First Russian-only Titled Arena won by Vladimir Fedoseev


Calm down everybody, the title is a joke, Russians weren’t the only ones allowed to play in Saturday's Titled Arena, just the only ones allowed to finish at the top. This also wasn’t enforced by a formal rule of the competition but instead by the quality of the Russian players.

The top 3 finishers, and 6.5 of the top 10 were Russians. (American GM Daniel Naroditsky has Russian heritage) The final hour was a back-and-forth battle between GM Vladimir Fedoseev and GM Vladislav Artemiev with Fedoseev eventually coming out on top by a slim margin. Slightly behind them was their countryman GM Dmitry Andreikin in 3rd. Taking 4rd and 5th were GMs Aravindh Chithambaram and Mustafa Yılmaz.

The head-to-head matchup of the top 2 was made more interesting by their divergent strategies. Fedoseev berserked every game but 2. (Both against Artemiev) and Artemiev only berserked one game. (a prisoner’s dilemma game with Fedoseev) Artemiev’s performance rating was 200 points higher but he played 13 fewer games. 

Russia truly is the strongest chess country by a mile, a fact that is obscured by the decision of the Chess Olympiad to only use 4 players on each team. That was the format in 2018 when Russia finished 3rd behind China and the US. In a theoretical Olympiad with 100 players per team it’s almost impossible that Russia would lose. It will never happen of course, paying for 100 players would cost Olympiad organizers (and Rex Sinquefield!) a fortune. 

Russia has a lot of good chess players.