Hopefully, at least, as the chess didn’t go quite so well for them! The brunette team won the April Fool’s Day blitz match in Moscow’s Central Chess Club by a crushing 20-point margin, with Nazi Paikidze and Daria Charochkina finishing joint first in the individual standings.
I must admit when I first reported on this event I wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t an elaborate April Fool’s joke. The Russians celebrate the day in the same way as much of the rest of the world, with “trust no one!” the motto. However, the wealth of photo and video evidence that’s emerged since the event has removed all doubt.
There were no fewer than three photo reports, by:
The day started off badly for the blonde team when they faced a real struggle simply to find ten players (what does that say about the state of modern Russia?!).
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and it was apparently only a quick visit to the hairdressers that boosted the number of blondes and allowed battle to commence! The tournament consisted of 10 rounds of 5-minute blitz games, with each woman playing every member of the opposing team. Three games each round were played on electronic boards and broadcast live on the internet.
There was no increment, which certainly made for some entertaining time scrambles, not to mention general mayhem:
One of the most enjoyable examples seems to have been the draw between Alina Kashlinskaya and Olga Girya. Here it is as photographed by Evgeny Surov (note Eugene Potemkin, not quite of CNN, is videoing the game):
And here’s the video of the final stages and “post-mortem”!
Although the spectators were perhaps outnumbered by photographers, there were at least two stars (actually, there was also Stanislav Govorukhin, a film director and politician, but Potemkin found him a more difficult interview subject, while Surov noted he answered a phone call during the very first round!).
Eugene Potemkin’s interview with the camera-shy girls revealed (with some help from the adults around) that the girl in red, Masha, is the Moscow Under-8 Champion. Potemkin says near the end, “you’re the best 8-year-old” but, sensing a faux pas, turns to Sasha and adds, “you’re not yet the best, but tomorrow you’ll be the best!”. He notes on his website: “On the 1st April 2021 I’ll wake up famous as one of these girls will have become World Champion, and this will be her first interview”.
One charge you can’t possibly lay at the feet of the blonde team is not having put up a fight. Here’s Maria Fominykh successfully drawing a position against Anastasia Savina which I think you could safely assess as “inferior”:
But it was all to no avail. The final result was a brutal 60.5 – 39.5 victory for the brunettes, with the blonde team only managing to win a single round. The top-3 individuals were also brunettes, with Daria Charochkina winning her last game to reach 8.5/10 and catch Nazi Paikidze, who finished the event unbeaten.
Still, there was something for all, and the blonde team didn’t seem too downhearted.
Admittedly, it’s hard to find a photograph of Gunina without a smile on her face, but there were smiles all round in the final photographs.
The above gives only a taste of the event, so if you want to see more of this unique chess occasion try clicking on the photo and video links at the start of this article!