The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi first came to prominence by becoming the desired holiday destination for the leadership during Soviet times, after Joseph Stalin built a dacha there. Nowadays, Sochi has become the pre-eminent venue for events of different types in Russia, and last year it of course hosted the Winter Olympics - and matches are scheduled there for the 2018 football World Cup.
Sochi also has a rich chess history. Last year, it was the venue for the world championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand. In the past, it has hosted numerous Russian and Soviet championships, as well as a string of strong Russian and Soviet team events. There has also been several FIDE Grands Prix and World Cups held in Sochi. And in Soviet times, it was the venue for a very strong series of memorials honouring Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908), regarded as the founding father of the Russian school of chess, the forerunner of the Soviet School of Chess.
The latest major chess event in Sochi is the very strong and ongoing Russian Team Championship, that takes place there 1st to 7th May. This is now a professional league with lots of sponsors and money, with top foreign players - and many returning ex-Russian/Soviets - in the mix with many of Russia’s top elite players, including Alexander Grischuk, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Dmitry Jakovenko, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Nikita Vitiugov, Peter Svidler, and the former US champion Gata Kamsky.
One of the early-round highlights proved to be the all-Russian top-board clash between former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and seven-time Russian champion Peter Svidler.
Vladimir Kramnik - Peter Svidler
Russian Team Championship, (2)
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 g6 4.b3 Bg7 5.Bb2 c5 6.c4 d4 The game resembles a reversed sort of Benoni - but the main difference is that White has an extra move, and uses it to breakdown Black's pawns on c5 and d4. 7.b4 Nfd7 8.0-0 Nc6 9.bxc5 0-0 10.d3 Nxc5 11.Nbd2 Rb8 12.Ba3! Qa5 Black has to be careful, as he can easily fall into a difficult position after the natural looking 12...b6?! 13.Bxc5 bxc5 14.Ne4! Qa5 15.Nfd2 Rb2 (Everything else loses the c5-pawn) 16.Nb3 Qa3 17.Qc1! Nb4 18.Rb1 Rxa2 19.Qxa3 Rxa3 20.Nbxc5 with a serious advantage. 13.Qc1 Na4 14.Nb3 Qc7?! A somewhat meek reply - a better way looks like the more active 14...Qh5! 15.Qg5 Qxg5 16.Nxg5 Nc3 17.Rfe1 Bg4 and White - with all of Black's pieces active - has to be careful, as he could easily lose this. 15.Qc2 Bd7 16.Rae1 Getting the rook out of any potential issues down the g7-a1 diagonal, and also looking to play e3. 16...Rfd8 17.e3 dxe3 18.fxe3! Just look now how all of White's pieces are now actively placed, compaired to how awkward Black's pieces are. 18...h6 Black had to waste a bit more time stopping Ng5. 19.d4 Bf5 20.e4 Bg4 21.e5 Nb6 22.Nh4 Much stronger was 22.Qe4! 22...Nxd4 23.Qf2 Qxc4? Black is now in 'panic mode' - his only hope was 23...Nf5 24.h3 Nxh4 25.Qxf7+ Kh8 26.gxh4 Bf5 27.Bd6 Qxc4 28.Qxc4 Nxc4 29.Bxb8 Rxb8 and Black has excellent drawing chances with his active pieces and White's pawns being shattered and isolated. 24.Re4 Be6 25.Nxd4 Bd5 (See Diagram) 26.Ne6! Bxe6 27.Rxc4 Nxc4 28.Bxe7 Rd2 29.Qxa7 Black has no answer to White hoovering up all the pawns on the queenside. 29...Bxe5 30.Nf3 Bc7 and Black resigns, as there is no easy reply to the simple 31 Kh1. 1-0