At the height of the Soviet dominance of chess, the legendary USSR club championship – called the Spartakiad – was the highlight of the year as the most demanding and strongest team event outside of the biennial Chess Olympiad, where even the world champion of the day and his title challengers had to
The tradition continues today, although the state support that once bankrolled the game has been replaced by western-styled financial backing for teams from oligarchies, banks and utility companies.
However, one of the top teams to emerge in Russia following the collapse of Communism, Tomsk 400, the multi-time European club champions, failed to secure financial backing this year, so could not compete for the first time in 20 years.
Despite their absence, the competition is as strong as ever, with many of the favourites fielding world top 20 stars such as Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Alexander Grischuk, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Peter Svidler, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Morozevich, Peter Leko, Gata Kamsky and Dmitry Jakovenko.
One of the big upsets of the early rounds saw Baadur Jobava giving world No 5 Sergey Karjakin a bad day at the office with a modern-day twist in a 19th century opening.
B Jobava - S Karjakin
20th Russian Team Ch., (2)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 c3 Nf6 5 d4 exd4 6 e5 d5 7 Be2 Ne4 8 cxd4 Bb4+ 9 Bd2 Nxd2 10 Nbxd2 0–0 11 0–0 f6 12 Rc1 Kh8 13 Nb3 Bg4 14 a3 Be7 15 Re1 fxe5 16 dxe5 Rf4 17 h3 Bh5 18 Nc5 Bxc5 19 Rxc5 d4 20 e6 Bg6 21 Bd3 Qf6 22 Ng5 Ne7 23 Bxg6 hxg6 24 Ne4 Qxe6 25 Ng5 Qf6 26 Re6 Qf8 27 Rxg6! Rh4 28 Ne6 1–0