approach to chess, specializing in position play and the technical stages of the game.
He seconded Boris Gelfand in the latter’s attempt to wrest the world championship title from Viswanathan Anand in their 2012 match.
We will continue this story on Thursday.
Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.