Nepomniachtchi, Goryachkina Win Russian Championships
GM Ian Nepomniachtchi won his second Russian Championship title, exactly 10 years after his first. A quick draw in the final round proved enough after co-leader GM Sergey Karjakin was beaten by GM Daniil Dubov in brilliant style. GM Aleksandra Goryachkina won the women’s tournament, her third, after defeating IM Polina Shuvalova in an armageddon game.
The games of the Russian Championship Superfinal can be found here as part of our live platform. The women’s tournament can be found here.
It wasn’t clear what would be happening on the final day after one of the leaders drew his game in just a few minutes. Nepomniachtchi was quickly done when GM Maksim Chigaev, with the white pieces, repeated moves in a 6.Be3 Ng4 Najdorf.
Nepomniachtchi finished his tournament on 7.5/11, and only Karjakin could still catch him. If he would draw his game, a playoff would be played but with a win, Karjakin would clinch his first-ever national title.
As it went, Nepomniachtchi was helped to his second title by Dubov, who beat Karjakin and played what is possibly the Game of the Year.
Dubov started in (Evans) gambit style and followed up with a bishop sacrifice (15.Bf6!) and then a queen sacrifice (19.Qg6!!) to reach a dominating position where even the Minister of Defense didn’t stand a chance. Don’t miss this gem of a game:
As a matter of fact, Dubov had also beaten the eventual winner Nepomniachtchi earlier in the tournament in what was a fairly spectacular affair as well. There, the opening specialist chose 1.d4 and caught his opponent in a Grunfeld.
Crucial for the tournament was Nepomniachtchi’s win against Karjakin in round seven. This was quite a theoretical game as well, with a novelty on move 15 in a Nimzo-Indian. Soon after, Karjakin went astray:
The tournament was marred because GM Mikhail Antipov tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw after the sixth round. Because he had played more than half of his games, his results remained in the crosstable, and his next opponents all received a free point on an extra rest day.
73rd Russian Championship Superfinal | Final Standings
In the women’s segment, IM Polina Shuvalova had a very different second half of the tournament. After her stunning start of 6/6, she failed to win another game, losing one to three-time Russian women’s champion IM Alisa Galliamova and drawing four others.
GM Aleksandra Goryachkina scored 1.5 points better in the final five rounds and caught up with Shuvalova in the very final one. The regulations stipulated a playoff.
70th Russian Women’s Championship Superfinal | Final Standings
After the two rapid games ended in draws, Goryachkina won the armageddon game to clinch her third title, after 2015 and 2017.
The 73rd Russian Championship and the 70th Russian Women’s Championship were held December 5-16 at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. The tournaments were among the very few over-the-board chess events with top players during the pandemic after Biel, the Bundesliga, Norway Chess, and next month Wijk aan Zee.