Qatar 2015 round two: Nine players on perfect score

by Sagar Shah
12/22/2015 – The second round of Qatar Masters was filled with high quality chess as strong GMs clashed against each other. Magnus Carlsen finally won his first game in an open tournament after a gap of eight years, Giri won a fine Sicilian against Grandelius and So carved out a beautiful positional victory over Naroditsky. In the evening there was a football match. We have exclusive pictures and game analysis from Doha.

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Qatar Masters 2015: Nine players on perfect score

Report from Doha by Sagar Shah

Watch it live on Playchess!

In order to avoid financial budget constraints organizers often stage their tournaments in tourist off season of a particular region. Off seasons mean worse climate and also the fact that hotels are cheaper than what they would usually cost. However at the Qatar Masters 2015 no such half measures have been taken. The climate is perfect with a pleasant 18-20 degree Celsius temperature. The official hotel Torch is one of the best hotels, not only in Doha but in the entire country. The tournament hall is huge, well lit and spacious with individual table for every game being played. In short it is the perfect setting for any player to forget about all other worries and focus completely on the game.

After an explosive start on the first day where we witnessed many 2700+ players being beaten or held, the second round was comparatively quite sedate. The quality of the games, however, was quite high as many grandmasters faced off against each other on the top boards. The difference in Elo was still something around 150 Elo points, but top players like Vladimir Kramnik, Anish Giri, Sergey Karjakin, Wesley So know that when you are up against 2600+ opponents things cannot be taken lightly.

Daniel Naroditsky, Nils Grandelius and Salem Saleh discuss the strategy of how to tackle their 2750+ opponents! The three youngsters were up against Wesley So, Anish Giri and Segey Karjakin respectively

On the top board Vladimir Kramnik tried really hard for the full point,
won a pawn and was pressing throughout the game…

…but the reigning world problem solving champion Kacper Piorun
(which translates to Caspar Thunderbolt) defended tenaciously and secured the half point

Anish Giri played a highly complicated battle against GM Nils Grandelius. The game was filled with
interesting moments and the Dutch GM managed to outplay his Swedish opponent in the end.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Grandelius, Nils"] [Black "Giri, Anish"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2632"] [BlackElo "2784"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nb3 $5 { At the London Chess Classic almost everyone retreated their knight to e2. The knight to b3 is also one of the main moves but not as popular as Nde2.} Be6 8. f4 Be7 (8... Nbd7 9. f5 Bxb3 10. axb3 d5 $1 {was played by Shirov against Sutovsky and Black is already completely fine. The point is that Nxd5 is bad as after Nxd5 there is a check on h4 and direct exd5 is met with Bb4.} 11. exd5 (11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Qxd5 Qh4+) 11... Bb4 $44 {[%cal Gd8b6,Gd7c5]}) 9. f5 Bd7 10. Be3 b5 (10... Bc6 11. Qf3 d5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. O-O-O $16) 11. Qf3 b4 12. Nd5 Nxd5 13. exd5 Bg5 14. Bxg5 Qxg5 15. Bd3 Bb5 16. h4 (16. O-O {could have been more prudent. But knowing what an aggressive player Nils is, his move with h4 is one that can be expected from him.}) 16... Qd8 17. g4 Nd7 18. g5 $6 { According to Giri in the press conference this was an inaccuracy by White as it allows Black to activate his rook with h6.} h6 $1 19. Rg1 (19. f6 {Good or bad, this should have been tried.} gxf6 20. g6 $1 fxg6 21. Bxg6+ Ke7 {Black king looks safe on e7 but after} 22. O-O-O {White is surely the one who can create dangerous threats in this position.}) 19... hxg5 20. hxg5 Bxd3 21. Qxd3 Rh5 $1 {It seems it is difficult for White to defend the g5 pawn as Qd2 is met by a5 threatening a4 when the knight doesn't have the d2 square to retreat. And Qe3 is met by Qb6.} 22. Qg3 Qc7 23. O-O-O Rc8 {Mate on c2 is threatened.} 24. Rd2 a5 25. Kb1 a4 26. Nc1 Qc4 27. Qf3 Rh4 28. f6 g6 29. Rh1 Nc5 30. Rdh2 Ne4 31. Qd1 (31. Qe3 $5 {Black has to find} Rh5 $1 32. Qa7 Kf8 $1 33. Qxa4 Nd2+ 34. Ka1 Qxc2 35. Qxc2 Rxc2 36. Rxh5 gxh5 37. Nd3 {And the position is unclear.} ) 31... Rxh2 32. Rxh2 Kd7 33. Qg1 Qxd5 34. Qa7+ Ke6 35. Qg1 Kd7 36. Qa7+ Ke6 37. Qg1 Qc4 $1 38. Re2 (38. Qg4+ Kd5 39. Qd7 Rc7 40. Qxa4 Ke6 $17) 38... b3 39. axb3 axb3 40. cxb3 Qxe2 $1 {A very complicated game which is quite typical of the Sicilian.} 0-1

He played 7.Nb3!? Magnus and Anish discuss the former’s game

Anish in the live commentary room with Peter Svidler

Sergey Karjakin could not break through the defences of UAE number one Salem Saleh

Which do you prefer? New tournament, new style: Salem in Abu Dhabi in August 2015
on the left and in the Qatar Masters on the right. No contest, right?

Wesley So played a positional masterpiece to beat Daniel Naroditsky with the white pieces

It’s White (Wesley) to play. Can you come up with the subtle idea that the American grandmaster
found in his game? Hint: it's little moves like this one that usually make a huge difference!

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.3"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Naroditsky, Daniel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2775"] [BlackElo "2628"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "139"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 6. Bg2 c6 7. O-O Nbd7 8. b3 Ne4 9. Bc1 O-O 10. Qc2 f5 11. Ba3 Bxa3 12. Nxa3 Qe7 13. Qb2 b6 14. e3 Bb7 15. Rac1 Rfc8 16. cxd5 cxd5 17. Rxc8+ Rxc8 18. Rc1 Qf8 19. Nb5 a6 20. Nc3 Qd6 21. Bf1 b5 {Diagram [#] The position is nothing special. It is a typical stonewall which seems to be slightly better for White. But it is that type of edge which slowly withers away. Wesley found a way to keep the flame of initiative alive.} 22. a3 $1 {[%cal Gc3a2,Ga2b4,Gb4d3,Ga2c1,Gc1d3,Gd3e5] A terrific move. This not only takes the b4 square under control but prepares the move Na2! From there the knight can go to b4-d3 or c1-d3 and then jump to e5.} Rc6 (22... b4 23. axb4 Qxb4 24. Nxe4 fxe4 25. Rxc8+ Bxc8 26. Qc2 Qb7 (26... Bb7 27. Qc7 $18) 27. Ng5 $36) 23. Na2 $1 (23. Ne2 {controls the c1 square but doesn't aim at b4 and hence is not as effective as Na2.}) 23... Rxc1 (23... g5 24. Rxc6 Bxc6 25. Nb4 $1 {[%cal Gb4d3,Gd3e5,Gf3e5]}) 24. Nxc1 Qc7 25. Nd3 {White has a clear edge now as he will plonk his knight to e5 and kick the one on e4 away with f3. } Bc8 26. Nfe5 $1 Nxe5 27. Nxe5 Kf8 28. f3 $14 {Wesley is better and went on to convert his advantage in a long endgame.} Qc3 29. Qxc3 Nxc3 30. Bd3 Ke7 31. Kf2 Kd6 32. g4 a5 33. h4 b4 34. axb4 axb4 35. Bc2 Ba6 36. gxf5 exf5 37. Bxf5 Nd1+ 38. Ke1 Nxe3 39. Bxh7 Ng2+ 40. Kf2 Nf4 41. Ke3 Ng2+ 42. Kf2 Nf4 43. Bc2 Bb5 44. Ke3 Ng2+ 45. Kf2 Nf4 46. Ng4 Ke6 47. Bd1 Nd3+ 48. Ke3 Ne1 49. Kf4 Ng2+ 50. Kg3 Ne1 51. Ne3 g6 52. f4 Ba6 53. Bg4+ Kd6 54. f5 gxf5 55. Nxf5+ Ke6 56. Ne3+ Kf7 57. Nxd5 Nc2 58. Nc7 Bd3 59. Ne6 Ne3 60. Nc5 Bc2 61. Kf4 Ng2+ 62. Kg5 Ne3 63. Kf4 Ng2+ 64. Kg5 Ne3 65. Be6+ Ke7 66. h5 Bh7 67. h6 Nc2 68. Bf5 Bxf5 69. Kxf5 Nxd4+ 70. Ke4 1-0

B. Adhiban and Siva Mahadevan (right) chat with Aravindh Chithambaram (left)
before the biggest clash of his life

The 16-year-old took on the reigning World Champion in the second round

It was not the first time that the two met over the board at the Qatar Masters 2015. In 2013, Aravindh played Magnus in a simultaneous exhibition and drew against the soon-to-become World Champion.

The game began with an offbeat opening 1.e4 c5 2.b3!? employed by Aravindh. The Indian grandmaster is known for playing unorthodox systems and had previously beaten Alexie Shirov with 1.b3. The thing which is most amazing about Carlsen and other top players is the humungous amount of knowledge they have related to any opening under the sun. Turns out that Carlsen had wanted to employ this system with the white pieces in the past, but had found 2…g6!? to be quite irritating. This is the same move suggested by his second Peter Heine Nielsen in the book Experts against the Anti Sicilians. Carlsen played 2…g6 and Aravindh was immediately thrown off balance. He thought for nearly forty minutes on his fourth move. After around 15 moves it seemed as if the game would end pretty soon. Magnus was not only ahead on time but also had a clearly better position. But Aravindh fought on. And he played so well that gradually he began outplaying the World Champion. As Carlsen described in his post-game interview the only thing left now was to try and trick his young opponent before they reached the 40th move time control. The Norwegian was able to do exactly that, and by the time the players reached 38th move, Aravindh was completely lost. His flag fell and the game was over.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.23"] [White "Aravindh, Chithambaram Vr"] [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B20"] [WhiteElo "2486"] [BlackElo "2834"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 {Aravindh is famed in the Indian chess circuits for his unorthodox openings. But against the World Champion he decides to play it safe with 1.e4.} c5 2. b3 $5 {Well, so much for the well trodden paths! The 16-year-old had beaten Alexei Shirov with 1.b3 a year ago. This time he tries to catch a bigger fish with that move but 1.e4 c5 2.b3 is much different than 1.b3.} g6 $5 {After the game in an interview Carlsen said that he had considered playing this line with White but did not like this 2...g6 move. And hence he tried it. This is the same line recommended by Peter Heine Nielsen in his book Experts against the Anti-Sicilians.} 3. Bb2 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 {Here Aravindh sank into a deep thought. He was of course out of theory and wanted to clarify the position as much as he could. There is a chance that the e5 pawn would become weak and hence he decides to advance the pawn.} 5. e6 $6 (5. d4 Qa5+ 6. Qd2 Qxd2+ 7. Nxd2 cxd4 8. Ngf3 Bg7 $11 {might be a better way for White to play, but I think Black has absolutely no problems in this position as well.}) 5... f6 $1 6. exd7+ Qxd7 {The e-pawn made four moves and exchanged itself for the d7 pawn which hadn't moved even once in the game.} 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. Bb5 Nc7 9. Bxc6 Qxc6 $15 {Black already has a bishop pair and the possibility to establish a strong center with e5. He is clearly better. One would assume that the World Champion would win quite easily from this point onwards. But Aravindh doesn't give up easily.} 10. Qf3 Bd7 11. O-O-O e5 12. Qxc6 Bxc6 13. f3 Ne6 14. Nge2 Be7 15. Rhf1 b5 16. Rde1 Kf7 17. Nd1 a5 {Things are going excellently for Black as he slowly but steadily builds up his position. White has nothing much that he can do than to wait and hope for the opponent to go wrong.} 18. Ne3 Bd6 $6 {The problem with this move is that the bishop is a little exposed on d6 and can be hit with the move Nc4 or Ne4.} (18... Rhe8 { was much better.}) 19. Nc3 h5 $6 (19... a4 {was necessary to stop White from going a4.}) 20. a4 $1 {Securing the c4 square for the knight.} b4 21. Ne4 Bc7 22. Nc4 {Suddenly things are not at all clear. White has an excellent square for his knight on c4 and the Black pawns, which were once very strong, now look like targets.} h4 23. g4 hxg3 24. hxg3 Rh3 25. g4 {[%cal Rg4g5] [#]} (25. f4 $5 {Trying to open the position could have been a possible option.} exf4 26. gxf4 Bxe4 27. Rxe4 $13) 25... Rd8 $2 {A gross miscalculation by the World Champion. If one were to ask what is it that White threatens here, it is easy to see that the move is g4-g5. Carlsen overlooks that and allows White to gain the advantage.} (25... g5 $1 $17) 26. g5 $1 Bxe4 (26... f5 27. Bxe5 $1 $18) 27. fxe4 Nf4 (27... Nxg5 28. Bxe5 Bxe5 29. Nxe5+ Kg7 30. Nc4 $14 {is surely a slight edge for White.}) 28. gxf6 $1 Ke6 29. Ne3 (29. d3 g5 30. f7 Rf8 31. Rg1 Kf6 32. Kd1 Rxf7 33. Bc1 Rg7 34. Rg4 Rh4 35. Ne3 $14 {was a possible way to continue the game when White has a pleasant position thanks to the more compact pawn structure.}) 29... g5 30. Nd5 (30. d3 $14) 30... Bd6 31. Rg1 Rg8 32. Rg4 Rh4 33. Rgg1 g4 34. Ne3 g3 {The position has changed a bit in the last few moves and White has lost his edge.} 35. Nf5 Rhh8 $1 (35... Rh3 36. f7 Kxf7 37. Nxd6+ $18) 36. f7 (36. Nxg3 Rh3 $1 $19) (36. f7 Rg4 $1 {and the rook on h8 controls the f8 square.}) 36... Rg6 37. Kd1 g2 {And here Aravindh's flag fell. Most probably the position is already lost as Nh3 winning an exchange is coming up. An interesting game where Magnus was once again put under some strong pressure by his 300 points lower rated opponent.} 0-1

Video by Vijay Kumar on the second round of the event. Be sure not to miss the interview with Magnus Carlsen, starting at 4 minutes and 22 seconds, in which he not only describes his game against Aravindh but also against Nino Batsiashvili from the first round

After he had finised Magnus kibitzed nearly every game that was in progress in the tournament hall.
It was truly an inspiring sight and shows how much the World Champion truly loves the game.

11-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov has made a wonderful start to the tournament,
drawing against Samuel Shankland in round one and Nguyen Ngoc Truongson in round two

WGM Zhansaya Abdumalik showed that she was not someone who
could be dismissed – she scored a superb victory over GM Stefan Bromberger

Nino Batsiashvili, who drew her game against the World Champion in the first round,
couldn’t continue her momentum and lost against Harikrishna Pentala

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.24"] [White "Batsiashvili, Nino"] [Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "2498"] [BlackElo "2743"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] {The hero of round one, Nino Batsiashvili, who drew Magnus Carlsen, faced another stiff challenge in the form of Pentala Harikrishna today.} 1. d4 Nc6 $5 {Harikrishna decides to avoid well known paths and instead go for original play.} 2. c4 e5 3. d5 Nce7 4. Nc3 Ng6 5. a3 (5. g3 {dominating the knight on g6 could have been a much more useful move than a3.}) 5... f5 6. e4 fxe4 7. Nxe4 Nf6 8. Bg5 d6 9. Bd3 Be7 10. Bxf6 (10. Bd2 $1 $14) 10... gxf6 {Of course Harikrishna recaptures the bishop with the pawn. The knight on e4 no longer feels so secure.} (10... Bxf6 11. Ne2 $14 {followed by Ng3 or Nc3 is a risk free edge for White who has complete control of the e4 square.}) 11. Ng3 Nf4 12. Bf5 $2 {After this it all goes downhill for White.} (12. Be4 $1 {This strong move would have allowed White to gain a substantial edge. What is the reason for the same? First of all White threatens N1e2 to evict the knight from f4. So Black has to be quick and must do something immediately but what is it that he can do?} f5 (12... h5 $5 13. N1e2 h4 14. Nxf4 hxg3 15. Ng6 gxf2+ (15... Rxh2 16. Rxh2 gxh2 17. Qh5 $18) 16. Kxf2 $16) (12... O-O $5 {This is what Hari had planned. However, White now has the counterintuitive move} 13. Nf5 $1 Bxf5 14. Bxf5 Nxg2+ 15. Kf1 Nf4 16. Ne2 $1 $16 {With a firm grip on the light squares White is clearly better.}) 13. Nxf5 $1 Nxg2+ 14. Kf1 Nf4 15. Ne2 $1 $14 {is a clear edge for White.}) 12... Bxf5 $1 13. Nxf5 Qd7 14. Nxe7 $2 ( 14. g4 {was relatively better.}) 14... Nxg2+ $1 15. Kf1 Nf4 $1 {The knight on e7 is not running away anywhere. Black is clearly better.} 16. Rc1 Kxe7 $1 { Connecting the rooks.} 17. Rc3 Rag8 18. Ne2 Nxe2 19. Qxe2 h5 20. Ke1 Qf5 21. Kd2 Rg4 22. Kc1 Rhg8 23. Rf1 b6 24. h3 Rf4 25. Qe3 Rg2 26. Rc2 Rf3 27. Qh6 Qg5+ {Nino resigned as she will lose the h3 pawn as well and will be two pawns down. Not such a great game for the Georgian player after a wonderful first round result.} 0-1

An important battle in the second round was the clash between Hou Yifan and Harika Dronavalli –
they tried to play a creative and original game of chess, but in the end had to split the point

Mr. Cool Vladimir Fedoseev wriggled out from what seemed like
a completely lost cause against Ali Marandi

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.30"] [White "Fedoseev, Vladimir"] [Black "Ali Marandi, Cemil Can"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D45"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2454"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. b3 O-O 8. Be2 e5 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nb5 Bb4+ 11. Bd2 Bxd2+ 12. Nxd2 a6 13. dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nd4 Bg4 15. Bxg4 Nfxg4 16. Rc1 Qh4 17. g3 Qh3 18. Ke2 {Diagram [#] The Semi-Slav for White has gone completely wrong. His king is misplaced in the centre and the knight on g4 is ready to sacrifice its life to rip open the white king. So f2 or e3 is the question?} Nxe3 $5 {This is less powerful but also leads to a good attack.} (18... Nxf2 $1 {was much more accurate and would have ended the game quite quickly.} 19. Kxf2 Rac8 $1 {The computer suggests this move, but it is of course not so easy for humans to see it when there is a much more tempting option in Ng4.} (19... Ng4+ {This is the most human move.} 20. Kf3 $1 {the staunchest defence.} (20. Kg1 Nxe3 $19 {The queen is attacked and the mate on g2 cannot be averted.}) (20. Ke2 Qg2+ 21. Ke1 Qf2+ 22. Kd1 Nxe3#) 20... Rae8 21. Rce1 Re6 $1 22. Nxe6 fxe6+ 23. Ke2 Qg2+ 24. Kd1 Nf2+ 25. Kc1 Nxh1 $19 {leads to a position where Black is clearly winning.}) 20. Qf5 (20. Qb1 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Qxh2+ 22. Ke1 (22. Kf1 Ng4 $19) 22... Qxg3+ 23. Kd1 (23. Kf1 Ng4 $19) 23... Qxe3 $19 {Black has four pawns for the piece and the white king is completely exposed.}) 20... Qxf5+ 21. Nxf5 Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Nd3+ $19) 19. Kxe3 ( 19. fxe3 Qg2+ $19 {The h1 rook falls.}) 19... Rfe8 20. Qf5 Qh6+ 21. f4 Nc6+ 22. Kd3 Nxd4 23. Kxd4 Qb6+ 24. Kc3 g6 $1 {The queen doesn't really have a good square to go to.} 25. Qd7 (25. Qd3 Re3 $19) (25. Qc2 Rac8+ $19) (25. Qb1 Rac8+ 26. Kb2 Qd4+ 27. Ka3 Qxd2 $19) 25... Rad8 26. Qa4 Qe3+ 27. Kb2 Qxd2+ 28. Rc2 Qd3 {Black is a pawn up and has excellent chances to convert the position. White on the other hand can be happy that his king is at least safe and he won't lose soon.} 29. Qa5 $2 (29. Rhc1 $17) 29... Rc8 $1 30. Rxc8 Rxc8 31. Ka3 d4 32. Re1 b5 33. Qb4 Qc2 34. Qxd4 a5 35. Qd7 {Diagram [#] It is Black to play and win.} Qc5+ $1 (35... Rb8 {with the idea of b4 and Qa2 is another way to win.} 36. Re8+ Kg7 $1 37. Qd4+ (37. Rxb8 Qc1#) 37... Kh6 38. Rxb8 Qc1+ 39. Qb2 b4+ 40. Ka4 Qxb2 $19) 36. Kb2 Qc2+ (36... Qf2+ $1 37. Ka3 Rc2 {and it is game over as there is no perpetual.} 38. Qe8+ (38. Re8+ Kg7 $19) 38... Kg7 39. Qe5+ f6 40. Qe7+ Kh6 41. Qf8+ Kh5 $19) 37. Ka3 b4+ $6 38. Ka4 Qxa2+ 39. Kb5 Rb8+ 40. Ka6 Qxb3 41. Re8+ Rxe8 42. Qxe8+ Kg7 {Black is still clearly better but the win is not as easy as before.} 43. Kxa5 Qb2 44. Kb5 b3 45. Qe3 h5 46. Kb4 Qxh2 47. Qe5+ Kg8 48. Qe8+ Kg7 49. Qe5+ Kh7 50. Qd5 Qb2 51. Qxf7+ Kh6 52. Qe7 Qg7 53. Qg5+ Kh7 54. Kxb3 {A miraculous escape for Fedoseev who must have thanked his lucky stars for this half point.} 1/2-1/2

Viktor Bologan was the biggest casualty of round two as he lost to IM Daniil Yuffa. The Russian player showcased some high quality chess and scored what was quite a flawless victory.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.21"] [Round "2.17"] [White "Yuffa, Daniil"] [Black "Bologan, Viktor"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D10"] [WhiteElo "2504"] [BlackElo "2654"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] {This is not such a huge upset as Yuffa is just 150 points lower rated than Bologan. However, considering that Viktor was in excellent form at the recently concluded European Team Championships it is surely a great result for the Russian youngster.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 dxc4 {Taking the pawn before White has played Nf3 is not so common but this totally playable.} 4. e4 b5 5. a4 b4 6. Nb1 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bxc4 e6 9. Nf3 Be7 10. O-O Bb7 11. Nbd2 Nd7 12. Ne4 {White's position is quite pleasant. His next plan is to play Bg5 and exchange the dark squared bishops so that the d6 and c5 squares are weakened. Bologan prevents it but loses further time.} h6 13. a5 $1 {Threatening to gain more space with a6.} Rc8 14. Bxd5 $1 {A very anti-intuitive decision, but all will be clear pretty soon.} cxd5 15. Nd6+ $1 Bxd6 16. exd6 {The d6 pawn is pretty weak and most probably will be lost, but while it is alive it causes quite some inconvenience to Black. The b4 pawn is also weak and can be attacked by Qa4 and Bd2. On the other hand the b7 bishop is pretty passive. All this leads to quite a strong initiative for White.} Ba6 17. Re1 O-O 18. Bd2 $1 Rb8 19. Ne5 $1 {Threatening a fork on c6.} Nxe5 20. dxe5 $16 {[%csl Gd6,Ge5] The d6 pawn which looked weak has now transformed itself into a pillar of strength.} f5 21. Qh5 Kh7 22. Rac1 Rb7 (22... Qxa5 23. Rc7 $1 $18) 23. Rc5 $1 { Threatening to double the rooks on the c-file.} b3 24. h4 $1 {I quite like this move, as Bg5 can be played and back rank threats are no longer a problem.} Bb5 25. Bg5 (25. Rec1 {was objectively stronger.}) 25... Qxa5 26. Rec1 Qb4 27. Rc7 Rxc7 $2 (27... Bd7 {Blocking the rooks action on the seventh rank was important.} 28. Rxb7 Qxb7 29. Rc7 Qb5 $16 {Black is still in the game.}) 28. Rxc7 Qe1+ 29. Kh2 Qxe5+ 30. f4 $1 {Nicely calculated by Daniil. The d6 pawn is taboo.} Qd4 (30... Qxd6 31. Qxh6+ $1) 31. Qxh6+ $1 {It's surprising that Viktor allowed this, but there was really no way to prevent it.} Kg8 32. Qxe6+ Kh8 33. Qe5 {The safest route to victory.} Qxe5 34. fxe5 Re8 35. Be7 d4 36. d7 Bxd7 37. Rxd7 d3 38. Bb4 {A very strong game by Daniil Yuffa who surprisingly is not even a GM yet. But by the looks of his play I am sure that he will be one pretty soon.} 1-0

Yes we will! The hero of round two: Daniil Yuffa.

What do you do if your Elo is below 2300 and you are not allowed to participate in the Qatar Masters? You set up a giant chess set outside the playing hall and don’t really care about ratings and results – just indulge and enjoy this royal game!

Pairings/Results of Round 2 on 2015/12/21 at 15:00

Bo. Ti. Name Rtg
Ti. Name Rtg
1 GM Kramnik Vladimir 2796 ½-½ GM Piorun Kacper 2637
2 GM Grandelius Nils 2632 0-1 GM Giri Anish 2784
3 GM So Wesley 2775 1-0 GM Naroditsky Daniel 2628
4 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2622 ½-½ GM Karjakin Sergey 2766
5 GM Li Chao B 2750 1-0 GM Ipatov Alexander 2619
6 GM Zhang Zhong 2619 ½-½ GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2748
7 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2744 ½-½ GM Bluebaum Matthias 2590
8 GM Bok Benjamin 2594 0-1 GM Yu Yangyi 2736
9 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2723 1-0 IM Lin Chen 2532
10 GM Rambaldi Francesco 2560 ½-½ GM Korobov Anton 2713
11 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2542 ½-½ GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2710
12 GM Howell David W L 2688 1-0 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2521
13 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2520 ½-½ GM Matlakov Maxim 2684
14 GM Hou Yifan 2683 ½-½ GM Harika Dronavalli 2513
15 GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2513 ½-½ GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2663
16 GM Dubov Daniil 2655 ½-½ IM Gagare Shardul 2470
17 IM Yuffa Daniil 2504 1-0 GM Bologan Viktor 2654
18 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2648 ½-½   Fang Yuxiang 2438
19   Xu Yinglun 2470 ½-½ GM Sjugirov Sanan 2646
20 GM Swiercz Dariusz 2646 1-0   Firouzja Alireza 2372
21 IM Tissir Mohamed 2346 ½-½ GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2644
22   Raja Harshit 2325 0-1 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2639
23 GM Aravindh Chithambaram 2486 0-1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2834
24 IM Batsiashvili Nino 2498 0-1 GM Harikrishna P. 2743
25 GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2737 1-0 IM Ma Zhonghan 2463
26 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2710 1-0 IM Tabatabaei M.Amin 2482
27 GM Ni Hua 2693 1-0 IM Sagar Shah 2441
28 IM Puranik Abhimanyu 2442 ½-½ GM Moiseenko Alexander 2689
29 IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin 2454 0-1 GM Adhiban B. 2669
30 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2664 ½-½ IM Ali Marandi Cemil Can 2454
31 GM Carlsson Pontus 2433 0-1 GM Akopian Vladimir 2648
32 IM Padmini Rout 2437 ½-½ GM Khairullin Ildar 2647
33 GM Shankland Samuel L 2646 ½-½ IM Vignesh N R 2422
34 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2642 ½-½ FM Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2429
35 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2638 1-0 IM Saiyn Zhanat 2394
36 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2626 1-0 FM Haria Ravi 2416
37 GM Bartel Mateusz 2620 ½-½ IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2380
38 IM Karavade Eesha 2379 ½-½ GM Lu Shanglei 2618
39 GM Hamdouchi Hicham 2597 1-0 IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen 2319
40 IM Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 2385 0-1 GM Vocaturo Daniele 2597
41 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa 2322 ½-½ GM Esen Baris 2562
42 WGM Bartel Marta 2271 0-1 GM Xu Jun 2526
43 GM Bromberger Stefan 2521 0-1 WGM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2390
44   Roy Prantik 2370 ½-½ GM Schroeder Jan-Christian 2511
45 GM Wei Yi 2730 1-0 FM Basso Pier Luigi 2438
46 FM Rohan Ahuja 2426 0-1 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2724
47 GM Khismatullin Denis 2654 1-0 IM Aryan Chopra 2436
48 GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2589 1-0 IM Nezad Husein Aziz 2425
49 IM Seyb Alexander 2425 1-0 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2559
50 IM Svane Rasmus 2529 1-0 FM Gholami Aryan 2422
51   Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 2414 1-0 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2496
52 IM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2494 ½-½ WGM Saduakassova Dinara 2407
53   Siva Mahadevan 2400 0-1 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2493
54 IM Ezat Mohamed 2490 ½-½ IM Slavin Alexey 2388
55 IM Abhishek Kelkar 2393 1-0 GM Shoker Samy 2489
56 GM Zhukova Natalia 2488 1-0 IM Konguvel Ponnuswamy 2377
57 FM Li Di 2389 1-0 IM Sanal Vahap 2487
58 GM Neelotpal Das 2475 ½-½ IM Guramishvili Sopiko 2368
59 IM Li Ruofan 2372 ½-½ GM Krush Irina 2468
60 FM Moroni Luca Jr 2466 1-0 WIM Bivol Alina 2344
61 IM Ly Moulthun 2462 1-0 WFM Vaishali R 2313
62   Dai Changren 2328 1-0 GM Venkatesh M.R. 2451
63 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2448 1-0 IM Piasetski Leon 2287
64 FM Goriatchkin Jouri 2318 ½-½ IM Firat Burak 2446
65 IM Vogel Roven 2439 ½-½ WIM Pratyusha Bodda 2260
66 WIM Derakhshani Dorsa 2307 0-1 IM Wang Yiye 2438

Football Match

After the round, at 10.p.m. there was a football match held in the grounds of the aspire zone. Even though it was quite late in the night everyone was sure that one player would turn up – Magnus Carlsen, who loves to indulge in any kind of sport! As it happened, many grandmasters arrived: Evgeny Tomashevsky, Dariusz Swiercz, Piorun Kacper, Mateusz Bartel, Pavel Tregubov, Alexandra Kosteniuk (yes she too played and we must say, she was quite good!), Benjamin Bok, Daniil Yuffa, Salem Saleh, Samy Shoker, Pontus Carlsson and a few others. Here are some exclusive pictures by Amruta Mokal, who went to the match and made sure that the ball didn’t hit her camera!

Daniil Yuffa and Magnus Carlsen battle it out on the soccer field for now.
Tomorrow they will be sitting across each other on the chess board.

…but Alexandra Kosteniuk made sure that the World Champion faced some stiff resistance

A beautiful couple! Kosteniuk and Tregubov made sure that they were on the same team

Accrobatic Salem Saleh is tackled by Bartel Mateusz (with Swiercz Dariusz watching)

Exhausted, but that was great fun! Mateusz and Salem.

Great camaraderie! A final group picture for posterity!

All photos by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India

Schedule for Playchess Commentary

Day Round Time English German
Tue 22 December  Round 3 3 PM Simon Williams Sebastian Siebrecht
Wed 23 December  Round 4 3 PM Daniel King Thomas Luther
Thu 24 December  Round 5 3 PM Simon Williams Thomas Luther
Fri 25 December  Rest day      
Sat 26 December  Round 6 3 PM Mihail Marin Thomas Luther
Sun 27 December  Round 7 3 PM Simon Williams Sebastian Siebrecht
Mon 28 December  Round 8 3 PM Daniel King Sebastian Siebrecht
Tue 29 December  Round 9 12 PM Yasser Seirawan Sebastian Siebrecht


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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slasheru slasheru 12/23/2015 11:41
would be nice if you could stop referring to players by their first name