Basque in Beijing: Day One

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/16/2014 – The Basque portion of the World Mind Sport Games has started in China! This unique event pitches the players against each other in two simlutaneous games, one with white and one with black - eliminating the 'color' advantage of every round. We have new faces as the leaders in the events: Zhao Xue leads in the women's while in the open it is Ian Nepomniatchi that is ahead.

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On December 11th the World Mind Games began in Beijing, China. One week some of the word's best players compete in Chess, Go, Draughts, Chinese Chess, (Xiangqi), and Bridge. In chess 16 top men and women play rapid, blitz and basque chess.

The chessplayers will play rapid, blitz and Basque chess (two players play two games simultaneously against each other - one with white, one with black). All in all 24 medals can be won. The first chess tournament is the rapid competition for men and women (Thursday and Friday). After that follows blitz (Saturday to Monday) until the Basque chess tournament finally rounds it off (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Open Basque - Day One

The top match is being highlighted on live tv

The exciting Basque portion of the event has begun! In this unique format players will play two simultaneous games against their opponents, one with black and one with white. The time control is the standard rapid used in the first portion of the tournament, but the amount of boards has doubled! The players had three rounds, which totals six games.

Ian Nepomniachtchi in the lead

In the open section we have new people in the leaderboard. Nepomniachtchi had a fantastic day, defeating every opponent he played 1.5-0.5: Bacrot, Dominguez and Grischuk. Following closely behind him is Harikrishna who vanquished both Aronian and Mamedyarov but split the point with Ponomariov.

The two leaders will play a key match tomorrow. Remember that there are two points in play! Only half a point behind Harikrishna are Radjabov, Grischuk, MVL and Dominguez.

Harikrishna vs. Nepomniachtchi will be tomorrow's highlight! (picture from the rapid)

Some highlights from today's round:

[Event "SportAccord Basque 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.16"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Grischuk, Alexander"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [WhiteElo "2714"] [BlackElo "2810"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5k1/1bppqpbp/1n4P1/2p1P3/2P5/1P1B1N2/rBQ2PP1/1K2R2R b - - 0 21"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2014.12.16"] 21... hxg6 22. Bxg6 $5 {Blastin the game wide open!} fxg6 (22... Rxb2+ 23. Kxb2 Bxf3 $1 24. Bxf7+ Qxf7 25. gxf3 Qxf3 $15) 23. Qxg6 Bxf3 24. gxf3 Kf8 $2 (24... Qe6 $1 {Challenging the queen was the first step towards trying to stabilize the situation, but White's initiative persists:} 25. Rhg1 Qxg6+ 26. Rxg6 Kf7 27. Rg5 $14) 25. Rh5 Qe6 26. Rf5+ Kg8 27. Rg1 Qxg6 28. Rxg6 {In this queen-less position Black has no good way of saving his bishop on g7. He decides to get rid of White's pieces immediately.} Rxb2+ (28... Kh7 29. Rg4 $18 ) 29. Kxb2 Rf8 30. Rxf8+ Kxf8 31. f4 {Although two pieces are more powerful than a rook under normal circumstances, this is not always the case in an endgame. Especially when the rook has two extra pawns!} d6 32. Kc2 dxe5 33. f5 Nd7 34. Rc6 e4 35. Rxc7 Ke7 36. Rc6 Bd4 (36... Kf7 $1) 37. Re6+ Kd8 38. Rxe4 Bxf2 39. Kd3 Bg3 40. Re6 Be5 41. Ke4 Bf6 42. Kd5 Be7 43. Ra6 Ke8 44. Ra7 Bh4 45. Ke6 Nf8+ 46. Kd6 Bg3+ 47. Kc6 Bf2 48. Rb7 Bg1 49. Kd6 Bd4 50. Rc7 Kd8 51. Rxc5 $1 {Winning, though there was a less flashy way} (51. Rf7 Ke8 52. Re7+ Kd8 53. f6 Bxf6 54. Rf7 $18) 51... Bxc5+ 52. Kxc5 Kc7 53. Kd5 Nd7 54. b4 Nb6+ 55. Kd4 Nd7 {The knight and king cannot hold back all the pawns.} 56. Ke4 Kc6 57. c5 Kb5 58. Kd5 Kxb4 59. c6 Nb6+ 60. Kd6 Kb5 61. f6 Nc4+ 62. Ke6 {and the f-pawn is unstoppable!} 1-0

Dominguez and Nepomniachtchi were sharing the lead after two rounds, but the Russian was able to beat the Cuban:

[Event "SportAccord Basque 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.16"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2726"] [BlackElo "2714"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/7k/p2P3p/1bBr2p1/4pq2/P1R5/1P5P/K3Q3 b - - 0 42"] [PlyCount "7"] [EventDate "2014.12.16"] 42... Qe5 {White's position is difficult, but a draw is st ill possible with perfect play and maybe some luck.} 43. Qf2 $2 {The poor king on a1 is now unguarded!} (43. Bb4 $1) 43... Rd1+ 44. Ka2 Qd5+ 45. Rb3 (45. b3 Rd2+) 45... Bc4 {and it's lights out for Dominguez.} 0-1


[Event "SportAccord Basque 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.16"] [Round "2.4"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Radjabov, Teimour"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E90"] [WhiteElo "2797"] [BlackElo "2734"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r4Bk1/1pp4p/n2pN3/p2Ppq2/2P3b1/2Np4/PP6/R3K1R1 w Q - 0 26"] [PlyCount "26"] [EventDate "2014.12.16"] 26. Bh6 {With a huge material advantage, a safer king and everything going right for Radjabov it wouldn't be too soon to resign in a normal game; however in Basque chess sometimes converting an advantage is not so simple if you don't pay enough attention to that board!} Nb4 27. Rd1 Nc2+ (27... c6 $19) 28. Kd2 Qf2+ $2 {This simply helps White's king to go to safety.} (28... Qg6 29. Be3 Nxe3 30. Kxe3 Kh8 $19 {is impossible to hold.}) 29. Kc1 Ne3 30. Kb1 $1 { Suddenly there is no easy win. It seems as if all of White's pieces are hanging but somehow Black's king's weakness keeps them alive.} Nxd1 31. Rxg4+ Kf7 32. Rg7+ Ke8 33. Nxc7+ {and a miracle perpetual!} Kd8 34. Ne6+ Ke8 35. Rg8+ Kd7 36. Rg7+ Ke8 37. Rg8+ Kd7 38. Rg7+ Ke8 (38... Kc8 39. Rg8+ {changes nothing.}) 1/2-1/2

Basque Standings

Rank Name Rtg FED Pts
1 Nepomniachtchi Ian 2801 RUS
2 Harikrishna P. 2701 IND 4
3 Grischuk Alexander 2828 RUS
4 Radjabov Teimour 2776 AZE
5 Dominguez Perez Leinier 2763 CUB
6 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2728 FRA
7 Leko Peter 2773 HUN 3
8 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2739 AZE 3
9 Aronian Levon 2813 ARM 3
10 Gelfand Boris 2719 ISR 3
11 Wang Yue 2765 CHN 3
12 Wang Hao 2719 CHN
13 Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2684 POL
14 Ivanchuk Vassily 2811 UKR
15 Ponomariov Ruslan 2738 UKR 2
16 Bacrot Etienne 2731 FRA 1

Replay Basque Rounds 1-3

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Women's Basque - Day One

It's a Chinese leader again in Beijing, but this time it is not Hou Yifan. Zhao Xue has shown amazing form and is leading with a brutal 5.5/6! The runner-up thus far is the World Champion, Hou Yifan, who is on 5.0/6 and will face Zhao Xue tomorrow.

One foot on the other board! Does it matter which
type of chair to use for Basque chess?

Gunina has not shown the same form she had in the rapid and blitz, and some new faces are seen near the top. Koneru Humpy, who had a rough blitz and rapid, is currently sitting in third place, half a point ahead of Kosteniuk.

[Event "SportAccord Basque w 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.16"] [Round "3.4"] [White "Kosintseva, Tatiana"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B80"] [WhiteElo "2483"] [BlackElo "2673"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1kb1r/1p1b1pp1/pB1p1n1p/4p3/1q2PPP1/2N4P/PPP2QB1/R3K2R w KQk - 0 15"] [PlyCount "38"] [EventDate "2014.12.16"] 15. O-O-O {If anyone in the world knows how to handle the Keres Attack with black, that would be Hou Yifan. She crashes through even though she hasn't even started her development on the kingside.} Rxc3 $1 {Thematic.} 16. bxc3 Qa3+ 17. Kd2 Be7 18. f5 O-O {the control over the darksquares, the spoiled structure on the kingside and the unsafe king on d2 give Black nearly a decisive advantage.} 19. Rb1 Rc8 20. Rb3 Qxa2 (20... Qa4 $1) 21. Rhb1 Qa4 22. Qe2 Bb5 23. Rxb5 axb5 24. Rb4 Qa1 {With material equal White has nothing to show for her dreadful position.} 25. Rb3 Nd7 26. Qxb5 Bg5+ 27. Ke2 Nxb6 28. Qxb6 Qc1 29. c4 Qxc2+ 30. Kf1 Qxc4+ 31. Kg1 Qc1+ 32. Bf1 Rc2 33. Rf3 Qd2 0-1

They're playing against each other!
Harika Dronavalli and Anna Muzychuk split the point on both boards.

[Event "SportAccord Basque w 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.16"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Dzagnidze, Nana"] [Black "Zhao, Xue"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2570"] [BlackElo "2514"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5rk1/1p3ppp/2p2r2/p3q3/2P1P1b1/PQ3B2/1P4PP/3RR1K1 b - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2014.12.16"] {Black has the better position, that is clear. Her blockade on e5 is nice and she has some threats against White's kingside, but the situation is far from clear... until Zhao Xue uncorks a great move!} 22... a4 $1 23. Qxb7 Rxf3 $5 { Devastating the defenses around White's king.} (23... Qc5+ $1 24. Kh1 Rxf3 { was a little more exact.}) 24. gxf3 Bxf3 25. Rd3 Qg5+ 26. Kf2 Qg2+ 27. Ke3 Bxe4 {White's king will not survive long.} 28. Rc3 Bg6 29. Qe7 Qxb2 30. Rcc1 Rb8 31. Kf3 h6 32. Qe5 Rb3+ 33. Kg4 Qg2+ 0-1

The leader after three rounds: Zhao Xue

With a nice recovery on the first day of the Basque: Koneru Humpy

An important win for the current leader was against Valentina Gunina. In fact the game they are
focusing on in this picture was the only half point that Zhao Xue dropped today.

Basque Standings - Women

Rank Name Rtg FED Pts
1 Zhao Xue 2485 CHN
2 Hou Yifan 2600 CHN 5
3 Koneru Humpy 2611 IND
4 Kosteniuk Alexandra 2577 RUS 4
5 Dzagnidze Nana 2547 GEO
6 Stefanova Antoaneta 2578 BUL
7 Muzychuk Anna 2546 UKR
8 Kosintseva Tatiana 2505 RUS 3
9 Ushenina Anna 2489 UKR 3
10 Ju Wenjun 2555 CHN 3
11 Gunina Valentina 2552 RUS
12 Harika Dronavalli 2421 IND
13 Cramling Pia 2443 SWE
14 Khotenashvili Bela 2407 GEO 1
15 Muzychuk Mariya 2445 UKR 1
16 Paehtz Elisabeth 2485 GER 1

Replay Basque rounds 1-3

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Pictures and information from the official website by Gu Xiaobing and Alina l'Ami


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server 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.


Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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