Isle of Man 07: Harika beats Hou Yifan!

by Sagar Shah
10/8/2016 – This was the 23rd encounter between them and it was the first time that the Indian emerged victorious! Yes, Harika Dronavalli was able to beat the reigning World Champion Hou Yifan at the seventh round of the Isle of Man International 2016. In another positive result for Indians, 18-year-old S.L.Narayanan crushed his Armenian opponent Sergei Movsesian in just 27 moves! Vidit Gujrathi lost on the top board against Pavel Eljanov when he overstretched in what was an equal position. Sagar Shah reports from an Indian perspective.

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Isle of Man Round seven: Harika beats Hou Yifan!

Report by Sagar Shah [photos by Harry Gielen]

It was a mixed day for the Indian fans at the seventh round of the chess.com Isle of Man International 2016. While Vidit Gujrathi slumped to a loss on the top board against Pavel Eljanov with the white pieces, two positive results more than made up for this. Harika was able to get the better of the reigning World Women's Champion Hou Yifan and S.L. Narayanan crushed his highly rated Armenian opponent Sergei Movsesian in just 27 moves! Let's have a look at these two exciting games.

Harika vs Hou Yifan

Harika and Hou Yifan have been playing against each other for a decade now. The Chinese player has five wins to her credit with 17 draws. This was the first win in any format for the Indian!

Harika opened the game with 1.c4 and Hou Yifan chose the slightly rare 1...b6. The Botvinnik setup is what Harika went for and her position out of the opening was quite solid. But then came a critical moment where the Indian showed her real intentions.

White could have played 13.d4 here and gained a comfortable slight edge. However, the position is also easier for Black to play as a couple of minor pieces come off the board. Hence, Harika went for 13.Rac1 which kept more tension on the board. It was a clear indication that she wanted to fight for the full point.

Hou Yifan was able to secure the e5 square for her knight. However, the d6 pawn was weak and this gave White the advantage in the middlegame.

Exchanging the queens was an excellent decision by Harika. The pawn on f6 was really a thorn in Black's camp.

Isn't this a picturesque position! Everything went downhill for the World Champion as Harika was able to create two passers in the middle of the board!

Harika (shoulder right) beat Women's World Champion Hou Yifan

[Event "chess.com IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2016.10.07"] [Round "7.13"] [White "Harika, Dronavalli"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A10"] [WhiteElo "2528"] [BlackElo "2649"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2016.10.01"] {Harika and Hou Yifan have played 22 times against each other in the last 10 years. The Chinese grandmaster has won five times and rest 17 games have ended in draws. This was the first time that Harika managed to outwit the reigning World Champion.} 1. c4 b6 $5 {Hou Yifan tries to mix it up out of the opening.} 2. Nc3 Bb7 3. e4 c5 4. Nge2 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. g3 g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. O-O {The Botvinnik setup chosen by Harika is one of the easiest way for White to play. It can be used against many openings and hence a knowledge of it can be highly useful. Whatever Black does, White's setup remains the same. The pawns are on c4-d3-e4 and g3, the knights stand on c3 and e2 and the bishop goes to g2. After this the plans vary. Sometimes White can go for Be3-Qd2 and Bh6. Sometimes Rb1 followed by queenside expansion with a3-b4, and as Harika played in the game - f4-g4 with a kingside attack. The system is highly flexible and quite easy to understand.} Nc6 9. h3 {Stopping Ng4 and getting ready to play Be3.} O-O 10. Be3 Rc8 11. Qd2 {d4 is not yet possible because the c4 pawn would be hanging.} Re8 12. b3 Nd7 13. Rac1 (13. d4 {This was definitely possible.} cxd4 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Bxd4 16. Qxd4 Qc7 17. Rac1 $14 { According to me White has the slightly preferable position thanks to her space advantage, but the position is simplified and hence easier for Black to play. It is interesting to note that Harika didn't go for this. Maybe she wanted to keep the position more complicated and fight for the full point.}) 13... a6 14. f4 $5 {And there we go! White starts the kingside offensive.} Nd4 15. g4 e6 16. Ng3 Rc7 17. g5 b5 {Overall Black's position looks very cohesive. White cannot easily play f5 as then the knight on d7 is waiting to jump into e5. Meanwhile it is not so clear What Harika must do.} 18. Rce1 b4 19. Nce2 Nxe2+ 20. Rxe2 Nb8 21. d4 $5 cxd4 22. Bxd4 Bxd4+ 23. Qxd4 e5 {Hou Yifan gets the e5 square for her knight with this move, but in return the f-file is opened up for the white pieces and the d6 pawn is weakened. The position should be round about equal.} 24. Qd2 exf4 25. Qxf4 Nc6 26. Rd2 Ne5 27. Rfd1 {Both sides have their own trumps, but it seems that the knight on e5 is not as dangerous as it looks and the d6 pawn weakness definitely counts for something more.} Rd7 28. h4 { Bh3 is a big threat now.} Qe7 29. Nh1 $5 {A Nimzovian idea! The knight will go from f2-d3 in order to evict the one on e5.} (29. Bh3 Rdd8 30. Kg2 $1 { Threatening c5 which is not so easy to meet.} (30. c5 d5 31. exd5 Qxc5+ $17)) 29... Kg7 30. Rf1 Red8 31. Qf6+ $5 Qxf6 32. gxf6+ Kf8 {The pawn on f6 is a thorn in Black's position and Harika quite correctly realized that when she went for the queen exchange.} 33. Rfd1 Rc7 34. Nf2 Ke8 35. Kh2 Rc6 36. Kg3 Kd7 37. Nd3 $1 Ke6 $2 (37... Nxd3 38. Rxd3 Re8 39. e5 $1 $18) 38. Nxe5 Kxe5 39. Rd5+ Kxf6 40. e5+ Ke6 41. c5 (41. R5d2 Rb6 42. c5 $18 {was the fastest way to win.}) 41... f5 42. exd6 {Out of nowhere Harika has two amazingly strong passers and they are on dark squares which means that the bishop can remove the blockaders!} Rd7 43. Re1+ Kf6 44. Rde5 Rc8 45. Re6+ {Hou Yifan rightly resigned as Re7 comes next and Harika would win an entire piece and her two strong pawns would still remain. A very interesting battle and great fighting chess showcased by the Indian.} 1-0

S.L. Narayanan vs Sergei Movsesian

There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that Sergei Movsesian is a world class player. His currently rating is 2677, but a few years ago when he was on the peak of his career, his highest rating was 2752!

But when you have a close look at the game between S.L. Narayanan and the Armenian grandmaster, you will see that the latter could do absolutely nothing in the game. It was clear that Sergei had a bad day at the office, but the perfection with which he was wiped out speaks volumes about S.L. Narayanan's talent.

After 15 moves of the opening White had each and every piece in the game, while Black lacks space and plans

Deja vu? Harika and S.L. Narayanan had a similar strategy today! Get the pawns on e5 and c5 and finish off the game!

S.L. Narayanan showed the world that he is not a player to be messed with!

[Event "chess.com IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2016.10.07"] [Round "7.9"] [White "Sunilduth Lyna, Narayanan"] [Black "Movsesian, Sergei"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2536"] [BlackElo "2677"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2016.10.01"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. a3 Be7 6. e4 d6 $5 {These systems are more positional in nature.} (6... d5 {is the other main move in the position that leads to very aggressive positions after} 7. e5 Nfd7 8. Bd3 c5 9. h4 $5) 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. O-O e5 9. b4 exd4 10. Nxd4 Re8 11. Bb2 Bf8 { Black plays in typical Nimzowitsch style. Restraint against the e4 pawn and then slowly and steadily looking out for the d6-d5 break.} 12. Qc2 c6 13. N4b3 b6 $6 (13... Ne5 14. Be2 Ng6 {looked more to the point, but after} 15. f4 Bd7 16. Rae1 {White looks better.}) 14. f4 $1 g6 15. Rae1 {White's play is just so natural!} Bb7 16. e5 $1 {The best part about White's play is that he hardly wastes time. Everything is in place so let's get going!} Nh5 17. c5 $1 { Amazing move. White wants to destroy the d6 pawn so that he can either play f4-f5 or open the f-file for his rooks. And the other interesting point to note is that Harika too beat Hou Yifan with her pawns on e5 and c5!} (17. f5 dxe5 {is better for White but not as much as in the game.}) 17... d5 (17... dxc5 18. f5 $1 $18) (17... dxe5 18. fxe5 Bg7 19. Bc4 $18) 18. f5 {S.L. Narayanan makes it look so easy!} Qg5 19. Nf3 Qg4 20. e6 fxe6 21. fxe6 (21. fxg6 {was also quite strong.}) 21... Ndf6 (21... Rxe6 22. h3 $18) 22. h3 Qf4 23. Bxg6 hxg6 24. Qxg6+ Bg7 25. Ng5 Qg3 26. Be5 Qh4 27. Nd4 {The knight is coming to f5 and in general the black king is just a few moves away from being mated! What a resounding victory for the GM from Kerala!} 1-0

Vidit Gujrathi vs Pavel Eljanov

Vidit Gujrathi played the same line that was witnessed in the Anand vs Carlsen Match in 2014 in Sochi. It had been proved that White gets absolutely no advantage out of the opening. Yet, Vidit employed the line. Clearly he had a new idea up his sleeve which he revealed with the move d6!? The pawn on d6 was both a strength and a weakness. At a certain moment it would have been wise for Gujrathi to settle for a draw. However, he was overambitious and pushed his pawn to g4 after which Eljanov played with precision, won the d6 pawn and converted the endgame.

Vidit's loss in round seven against Pavel Eljanov (left) was bad news for Indian supporters

[Event "chess.com IoM Masters"] [Site "Douglas ENG"] [Date "2016.10.07"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi"] [Black "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2686"] [BlackElo "2741"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2016.10.01"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Nc3 Bb7 7. Bg2 c6 8. e4 { The players are following the game Anand-Carlsen from their World Championship Match in 2014. Sergei Tiviakov in his video on CBM 168 mentions that if White wants to fight for an advantage he must refrain from the move 8.e4 and instead go for castling. As things went in this game, we cannot really argue with what Tiviakov says.} d5 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Ne5 O-O 11. O-O Nc6 12. cxd5 Nxe5 $1 { Of course the line that Black is walking is quite narrow. He has to make all the accurate moves in order to equalize. But you can be rest assured that a player of Eljanov's calibre has it all worked out at home.} 13. d6 Nc6 14. dxe7 Qxe7 15. Bg5 h6 16. d5 Na5 17. d6 {This is the first move where the game deviates from the Anand-Carlsen World Championship Match. Vishy had taken on f6. Vidit comes up with this natural move, but now it is open for debate whether the pawn on d6 is a strength or a weakness.} (17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. dxe6 Bxg2 $1 19. exf7+ Qxf7 20. Kxg2 Nc4 21. Qb3 Rad8 $11 {And with some further analysis it has been proved that Black is equal in this position.}) 17... Qd8 18. Bxf6 Qxf6 19. Qe2 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 Qd8 21. Rfd1 Qd7 22. Rd4 Rac8 23. Rad1 Nc6 24. R4d2 Na5 {Vidit could have settled for a draw here with Rd4 but instead he went for something more ambitious. Not that the position warrants it, but his age definitely does!} 25. g4 $5 {I would say after this move, all three results are possible. White tries to play acctively but at the sam time weakens his own king. Objectively this is not a great move.} Rfd8 26. Ne4 Nc4 27. Rc2 Ne5 28. Rdc1 Rxc2 29. Rxc2 Qb7 30. f3 Qd5 31. Rd2 Qc4 32. Qe1 f5 33. gxf5 exf5 34. Qg3 Qe6 (34... Nxf3 $5 $17) 35. Nc3 Nc4 36. Re2 Qxd6 37. Qxd6 Rxd6 {The pawn is lost and the rest was not so difficult for Eljanov.} 38. b3 Rd3 39. Nb5 Ne3+ 40. Kf2 Nd1+ 41. Ke1 Nc3 42. Nxc3 Rxc3 43. Re7 Rxf3 44. Rxa7 Rh3 45. Rb7 Rxh2 46. a4 h5 47. Rxb6 h4 48. Kf1 h3 49. Rb4 Ra2 50. Kg1 g5 51. Rb5 Rg2+ 52. Kh1 Rf2 53. Kg1 h2+ 54. Kh1 g4 55. Rc5 g3 56. Rc1 f4 57. a5 f3 0-1

Tiviakov in ChessBase Magazine 168 discusses this line played by Vidit and comes to the conclusion that if White wants to play for an advantage he should stay away from 8.e4 and instead go for 8.0-0. As you can see ChessBase Magazine can give you an edge over your opponents in terms of opening trends and knowledge. The latest issue CBM 174 has been released just a few days ago.

Top pairings and results of Round 7 (October 7, 2016)

Bo. No. Ti. Name Rtg
Pts.
Result
Pts.
Ti. Name Rtg No.
1 9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2686
5
0-1
GM Eljanov Pavel 2741 5
2 1 GM Caruana Fabiano 2813
5
1-0
5
GM Rodshtein Maxim 2687 8
3 2 GM So Wesley 2794
1-0
GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2650 16
4 21 GM Howell David W L 2644
½-½
GM Adams Michael 2745 4
5 22 GM Grandelius Nils 2642
½-½
GM Naiditsch Arkadij 2684 10
6 26 GM Bok Benjamin 2594
½-½
GM Shirov Alexei 2679 11
7 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2787
4
1-0
4
GM Brunello Sabino 2566 31
8 32 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2564
4
½-½
4
GM Leko Peter 2709 6
9 35 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2536
4
1-0
4
GM Movsesian Sergei 2677 12
10 13 GM Fressinet Laurent 2676
4
½-½
4
GM Illingworth Max 2465 46
11 34 GM Svane Rasmus 2552
4
½-½
4
GM Sargissian Gabriel 2670 14
12 15 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2653
4
1-0
4
IM Trent Lawrence 2463 47
13 36 GM Harika Dronavalli 2528
4
1-0
4
GM Hou Yifan 2649 17
14 74 IM Wallace John Paul 2355
4
1-0
4
GM Bachmann Axel 2645 20
15 24 GM Van Foreest Jorden 2615
4
½-½
4
Hemant Sharma (del) 2371 71
16 76 Balint Vilmos 2334
4
0-1
4
GM Donchenko Alexander 2581 29
17 18 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E 2648
1-0
GM Romanishin Oleg M 2456 51
18 19 GM Meier Georg 2648
½-½
IM Visakh N R 2456 52
19 23 GM Gupta Abhijeet 2626
1-0
IM Praggnanandhaa R 2442 54
20 25 GM L'ami Erwin 2605
1-0
GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2429 55
21 27 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2593
½-½
IM Tania Sachdev 2414 62
22 48 GM Ushenina Anna 2459
0-1
GM Shyam Sundar M. 2552 33
23 53 IM Kiewra Keaton F 2454
0-1
GM Vishnu Prasanna. V 2522 37
24 65 IM Kojima Shinya 2399
0-1
GM Schroeder Jan-Christian 2514 38
25 63 WIM Shvayger Yuliya 2405
1-0
GM Hillarp Persson Tiger 2513 39

View pairings and results of all 68 boards

Rk. SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg
 Pts. 
Rp rtg+/-
1 5 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2741
6.5
2972 13.8
2 1 GM Caruana Fabiano USA 2813
6.0
2913 7.3
3 2 GM So Wesley USA 2794
5.5
2784 0.4
4 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru USA 2787
5.0
2697 -5.6
4 GM Adams Michael ENG 2745
5.0
2726 -0.4
8 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2687
5.0
2784 10.0
9 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2686
5.0
2713 3.7
10 GM Naiditsch Arkadij AZE 2684
5.0
2766 6.9
11 GM Shirov Alexei LAT 2679
5.0
2757 6.6
15 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2653
5.0
2570 -4.8
21 GM Howell David W L ENG 2644
5.0
2683 5.3
22 GM Grandelius Nils SWE 2642
5.0
2759 12.2
26 GM Bok Benjamin NED 2594
5.0
2740 14.6
29 GM Donchenko Alexander GER 2581
5.0
2534 -3.1
35 GM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan IND 2536
5.0
2692 15.4
36 GM Harika Dronavalli IND 2528
5.0
2698 16.4
74 IM Wallace John Paul AUS 2355
5.0
2683 29.5
18 6 GM Leko Peter HUN 2709
4.5
2573 -10.0
13 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2676
4.5
2596 -6.0
14 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2670
4.5
2608 -4.5
16 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2650
4.5
2624 1.2
18 GM Granda Zuniga Julio E PER 2648
4.5
2571 -5.4
23 GM Gupta Abhijeet IND 2626
4.5
2589 -1.7
24 GM Van Foreest Jorden NED 2615
4.5
2661 6.0
25 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2605
4.5
2598 1.2
32 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND 2564
4.5
2498 -4.5
33 GM Shyam Sundar M. IND 2552
4.5
2442 -8.1
34 GM Svane Rasmus GER 2552
4.5
2530 -0.5
37 GM Vishnu Prasanna. V IND 2522
4.5
2527 1.1
38 GM Schroeder Jan-Christian GER 2514
4.5
2550 4.1
44 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2480
4.5
2551 7.7
45 IM Puranik Abhimanyu IND 2471
4.5
2470 1.4
46 GM Illingworth Max AUS 2465
4.5
2577 11.5
63 WIM Shvayger Yuliya ISR 2405
4.5
2567 17.6
71 Hemant Sharma (del) IND 2371
4.5
2543 34.8

Click for complete standings of all 133 players

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Topics Isle of Man

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/10/2016 03:41
Frederic: I agree that Sagar has great game analysis & explanation. BUT this does NOT compensate for any biases! As a reporter (whether it be chess or in any area of interest) they are suppose to present news as it is at face value and not glorify it any which way - in this case in chess, towards any one player/country. Sagar clearly does this in many articles of his - just by reading the titles of his recent articles alone it is very plain to see.
X iLeon aka DMG X iLeon aka DMG 10/9/2016 02:17
Even though I'm a Yifan fan, I really like Harika too, because she's not only a great player but also seems like a very down to earth humble person. Well done to her! And thanks to Sagar for the instructional value of his commentary; valuable, informative, entertaining, without being boring or resorting to dry human interpretations of what the engines' churn out. I really enjoyed his expo of the Botvinnik setup, for example, or the difference between going for 13.d4 v 13.Rc1 in the first game. Thanks!
Frederic Frederic 10/9/2016 09:59
I think the quality of Sagar's analysis and explanation compensates for any "bias" some of you seem to perceive. For round eight he has provided more analysis, including wonderful video instructions on how to mate with B+N (as Yifan did against Elli Pähtz). We will have a report up shortly. If you can't wait read some of it -- "biased" towards Indian players (who make up almost 20% of all participants) -- here on CB India: http://chessbase.in/news/isle-of-man-r08/
Igor Freiberger Igor Freiberger 10/9/2016 05:51
Agreed. This kind of biased approach does not fits the international coverage ChessBase used to offer. We are today very far from the quality CB News presented during several years with Friedel's texts.
TMMM TMMM 10/9/2016 04:12
@Magic_Knight: Clearly he is only interested in results of Indian players, ignoring all other games which are likely of more interest to non-Indian readers. At least he also covered the Indian loss on board one.

And to potential haters: if there was a story focusing only on US players, or German players, I would also not be interested. This site pretends to be a *global* news site, and so I expect coverage of the big news in the global chess world, and not chess news of interest for a local community. I prefer reading about the top players (Caruana, So, Nakamura, Adams, ...) and not about the #35 beating the #12 on board 9.
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 10/9/2016 03:26
LOL....Sagar presents the stories with such indian pride. I agree with TMMM, why is this biased story on chessbase?? If the opposite was true and Hou and Sergei won....would he have even written an article at all about it??!!
TMMM TMMM 10/8/2016 11:50
Why is this on ChessBase? If I wanted to read biased stories about Indian chess players I would have gone to ChessBase India.
vishyvishy vishyvishy 10/8/2016 02:37
Vidit is Hero of My Book named as "How to Lose from Better or equal chess positions...The masters guide to planless chess"...Surely he has got talent to be in Top Ten in the World, but he needs some motivation...Probably he needs to have a gf in his life...
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