Tehran WWCh Rd3 G2: All calm on the western front!

by Elshan Moradiabadi
2/19/2017 – Six out of eight games drawn, mostly in a peaceful manner. Among these draws, there were two that actually went very well in black’s favor until the players on the black side decided to call it a day and conceded a draw. All said and done, four players qualified for the Quarterfinals while the remaining eight will fight in the tiebreakers. Illustrated report.

All photos by David Llada

It seems that the beginning of FIDE Grand Prix in Sharjah has cast its spell on the ladies, as six out of eight games drawn, mostly in a peaceful manner. Among these draws, there were two that actually went very well in black’s favor until the players on the black side decided to call it a day and conceded a draw. Why was that? Because both Dzagnidze and Stefanova had won their respective games yesterday against Shen Yang and Khurtsideze. Both Shen Yang and Khurtsidze failed to gain anything out of their openings and soon ended up in positions with fundamental strategic problems (though Khurtsidze was more in control than Shen Yang) and soon ended up accepting their fate.

Georgia's Nino Khurtsideze

China's Shen Yang

Thus, Dzagnidze and Stefanova are in the quarter-final, which was not hard to imagine before the beginning of the tournament.

Another player who made it to top eight was Anna Muzychuk.

However, her approach to the game was a bit different from her other two experienced colleagues: Having won her game with black pieces in her first game against the Vietnamese player Pham L., Muzychuk chose a super-solid set up against Pham’s Modern defense and soon obtained a clear edge out of the opening. Pham’s persistence of avoiding an equalizing plan in favor of “going all in” against white’s king backfired as Muzychuk’s fine handling of the position soon earned her an exchange and she ended up winning her match 2-0 after a somewhat prolonged game.

[Event "FIDE WWCC 2017"] [Site "Tehran"] [Date "2017.02.16"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Muzychuk, A."] [Black "Pham, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "149"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 {In this set up of Modern defense (knowns as a derivative of Pirc Defense) Black attempts to keep the option of putting pressure on d4 by skipping early development of knight to f6.} 4. c3 $5 { A solid and well-known approach. Now we soon will get a typical Torre/London middlegame.} a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 Nc6 8. Na3 $5 {Now white is threatening e5 which more or less forces black to play e5 , as a result of which, white manages to get a simple game with a fixed-center.} e5 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Nc4 Re8 (10... Nh5 11. Bf1 {would have led to equality after trading rhe queens but is that what Pham would want?}) 11. a4 $5 h6 (11... Nh5 {does not work like previous move because} 12. g3 $1 Bg4 13. Ne3 {and now} Bxf3 {does not work because} 14. Qxf3 Qxd3 15. Rd1 Nd4 16. cxd4 Qb3 17. Ra3 Qe6 18. d5 $16 ) 12. b4 $14 Bg4 13. h3 Bd7 $2 {This provoking maneuver does not really yield anything for black. There is no attack over h3!} 14. Be3 Nh5 15. Bf1 Qc8 16. Qd2 g5 $2 {I understand black's despraration but it only leaves her with some much to handle. White will win material soon with a lot of ease.} 17. b5 Nb8 18. b6 {Now white will win an exchange. The rest of the game is a one sided encounter in white's favor.} Bc6 19. bxc7 Qxc7 20. Nb6 Nd7 21. Nxa8 Rxa8 22. Qc2 Ndf6 23. Nd2 g4 24. g3 gxh3 25. Bxh3 Bd7 26. Bxd7 Qxd7 27. Kg2 Qg4 28. Qd1 Qg6 29. Qf3 Rd8 30. Qf5 Nf4+ 31. Bxf4 Qxf5 32. exf5 exf4 33. Ne4 fxg3 34. fxg3 Nxe4 35. Rxe4 Bxc3 36. Rb1 Rd7 37. Rb6 Kh7 38. Rh4 Bd2 39. Kf3 a5 40. Rh1 Rc7 41. Ke2 Bg5 42. Rhb1 Rc2+ 43. Kf3 Rc3+ 44. Kg2 Ra3 45. Rxb7 Kg7 46. R1b6 Rxa4 47. Rg6+ Kf8 48. Rb8+ Ke7 49. Ra6 Rb4 50. Rba8 Rb7 51. Rxa5 Kf6 52. R8a6+ Kg7 53. Ra7 Rb2+ 54. Kh3 Rb3 55. R5a6 Bf6 56. Rc6 Rb8 57. Rcc7 Rf8 58. Kg4 Bg5 59. Kh5 Bf6 60. Rc6 Rb8 61. Raa6 Bg5 62. f6+ Kh7 63. Rc7 Rf8 64. Raa7 Kg8 65. Rd7 Be3 66. Rac7 Bg5 67. Rb7 Be3 68. Kg4 Bc1 69. Kf5 Bg5 70. Rbc7 Be3 71. Rd3 Bb6 72. Rc6 Ba5 73. Ra6 Bb4 74. Ra4 Bc5 75. Rg4+ {Muzychuk had few inaccuracies here and there but it was only a matter of time for her to win this game. A neat positional demonstration by Anna!} 1-0

Be aware! Ni Shiqun took down another strong player

The only other decisive match of the day had an upsetting news for the Russian campaign. Natalia Pogonina, the finalist of the last knock-out world championship got eliminated at the hand of tournament phenom Ni Shiqun. Ni Shiqun, who happened to eliminate another Russian hopeful Valentina Gunina in the previous round, demonstrated a great deal of will and fighting spirit and did not concede to a quick draw but rather pushed hard to get the better of Pogonina, after the latter succumbed under time pressure on the ‘infamous 40th move’!

[Event "FIDE WWCC 2017"] [Site "Tehran"] [Date "2017.02.16"] [Round "3"] [White "Ni, Shiqun"] [Black "Pogonina, N."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "153"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 $5 {Ni Shiqun plays Scotch, a demonstration of will for a fight and not an easy draw!} exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 {Pogonina plays it safe!} 5. Nb3 $5 {Interesting choice by Shiqun! This is the most amibitious move in terms of opening strategy!} Bb6 6. Nc3 Nge7 7. Qe2 O-O 8. Be3 Bxe3 $6 (8... d6 9. O-O-O f5 {is the most common approach and makes more sense than Pogonina's passive approach.}) 9. Qxe3 d6 10. O-O-O a6 (10... a5 11. Bb5 Be6 12. Nc5 Bg4 13. f3 Qc8 14. Nd3 Be6 15. Nf4 {with good advantage for white.}) 11. f4 Qe8 $6 {an odd move!} 12. Bd3 b5 13. Rhe1 Bd7 14. Kb1 Kh8 {[#] White has more space and all of her pieces are centralized. Therefore, it is easy to deduce that white has a very big advantage.} 15. Qf3 Qc8 16. h3 b4 17. Nd5 a5 18. Nxe7 Nxe7 19. e5 Ng6 20. Nc1 a4 21. Qe4 $6 {This gives away most of white's advantage.} ( 21. g4 $1 {was expected!}) 21... Rb8 22. exd6 cxd6 23. Qd4 Bf5 (23... a3 { was necessary}) 24. g4 Bxd3 25. Rxd3 (25. Nxd3 b3 26. cxb3 axb3 27. a3 Qc2+ 28. Ka1 {and white is much better.}) 25... f5 26. g5 Qc5 27. Re6 Rbc8 28. Rd2 Qc4 29. Rxd6 Nxf4 30. h4 Nh5 31. b3 axb3 32. axb3 Qc3 33. Ne2 Qf3 (33... Qh3 { might have saved black.}) 34. Rd8 Rcxd8 35. Qxd8 Kg8 36. Qe7 {White is slightly better but the dramatic turn of event in time pressure makes the ending so different!} Qh1+ $2 (36... Qe4 {should hold the balance.}) 37. Kb2 Qa8 38. Rd7 (38. Qxb4 {would have won a pawn and probably the game.}) 38... Qe8 39. Nd4 f4 (39... Qxe7 40. Rxe7 f4 41. Nf3 Rb8 {should be a kind of endgame black can hold}) 40. Nf3 Qc8 $4 {The infamous fourteeth move! Black could still try to make a draw} 41. Rc7 Qd8 42. Qe6+ Kh8 43. Qc4 {white is winning now.} Qd6 44. Rc8 g6 45. Rc7 Ng7 46. Rb7 Rb8 47. Ra7 Rf8 48. Qb5 Rb8 49. Qc4 Rf8 50. Rc7 Nf5 51. Rc5 $6 Rb8 $6 (51... Ne3) 52. Rd5 Qb6 53. Rd7 (53. Qxf4) 53... Qe3 54. Qc7 Rf8 55. Rd3 Qe7 56. Qxe7 Nxe7 57. Rd4 {finally! white has a winning endgame!} h6 $2 {This makes things much easier for white!} 58. Rxb4 hxg5 59. hxg5 Nd5 60. Rd4 Ne3 61. c4 Ng2 62. c5 Re8 63. Kc3 Kg8 64. b4 Ra8 65. c6 Kf7 66. b5 Ke6 67. Kb4 Ne3 68. Kc5 Ra1 69. Rxf4 Rc1+ 70. Kd4 Nf5+ 71. Kd3 Kd5 72. Rb4 Nd6 73. Nd2 Rc5 74. Ne4 Nxe4 75. Rd4+ Ke5 76. Rxe4+ Kf5 77. Rc4 1-0

We must realize how hard it is to reach the finals like Pogonina did last time and what a strong player she is. Alas! She has to leave Tehran this time without a final.

Ju Wenjun will fight the tiebreakers against one of the two biggest Russian hopes left in the fray...

...Olga Girya.

The Indian champion Padmini Rout can very well be the dark horse of the tournament. She has also moved to the tiebreakers against another Chinese, Tan Zhongyi. Catch the Indian performance with master analysis here.

Never count experience out!


Pairings for Round 03 Tiebreakers:

Results of the Round 3.2

See what happened in the tiebreakers with games and results!


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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