These days there's hardly a full week without top chess being played somewhere on the planet. With the Isle of Man tournament just behind us, two new events with some big names are approaching. Soon we'll pay attention to the Hoogeveen festival in The Netherlands, but today we will preview the Russian Championship.
The Superfinal of the Russian Championship (this is the 69th!) takes place October 15-27 at the Novosibirsk State Museum of Local History (pictured). In Russia, the national championship is a pretty strong round robin!
It's good to see top-seed Alexander Grischuk, the winner in 2009, back at the chess board again after he missed out on the Tal Memorial. The winner of that tournament, Ian Nepomniachtchi, is absent this time. He told Chess.com that he declined to play the Higher League due to a busy calendar, and therefore didn't qualify. Also absent are Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin—the latter for obvious reasons.
Peter Svidler has famously won the Russian championship seven times (1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013) so it will be interesting to see if he can get to eight this time, a real chess number. Evgeny Tomashevsky is the reigning champion, and the tournament could also be a stepping stone for two young stars, Vladimir Fedoseev and Grigoriy Oparin, the winner of the Higher League.
The women's championship, held for the 66th time, is relatively stronger as it includes e.g. the full line-up of the 2016 Olympic team. Although Alexandra Kosteniuk has earned a lot of titles, including the highest possible (world champion), she has only won the national championship once, in 2005. Valentina Gunina is a three-time champion, while Aleksandra Goryachkina is the reigning champion, and Natalija Pogonina is another former winner. (The latter pointed out in the comments that Alisa Galliamova also won three times!)
The total prize fund of the Superfinal is nine million rubles (roughly €130,000 or $143,000). This year the winners of both tournaments will also receive a special prize: a Renault Kaptur. This is related to a partnership between Renault Russia and the Russian Chess Federation agreed to back in May.
Let's hope the players get to ride in their car a bit longer than Sergey Karjakin, who "won" a BMW at the Candidates' Tournament ... for a day.