24 June 2015

The Battle for the Gold in the Amber Capital

Round One review of the Russian Championship Higher League by Eteri Kublashvili.

In June 21 in Kaliningrad, a city of amber and red brick, the Higher League got under way, which is the last qualifier tournament into the Russian Championship Superfinal. As you know, those players in men’s and women’s sections, who rank from first to fifth places, are going to get hold of the coveted tickets to Chita.

In general, participating in the Higher League certainly contributes to expanding one's horizons, since this tournament is always held in one of the most interesting, although rather remote cities of Russia. In the previous year the venue was held in the easternmost part of the country, while this time it moved all the way west.

The Kaliningrad tournament features a lot of positive innovations: for example, increasing the prize fund and including the competition into the international program "Chess in museums", which the RCF is implementing jointly with the Charity Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko. Inclusion into the program allowed for the opening of the tournament to take place in a very intriguing and non-trivial format as the ceremony was held in the fortifications Fort No. 5, which is a museum of the Great Patriotic War. On a day off an extensive children's program is scheduled to take place at the Museum of the World Ocean. Tournament guests can explore the exposition Chess in the Years of War. 1941-1945, brought over from the RCF Chess Museum.

It is worth noting that Kaliningrad, being the host place of the Higher League, is markedly different from all other cities of Russia. With the homeland of Kant being not so extensive in space, you gradually manage to get acquainted with the ancient city, and it should be pointed out that with each sortie into the center the impressions grow even more enjoyable. The reason for that, on the one hand, is in the openness and politeness of the residents of Kaliningrad, the majority of who are well aware of the city’s history and have a lot to share about it. On the other hand, the weather is nice.

Chess players stay and play at the premises of the Baltica hotel, which is referred to as motel by all citizens out of habit established since 1978. The hotel is located on shore of the picturesque lake, while the ride to the center takes about 15 minutes.

The men's section of the competition features 57 players, including one woman – the Olympic champion Olga Girya, whereas the female section of the venue witnesses 39 participants fighting for the prizes.

The first round of the men’s section saw a great deal of draws. Thus, peace was signed in V. Malakhov-D. Lintchevski, I. Rozum-D. Inarkiev, S. Sjugirov-A. Shariyazdanov, U. Eliseev-D. Dubov A. Riazantsev-S. Matsenko, D. Gordievsky-B. Grachev, D. Paravyan-E. Alekseev, D. Kokarev-A. Mokshanov, R. Yanchenko-S. Volkov and K. Rjabzev-A. Gabrielian. The second seed of the tournament Maxim Matlakov succumbed to Aleksei Pridorozhni in a long complex fight, whereas the other rating favorites won their games.

In the women’s section, as usual, the head would roll one after another and only two games (D. Belenkaya-A. Kashlinskaya and E. Ustich-D. Rodionova) out of nineteen ended in a draw. Some sensations, although not that very loud, still occurred. The youngest participant of the tournament, the twelve years old Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, managed to defeat Elena Tomilova in a sharp game. The defeat of Daria Charochkina from Marina Baraeva and that of Tatiana Vasilevich from Evgeniya Sukhareva can be termed a surprise also.

Our site maintains online broadcasting of the games with the aid of the computer program Houdini. Follow the tournament with us.