Russian Championship

Of all the national championships from 2009, strongest was the Russian one that has just taken place in Moscow.
A ten player round robin with an average rating of 2691 takes some beating!

Alexander Grischuk becomes champion for the first time and Alisa Galliamova win's the women's championship with a 2709 performance.

Four wins and five draws were sufficient for Grischuk to finish ahead of second-placed Svidler, who won as many games but whose tournament included a loss to tail-ender Sjugirov.

The 2009 Russian champion Alexander Grischuk against his closest rival.
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Here are some examples of Grischuk in action.

The new champion won four of his five Whites. These included a long grind in round one and the following three rather convincing displays:

Alexander Grischuk (2736) - Alexander Riazantsev (2661)

Russian Championship (Moscow 5) 24.12.2009

Alekhine's Defence (B04)

1.e4 ♘f6 2.e5 ♘d5 3.d4 d6 4.♘f3 dxe5 5.♘xe5 g6 6.♗c4 ♗e6 7.0-0 ♗g7 8.♖e1 0-0 9.♘d2 ♘d7 10.♘ef3 ♘7f6


A new move and rather a good one!

11...fxe6 12.♘g5 ♕d6 13.♕e1 b5

An attempt at distraction that doesn't lead to any reduction in White's pressure.

14.♗b3 a5 15.a4 bxa4 16.♘c4 ♕c6 17.♖xa4

Black's structure is seriously damaged and White's minor pieces have excellent play. The nominal material advantage of 'the exchange' is quite often irrelevant on a crowded board in those cases where rooks have little scope.

17...♖a6 18.♖xa5 ♖fa8 19.♗d2 ♗h6 20.h4 ♗xg5

Black avoids losing his e6-pawn but at a high price in positional terms.

21.hxg5 ♘d7


Maybe 22.♗a4! is even stronger: 22...♕xc4 23.♗xd7 ♖xa5 24.♗xe6+ ♔f8 25.♕e5 and wins.

22...♕xa6 23.♘a5 c5

An attempt at liberating his position, but it leads to the loss of the c-pawn.

24.♗a4 ♖a7 25.♗xd7 ♖xd7 26.dxc5 ♘c7 27.c4 ♕a8 28.c6 ♖d3 29.♗c3 ♕f8 30.♕e5 ♖d1+

Black could resist for a few more moves with 30...♖xc3 31.♕xc3 ♕f4 32.b4 ♕xg5 33.b5 ♕c5 34.♘b7 ♕b6 35.♕a5 but this wouldn't change the result.



Alexander Grischuk (2736) - Sanan Sjugirov (2612)

Russian Championships (Moscow 6) 26.12.2009

Sicilian Najdorf (B90)

1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘f6 5.♘c3 a6 6.♗e3 e5 7.♘b3 ♗e6 8.♕d2 ♗e7 9.f3 0-0 10.0-0-0 ♕c7 11.g4 ♖c8 12.g5 ♘h5 13.♔b1 ♘d7 14.f4 exf4 15.♗xf4 ♘xf4 16.♕xf4 ♘e5 17.h4 ♕b6 18.♘d5 ♗xd5 19.♖xd5 a5 20.♖b5 ♕c7 21.♘d4 a4 22.a3 ♖a5

His opponent has no counterplay to speak of, so Grischuk can just get on with matters on the kingside.

23.h5! ♗f8 24.g6!

A thematic blow. The pawns are used as battering rams to prise open Black's king.

24...♖xb5 25.♗xb5 ♕b6

No better is 25...hxg6 26.hxg6 fxg6 (or 26...♘xg6 27.♕h2 ♗e7 28.♕h7+ ♔f8 29.♕h8+) 27.♕h2 and Black is helpless.

26.gxf7+ ♔h8

If 26...♘xf7, then 27.♖f1 ♖c7 28.♘e6 wins material.

27.h6 ♕xd4 28.hxg7+ ♗xg7 29.♕f5

With a deadly fork.

29...♘g6 30.♕xc8+ ♘f8 31.♕c3 ♕xe4 32.♖g1!


Alexander Grischuk (2736) - Dmitry Jakovenko (2736)

Russian Championships (Moscow 8) 28.12.2009

Spanish Berlin (C67)

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6 4.0-0 ♘xe4 5.d4 ♘d6 6.♗xc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 ♘f5 8.♕xd8+ ♔xd8 9.♘c3 h6 10.h3 ♗d7 11.b3 ♔c8 12.♗b2 b6 13.♖fd1 ♘e7 14.♖d2 c5 15.♖ad1 ♗e6 16.♘e2 ♘g6


The critical move. As for alternatives, White hasn't had much success with other moves in this position.


Jakovenko attempts to improve on an earlier Grischuk game which continued 17...♗e7 18.h5 ♘h4 19.♘xh4 ♗xh4 20.♘f4! (offering the exchange) 20...♗g5 21.♘xe6 ♗xd2 22.♘xg7 ♗g5 23.g3 ♖d8 24.♖xd8+ ♔xd8 25.♘f5 ♔d7 26.f4 and White's positional compensation (sound kingside majority etc.) proved to be sufficient for a win in Grischuk,A-Marciano,D French league 2003.


Grischuk is ready-and-willing to sacrifice a pawn for the initiative.

18...♗xe2 19.♖xe2 ♘xh4 20.♘g4

All White's pieces are activated and Black is no longer able to blockade the e-pawn so e5-e6 will remain in the air.


After the natural developing move 20...♗e7 White has 21.e6 e.g. 21...f6 (21...fxe6 22.♖xe6 ♗d6 23.♘e3 ♖g8 24.♘c4 with continuing pressure.) 22.♘e3 ♖d8 23.♘d5 ♔b7 24.♖d3 ♘g6 25.♖e4 h5 and the result is still very much in doubt. White is able to keep pressing but Black is fairly solid.

21.♘e3 ♘g6 22.♖ed2 c4

Now 22...♗e7 is strongly met by 23.♘f5.


Otherwise White could play 23.♘xc4 ♗c5 24.♖d7, but then after 24...♖f8 it's not clear how White should continue. Black at least has some breathing space once his bishop makes it to c5.

23...cxb3 24.cxb3 ♗c5

White regains his pawn under even more favourable circumstances following 24...♗e7 25.♘f5.

25.♖xf7 ♗xe3

At least this breaks up White's pawns, but it's the relative activity of the pieces that ensures that White keeps a big advantage.


A sensible reply, but 26.♖xg7!? ♘f8 27.fxe3 ♔b7 is also possible. White obtains an extra pawn and good piece play in either case.

26...♘f8 27.♖c1!

Or here 27.♖xg7 ♔b7 transposes to the previous note. Clearly Grischuk was aiming for even better than this.

27...♘e6 28.♖e7 ♘c5 29.b4

The c7-pawn is creaking.


Otherwise 29...♘a6 (not ideal but it defends c7) 30.♖xg7 (30.♖c6 ♔b7 31.b5 ♖hd8 is however less clear) 30...♔b7 31.♗d4 also looks shaky for Black.

30.♖xg7 ♘e6

Jakovenko naturally feels more comfortable with his knight on e6 (rather than a6!) but Black is still a pawn down.

31.♖d1+ ♔e8 32.♖g6 ♔e7 33.b5!

Fixing the queenside and preparing ♗-a3+.

33...♖ad8 34.♗a3+ ♔f7 35.♖f6+ ♔g7

White doesn't win a piece (the d1-rook is hanging) but obtains a promising endgame in all lines.

36.♖xd8 ♘xd8 37.♗e7 ♖e8

Or 37...♘b7 38.♖c6 ♖c8 39.♗d6 ♘a5 40.♖xc7+ ♖xc7 41.♗xc7 ♔f7 42.♔f2 and White is much better.

38.♗xd8 ♖xd8 39.♖c6 ♖d7 40.a4 ♔f8 41.♔f2

White's king threatens to support the advanced e-pawn.

41...♖f7+ 42.♖f6 ♖xf6+ 43.exf6 ♔f7 44.♔g3

White has a straightforward win following 44.♔g3 ♔xf6 45.♔h4 ♔g6 46.e4 ♔h6 47.e5 ♔g6 48.e6 ♔f6 49.♔xh5 etc.


The final cross-table is as follows:

PositionNameELO 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10ScorePerformance
1Alexander Grischuk2736 X = = = 1 = 1 1 = 16.52852
2Peter Svidler2754 = X = = = 1 1 1 1 06.02809
3Nikita Vitiugov2694 = = X = 1 1 = 0 1 05.02733
4Evgeny Alekseev2715 = = = X 0 = = 1 = =4.52688
5Dmitry Jakovenko2736 0 = 0 1 X = = = = 14.52686
6Denis Khismatullin2643 = 0 0 = = X = 1 0 14.02653
7Evgeny Tomashevsky2708 0 0 = = = = X = = 14.02646
8Alexander Riazantsev2661 0 0 1 0 = 0 = X 1 14.02651
9Arty Timofeev2651 = 0 0 = = 1 = 0 X =3.52615
10Sanan Sjugirov26120 1 1 = 0 0 0 0 = X3.02574

In the Women's event 7.5 was required by Alisa Galliamova to outpace Nadezhda Kosintseva.

Alisa Galliamova made 7.5 points out of 9. Not many women obtain 2700+ performances whilst winning their national championship!
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PositionNameElo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Performance
1Alisa Galliamova2460 X = = = 1 1 1 1 1 17.52709
2Nadezhda Kosintseva2518 = X 1 = 1 1 = 1 = 17.02649
3Valentina Gunina2446 = 0 X = 0 1 1 1 1 16.02562
4Tatiana Kosintseva2522 = = = X 1 0 1 1 = =5.52509
5Elena Zaiatz2390 0 0 1 0 X = 1 1 1 04.52444
6Anastasia Bodnaruk2372 0 0 0 1 = X 0 1 1 14.52446
7Natalija Pogonina2501 0 = 0 0 0 1 X 0 1 13.52351
8Tatiana Stepovaia2384 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1 13.02319
9Maria Manakova2344 0 = 0 = 0 0 0 0 X 12.02229
10Marina Romanko2449 0 0 0 = 1 0 0 0 0 X1.52164

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