Asian Cup: China leads, Iranians shine

by Albert Silver
5/24/2014 – After the Rapid competition, the standard event began, qualifying the winners to the World Team Championships later this year. In the Open section, the top seeds are China and India, though the Chinese have taken off in the lead. In the women's section, the top seeds are the Chinese again, but have met serious resistance by their rivals. Still, in both events Iran has top performers.

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The 2014 Asian Nations Cup is underway in Tabriz, Iran, and will run from May 20-30, 2014. It is a team event with men's and women competitions in blitz, rapid, and standard time controls. The first event is the rapid games competitions followed by the standard time controls, and finally on the last day the blitz event will be held.

Standard competition

Open - Rounds one to four

The standard time control competition of the Asian Cup is now midway, and it is the meat of the event for most of the players. Naturally, they all want medals  whatever the modality, but the winners of the standard event will earn the right to represent Asia in the subsequent World Team Championship later this year.

The number of rounds of the event depends entirely on the number of participants, and for the Open section, it is nine rounds if there are 16 teams or more, seven rounds of there are 11 to 16, and finally a round robin if ten or fewer. As chance would have it, there will be nine rounds this year, since although there are nine teams, the rules state that the host country (Iran) must field a second team to avoid byes, thus reaching ten teams and nine rounds.

Reigning Chinese champion and World Junior champion Yu Yangyi has scored 3.5/4

It is worth noting that the strength of the teams is wildly disparate, with teams such as China and Vietnam including 2700+ players on the top board, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, Jordan and Sri Lanka have average Elos in the 2000-2100 range, and Oman even less. Naturally it is an honor and pleasure for them to play against such prestigious opposition, but it also means there are a great number of matches ending with 4-0 scores as one would expect.

In round one the two Irans clashed and a drew ensued, though it was not without a fight. On board two of Iran-A, GM Moradiabadi (2586) was the only player on his team to win, while their board three lost. India struggled hard to beat Kazakhstan, and it was their top board (though not top rating) GM Sethuraman who clinched it by beating GM Jumabayev.

In round two, it was a wash of crushing scores in all matches but one, as India once more faced tough opposition in Vietnam. On the top board, Le Quang Liem was held to a draw by Sethuraman, while a win each on boards two and three stalemated the match at 2-2.

Le Quang Liem is one of the top seeds and only 2700 players in the competition

Though round three was also a tale of 3-1 and 4-0 scores, the real story of the day was China's crushing win over Kazakhstan by 3.5-0.5, avenging their loss in the Rapid tournament. On top board, GM Ding Liren (2714) led the charge by beating GM Jumabayev (2561), followed by Yu Yangi's (2675) win over GM Ismagambetov (2508). 15-year-old Wei Yi (2634) was held to a draw by Pavel Kotsur (2558), the only blemish of the day by the Chinese, though Ma Qun (2609) protected the rear with a final win over Petr Ksotenko (2507) to complete the rout.

China's rout of Kazakhstan (left) set the tone for the tournament

If any team had still hoped to challenge China for the gold, they were seriously disabused of this notion when China crushed rivals from Vietnam by 3-1, taking the clear lead, and only India with a chance to stand in their way.

In spite of this, and the impressive 3.5/4 scores by both Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi, the current top scorer in the Open section is none other than Iran's GM Elshan Moradiabadi who not only has 4.0/4 but beat Yu Yangyi in the rapid competition.

Though other teams may be outdoing Iran, only GM Elshan Moradiabadi has scored 100%

Standings after four rounds

Rk
SNo
Team
Gms
  + 
  = 
  - 
TB
1
4
CHINA
4
4
0
0
14.5
2
6
IRAN A
4
3
1
0
13.0
3
2
INDIA
4
3
1
0
12.0
4
1
VIETNAM
4
2
1
1
11.0
5
5
IRAN B
4
2
1
1
10.0
6
9
KAZAKHSTAN
4
2
0
2
9.0
7
8
SRI LANKA
4
1
0
3
4.0
8
7
JORDAN
4
1
0
3
3.5
9
10
IRAQ
4
0
0
4
2.5
10
3
OMAN
4
0
0
4
0.5

Women - Rounds one to three

The women's competition has only six teams, hence a five-round round-robin tournament. Unsurprisingly the top seeds are the Chinese team (average rating 2485), followed by India (average 2421), and Kazakhstan (2319), but the similarity to the men's competition ends there, since although the men have taken a dominating lead in their end, the Chinese women are finding unusual pockets of resistance where they least expect. Both China and India lead with three match wins, but the Indians lead on tiebreak, spearheaded by GM Harika Dronavalli with 3.0/3.

Despite over 200 Elo difference, the Iranian women only ceded a single loss to powerhouse China

The first wake-up call that all was not as simple as might seem was when China barely defeated Iran-A in round three, as the local heroes drew the top boards, only barely failing to eke out a miracle drawn match when board four capitulated. In fact, the second highest performer in the women's competition is not a Chinese player, but Iran's WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan with 2.5/3 and a fantastic 2580 performance.

Round four promises to be a crucial match as China faces India, and Iran-A meets Vietnam. A slip by either Chinese or India, and a win by Iran-A might swing the balance of power.

WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan has been a key to Iran's success

Standings after three rounds

Rk
SNo
Team
Gms
 = 
TB 
1
3
INDIA
3
3
0
0
9.5
2
2
CHINA
3
3
0
0
8.5
3
6
IRAN A
3
1
1
1
6.5
4
4
KAZAKHSTAN
3
1
1
1
6.0
5
5
VIETNAM
3
0
0
3
3.0
6
1
IRAN B
3
0
0
3
2.5

Photos from the official site


Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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shiv mathur shiv mathur 5/27/2014 10:24
Mehmet, please see the latest report (http://en.chessbase.com/post/asian-cup-india-beats-china-and-takes-lead) ... you'll see Indian Tania Sachdev with her head covered.

It's mandatory in Iran.
shiv mathur shiv mathur 5/25/2014 08:12
Mehmet, I think ALL the ladies from all the teams will be REQUIRED to cover their heads.
jebib jebib 5/25/2014 04:31
"Though other teams may be outdoing Iran, only GM Elshan Moradiabadi has scored 100%", Seems to me like China is the only team outdoing Iran.
mehmet gok mehmet gok 5/25/2014 04:02
I noticed that Chinese ladies team also covered themselves with scarfs like Iranian ladies team and I think it is a very kind act and a great example of fair play. Well done ladies.
shiv mathur shiv mathur 5/25/2014 02:37
Well, it happens, Sandeep.

(Most of Sagar Shah's reports ... NEED to be ...)

:-)
sandeeproy1 sandeeproy1 5/25/2014 08:12
Just a matter of caution to chessbase (and I am a huge fan of your website). The editorial quality needs to be improved in your News section. Even in this particular one..."and a drew ensued"? (Thats purely spellcheck though)

This is happening lately because I can see you are expanding your reporting base wider and thats a good thing. However, someone needs to re-read and maybe edit some of the reports.

Most of Sagar Shah's reports (or for eg, the pleasant one on Dalhousie by IM Saravanan) needs to be editorially balanced. I can understand that they are chess players first and a journalists second, so sometimes they lose the objectivity of reporting (I can give many examples). Also for many others, English isnt their own language. That is where some good editorial intervention can improve the quality of read of your News section.

Just my 2-p. Will remain devoted to chessbase to get the news first and nothing personal for the names mentioned above! Your chess insights are important, editorial quality is another thing :-)
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