The team won all its matches, while SHSM took clear second.
The Siberian team had no peers in the Russian Team Championship, which concluded Wednesday. It tore through the competition, winning all of its matches, most by wide margins. Team SHSM finished in clear second, three match points behind.
Siberia easily won its last two matches, by scores of 5-1 and 4.5-1.5. Anish Giri of the Netherlands, one of the team’s top players, was in excellent form, winning both his games in those matches.
Giri, Anish vs. Romanov, Evgeny
Russian Team Championships |Sochi RUS |Round 6.2 |08 May 2017 |ECO: E17 |1-0
1. d4Nf62. c4e63. Nf3b64. g3Bb75. Bg2Be76. O-OO-O7. Re1Na68. a3d59. cxd5exd510. b4c611. Nc3Nc712. Qb3Ne613. a4Rb814. Ba3c515. Rad1c416. Qb2Re817. b5Ne418. Bxe7Qxe719. e3Nxc320. Qxc3Nc7Black has a solid position and a protected passed pawn, but White is ready to break open the center. 21. e4!Undermining Black's pawn structure. 21... dxe422. Ne5Qe623. Qxc4Qxc424. Nxc4Rbd825. Ne5The position has quite a bit in a few moves. Material is equal, but the vulnerable c6 square and weak Black pawn on e4 pawn mean he must play very precisely to avoid losing 25... a6?An understandable error: Black is trying to release the queenside bind. But his plan is too slow.
( 25... f5!This move would have been okay for Black )
26. Rc1!Black has a hard time defending his knight. 26... Ne6It looks as if White will lose his pawn on d4, but...
( 26... Rc827. Nc4!And Black would lose a lot of material. )
27. bxa6!Removing the defender of c6 27... Bxa6
( 27... Ba828. Bxe4Would have been even worse. )
28. Nc6!Rd629. Bxe4The dust has settled and White is up a pawn. Black tried to win it back right away, but this failed tactically: 29... Nxd4?
( 29... Kf8!Would have given Black the best chance to resist. )
30. Nxd4Rxd431. Bd3!A pretty tactic. Black resigned as he cannot save his bishop as well as protect his back rank. 31... Rxe1+
Russian Team Championships |Sochi RUS |Round 7.1 |08 May 2017 |0-1
23. Raf1Black looks as if he might be in some trouble. Material is equal but the knight on c2 is in danger and his light squares are very weak. But Giri finds an ingenious way to keep the position unbalanced and preserve winning chances. 23... Rxe2+!A very strong sacrifice. After
( 23... Rxf1?24. Bxc4+ )
( 23... Raf8This more-sober move was playable, but after: 24. Nge4!Rg225. Rxf8+Kxf826. Rf1+Ke727. Rf2!White should be better. The bishop on g7 is not very good. )
24. Nxe2Nb4!Black has many threats and it is already difficult for White to find an answer to Rd8 by Black. And if Black takes the White a-pawn, he will no longer have a big material deficit. 25. Kc3White immediately returns the exchange to neutralize the pressure. 25... Bxe226. Kxb4Bxf127. Rxf1Black's piece activity is greater than it was before.: 27... Bh6!Menacing the pawn on e3 28. Rf5
( 28. Ne4Bxe3 )
28... Rf8!Black loses the pawn on e5, but his pieces quickly spring to life. 29. Rxe5Bg7!Well played. White cannot play Re7 without losing a piece. 30. Ra5
( 30. Re7Bf6 )
30... Re8!31. Rxa7For the moment, white is up two pawns, but after: 31... h6!The White knight is driven back. 32. Nf3Rxe3!Black again gains a tempo. Black is now only down one pawn and his piece activity is very impressive. 33. Nh4Bf8+34. Ka5?!
( 34. Kc4b5+35. Kd4Rxg336. Nf5Should end in a draw. )
34... Re5+!35. Ka4
( 35. Kb6?Bc5+ )
35... Rb5!White is now in big trouble. His king is being squeezed. 36. b3
( 36. a3Rxb2 )
36... Rb4+37. Ka5Kf7!Bringing the king closer to the action. White is in danger of being mated. 38. Nf3Rb5+39. Ka4Rb4+40. Ka5Bc5!Of course Black avoids a draw. 41. Ra8Ke642. Nd2?
( 42. Ne1This move was more resilient,though after: 42... Bd643. Nd3Rd444. Nf4+Kd7Black would still be better. )
42... Rb5+!43. Ka4Be7!Very accurate. Black was not ready to play Kd7.
( 43... Kd744. Ra5!This resource will not work in the game. )
( 44. Ra5Rb4+45. Ka3 )
44... Rb4+45. Ka5Kd7!Once Black plays Kc7, the White king will run out of escape squares 46. Nd2
( 46. Ne5+Kc747. Nxc6This was the best attempt, but Black should still win after: 47... Kxc648. Rc8+Kd5 )
46... Kc747. Nf3Re4!White resigned as he could not really stop 48... Bb4+ 49. Ka4 b5, mate.
Though SHSM could not catch Siberia by the last round as the tournament had already been decided, I really enjoyed the efforts of the team’s top board, Evgeny Najer of Russia, who demolished Vladislav Artemiev, one of his compatriots.
Najer, Evgeniy vs. Artemiev, Vladislav
Russian Team Championships |Sochi RUS |Round 7.1 |08 May 2017 |ECO: B42 |1-0
1. e4c52. Nf3e63. d4cxd44. Nxd4a65. Bd3Nf66. O-OQc77. Nc3Nc68. Nxc6dxc69. f4e510. Kh1Bd611. f5I always thought that these structures were really unpleasant for Black because White has some extra space on the kingside. Black tries to activate his queenside with: 11... b5But after: 12. a4!Black is already under pressure. 12... Bb7
( 12... Rb8!?This might have been an improvement, but I would not envy Black's position after: 13. axb5axb514. Qf3 )
( 12... b4The machine recommends this move, but after: 13. Nb1!White will have a clear edge after Nd2 and Nc4. )
( 13. axb5This move was also good. 13... axb514. Rxa8+Bxa815. Bxb5 )
13... h5?!This does prevent g4, but it is far too slow.
( 13... O-OIn hindsight this move was probably preferable, though after: 14. Qf3With g4 soon to follow, the position is very dangerous for Black. )
14. axb5!axb515. Rxa8+Bxa816. Bxb5!Well calculated. 16... Bb4Not a happy move
( 16... cxb517. Nxb5And White should win. )
17. Nd5!No fear
( 17. Bd3This would also have been a very promising continuation, but the move played in the game was more direct. )
17... Nxd518. Qxd5!And neither White piece can be taken because of the double pin. 18... O-O
( 18... cxb519. Qxa8+ )
19. Qc4!Preventing cxb5
( 19. Qb3?cxb5!20. Qxb4Qxc2And the tables have turned. )
19... Qa520. Ba6!White's position looks a little loose, but Black cannot exploit it. White's extra pawn will soon be decisive. 20... Be7
( 20... c521. c3 )
21. Qe2c522. Bd3The dust has settled and White is up a pawn. In addition, Black's kingside is a little exposed. 22... c4
( 22... Qb4The computer evaluates this move as superior, but after: 23. c3Qa424. Bc4I can't imagine Black surviving. )
23. Bxc4Bxe424. Qxh5!Now Black's king is no longer safe. 24... Bxc225. Bg5!Forceful and strong. White is trying to crash through with f6. 25... Qb426. b3!Bxg5
( 26... Bxb327. Bxb3Bxg528. Qxg5Qxb3Black would be fine if he could make an additional move to shore up his defense, but after 29. f6g630. Qh6He would be mated. )
27. Qxg5Re828. h4!Simple and strong. White adds more firepower to the attack! 28... Qf829. f6g630. h5Kh831. Rf3!Rd832. hxg6Bxg633. Qxg6!A pretty finish. After Black takes the queen, White mates by Rh3.
Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 4 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter, has his own site, and is also on Facebook.
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