Russian Higher League: Lysyj and Girya win

The Russian Higher League finished with a flurry as many of the strongest Russian players fought for both a spot on the podium, and more importantly a seat in the Super Final later this year. For many this was both one and the same, since five players would pass the test of fire, but not all, since even a fourth or fifth place would be good for the coveted prize.

In the men's competition, Fedoseev had been the surprise leader after six rounds with a tremendous 5.0/6, however, his fifteen minutes of fame ended in round seven as he ran into a brick wall called Dmitry Jakovenko, also the top seed. Unfortunately for the young player, he was unable to recover from this misfortune, and after a draw in round eight he succumbed in round nine to Vadim Zvjaginsev in a  crucial game which led Vadim to a second-place finish while the teenager ended in tenth place outside the qualifiers.

Vladimir Fedoseev fell to tournament favorite Dmitry Jakovenko

Dmitry Jakovenko (left) drew against Igor Lysyj

In first place was Igor Lysyj (2670) who had a fantastic event and was always among the leaders, waiting to be awarded for his strong, solid performance, finishing with 6.5/9 and a 2788 performance. He gained 16 Elo-points, and will be very close to joining the elite 2700s. In third was top-seed Dmitry Jakovenko, also with 6.5/9, performing roughly according to rating, and whose key win in round seven was sufficient to ensure his place on the podium and in the Super Final.

Always in the top, Igor Lysyj scored an important victory and feather in his cap

The last two qualifiers were Denis Khismatullin (2671), with 6.0/9, who has had an up-and-down past year, but without question more up than down. Finally Boris Grachev completed the qualifiers, also on 6.0/9.

Final men's standings

The women's competition had much the same stringent conditions, but was dominated by Olga Girya throughout the tournament, having defeated her closest rival Alina Kashlinskaya in round five. While Girya completed her superb performance with a 7.5/9 result and first place, Kashlinskaya caught up with her at the end, in spite of the loss, and also scored 7.5/9, losing out on tiebreak.

Olga Girya had a flawless event, defeating her closest rivals

One point and a half behind and also qualifying were Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, who was third, Oksana Gritsayeva, fourth, and 15-year-old Aleksandra Goryachkina, all on 6.0/9. For Daria Pustovoitova, it will have been a bittersweet result as she also was in the group with 6.0/9, but lost just barely on tiebreak and finished in sixth, outside the qualifying circle.

Final women's standings:

Pictures by Evgeny Vashenyak and Eteri Kublashvili