The Russian teams championship was played in the town of Loo (!) just outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi. As usual, it had generous funding from many oligarchs and featured many foreign stars (a maximum of three non-Russians/ team) along with most of the local big guns. The format was six-board matches in a seven-round Swiss with a total of 18 teams playing the open section.
It concluded with Tomsk-400 (27.5) edging out St Petersburg on board points (25.5) after the two teams tied with equal match scores of 11 each. Less than 40 per cent of games were drawn. The women’s Team Championship was won by Ladya, Kazan. Sergei Karjakin was the top scorer for Tomsk with a TPR of 2896 and 5.5 from 7.
The only league that comes close in terms of strength and funding is the German Bundesliga, where 16 teams of eight players each play off a round-robin. Unlike the Russian Teams, which is crammed into one week in one specific location, the German teams play matches through the year.
OSG Baden-Baden has just clinched the title with 27 matchpoints ahead of Werder Bremen. The final rounds saw one shock result when Anand lost to Sergei Tiviakov in the penultimate round. However the world champion's team rallied to take the title anyway. His Bundesliga engagements were his last commitments before heading to Moscow for his title defence.
After the heavy artillery deployed in Europe, there’s been some relatively light relief at the Bangkok Chess Festival where top seed Nigel Short won with 8 from 9 rounds ahead of Amonatov, Nguyen, Sriram Jha (all 7). Early leader IM Venkatesh failed to maintain form in the second half when he looked certain to score a GM norm.
The diagram, WHITE TO PLAY, (Svidler Vs Morozevich, Russian Team Chps, 2012) is one of the most spectacular draws ever. After a Moro novelty on move 11, Svidler found 13.Bd3! Svidler must have also analysed this at home — he had to see the next seven moves to risk this. 13...Bf6 14.Ne5 Nc6! 15.Qxh7+ 15.Qxc6 is unplayable due to 15...Bxe5 and white gets mated or loses the Bd3 or Bf4. 15...Kf8 16.Qh8+ Ke7 17.Nxc6+ Kd7+ 18.Be5! Kxc6 19.0-0-0!! Both sides have found a sequence of only moves with a mind-boggling number of pieces hanging and mutual mate threats.
Now it burns out 19...Bxe5 20.Be4+ Kc7 21.Rxd8 Rxh8 22.Rxh8 Bf4+! The last trick to ensure that Be4 hangs with check, or else 23. Kd1? Bg4+ After 23.Kc2 Bb7! 24.Bxb7 The zwischenzug 24.Rxa8 Bxe4+ 25.Kd1 Bxa8 is the point. 24...Rxh8 25.Bd5 Rd8 26.Rd1 Bxh2 27.Bxf7 Rf8 28.Bd5 Rxf2+ 29.Rd2 Rxd2+ 30.Kxd2 Be5 31.b3 Bf6 (½-½).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player