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Atatürk Istanbul: Hou Yifan wins Atatürk Masters

3/21/2008 – A quick final-round draw clinched it. The youngest participant, 14-year-old WGM Hou Yifan, won the Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament in Istanbul with a full point lead, and a rating performance of 2674. Does anyone doubt that we are talking about a future world champion? Second was Swedish GM Pia Cramling. Illustrated round nine report.
 

İş Bankası - Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament

The tournament, announced in December last year, will take place from March 10th (arrival) to March 21 (departure) 2008. The venue is the İş Bankası Towers Complex, which has a total area of 225,000 square meters. It is the largest of its kind on the European continent. Games start at 14:30h local time (= GMT +2h). March 19 is a free day. The games are being broadcast on Playchess.com.

Round nine report (final)

Ti. Name Rtg
Res.
Ti. Name Rtg
WIM YILDIZ Betul Cemre 2207
0-1
GM CHEN Zhu 2548
GM CRAMLING Pia 2524
½-½
IM USHENINA Anna 2484
WGM YIFAN Hou 2527
½-½
IM JAVAKHISHVILI Lela 2470
WGM XUE Zhao 2517
1-0
IM ATALIK Ekaterina 2408
IM DRONAVALLI Harika 2455
½-½
IM KRUSH Irina 2473

14-year-old Chinese chess phenomenon Hou Yifan made an early draw against Georgian IM Lela Javakhishvili to secure the first place in the İş Bankası – Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey. Hou scored 7.0/9 points without losing a single game. Her rating performance was 2674.

Hou,Yifan - Javakhishvili,Lela
Isbank Ataturk International Women Mast Istanbul (9), 20.03.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be2 a6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Be3 Be7 9.f4 d6 10.a4 0-0 11.Kh1 Re8 12.Bd3 Nb4 13.a5 Bd7 14.Qf3 Rac8 15.Qg3 Nh5 16.Qf3 Nf6 17.Qg3 ½-½.


Hou Yifan during her last-round clincher in Istanbul. The silver pot next to her board contains (yes, we checked) "preserved Chinese dates", as her mother explained. So now you know the secret of her phenomenal chess strength.

Pia Cramling and Anna Ushenina also drew their games, which brought the Swedish grandmaster 6.0/9 points and second place on the final table. The Ukranian IM finished ninth, with 3.0/9.

Cramling,Pia - Ushenina,Anna
Isbank Ataturk International Women Mast Istanbul (9), 20.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 5.Be2 d6 6.h3 c5 7.c3 cxd4 8.exd4 Nd5 9.Bh2 Nc6 10.0-0 e5 11.Nbd2 Re8 ½-½.


Second place for Pia Cramling, who played solid grandmasterly chess

Former world champion Zhu Chen played against the local youngster Betül Cemre Yildiz and won her final game of the tournament. White chose a quiet opening but Black had a slight edge due to more active pieces after the early exchange of queens. Zhu Chen, outplayed her young Turkish opponent and won in the queenless position with bishop, knight and the two rooks are on the board.

Yildiz,Betul Cemre - Zhu Chen
Isbank Ataturk International Women Mast Istanbul (9), 20.03.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 e5 6.Nb3 d5 7.Bg5 Be6 8.exd5 Qxd5 9.Qxd5 Nxd5 10.Bc4 Nc6 11.0-0 h6 12.Bd2 Rd8 13.Re1 Be7 14.Nc3 0-0 15.Nxd5 Bxd5 16.Bxd5 Rxd5 17.Be3 Rfd8 18.a4 f6 19.c3 Kf7 20.Kf2 f5 21.Ke2 b5 22.a5 a6 23.Rec1 h5 24.Rc2 g5 25.Nd2 R5d7 26.Nb3 g4 27.f4 Bd6 28.fxe5 Bxe5 29.Rf1 Kg6 30.h3 Re8 31.Kf2

31...Bh2! 32.hxg4 hxg4 33.Re2 Rde7 34.Rh1 f4 0-1.


Former World Champion Zhu Chen (left) turned a very disappointing performance into a simply disappointing one with her last-round win against Turkish junior Betül Cemre Yildiz (right).

Harika Dronavalli and Irina Krush tried for a while to get an advantage, but without real success. White tried to create some danger for the opponent king, but her pieces are never active enought to pose big problems. The game ended peacefully at move 30 after both sides had to repeat queen moves.

Harika,Dronavalli - Krush,Irina
Isbank Ataturk International Women Mast Istanbul (9), 20.03.2008
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.0-0 a6 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.Re1 b6 9.e4 cxd4 10.e5 Nd5 11.Nxd4 Nc5 12.Bf1 Bb7 13.Nd2 Be7 14.Qg4 0-0 15.N2f3 Kh8 16.Ng5 h6 17.Ngf3 a5 18.Qh5 Ba6 19.Nc6 Qd7 20.Nxe7 Qxe7 21.Bxa6 Rxa6 22.Bg5 f6 23.exf6 Nxf6 24.Rad1 Kg8 25.Bxf6 Qxf6 26.Qe5 Qg6 27.Qg3 Qf6 28.Qe5 Qg6 29.Qg3 Qf6 30.Qe5 ½-½.


Indian talent, 17-year-old IM Harika in her final game against US IM Irina Krush


"Dronavalli" is a family name that is not used in normal contact with the lass. Call her Harika or, if you want to be formal, Miss Harika – never Miss Dronavalli, unless you want her to look at you strangely. This young lady missed the superb, super-hot Telugu food of her native Andhra Pradesh. So she simply used a small rice cooker to prepare suitably delicious meals in her room.


Lean and mean: Irina Krush has been eating healthy food and working out, which accounts for her fine athletic looks. Like Monika in "Friends" Irina is "freakishly strong" – so whatever you do, don't pick a fight with her.

The most intense and critical game of the round was the one between Zhao Xue and Ekaterina Atalik. The Turkish player had a chance to share the second place, while the Chinese player was looking to overtake her opponent on the table and take sole third place.


The start of a exciting, traumatic game between Ekaterina Atalik and Zhao Xue

Xue Zhao - Atalik,Ekaterina
Isbank Ataturk International Women Mast Istanbul (9), 20.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.Qxc3 b6 7.Bg5 Ba6 8.Qf3 Nc6 9.e3 Na5 10.Rc1 c5 11.e4 h6

The position gets exciting right after the opening, when White made a thematic sacrifice of the g5 bishop: 12.h4!? White prepares an attack on h-file. 12...hxg5 13.hxg5?! Re8 14.Qh3 Kf8 15.gxf6 Qxf6 16.b4

16...Qg5 17.Kd1 Nc6 18.b5 Bxb5 19.cxb5 Nxd4 20.Nf3 Nxf3 21.Qxf3. White has a bishop for two pawns and an essentially winning position. 21...Qe5 22.Qe3 Ke7 23.f4 Qb2 24.Qc3 Qf2 25.Qd2 Qxd2+ 26.Kxd2 Rh8 27.Be2 d5 28.Rxh8 Rxh8 29.exd5 exd5 30.Bf3 Kd6 31.Re1 Rh4 32.Re5 d4 33.Rd5+ Ke7 34.Re5+ Kd6 35.Re8 Rxf4 36.Rd8+ Ke5 37.Rd7 g5 38.Rxa7 g4 39.Be2 Rf2 40.Ke1 Rxg2 41.Rxf7 Rg3

Black has fought back and achieved enough counterplay to ensure a draw. There follows a long series of moves in which White attempts to capitalise on her material advantage. 42.Rg7 Rxa3 43.Rg5+ Kf6 44.Rxg4 Ra1+ 45.Kf2 Ra2 46.Kf3 Ra3+ 47.Kf4 d3 48.Bd1 Ra1 49.Rg1 Rb1 50.Ke3 Rxb5 51.Kxd3 Rb4 52.Kc3 Ke5 53.Rg6 Kf4 54.Bc2 Ke5 55.Bb3 Kf4 56.Re6 Kf5 57.Re8 Kf6 58.Bc2 Kf7 59.Re1 Kf6 60.Kd2 Rd4+ 61.Kc3 Rb4 62.Bd3 Kf7 63.Kd2 Rb2+ 64.Ke3 Ke6 65.Rh1 Kd5 66.Rh5+ Kd6 67.Be4 Rb3+ 68.Kf4 c4 69.Rd5+ Ke6 70.Rd1 b5 71.Bf5+ Kf6 72.Rd6+ Ke7 73.Rc6 Rb2 74.Ke5 Re2+ 75.Be4 Rh2 76.Rc7+ Kd8 77.Rc5 b4 78.Bf5

The position is still objectively a draw, but after 78 moves of play the Turkish IM blunders:

78...c3?? Ignoring the mating threat on c8 to her king. A move with the rook (to h6 or a2) or king (to e8 or e7) would have averted disaster. 79.Kf6 Rh6+ 80.Kf7 and with the square e7 under white control there is no way Black can reasonably prevent the mate. 1-0. A traumatic loss for the top Turkish female player, at the very end of this exciting tournament. For the 23-year-old Chinese WGM it meant third place – Ekaterina Atalik slid to fourth.

Pictures by Özgür Akman in Istanbul

Standings after nine rounds (final)

Draws and Performance

In spite of the quick last-round draws shown above the total drawing quota in this tournament was very low, with just 38% of the games ending undecided. Three of these were under 20 moves, a total of seven under 30 moves. 40% of the games were decided in White's favour, ten ended in a full point for Black.

The performance of the individual players is given in the following table. Hou Yifan's 7.0/9 was a score we could have expected from a player rated 2674 (against opposition averaging at 2454), and it will net her 17 rating points in the next FIDE list. Not bad for a young lady who turned fourteen just three weeks ago. Ekaterina Atalik stands to gain 13 rating points from this event, and rookie Betül Cemre Yildiz 15 points, in spite of her 2.5/9 last-place result.

No. Name FED Rtg Pts
Rtg+/-
 Ra  Rp
1 WGM Hou Yifan CHN 2527 7.0
17
2454 2674
2 GM Pia Cramling SWE 2524 6.0
7
2454 2579
3 WGM Zhao Xue CHN 2517 5.5
3
2455 2535
4 IM Ekaterina Atalik TUR 2408 5.0
13
2467 2510
5 IM Lela Javakhishvili GEO 2470 4.5
-1
2460 2460
6 IM Harika Dronavalli IND 2455 4.0
-4
2462 2419
7 GM Zhu Chen QAT 2548 4.0
-16
2452 2409
8 IM Anna Ushenina UKR 2484 3.0
-18
2459 2334
9 IM Irina Krush USA 2473 3.5
-11
2460 2380
10 WIM Betul Cemre Yildiz TUR 2207 2.5
15
2490 2324

 

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