Asian Continental starts with dreams and hopes

by ChessBase
5/30/2016 – The Uzbekistan Chess Federation on behalf of Asian Chess Federation and FIDE is hosting the Asian Continental Chess Championships. Atstake are five places in the World Cup for the Open section, and one spot in the Women World Championship. Top seeds are Le Quang Liem, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, and Wei Yi, but the field is chock full of prodigies ready to make waves. An illustrated report.

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By Albert Silver and Priyadarshan Banjan

Photos by Evgeny Smolnikov

Most of the great cities of the world are characterised by the inherent social and demographic conflicts that are ingrained in them. It is often starkly visible in the form of the old relics and customs and the modern ways that succeeded them, without really killing their predecessors. Tashkent qualifies — a part of it is a new-age metropolis, the most happening place in Uzbekistan, a part of it a leafy Soviet-era city, and also, a part of it is a home away from home represented by sprawling greenery. 

The Uzbekistan Chess Federation on behalf of Asian Chess Federation and FIDE is hosting the Asian Continental Chess Championships (Open and Women’s) from 25 May — 5 June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The tournament is a nine-round-swiss with the time control of 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The tournament is being hosted at the four-star Uzbekistan Hotel...

...and began with much fanfare.

The costumery was breathtaking

The stakes are multi-tiered and while some are no doubt dreaming of not only one of the top cash prizes such as the US$11,000 for first place and US$9,000 for second, but also the five coveted places in the next World Cup, but also the rich title norm opportunities. In a sense the five top places are far richer than the prize list would suggest, since a place in the World Cup, even if it should mean a first-round exit, still entails a nice bonus in the end. Never think the chances (or lack of) are clear even if you aren't a top seed here such as Le Quang Liem or Rustam Kasimdzhanov, comfortably placed in the 2700 club. Ask Canadian Anton Kovalyov, who could not believe his lucky stars as he made it to the third round in the Baku WOrld Cup last year, falling to Fabiano Caruana, and leaving with a far larger paycheck than he had ever expected.

Le Quang Liem is the top seed with 2718, and though he was held to a draw by Chinese
player GM Wen Yang, he is in no.1 on tiebreak over five others.

Le Quang Liem - Murtas Kazhgaleyev

The Vietnamese player found a neat tactic that yielded him a decisive
advantage. Can you find it? White to play and win.

[Event "15th Asian Continental"] [Site "Tashkent UZB"] [Date "2016.05.28"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Le, Quang Liem"] [Black "Kazhgaleyev, Murtas"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D25"] [WhiteElo "2718"] [BlackElo "2582"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2016.05.26"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Bxc4 e6 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. h3 Bh5 8. Bb5 Bd6 9. e4 Bb4 10. Qa4 O-O 11. Bxc6 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 bxc6 13. Nd2 e5 14. O-O exd4 15. cxd4 Be2 16. Re1 Bb5 17. Qc2 Qxd4 18. Bb2 Qa4 19. Qc1 Nd7 20. Re3 Rad8 { [#] Missing the fantastic tactic found by White.} 21. Bxg7 $3 Kxg7 22. Qb2+ f6 23. Rg3+ {Not really forced, but nor does it change anything. An optional zwischenzug if you will.} Kh8 24. Ra3 $1 {The queen is trapped, and with this loss of material plus Black's destroyed pawn structure, White is technically won.} Qxa3 25. Qxa3 Ne5 26. Nf3 Nd3 27. Qxa7 Rf7 28. a4 Bc4 29. Rb1 c5 30. a5 Kg7 31. Rb7 Rc8 32. Nh4 Be6 33. Qa6 Nf4 34. Qc6 c4 35. Kh2 1-0

In second place is third-seed GM Wei Yi, the great Chinese prodigy who finally seems to be
shrugging off a short phase of indifferent form and is also at 3.5/4.

The second seed is local hero Rustam Kasimdzhanov who also shares 3.5/4

Still, it is not all about top places and World Cup spots. Many players know that short of a large chunk of the field breaking their legs en masse, they are there for the glory, the competition and a norm if that is missing from their CV. In fact, the Asian Continental is an extremely fertile field for norms as these events enjoy a two-for-one offer on norms. In other words, any norm scored is worth two towards a title. As a result many come seeking their fates here, including a swath of slavering juniors ready to claim the scalp of any player not able to fend them off.

Among the young guns is 12-year-old Alireza Firouzja, who made waves when he stomped the
Iranian Championship. The young player, rated 2485, drew Ni Hua (2682) in round two, but was
finally made to respect his elders when he lost to Kasimdzhanov (above) in round three. He won
his round four game againsta fellow prodigy and is on the hunt for that double norm.

11-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattarov is one of the local prodigies seeking a norm and experience

Iranian GM Ehsan Maghami also had a strong start and is in the pack with 3.5/4. In round
three he defeated...

... GM Vidit Gujrathi.

India is certainly well represented, such as GM S.P. Sethuruman ...

... 16-year-old GM Chithambaram, and...

...17-year-old GM Karthikeyan, Indian champion, who had a tough start with two losses in
rounds two and three, before rebounding with a win in round four.

Standings after four rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB 
1 1 GM Le Quang Liem VIE 2718 3,5 2555
2 3 GM Wei Yi CHN 2694 3,5 2535
3 2 GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam UZB 2703 3,5 2492
4 7 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND 2654 3,5 2485
5 19 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan IRI 2551 3,5 2467
6 13 GM Wen Yang CHN 2611 3,5 2414
7 6 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi IND 2658 3,0 2443
8 14 GM Kazhgaleyev Murtas KAZ 2582 3,0 2408
9 16 GM Vakhidov Jahongir UZB 2578 3,0 2397
10 12 GM Lu Shanglei CHN 2614 3,0 2363
11 31 GM Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy VIE 2458 3,0 2362
12 18 GM Gao Rui CHN 2556 3,0 2521
13 25 GM Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan MGL 2499 3,0 2505
14 9 GM Sethuraman S.P. IND 2647 3,0 2479
15 4 GM Ni Hua CHN 2682 3,0 2460
16 11 GM Salem A.R. Saleh UAE 2625 3,0 2448
17 10 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son VIE 2636 3,0 2400
18 20 GM Sengupta Deep IND 2543 3,0 2350
19 32 GM Kostenko Petr KAZ 2457 3,0 2338
20 29 FM Igonin Temur UZB 2474 2,5 2645
21 35 IM Firman Syah Farid INA 2432 2,5 2613
22 27   Firouzja Alireza IRI 2485 2,5 2533
23 22 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND 2528 2,5 2515
24 38   Yakubboev Nodirbek UZB 2422 2,5 2465
25 62 FM Sonjaya Deni INA 2310 2,5 2460

Click for complete standings

WGM Bhakti Kulkarni (2296) has faced two compatriots in three rounds already. She held IM Padmini Rout
to a draw, while she beat WGM Soumya Swaminathan — full credits for duking it out. She is now in first place
after defeating top-seed IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (2459) in round four. [Photo: Priyadarshan Banjan]

WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan is currently in third with 3.0/4

Standings after four rounds

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB 
1 15 WGM Kulkarni Bhakti IND 2296 3,5 2390
2 17 WGM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung VIE 2276 3,5 2336
3 11 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa IRI 2336 3,0 2147
4 8 WGM Hejazipour Mitra IRI 2349 3,0 2076
5 18 WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram VIE 2263 3,0 2395
6 25   Li Xueyi CHN 2105 3,0 2381
7 7 WIM Tokhirjonova Gulrukhbegim UZB 2390 3,0 2149
8 5 WGM Saduakassova Dinara KAZ 2415 2,5 2232
9 10 WGM Soumya Swaminathan IND 2346 2,5 2212
10 4 IM Padmini Rout IND 2433 2,5 2150
11 14 WGM Gomes Mary Ann IND 2304 2,5 2382
12 2 IM Guo Qi CHN 2447 2,5 2290
13 9 IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen VIE 2348 2,5 2284
14 6 IM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs MGL 2412 2,5 2150
15 13 WIM Vaishali R IND 2322 2,5 2150
16 16 WIM Gong Qianyun SIN 2293 2,0 2363
17 1 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2459 2,0 2218
18 22   Yuan Ye CHN 2171 2,0 2190
19 26 WFM Abdusattorova Bakhora UZB 2091 2,0 2148
20 12 WIM Pratyusha Bodda IND 2336 2,0 2133

Click for complete standings


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