Yu and Sukandar win Asian Continental 2014

by Sagar Shah
4/29/2014 – Yu Yangyi is the 19-year-old veni-vidi-vici grandmaster from China, who has added this title to the many he came, saw and conquered in the past years. China trumped their chief rivals, taking three places to India's one for the World Cup in Baku next year. Indonesian WGM Irene Sukandar Kharisma won the women's section (report to follow). Games, results and analysis.

Yu and Sukandar Champions at Asian Continental 2014

By Sagar Shah

The Asian Continental Championships (Open and Women) were held from 17th-26th April 2014 in the city of Sharjah, UAE. This tournament not only helps to find out who the strongest players in Asia are, but also at stake are five spots from the Open section and one spot from the Women section for the World Cup 2015 to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The tournament was extremely hard fought and, as we shall see further in the article, there were a lot of interesting games. But before we get immersed in the details let us congratulate the two extremely talented youngsters who were crowned as the Asian Champions.

1994 born Yu Yangyi (2667) and 1992 born Irene Sukandar Kharisma (2319)
are the Asian champions in Open and Women category respectively

Chinese GM Yu Yangyi (2667) played a fantastic tournament by scoring 7.0/9
with a rating performance of 2812 and also gaining 16 Elo points

Every time something is written about Yu, the quote veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) rings through one’s mind. This 19-year-old lad has won almost everything he sets his eyes upon! In September 2013 he won the World Junior Championships. In March 2014, he won the Chinese Championships. And now in April 2014 he has won the Asian Continental championships. Thus, he has conquered his nation, his continent and the world in his age category. He will now surely be eyeing the World Cup 2015.

It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise now that Yu was also the winner of the Asian Blitz which took place during the tournament. Yu Yangyi goes back home not only richer by $6000, but also with a lot of wonderful games to his credit. Particularly impressive was his game against S P Sethuraman of India in the sixth round.

Sethuraman-Yu (0-1 in 34 moves). Yu Yangyi showed beautiful understanding of
the hedgehog structure in the Sicilian in his game against the Indian GM.

[Event "13th Asian Continental-ch Open"] [Site "Sharjah"] [Date "2014.04.22"] [Round "6"] [White "Sethuraman, S.P."] [Black "Yu, Yangyi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B42"] [WhiteElo "2576"] [BlackElo "2667"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [EventCountry "UAE"] [SourceDate "2008.12.02"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. Qe2 d6 8. c4 {Sethuraman sets up a Maroczy Bind against the Scheveningen setup of Yu. Black is a little passive but quite solid.} Be7 (8... g6 {is another interesting way to play this position.}) 9. Nc3 b6 10. f4 {Sethuraman shows no reservations when it comes to his aggressive play. He is ready to squash Black with the move e4-e5.} Nbd7 {Stopping e5.} 11. Kh1 O-O 12. Bd2 {Making way for the a-rook to come to e1, in order to execute e4-e5.} Bb7 13. Rae1 Rfd8 $1 { Usually in the Hedgehog the black rooks are well placed on e8 and c8. But here Yu places his rook on d8 to have indirect pressure over the d4 knight and make e4-e5 difficult to execute.} 14. b4 {White expands both in the center as well as on the queenside.} (14. Nf3 {is more usual, continuing with the idea of e4-e5. How should Black respond?} Rac8 $1 {keeping calm} 15. e5 Ng4 $1 {this is the right way to play} (15... dxe5 $2 16. fxe5 Ng4 17. Bf4 Nc5 18. Bb1 $14 { With h3 coming up, Black is in trouble.}) (15... Ne8 {is met with the extremely strong move} 16. Nd5 $1 exd5 17. e6 $1 $18 {The black position is falling apart.}) 16. h3 Nh6 17. f5 Nxf5 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. e6 Ne5 20. exf7+ Kxf7 21. Nxe5+ dxe5 22. Rxf5+ Kg8 $11 {Black is holding on in this position.}) (14. e5 {is of course impossible due to} dxe5 15. fxe5 Qxe5 16. Qxe5 Nxe5 17. Rxe5 Rxd4 $19) 14... Rac8 15. a3 Bf8 16. Rc1 g6 (16... Qb8 {This is a common idea in the Hedgehog. It makes sense to remove the queen from the influence of the rook on c1, but here its important to have the queen on the second rank.} 17. f5 $1 e5 (17... Re8 {might be more circumspect.}) 18. Ne6 $1 fxe6 19. fxe6 $16) 17. f5 {It is important now for Black to respond with a calm head.} Re8 $1 { Superb confidence. White is attacking Black with everything he has, and Black defends as if nothing has happened.} 18. fxe6 fxe6 19. e5 dxe5 20. Nf3 {White has played quite incisively, and now the ball is in Black's court. How should he respond?} Nh5 $1 (20... Bg7 21. Ng5 {With the idea to play Nge4.} e4 22. Ncxe4 $14 {White is clearly better.}) 21. g3 $6 {Sethuraman shows signs of confusion. He should have continued with the same vigour of his previous moves. } (21. Ng5 {With the idea of Nh7.} Nf4 22. Bxf4 exf4 23. Nxh7 $2 {This sacrifice doesn't really work, but it looks quite scary.} (23. Nxe6 Qe5 24. Nxf8 (24. Qxe5 Nxe5 25. Nxf4 Nxd3 26. Nxd3 Rxc4 $17) 24... Rxf8 25. Be4 Bxe4 26. Nxe4 Rce8 $11) 23... Kxh7 24. Qh5+ Kg8 25. Bxg6 (25. Qxg6+ Bg7 $17) 25... Nf6 $1 {The queen comes in handy on the second rank.} (25... Re7 $1) 26. Qg5 Qg7 (26... Bg7 27. Bxe8 Rxe8 28. Rxf4) 27. Rxf4 Be7 $17) (21. Be4 Nf4 22. Qe3 $11 {would have maintained equality.}) 21... Ndf6 {[%cal Gb7h1]} 22. Kg1 (22. Ne4 Bg7 $15) 22... Rcd8 (22... e4 23. Nxe4 Nxe4 24. Bxe4 Nxg3 25. hxg3 Qxg3+ 26. Kh1 Qh3+ 27. Nh2 $18 {This idea of e5-e4 with a sacrifice on g3 is not working right now, but its good to keep in mind that this possibility exists.}) 23. Bb1 $2 {Sethuraman cracks under pressure.} (23. Be4 Nxe4 24. Nxe4 $11 { would have been better.}) 23... e4 $1 {Now everything works just perfectly.} 24. Nxe4 Nxe4 25. Bxe4 Nxg3 $1 26. hxg3 Qxg3+ 27. Qg2 (27. Kh1 Qh3+ 28. Kg1 ( 28. Nh2 Bxe4+ 29. Qxe4 Rxd2 $19) 28... Qg4+ $1 {drops the e4 bishop.}) 27... Qxg2+ 28. Kxg2 Bxe4 {With two extra pawns, the rest is just matter of technique.} 29. Be3 Rd3 30. Bxb6 Rxa3 31. c5 Bh6 32. Rce1 Bd5 33. Rd1 Ba8 34. Rd6 Bf4 0-1

The silver medal went to one of the most talented youngsters from India, B. Adhiban (2609), who played some exciting chess to finish with 6.5/9 with a performance of 2732, gaining 15 Elo points.

After six games, Adhiban was just cruising along with 5.0/6. However he lost his crucial seventh round against the strong Chinese GM Ni Hua. With 5.0/7, things were looking bleak for the Indian youngster. However, like a true champion he rose to the challenge and defeated Jumabayev Rinat in the eighth round with the black pieces. This was Adhiban’s favourite game from the tournament.

[Event "13th Asian Continental Open Chess Champi"] [Site "Sharjah Culture and Chess Club"] [Date "2014.04.24"] [Round "8.3"] [White "Jumabayev, Rinat"] [Black "Adhiban, B."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E97"] [WhiteElo "2580"] [BlackElo "2609"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2014.04.17"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] {The King's Indian Defense always serves well when you are in a must win situation. Adhiban plays an excellent game, however towards the end it starts tending towards the draw. But a small imperceptible mistake by his opponent allows the Indian to co-ordinate his rook, knight and king to decisively march his pawn down the board.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nh5 10. g3 a5 11. b5 Nf6 12. b6 cxb6 13. Ba3 Bh6 14. Rb1 Bh3 15. Re1 Nc8 16. c5 bxc5 17. Rxb7 Ra7 18. Rxa7 Nxa7 19. Bc1 Bxc1 20. Qxc1 Bg4 21. Qb2 a4 22. Rb1 Qa5 23. Qc2 Nd7 24. Nxa4 Bxf3 25. Bxf3 Nb5 26. Qd3 Qxa4 27. Qxb5 Qxa2 28. Rf1 Nf6 29. Qb6 Qa3 30. Kg2 c4 31. Qc7 c3 32. Re1 g5 33. h3 h5 34. Re3 g4 35. hxg4 hxg4 36. Bd1 Kg7 37. Rxc3 Qa1 38. Rc1 Qd4 39. Qc4 Nxe4 40. Qxd4 exd4 41. Bxg4 f5 42. Rc7+ Kf6 43. Bd1 Rb8 44. f4 Rb2+ 45. Rc2 Rb3 46. Bf3 d3 47. Rc7 d2 48. Bh5 Rxg3+ 49. Kf1 Rg7 50. Rxg7 Kxg7 0-1

Once the eighth round was won, Adhiban only required a draw in the last round. However he faced the in-form and tournament leader Yu Yangyi. A draw would have been fine for Yu to win the gold. However Abhiban had the white pieces. It was a typical scenario deciding between going all out for a win or playing it safe. Here is how Adhiban describes his thoughts before the last game:

The last round was really interesting, mainly because of the psychological reasons involved. I constantly had to battle with my mind on which was more important: the Asian title or a qualification for the World Cup. Finally I convinced myself that I am going to go for the title. But once the game started, I started feeling some negative emotions and also ran into difficulties in the opening stage. I managed to fight on and even got a better position. In the final position, when he offered draw, I probably should have played on. But I felt too much was at stake and accepted the draw. I think you never can be fully happy unless you win the tournament.

Surely you remember this picture of Magnus after he won the World Championship 2013.
Team Magnus threw him in the swimming pool of the hotel.

Something similar happened to the Indian star [photo courtesy Soumya Swaminathan]

Adhiban was thrown in the swimming pool of the hotel by the Indian team after winning the silver medal. He had already qualified to round three in World Cup 2013 after beating Alekseev and Fier. According to him it’s too early to think about World Cup 2015 but he pledges that he will work really hard for it!

GM Ni Hua (2654) of China clinched the bronze medal with a score of 6.5/9. What was really surprising is the fact that Ni Hua had lost his first round game. In spite of being on 0.0/1, to score 6.5 in the remaining eight rounds is a wonderful feat.

Pure grit, determination and concentration helped the Chinese GM to qualify for World Cup 2015 and win the bronze medal. A beautiful game played by him was his win against GM B. Adhiban in round seven. Ni showed the power of his two bishops and played the endgame in flawless style. It’s an ending worthy of careful examination.

[Event "13th Asian Continental Open Chess Champ"] [Site "Sharjah Culture and Chess Clu"] [Date "2014.04.23"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Adhiban, B."] [Black "Ni, Hua"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2609"] [BlackElo "2654"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2rr2k1/1p3pbp/p1b1p1p1/2PpP3/1P6/5N1P/1P3PP1/R1BR2K1 b - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2014.04.17"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "UAE"] {Black has the two bishops. How should he continue? If White were able to get in Bf4 followed by Nd4 then he would be really safe. However Ni Hua immediately opened the position for his bishops with} 21... d4 $1 22. Nxd4 Bxe5 23. Be3 Be8 {Preserving the two bishops.} 24. Rd2 Rd5 25. Rad1 Rcd8 26. b3 Bf6 27. f3 e5 28. Nc2 Bc6 29. Na3 Rxd2 30. Rxd2 Rxd2 31. Bxd2 {The rooks have been exchanged, Black's advantage has increased a little. He now not only has the two bishops but also a working kingside majority. Once again Ni Hua strives for maximum activity for his bishops and opens up the position.} e4 $1 32. fxe4 Bd4+ 33. Kf1 Bxe4 {[%csl Ra3,Gd4,Ge4] Though this position might not be winning for Black, objectively it is extremely unpleasant for White to defend. Adhiban tries to exchange one of the black bishop.} 34. Nc4 Kg7 35. Be3 Bc3 36. Bd2 Bd4 37. Be3 Bc3 38. Bd2 Bxd2 39. Nxd2 Bd5 $17 {Transposing to a bishop vs knight ending in which the bishop is superior to the knight.} 40. Kf2 Kf6 41. g3 g5 42. Nc4 $5 {Setting a nice trap. Going into the pawn ending looks attractive, but its only a draw.} Ke6 $1 (42... Bxc4 $2 43. bxc4 Ke5 44. Ke3 ( 44. b5 axb5 45. cxb5 Kd5 46. c6 bxc6 47. bxc6 Kxc6 48. g4 Kd5 $19) 44... f5 45. h4 h6 46. hxg5 hxg5 47. Kd3 f4 48. gxf4+ gxf4 49. b5 axb5 50. cxb5 Kd5 51. c6 $11) 43. Ke3 h5 44. Nd2 Bg2 45. h4 f6 46. Nc4 Kf5 47. Kf2 Bc6 48. Ne3+ Ke4 49. Ng2 Ke5 50. Ne3 gxh4 51. Nc4+ (51. gxh4 Bd5 $1 $19 52. Nxd5 Kxd5 53. Ke3 Ke5) 51... Kd4 52. gxh4 Kc3 {The black king infiltrates and the rest is very easy.} 53. Ne3 Kxb4 54. Nf5 Kxb3 55. Ng7 a5 56. Nxh5 {The race is too one sided.} a4 57. Nf4 a3 58. Nd3 Kc3 59. Nc1 Be8 60. Ke3 Bg6 61. Ke2 Kc2 62. Na2 Bf7 63. Nb4+ Kc3 {A fine display of endgame technique by Ni Hua.} 0-1

Rustam Kasimdzhanov played solid chess with four wins and five draws and
lived up to his reputation to finish fourth and qualify for World Cup 2015

GM Wen Yang (2581) of China possessed nerves of steel as he overcame GM Krishnan
Sasikiran (2680) in the final round to finish fifth and secure a berth for World Cup 2015

Salem A R Saleh (2561) gave the local fans a lot to cheer about after finishing sixth with an excellent performance of 2687. Though only five players qualify for the World Cup 2015, the fact that Yu Yangyi has already booked his place on the basis of being the reigning World Junior champion gives the right to Salem to participate in the World Cup.

Two Chinese and an Indian took the top honours: Ni Hua, B. Adhiban and Yu Yangyi

Top final ranking (after nine rounds)

Rk. SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.
1 4 GM Yu Yangyi CHN 2667 7.0
2 12 GM Adhiban B. IND 2609 6.5
3 5 GM Ni Hua CHN 2654 6.5
4 2 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2693 6.5
5 14 GM Wen Yang CHN 2581 6.5
6 17 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2561 6.0
7 1 GM Bu Xiangzhi CHN 2699 6.0
8 10 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2621 6.0
9 16 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2576 6.0
10 6 GM Negi Parimarjan IND 2640 6.0
11 20 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2531 5.5
12 18 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2556 5.5
13 15 GM Jumabayev Rinat KAZ 2580 5.5
14 26 GM Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan MGL 2507 5.5
15 9 GM Wei Yi CHN 2629 5.5
16 24 IM Wang Chen CHN 2513 5.5
17 11 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2610 5.5
18 36 GM Kunte Abhijit IND 2470 5.0
19 23 GM Rahman Ziaur BAN 2513 5.0
20 3 GM Sasikiran Krishnan IND 2680 5.0
21 48   Chu Wei Chao CHN 2315 5.0
22 32 GM Gao Rui CHN 2484 5.0
23 21 GM Vaibhav Suri IND 2530 5.0
24 34 IM Vakhidov Jahongir UZB 2472 5.0
25 29 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed QAT 2502 5.0
26 38 FM Pourramezanali Amirreza IRI 2435 5.0
27 22 GM Batchuluun Tsegmed MGL 2521 5.0
28 19 GM Gopal G.N. IND 2553 5.0
29 7 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2631 5.0

The Asian Continental championships have ended and the question that we set at the start of the event has to be asked once again: “Who are the superpowers of Asian Chess?” And without a doubt, this award goes to China! With three players (Yu Yangyi, Ni Hua and Wen Yang) qualifying for the world cup 2015 we can safely say that China is currently the dominating force in Asian Chess.

– The second part of this report on the women's section will follow shortly –


The games were 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 12 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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