A Man and A Woman

by John Saunders
1/28/2017 – After four rounds of the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters 2017, we have only two players on 4.0/4: ACP President and Israeli grandmaster Emil Sutovsky and Women's World Championship Challenger Ju Wenjun. Emil beat Nikita Vitiugov in a complex Ruy Lopez Breyer, while Wenjun got the better of Sam Shankland in a Benoni. There are 14 players with a score of 3.5/4 including MVL, Adams, Nakamura and Gelfand. We have an illustrated report with photos, videos and analysis sent to us by John Saunders.

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Pictures by John Saunders and Sophie Triay

Emil Sutovsky and Ju Wenjun lead with 4.0/4

The leadership in the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters has been whittled down from nine to two as Ju Wenjun (China) and Emil Sutovsky (Israel) are now the only players to have maintained maximum scores after the fourth round, played on 27 January 2017. They will meet in round five, with Ju Wenjun having the white pieces.

Emil Sutovsky beat Nikita Vitiugov in round four

The gloves were off in round four as the higher rated started to assert themselves and there were a few more decisive results amongst the leading encounters. The only significant exception was Emil Sutovsky's victory over Nikita Vitiugov, though Sutovsky's 2628 rating doesn't really reflect his true class. Like Vitiugov he is a former winner of the Tradewise Gibraltar tournament and he remains a dangerous and imaginative opponent against anyone. In their game Vitiugov went in for an exchange for two pawns sacrifice (if that can be construed as a sacrifice) which analysis engines also thought was playable, but Sutovsky demonstrated otherwise in a forceful series of moves up to the time control, neutralising Black's two bishops and establishing his own knight on a dominating square. An interesting game which includes a few exceptions to general positional principles.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Caleta Hotel"] [Date "2017.01.27"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Sutovsky, Emil"] [Black "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C95"] [WhiteElo "2628"] [BlackElo "2724"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bh4 g6 16. N3d2 c6 17. Qf3 Bg7 18. Ne3 Qb6 19. Bxf6 Nxf6 20. dxe5 dxe5 21. b4 c5 22. Nb3 cxb4 23. cxb4 Rad8 24. Nc5 Rd4 25. a3 Red8 26. Ng4 Nxg4 27. hxg4 Bc8 28. Bb3 Qf6 29. Bd5 {[#]} Qf4 ({Engines approve of the text move but, somewhere beyond their horizon, there prove to be problems. Engines also toy with} 29... Bxg4 $5 {, which is very tricky, but it may also run in difficulties after} 30. Qxg4 $5 R8xd5 31. Nb3 Rc4 32. Na5 {, etc.} Rcd4 33. Nc6 Qxc6 34. exd5 Qxd5 35. Qc8+ Kh7 $11) 30. Nb3 {Now Black is obliged to give up the exchange for two pawns.} R4xd5 31. exd5 Bxg4 32. Qxf4 exf4 33. Rac1 Bb2 $6 ({Things start to go wrong after this as White is now able to defend and maintain his shaky-looking d-pawn.} 33... Rxd5 {probably equalises, though White can still put pressure on the weak a and f pawns.}) 34. Rc5 Bxa3 35. Re4 g5 36. Na5 {[#]Normally it is undesirable to be compelled to defend isolated pawns with rooks, and still more so to put the knight on the edge of the board, but here White's position hangs together rather well and Black's two bishops aren't that great either.} Bb2 37. Nc6 {A knight on the rim may sometimes be dim but when it gets to c6, it can deliver hard kicks.} Rd6 38. Ne7+ Kf8 39. Rc6 Rd7 40. Rxa6 {The threat of Ra8+ indirectly defends the apparently loose knight on e7.} Rc7 41. Nc6 Rd7 42. Re8+ {The point of this pretty tactic (if Black captures, White mates in two) is to force the black king away from the d-pawn's march forward.} Kg7 43. Rd8 {Another reversal of usual positional expectations as the rook supports the advance of the d-pawn from the 'wrong' side.} Rxd8 44. Nxd8 Bf5 (44... Be5 45. Ra7 Bh5 46. Rb7 {and the b-pawn drops off. Black's two bishops are curiously impotent in the face of White's threats. }) 45. d6 Bc3 (45... Be5 46. Nc6 {is equally hopeless since} Bxd6 {loses a piece to} 47. Nd4 {, attaching both bishops at once.}) 46. Nc6 Kf6 47. Ra7 { Now White simply marches the d-pawn through.} 1-0

Warning to Future Opponents: Never Capture Ju Wenjun's e-pawn

The Benoni System was looking extremely comfortable for Sam Shankland who had the black pieces, until he blundered big time!

It is perhaps unchivalrous to say so but for the second day running Ju Wenjun was the beneficiary of a major blunder by her opponent. Sam Shankland had given up a piece for considerable compensation, which might have been even better but then, despite a five-minute think and still having plenty of time left until the time control, inexplicably overlooked a none too difficult tactic. The parallel between Ju Wenjun's third and fourth round games was rather spooky – both of her opponent's blunders involved capturing a hot e-pawn.

[Event "Gibraltar Masters"] [Site "Caleta Hotel"] [Date "2017.01.27"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Ju, Wenjun"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A62"] [WhiteElo "2583"] [BlackElo "2674"] [Annotator "Saunders,John"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Re1 Nbd7 11. Bf4 Ng4 12. Rc1 (12. h3 Nge5 {was the continuation in a couple of games in 2016, both involving at least one Chinese player.}) 12... Nde5 13. Ne4 Bf5 14. Nfd2 h6 15. h3 Nf6 16. Nc3 Rb8 17. g4 Bc8 18. Bg3 b5 19. b3 a6 20. f4 {[#]} Nexg4 $1 {The boldest continuation. Black gets plenty of positional compensation, as well as two pawns, for the piece.} 21. hxg4 Nxg4 22. Nf3 Ne3 $6 (22... b4 {first looks more forceful. After} 23. Na4 Ne3 24. Qd2 {Black has the possibility of} c4 $5 {when} 25. bxc4 $2 Qa5 { would leave White in great difficulties.}) 23. Qd2 Bb7 24. Bf2 Nxg2 25. Kxg2 b4 26. Nd1 Qd7 27. Rc4 a5 28. Ne3 $6 (28. e4 {looks more natural.}) 28... Ba6 29. Rcc1 Re4 30. Nc4 Bc3 ({It seems a shame to take the exchange since Black comes to miss the considerable dominance afforded by the dark-squared bishop on the long diagonal.} 30... Bxc4 31. bxc4 a4 {looks quite pleasant for Black.}) 31. Rxc3 bxc3 32. Qxc3 Bxc4 33. bxc4 Rxf4 34. Bg3 Rg4 35. Kf2 Qe7 36. e4 {[#]As in the previous round Ju Wenjun offers her opponent a hot e-pawn and she must have been both amazed and delighted to see lightning strike twice.} Rxe4 $4 37. Bxd6 $1 {This barely merits an exclamation mark. I like to think even a player of my limited powers could have found this shot since there is hardly anything to calculate.} Qxd6 38. Rxe4 g5 {True, Black has three connected passed pawns but they do not constitute compensation here since White's advanced d-pawn is poised to get the job done rather sooner.} 39. Qe5 Qf8 (39... Qxe5 40. Nxe5 Rd8 41. Nd3 {and it is all rather easy.}) 40. Re2 Rd8 {Making White's task a little easier though there was nothing to be done anyway.} 41. Nxg5 hxg5 42. Qxg5+ Kh7 43. Re4 1-0

14 players are now on 3½/4 including four of the elite players, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Hikaru Nakamura, Mickey Adams and Boris Gelfand, and the women's world champion Hou Yifan, with the rest of the 2700+ rated players on 3.0/4. It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that last year's winner emerged from the 3.0/4 pack so everyone is still well in contention. Swiss system tournaments are all about how you fare in the home straight.

Photos and videos gallery

Hou Yifan coming to the playing hall with her mother Wang Qian. All of Hou Yifan's opponents have been women players! In the fifth round she is playing against Michael Adams.

Interview with Hou Yifan

Thank God I have the b2 bishop! Laurent Fressinet was able to defend against Anna Muzychuk's reckless attack and turn the tables around thanks to his powerful dark squared bishop.

The first round draw seems to have really woken up Nigel as he powered to 3.5/4, with three consecutive victories

Boris Gelfand managed to overcome G.N. Gopal and moved to 3.5/4

GM S.P. Sethuraman beat Nino Batsiashvili to move to 3.5/4

The core team of the Gibraltar Masters: Sophie Triay, Tania Sachdev, Stuart Conquest and Suzie Bath

Top pairings and results of Round 4

Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts. Res. Pts. Ti. Name FED Rtg
GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2652 3 ½-½ 3 GM Adams Michael ENG 2751
GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2628 3 1-0 3 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2724
GM Lagarde Maxime FRA 2594 3 ½-½ 3 GM Zvjaginsev Vadim RUS 2679
GM Ju Wenjun CHN 2583 3 1-0 3 GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2674
GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2796 1-0 3 GM Piorun Kacper POL 2651
GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2606 ½-½ GM Caruana Fabiano USA 2827
GM Gledura Benjamin HUN 2589 0-1 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2785
GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2738 ½-½ GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2613
GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2721 1-0 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2579
GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2701 ½-½ GM Blomqvist Erik SWE 2574
GM Huzman Alexander ISR 2557 ½-½ GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2689
GM Short Nigel D ENG 2675 1-0 GM Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2564
GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2660 1-0 GM Muzychuk Anna UKR 2558
GM Schroeder Jan-Christian GER 2550 ½-½ GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2657
GM Howell David W L ENG 2655 1-0 GM Mastrovasilis Athanasios GRE 2551
GM Hou Yifan CHN 2651 1-0 GM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2546
GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2650 1-0 IM Liang Awonder USA 2496
GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2637 1-0 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2492
FM Garriga Cazorla Pere ESP 2386 0-1 GM Akobian Varuzhan USA 2633
GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2752 2 1-0 2 IM Cheng Bobby AUS 2452
GM Svidler Peter RUS 2748 2 1-0 2 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2447
IM Kantor Gergely HUN 2448 2 0-1 2 GM Topalov Veselin BUL 2739
GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2684 2 1-0 2 IM Kuipers Stefan NED 2414
GM Khotenashvili Bela GEO 2430 2 0-1 2 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2645
IM Carlstedt Jonathan GER 2413 2 1-0 2 GM Oparin Grigoriy RUS 2625
GM Edouard Romain FRA 2613 2 1-0 2 IM Vega Gutierrez Sabrina ESP 2406
FM Jessel Stephen IRL 2382 2 0-1 2 GM Lalith Babu M R IND 2587
GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel ROU 2572 2 1-0 2 FM Ladron De Guevara Pinto Paolo ESP 2386
GM Vazquez Igarza Renier ESP 2572 2 1-0 2 IM Herman Matthew J USA 2383
GM Donchenko Alexander GER 2559 2 ½-½ 2 IM Godart Francois BEL 2381
GM Libiszewski Fabien FRA 2545 2 1-0 2 WGM Gara Ticia HUN 2378
IM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs MGL 2390 2 ½-½ 2 GM Spraggett Kevin CAN 2542
GM Lagno Kateryna RUS 2530 2 1-0 2 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2375
  Henderson De La Fuente Lance ESP 2380 2 ½-½ 2 GM Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G ESP 2527
GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2524 2 0-1 2 GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan SCO 2370
FM Kozak Adam HUN 2376 2 ½-½ 2 GM Lemos Damian ARG 2516
GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2512 2 1-0 2 IM Omar Noaman UAE 2369
FM Shachar Ehud ISR 2374 2 ½-½ 2 GM Narciso Dublan Marc ESP 2508
IM Derakhshani Dorsa IRI 2370 2 ½-½ 2 IM Aryan Chopra IND 2503
IM Kollars Dmitrij GER 2500 2 ½-½ 2 IM Lazarne Vajda Szidonia HUN 2364
IM Bellahcene Bilel FRA 2493 2 ½-½ 2 IM Sahl Bjarke NOR 2363
FM Thavandiran Shiyam CAN 2367 2 0-1 2 GM Cuenca Jimenez Jose Fernando ESP 2492
GM Paehtz Thomas GER 2365 2 0-1 2 IM Dragnev Valentin AUT 2492
IM Krysa Leandro ARG 2491 2 ½-½ 2 WGM Papp Petra HUN 2352
IM Vuilleumier Alexandre SUI 2347 2 ½-½ 2 IM Steinberg Nitzan ISR 2486
FM Rakesh Kumar Jena IND 2335 2 0-1 2 IM Kobo Ori ISR 2482
GM Debashis Das IND 2472 2 1-0 2 FM Wantiez Fabrice BEL 2312
IM Mannion Stephen R SCO 2326 2 1-0 2 IM Esserman Marc USA 2468
IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2468 2 1-0 2 FM Loh Zachary AUS 2291
IM Ider Borya FRA 2463 2 1-0 2   Gonzalez Gonzalez Alfonso ESP 2162
IM Welling Gerard NED 2314 2 ½-½ 2 GM Cramling Pia SWE 2454
FM Tate Alan SCO 2309 2 ½-½ GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2593
FM Webb Laurence E ENG 2313 0-1 GM Kaidanov Gregory S USA 2572
IM Santos Ruiz Miguel ESP 2484 1-0 IM Sodoma Jan CZE 2344
IM Povah Nigel E ENG 2298 0-1 IM Salomon Johan NOR 2470
GM Riff Jean-Noel FRA 2468 1-0 FM Gulamali Kazim USA 2341
FM Buchenau Frank GER 2274 0-1 IM Almagro Llamas Pablo ESP 2466
FM Bach Matthias GER 2264 ½-½ IM Kantans Toms LAT 2456
FM De Francesco Klaus GER 2252 0-1 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2452
  Serarols Mabras Bernat ESP 2242 ½-½ IM Zatonskih Anna USA 2443
  Pinho Paulo POR 2220 0-1 GM Womacka Mathias GER 2435
  Bujnoch Radek CZE 2233 ½-½ IM Sarkar Justin USA 2428
IM Wemmers Xander NED 2424 1-0 FM Bergstrom Rolf SWE 2268
  Galmandakh Badrakh MGL 2215 ½-½ GM Sundararajan Kidambi IND 2420
IM Karavade Eesha IND 2418 ½-½   Gluhovsky Mark RUS 2263
FM Pustovoitova Daria RUS 2407 1-0   Verneuil Pascal FRA 2215
IM Docx Stefan BEL 2405 1-0 FM Baert Andy BEL 2210
  Villar Reymundo Juan Antonio PER 2212 1-0 FM Perez Garcia Alejandro ESP 2398
  Semprun Martinez Fernando ESP 2174 0-1 FM Guerra Rivera Salvador ESP 2389
IM Milliet Sophie FRA 2387 1-0   Chan Kim Yew MAS 2152
FM Alberto Manuel ANG 2168 0-1 WGM Tsolakidou Stavroula GRE 2387
FM Mihajlov Sebastian NOR 2384 1-0 FM Derakhshani Borna IRI 2195
  Skutta Bernd Dr. GER 1957 1-0 IM Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel MGL 2378
IM Siva Mahadevan IND 2356 ½-½   Burrows Martin P ENG 2124
  Herzwurm Robert GER 2143 0-1 1 IM Bellin Robert ENG 2353
GM Mikhalevski Victor ISR 2504 1 1-0 1   Bendayan Claros Aaron ESP 2128
IM Szabo Bence HUN 2378 1 ½-½ 1   Finsterwalder Sebastian GER 2130
  Kulkarni Rakesh IND 2344 1 1-0 1   Seraoui Mohcen ALG 2100
  Seyfried Claus GER 2152 1 ½-½ 1 IM Piasetski Leon CAN 2327
FM Weeramantry Sunil SRI 2129 1 0-1 1 FM De Haan Eric NED 2319
  Whatley Stephen A J GIB 2127 1 0-1 1 FM Lombaers Peter NED 2314
  Behrendt Clemens GER 2121 1 1-0 1 IM Saravanan V. IND 2306
FM Lopez Mulet Inigo ESP 2304 1 1-0 1   Compton Alistair NZL 2094
WFM Haussernot Cecile FRA 2108 1 0-1 1 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa IRI 2303
  Agbabishvili Lali CAN 2095 1 ½-½ 1 WIM Kantane Anna POL 2259
FM Sanchez Jerez Emilio Miguel ESP 2257 1 1-0 1   Lochte Thomas GER 2070
  Korning Peter SWE 2080 1 ½-½ 1 FM Plotkin Victor CAN 2253
  Eagleton Greg T ENG 2055 1 0-1 1 WIM Pratyusha Bodda IND 2247
  Hewson Brian Wr ENG 2055 1 ½-½ 1 FM Bannink Bernard NED 2244
FM Cordes Hans-Joerg Dr. GER 2242 1 ½-½ 1   Suez-Panama Gilles FRA 2010
  Dasaolu Rotimi NGR 2051 1 1-0 1   Weisbuch Udi ISR 2240
  Vea Odin Blikra NOR 2234 1 1-0 1 FM Odeh Kenneth NGR 1969
  Carlsten Peter SWE 2047 1 0-1 1 FM Damia Angelo ITA 2233
  Vilarnovo Caamano Jose ESP 2009 1 0-1 1 WIM Heinemann Josefine GER 2227
  Amgalanbaatar Ravdanlkhumbuu MGL 1988 1 ½-½ 1 IM Gluckman David RSA 2215
CM Herbold Manfred GER 2198 1 1-0 1   Roman Lopez Jesus ESP 1962
  Tscharotschkin Michael GER 2190 1 1-0 1   Minnema Rens NED 1893
FM Press Shaun PNG 1970 1 ½-½ 1 CM Osuna Vega Enrique ESP 2181
  Aroven Mikael SWE 2172 1 ½-½ 1   Newbry Benjamin J USA 1879
  Mueller-Dehn Christian Dr. GER 2170 1 1-0 1   Gravett Alan D ENG 1820

Top pairings/Results Round 5 on 2017/01/28 at 15.00

Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts. Res. Pts. Ti. Name FED Rtg
GM Ju Wenjun CHN 2583 4   4 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2628
GM Howell David W L ENG 2655   GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2796
GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2785   GM Iturrizaga Bonelli Eduardo VEN 2652
GM Adams Michael ENG 2751   GM Hou Yifan CHN 2651
GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2650   GM Gelfand Boris ISR 2721
GM Zvjaginsev Vadim RUS 2679   GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2637
GM Akobian Varuzhan USA 2633   GM Short Nigel D ENG 2675
GM Lagarde Maxime FRA 2594   GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2660
GM Caruana Fabiano USA 2827 3   3 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. RUS 2580
GM Lalith Babu M R IND 2587 3   3 GM Ivanchuk Vassily UKR 2752
GM Blomqvist Erik SWE 2574 3   3 GM Svidler Peter RUS 2748
GM Topalov Veselin BUL 2739 3   3 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel ROU 2572
GM Vazquez Igarza Renier ESP 2572 3   3 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2738
GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2724 3   3 GM Huzman Alexander ISR 2557
GM Schroeder Jan-Christian GER 2550 3   3 GM Naiditsch Arkadij AZE 2702
GM Cuenca Jimenez Jose Fernando ESP 2492 3   3 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2701
GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2689 3   3 GM Libiszewski Fabien FRA 2545
IM Dragnev Valentin AUT 2492 3   3 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2684
GM Shankland Samuel L USA 2674 3   3 GM Debashis Das IND 2472
GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2657 3   3 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2512
GM Piorun Kacper POL 2651 3   3 IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2468
GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2645 3   3 IM Ider Borya FRA 2463
IM Kobo Ori ISR 2482 3   3 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2613
GM Maze Sebastien FRA 2613 3   3 IM Mannion Stephen R SCO 2326
GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan SCO 2370 3   3 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2606
GM Gopal G.N. IND 2579   3 IM Carlstedt Jonathan GER 2413
IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2452   GM Fridman Daniel GER 2594
GM Womacka Mathias GER 2435   GM Gledura Benjamin HUN 2589
GM Kaidanov Gregory S USA 2572   IM Wemmers Xander NED 2424
GM Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2564   WIM Shvayger Yuliya ISR 2413
FM Guerra Rivera Salvador ESP 2389   GM Donchenko Alexander GER 2559
GM Muzychuk Anna UKR 2558   FM Pustovoitova Daria RUS 2407
GM Mastrovasilis Athanasios GRE 2551   IM Docx Stefan BEL 2405
GM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2546   IM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs MGL 2390
GM Spraggett Kevin CAN 2542   IM Milliet Sophie FRA 2387
GM Del Rio De Angelis Salvador G ESP 2527   FM Garriga Cazorla Pere ESP 2386
GM Lemos Damian ARG 2516   FM Mihajlov Sebastian NOR 2384
GM Narciso Dublan Marc ESP 2508     Henderson De La Fuente Lance ESP 2380
IM Aryan Chopra IND 2503   FM Kozak Adam HUN 2376
WGM Tsolakidou Stavroula GRE 2387   IM Kollars Dmitrij GER 2500

Get the complete results + Challengers A + Amateur A

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In 1999 John Saunders gave up his job as an IT professional to become full-time editor/webmaster of 'British Chess Magazine'. During the 2000s he was also webmaster and magazine editor for the English Chess Federation, and regular webmaster and photo-reporter at Isle of Man and Gibraltar tournaments. In 2010 he became editor of the leading UK monthly 'CHESS' Magazine, retiring in 2012 but remaining its associate editor and regular contributor.
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koko48 koko48 1/28/2017 09:42
I love Hou Yifan! :)
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