Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to push through a wave of exams. Lost in my studies of calculus, theoretical mathematics, and ancient artwork and architecture, chess had to take a backseat for two weeks. What do I mean by backseat? *Zero* chess. So when my last class on Friday let out for Fall Break, I think you can imagine how excited I was to start getting back to the chessboard.
As I mentioned in my last post, I now have less than two weeks until the Ira Lee Middle Pennsylvania State Chess Championships, which looks to be my premier event for this semester.
Luckily for me, my exam stretch ended right before a three-day weekend so I’ve had some time to thoroughly push myself without the immediate stress of exams. Surprisingly, my focus on opening preparation has been minimal.
Given how my recent matches with Beilin have transpired, I’ve decided that calculation is the single most important attribute I can work on right now. Between Saturday and Sunday, I’ve put in fifteen long hours into tactical exercises, endgame studies, and grandmaster game analysis. Extreme is probably the right word here, but I felt it important to jump back into form quickly this weekend so I can make the most of my shorter, daily training sessions once classes start again next week.
Aside from feeling completely exhausted, I can say pushing myself in this way has certainly gotten me back into feeling ready for tournament chess again.
So what will today’s article be about? This is just the second time since the relaunch of Chess^Summit that I don’t have a game of my own to share, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to discuss. Originally, I was leaning towards adding another edition to my Endgame Essentials series, thinking that Ian Nepomniachtchi’s win over Kramnik in the recent Tal Memorial would be a good start.
That changed as I was studying today while listening to the broadcast of the first round of the Russian Chess Championships (not live of course! I do try to get sleep…). There were many interesting games – Svidler beating the European Champion Ernesto Inarkiev, Alexandra Kosteniuk winning an extremely complicated endgame, but a five-hour clash between Vladimir Fedoseev and Nikita Vitiugov caught my attention. Pitted against a Caro-Kann, Fedoseev quickly gained space, held on, and ground out a win in 83 moves – though most of the pieces were left on the board upon Vitiugov’s resignation! Throughout the broadcast, commentator GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko would get to this game, say “positional masterpiece” and just move on – Fedoseev made it seem that simple!
So I decided to cover this game in today’s post for a number of reasons. First, being a Caro, I figured it would be nice to contribute to the discussion my Chess^Summit colleague Beilin has started with many of his own posts. Secondly, I admire Fedoseev’s patience in this game. Once it was clear Vitiugov was stuck to his own defenses, the Russian Grandmaster even took the luxury of taking a long walk with his king, just to ensure it’s safety before looking for ways to convert the point. If you like positional chess at all, you will really like this game too! Lastly, since this game lacks a lot of flashy tactics and dynamic play, I’m worried that this game might disappear after the initial round report, and perhaps just be a footnote for theory. But I’ll let you be the judge of how much this game should be appreciated!
Given that as I write this only a single round has finished in the Russsian Chess Championships, I so far like Svidler’s chances to win the tournament, already having defeated Ernesto Inarkiev, but also still fresh off of appearances at the Sinquefield Cup and Tal Memorial. Dmitry Jakovenko should be a strong dark horse, but I haven’t heard much about strong performances from him since he shared first in the final leg of the FIDE Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansysk nearly two years ago. Alexander Riazantsev was impressive in his win too, but I would like to seem him play Svidler or Tomashevsky before I pass any judgment on his play – his win over Bocharov seemed to derive more his opponent’s inability to handle the early middlegame. With all twelve contestants rated over 2600, this should be an interesting tournament to watch unfold, and likely even the most exciting event until November.
When I come out with my next post, I will have just finished my final round at the Pennsylvania Chess Championships. Hopefully, I can bring back some good news and make up for some of my late summer performances. With exams out of the way, I can look forward to going back to a regular schedule – physical exercise, tactics, opening preparation – needless to say, I’m quite excited! And maybe, just maybe, I can really start thinking about reaching master again…