Exciting games from Russia Higher League
Some of the most exciting chess played this year! Five qualification spots to the prestigious Super-Final (not including the more than 68,000 euros in prizes) was more than enough incentive for the players to go all out.
In the end GM’s Grigoriy Oparin and Alexy Sarana tied for first with 6.5 points from 9 games. They were followed by 6 players at 6 points each. GM’s Kobalia, Inarkiev and Khismatullin were the lucky ones to qualify for the Super-Final because of tie break.
Below is a small selection of what I consider to be some of the best chess played in the championship. Enjoy!
fm Fakhrutdinov-gm Volkov Russia_HL 4.7.2018 (1-0)
Opposite side castling almost always leads to cut and thrust play. This game is no exception. In particular, at one point so much material is enprise that you need an accountant to keep track of it all! But in the end White’s initiative is stronger. Neat win, and great for the spectators!
gm Inarkiev – gm Lysyj Russia_HL 4.7.2018 (1-0)
Typical Russian style! After a messy opening (most of which is theory) White slowly strangles Black on the Kingside, ignoring Black’s attempts with his Queen to eat some of White’s pawns. Black resigned when there was nothing to be done against the h-file invasion of the Queen.
gm Ponkratov – im Lobanov,S Russia_HL 4.7.2018 (1-0)
Watch carefully as White’s pawns advance all the way up the centre. Black seemed to be completely helpless to stop them. First the f-pawn to f5, blocking out the Black Bishop. Then followed the d-pawn and e-pawn. Finally, e5(!) and White soon won material.
Sek,K – wgm Girya Russia_HL 4.7.2018 (1-0)
Many times women’s champion of Russia, Girya is a past expert on the Caro Kan. White employs a relatively harmless system, and Girya quickly goes wrong when she exchanges unnecessarily minor pieces in the centre. Soon her King has no place to hide. Nice point when White captured the h-pawn. Gory finish!
gm Kobalia – gm Dreev Russia_HL 4.7.2018 (1-0)
Another Caro Kan bites the dust! Dreev is also a great Caro player, and he plays it to win. Here, however, White is also out to win and both he and Dreev create a dynamic confusion all over the board! Almost impossible to understand, and almost tragic that Dreev loses because he ‘forgot’ to make luft!
wfm Yakimenko – wim Semenova Russia_HL 30.6.2018 (1-0)
This game reminds me of my win over Short some years ago in Gibraltar! A somewhat dubious line by Black, who wins a poisonous pawn but neglects her development. Really nice and powerful play by White to open up the Black King position. Almost a relief for Black to resign!