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. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 Na6 8. a3 d5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. b4 c6 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. Qb3 Ne6 13. a4 Rb8 14. Ba3 c5 15. Rad1 c4 16. Qb2 Re8 17. b5 Ne4 18. Bxe7 Qxe7 19. e3 Nxc3 20. Qxc3 Nc7 Black 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... dxe4 22. Ne5 Qe6 23. Qxc4 Qxc4 24. Nxc4 Rbd8 25. Ne5 The 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... Ne6 It looks as if White will lose his pawn on d4, but...
26... Rc8 27. Nc4! And Black would lose a lot of material.  )
27. bxa6! Removing the defender of c6
27... Bxa6
27... Ba8 28. Bxe4 Would have been even worse.  )
28. Nc6! Rd6 29. Bxe4 The 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. Nxd4 Rxd4 31. Bd3! A pretty tactic. Black resigned as he cannot save his bishop as well as protect his back rank.
31... Rxe1+
31... Ra8 32. Bxa6 Rxa6 33. Re8#  )
32. Rxe1 Bxd3
32... g6 33. Bxa6  )
33. Re8#
Giri, Anish vs. Episenko, Andrey
Russian Team Championships | Sochi RUS | Round 7.1 | 08 May 2017 | 0-1
23. Raf1 Black 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... Raf8 This more-sober move was playable, but after:
24. Nge4! Rg2 25. Rxf8+ Kxf8 26. Rf1+ Ke7 27. Rf2! White should be better. The bishop on g7 is not very good.  )
24. Nxe2 Nb4! 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. Kc3 White immediately returns the exchange to neutralize the pressure.
25... Bxe2 26. Kxb4 Bxf1 27. Rxf1 Black's piece activity is greater than it was before.:
27... Bh6! Menacing the pawn on e3
28. Rf5
28. Ne4 Bxe3  )
28... Rf8! Black loses the pawn on e5, but his pieces quickly spring to life.
29. Rxe5 Bg7! Well played. White cannot play Re7 without losing a piece.
30. Ra5
30. Re7 Bf6  )
30... Re8! 31. Rxa7 For the moment, white is up two pawns, but after:
31... h6! The White knight is driven back.
32. Nf3 Rxe3! Black again gains a tempo. Black is now only down one pawn and his piece activity is very impressive.
33. Nh4 Bf8+ 34. Ka5?!
34. Kc4 b5+ 35. Kd4 Rxg3 36. Nf5 Should 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. a3 Rxb2  )
36... Rb4+ 37. Ka5 Kf7! Bringing the king closer to the action. White is in danger of being mated.
38. Nf3 Rb5+ 39. Ka4 Rb4+ 40. Ka5 Bc5! Of course Black avoids a draw.
41. Ra8 Ke6 42. Nd2?
42. Ne1 This move was more resilient,though after:
42... Bd6 43. Nd3 Rd4 44. Nf4+ Kd7 Black would still be better.  )
42... Rb5+! 43. Ka4 Be7! Very accurate. Black was not ready to play Kd7.
43... Kd7 44. Ra5! This resource will not work in the game.  )
44. Nf3
44. Ra5 Rb4+ 45. Ka3  )
44... Rb4+ 45. Ka5 Kd7! Once Black plays Kc7, the White king will run out of escape squares
46. Nd2
46. Ne5+ Kc7 47. Nxc6 This was the best attempt, but Black should still win after:
47... Kxc6 48. Rc8+ Kd5  )
46... Kc7 47. Nf3 Re4! 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. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Nxc6 dxc6 9. f4 e5 10. Kh1 Bd6 11. f5 I 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... b5 But 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. axb5 axb5 14. Qf3  )
12... b4 The machine recommends this move, but after:
13. Nb1! White will have a clear edge after Nd2 and Nc4.  )
13. Be3
13. axb5 This move was also good.
13... axb5 14. Rxa8+ Bxa8 15. Bxb5  )
13... h5?! This does prevent g4, but it is far too slow.
13... O-O In hindsight this move was probably preferable, though after:
14. Qf3 With g4 soon to follow, the position is very dangerous for Black.  )
14. axb5! axb5 15. Rxa8+ Bxa8 16. Bxb5! Well calculated.
16... Bb4 Not a happy move
16... cxb5 17. Nxb5 And White should win.  )
17. Nd5! No fear
17. Bd3 This would also have been a very promising continuation, but the move played in the game was more direct.  )
17... Nxd5 18. Qxd5! And neither White piece can be taken because of the double pin.
18... O-O
18... cxb5 19. Qxa8+  )
19. Qc4! Preventing cxb5
19. Qb3? cxb5! 20. Qxb4 Qxc2 And the tables have turned.  )
19... Qa5 20. Ba6! White's position looks a little loose, but Black cannot exploit it. White's extra pawn will soon be decisive.
20... Be7
20... c5 21. c3  )
21. Qe2 c5 22. Bd3 The dust has settled and White is up a pawn. In addition, Black's kingside is a little exposed.
22... c4
22... Qb4 The computer evaluates this move as superior, but after:
23. c3 Qa4 24. Bc4 I can't imagine Black surviving.  )
23. Bxc4 Bxe4 24. Qxh5! Now Black's king is no longer safe.
24... Bxc2 25. Bg5! Forceful and strong. White is trying to crash through with f6.
25... Qb4 26. b3! Bxg5
26... Bxb3 27. Bxb3 Bxg5 28. Qxg5 Qxb3 Black would be fine if he could make an additional move to shore up his defense, but after
29. f6 g6 30. Qh6 He would be mated.  )
27. Qxg5 Re8 28. h4! Simple and strong. White adds more firepower to the attack!
28... Qf8 29. f6 g6 30. h5 Kh8 31. Rf3! Rd8 32. hxg6 Bxg6 33. 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.