Tehran WWCh Rd2 G2: Consistency, nerves, and a bit of luck

by Elshan Moradiabadi
2/16/2017 – The second game of round two saw even more melodrama with so many upsets and excitement. After losing a completely won position, Caissa decided to square matters with Natalia Buksa, giving her the kind of luck she needed to win a near lost position against Sopiko Guramishvili, and force a tie-break. Theirs was hardly the only one to go to a tiebreak, and no fewer than nine matches will need to be decided in overtime. Here is the report with photos and GM analysis.

All photos by David Llada

Sopiko saw her good fortune from game one swing back to Natalia Buksa in game two

Chief Arbiter Anastasia Sorokina in a good mood. It seems that the initial stress is completely gone!

After being back in her element, Nana Dzagnidze showed another poor performance against Olega Zimina and was completely outplayed on the white side of the English opening. However, once more Nana’s colossal experience came handy and she managed to trick her opponent with a somewhat hard-to-see piece sacrifice. In a must win situation, Zimina declined making a draw and succumbed to White’s attack along the g-file. A great 2-0 victory for Nana but things could have been very different if Zimina had not run out of steam.

Ju Wenjun was almost winning but a draw was good enough for her to advance to the second round

After an overly-optimistic opening, Zhu Chen might easily have ended up 0-2 against Ju Wenjun but Ju Wenjun did not play accurately and all of her advantage was gone once Zhu Chen managed to get her king to safety. Nevertheless, the Women world No.2 showed her class and demonstrated a consistent performance to secure an easy draw to advance to the next round.

After a loss with the white pieces, Anastasia Bodnaruk had to go all in against Olga Girya. Unfortunately, her endeavors did not pay off and Girya got a very solid position out of the opening, after which, she gradually managed to grind down Bodnaruk and advance to the third round.

In a lot of even matches, like Pia Cramling vs Elizabeth Paehtz (above), the players showed consistent and cautious play and saved their nerves for the black-hole of energy, tie-breaks!

However, Aleksandra Goryachkina had a different approach and after her winning chance fizzled out against Vietnamese Pham Thanh Nguyen, she lost her objectivity and nerve, and went down at the hands of Pham, who is the dark horse and surprise of the event by reaching the Top 16.

Goryachkina - Pham

[Event "FIDE Women's World Championship"] [Site "Playchess.com"] [Date "2017.02.15"] [Round "11.15"] [White "Goryachkina, Aleksandra"] [Black "Pham, Le Thao Nguyen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D38"] [WhiteElo "2466"] [BlackElo "2351"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "138"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Qxf6 7. Qa4+ Nc6 8. e3 O-O 9. Rc1 Qg6 10. Qc2 Qxc2 11. Rxc2 Rd8 12. a3 Bf8 13. Be2 (13. Nb5 Rd7 14. cxd5 exd5 15. Bd3 a6 16. Nc3 Na7 17. Bf5 (17. g4 $5 Rd8 18. Rg1 Nc6 19. h4 g6) 17... Rd8 18. Bxc8 Nxc8 $11 {1-0 (65) Wang,H (2717)-Movsesian,S (2653) Huaian 2016}) 13... Na5 14. c5 Nc6 15. b4 g5 16. b5 $146 (16. g4 e5 $1 17. Nxe5 Nxe5 18. dxe5 a5 19. O-O axb4 20. axb4 c6 21. Rd1 Bg7 22. f4 Re8 {With great position for black. 0-1 (50) Krasenkow,M (2610)-Hammer,J (2695) Stockholm 2016} ) 16... Ne7 17. O-O Bg7 18. h3 f6 19. Rd1 Bd7 20. a4 a5 21. bxa6 bxa6 22. Rb2 Be8 23. Ne1 Nc6 24. Bd3 Kf8 25. Nc2 {white has a clear edge!} Ke7 26. g4 Rab8 27. Rbb1 Rxb1 28. Rxb1 Ra8 29. Kf1 Kd8 30. Ke2 Ne7 31. f3 a5 32. e4 Bc6 33. Bb5 Bb7 34. Ne3 dxe4 35. fxe4 Bc8 36. Kd2 $2 (36. d5 $1 Ng6 37. Rd1 Ke7 38. dxe6 $1 Nf4+ 39. Kf3 Bxe6 40. Ncd5+ {and white is winning.}) 36... f5 37. exf5 Bxd4 $2 (37... c6 {was necessary.}) 38. f6 $2 {Goryachkina dropped win for the second time.} (38. Rd1 $1 c6 39. Ke2 e5 40. Bc4 {with close to winning advantage for white.}) 38... Bxf6 39. Rf1 Ng8 40. Ne4 Ke7 41. Nc4 Bg7 42. c6 $2 {and the third time.} (42. Ned6 $1 Nf6 (42... cxd6 43. cxd6+ Kd8 44. Ne5 $18) 43. Nxc8+ Rxc8 44. Nxa5 Rd8+ 45. Ke2 Rd5 46. Nc6+ Kf8 47. Rc1 $18) 42... Nf6 43. Nxf6 Bxf6 44. Ke3 Bc3 45. Ke4 Ba6 46. Rf3 (46. Rd1 {is more accurate.}) 46... Bb4 47. Ne5 Bxb5 48. axb5 Kd6 {the position is equal now but Goryachkina loses objectivity and starts to over push} 49. Rf7 Kc5 {white's pawn start to fall and white's knight would be dominated by now strong black bishop.} (49... Bc3 $1 {seems to be winning for black.}) 50. Rxc7 Kxb5 51. Rb7+ Kc5 52. Rh7 (52. c7 Rc8 {does not work.}) 52... Bc3 53. c7 $2 {This was one of the last moment which could keep Goryachkina's chances alive.} (53. Rxh6 a4 54. Rxe6 Rc8 55. Nd7+ Kb5 56. Kd3 {with great drawing chances.}) 53... Rc8 54. Rd7 Kb6 {Pham returns the favor.} 55. Rd6+ (55. Nc4+ Kc6 56. Rd6+ Kxc7 57. Kd3 {should be enough to hold the draw.} Bb4 58. Rxe6) 55... Kb7 56. Rxe6 Rxc7 {The game and tournament is over for young Aleksandra.} 57. Kd5 Bxe5 58. Rxe5 Rc6 59. h4 gxh4 60. Rh5 a4 61. Rxh4 a3 62. Rh2 Ra6 63. Ra2 Kc7 64. Kc4 Kd6 65. Kb3 Ke5 66. Re2+ Kf4 67. Ka2 Kxg4 68. Re8 h5 69. Rg8+ Kh3 0-1

This was not the only bad news for Russians, Valentina Gunina, a world class player and a world class rapid player, succumbed to Ni Shiqun for the second time to leave the event earlier than expected.

As we mentioned earlier, many of the players who had lost their first matches, tried to complicate matters in the second game. This backfired in most cases, though Tan Zhongyi had a different approach today: She chose a well-known theoretical positon in the Slav with a clear plan for White. Afterwards, she kept her composure and executed White’s plan step by step and with a little help from Anna Ushenina, she managed to force a tie-break.

Tan Zhongyi vs A. Ushenina

[Event "FIDE Women's World Championship"] [Site "Playchess.com"] [Date "2017.02.15"] [Round "11.9"] [White "Tan, Zhongyi"] [Black "Ushenina, Anna"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D19"] [WhiteElo "2502"] [BlackElo "2444"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "79"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. c4 {In a "must-win situation" against ex-world champion Anna Ushenina, Tan Zhongyi showed great control over her nerves and pulled out a superb strategic victory.} c6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 {A well-known thread in the Slav. I have seen a few games of Ushenina in the past and I can tell you that she knows her openings to the tee.} 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 $5 {A harmless opening with a clear plan. Does Tan Zhongyi have something up her sleeve? She needs to win!} e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 O-O 10. e4 Bg6 11. Bd3 Bh5 12. e5 Nd5 13. Nxd5 cxd5 14. Qe3 {These moves have all been played before. I personally have 5 games on the white side in this position in the database!} Be7 15. Ne1 Bg6 16. f4 f5 $6 {I do not like this move. Black self-imposes a long-term agony over her bishop on g6.} (16... Rc8 17. g4 h6 $6 (17... Bxd3 18. Nxd3 Rc4) ( 17... Nc5 $5 $146 18. f5 Nb3 19. fxg6 hxg6 $1 20. Bxg6 Qb6 21. a5 Qxd4 $1 22. Qxd4 Nxd4 23. Bd3 Nb3 {and Black is clearly better.}) 18. Bxg6 fxg6 19. Nd3 Qb6 20. Bd2 Qb3 21. Rf2 Nb6 22. Raf1 Nc4 23. Qe2 Nxb2 24. Nxb2 Qxb2 25. Qd3 Qc2 26. Qb5 Bh4 27. Rg2 Qe4 28. Qxb7 Qxd4+ 29. Kh1 Rc2 30. Qb4 Qd3 31. Rfg1 Qf3 32. Rb1 Be7 33. Qb3 Qxb3 34. Rxb3 g5 35. f5 exf5 36. gxf5 Rxf5 37. Re2 g4 38. Kg2 Bg5 39. Rb8+ Kh7 40. e6 d4 41. Rb5 d3 42. Rxf5 dxe2 43. Be1 Bh4 {0-1 (43) Jakovenko,D (2736)-Wang,Y (2697) St Petersburg 2012}) 17. Bd2 Nb8 18. b4 Nc6 19. Nc2 $14 {White is better and going to expand on both flanks.} a6 20. Kh1 Qb6 21. Rab1 Rfc8 22. Rg1 {Tan Zhongyi is taking her time and builds things up gradually.} Bf8 23. h3 Qd8 24. a5 Rc7 25. Ne1 $1 {This knight is heading to g5. } b6 $6 {Ushenina feels obliged to do something and she starts to confuse herself.} 26. Nf3 b5 27. g4 fxg4 $2 {A decisive blunder. Black had to stay still and wait. Now White's pawns are unstoppable.} 28. Ng5 $1 {A thematic maneuver in this kind of position.} Qe8 29. hxg4 h6 30. f5 Bf7 31. Nf3 $18 { The game is strategically over.} Ne7 32. Rg2 Kh8 33. Rh2 Ng8 34. Rf1 Rac8 35. f6 Rc4 36. g5 Bxb4 37. Bxb4 Rxb4 38. fxg7+ Kxg7 39. gxh6+ Kh8 40. Qg1 {A great come back by Tan Zhongyi.} 1-0

Unlike Tan Zhongyi, Anastasia Savina did not manage to equalize and has to leave Tehran at the hands of...

...Chinese She Yang, who has demonstrated a consistent and solid performance so far.

I truly believe, in my humble opinion, that Tan’s approach is one of the best possible ones for tournaments with such a brutal formant: One should play chess in a consistent level, even if you level of play is not high, hold your nerve, and have faith… and a little bit of luck!

Finally, Kashilinskaya had Muzychuk over the ropes for the entire game but the Russian never managed to find a decisive cut through the game and Muzychuk survived with a bit of good fortune.

Kashlinskaya had Muzychuk on the ropes and almost scored but unfortunately for her, she ran out of steam and let Anna off the hookKashlinskaya - A. Muzychuk

[Event "FIDE Women's World Championship"] [Site "Playchess"] [Date "2017.02.15"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Kashlinskaya, Alina"] [Black "Muzychuk, Anna"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D83"] [WhiteElo "2418"] [BlackElo "2558"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn4k1/2p1pp2/2Pr3p/1P4p1/2R5/p5P1/2K1NPP1/R7 b - - 0 24"] [PlyCount "35"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:25:47"] [BlackClock "0:31:41"] {[#]} 24... Kg7 25. Nd4 $6 {White is still better but} (25. Kb3 Rd2 26. Ra2 { looks like a decisive advantage for White since the knight on b8 is doomed ever since the game had started.}) 25... Rf6 (25... Rd5 $1 26. b6 cxb6 27. c7 Na6 28. c8=Q Rxc8 29. Rxc8 Rxd4 30. Rxa3 Nb4+ 31. Kc3 e5 {should be holdable.}) 26. f4 $6 (26. f3 {seems safer to me because b6 is a threat now.}) 26... gxf4 27. gxf4 Rg6 28. g3 Kh7 29. Rc3 Rd6 30. Kd3 a2 31. Ke3 Ra4 32. Nc2 e5 33. Ra3 exf4+ 34. gxf4 Rc4 35. R1xa2 Re6+ 36. Kf3 Rf6 37. Ra8 Rcxf4+ 38. Ke3 Rf3+ 39. Ke2 Rf2+ 40. Ke3 R2f3+ 41. Ke2 Rf2+ {It is funny that Muzychuk did not touch her knight on b8 for the entire game!} 1/2-1/2
Round 2 Game 2
1 Ju Wenjun 1/2-1/2 32 Zhu, Chen
31 Kashlinskaya Alina 1/2-1/2 2 Muzychuk Anna
3 Kosteniuk Alexandra 1/2-1/2 30 Gaponenko Inna
29 Saduakassova, Dinara 1/2-1/2 4 Harika Dronavalli
5 Dzagnidze, Nana 1-0 28 Zimina Olga
27 Ni Shiqun 1-0 6 Gunina Valentina
7 Stefanova Antoaneta 1/2-1/2 26 Melia Salome
25 Padmini, Rout 1/2-1/2 8 Zhao Xue
9 Tan Zhongyi 1-0 24 Ushenina, Anna
23 Khurtsidze Nino 1/2-1/2 10 Batsiashvili Nino
11 Pogonina Natalija 1/2-1/2 22 Huang Qian
21 Savina Anastasia 1/2-1/2 12 Shen Yang
13 Buksa Nataliya 1-0 20 Guramishvili Sopiko
19 Cramling Pia 1/2-1/2 14 Paehtz Elisabeth
15 Goryachkina Aleksandra 0-1 18 Pham, Le Thao Nguyen
17 Girya Olga 1-0 16 Bodnaruk Anastasia

Check out more games with master analysis by Soumya Swaminathan and Sagar Shah here.


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Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching.
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