Bu Xiangzhi and Lei Tingjie win IMSA Mind Games Blitz 2019

by Satanick Mukhuty
5/20/2019 – The IMSA Mind games Rapid section had been won by Anton Korobov and Alexandra Kosteniuk. After three days of rapid, it was now time for 22 rounds of 3'+2" blitz. Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi played a solid and stable event and with 14½/22 took home the gold. The silver was won by Korobov and the bronze by Rapport. In the women's section it was a fierce fight to the finish line between Lei Tingjie and Kosteniuk. The Chinese player won the gold, Kosteniuk the silver and Tan Zhongyi bronze.

The Catalan: A complete repertoire for White! The Catalan: A complete repertoire for White!

The Catalan is one of the most solid openings for White. It forms part of the large and strong fianchetto family in which White builds his strategy mainly around the bishop on g2. Grandmaster Victor Bologan covers all of Black’s replies to the Catalan, some of which can even transpose to other openings such as the Tarrasch System and the Queen’s Indian. Suffice it to say that the Catalan rules!


After three days of exciting rapid chess, the blitz section of the IMSA World Masters began. It was two days of action-packed 22-rounds played out in 3 minutes plus 2 seconds time control. The interesting part of this event was that each player would play a two-blitz game mini match against his opponent with both colours. In the open group it was Bu Xiangzhi who emerged victorious with 14½/22, and in the women's section Alexandra Kosteniuk and Lei Tingjie shared the top position with 15.0/22. The latter winning thanks to a better tie-break. We bring you a detailed report of the event.   

Men's section

GM Bu Xiangzhi scored 14½/22. Not the most dominant of performances, but it was good enough to finish one point ahead of the entire field.

GM Bu Xiangzhi, black against Lenier Dominguez

On day 1, Bu Xiangzhi started out with a superb 2-0 victory over Boris Gelfand. Let's see the key moments from their second encounter.


Black's position started to look good around this point, with a queenside majority ready to thrust forward supported by the strong pair of bishops. The game continued 25...b5 26.c3 b4 27.axb4 - a serious mistake, now the queenside is all Black's to take, 27.♘b1 would have been a better defence. Next, after 27...axb4 28.ce2 c5 the following position was reached:


How does White resist Black's rampaging pawn march on the queenside? The best chance would have been 29.♘d3 gaining an important tempo, now for example after 29...♛d5 30.♕xd5 ♞xd5 31.♘xc5 ♝xc5 32.♖xd5 ♜a1+ 33.♗f1 White is certainly worse but still holding on. In the game 29.c1 was played which is too slow, after 29...b5 30.c2 a2 Black had a decisive advantage.


Black continued to put pressure on the queenside and managed to get c4-c3 in. The above was the position where the Israeli grandmaster called it a day, as c3-c2 will end the game.

Korobov could have made it a double winning both the rapid and blitz, but in the end had to settle for the silver in the blitz section with 13½/22

Anton Korobov, the winner of the rapid section, faced Bu Xiangzhi in rounds 9 and 10. One of their games was drawn, the other was won by the latter.


It was a super sharp accelerated Meran. In the above position after 13...c8 things were roughly even until White inexplicably decided to castle long. 14.0-0 would have been fine but bringing the king on the line of fire with 14.0-0-0 was nothing but reckless on the part of the Ukrainian GM that immediately backfired. The game continued 14...e7 15.b1 xa3 16.a1 b4 17.d4 a5 and soon ended in just 29 moves.

On the second day, Xiangzhi registered two impressive wins against Vladimir Fedoseev.


The above position is from their first encounter. White played 18.e4 here which was a mistake. Bu Xiangzhi was very alert and immediately jumped in with 18...e5! The knight cannot be taken because the bishop on d2 is hanging and hence after 19.e3 d3 20.f1 xc1! (The queen on a2 is attacked) 21.xc1 a8 followed with serious advantage for Black. 18.♘e4 supporting the bishop on d2, instead of 18.e4 would have left even chances for both sides.

In the second game the Chinese grandmaster was able to make two connected passers on the queenside and won fairly easily thereafter.


The position is just even. Black played recklessly pushing his queenside pawns further and Bu Xiangzhi just picked them up with ease!


It is only a matter of time that the b2 and a3 pawns will roll out. Fedoseev resigned the game on the 40th move.

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Bu Xiangzhi 14,5 0,0
2 Korobov Anton 13,5 0,0
3 Rapport Richard 13,0 1,5
4 Andreikin Dmitry 13,0 0,5
5 Leko Peter 12,5 0,0
6 Wang Hao 12,0 0,0
7 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 11,5 2,0
8 Ponomariov Ruslan 11,5 0,0
9 Gelfand Boris 10,5 0,0
10 Yu Yangyi 10,5 0,0
11 Fedoseev Vladimir 10,5 0,0
12 Dominguez Perez Leinier 10,0 0,0
13 Le Quang Liem 9,5 0,0
14 Jones Gawain C B 8,5 0,0
15 Cheparinov Ivan 8,0 0,0
16 Mamedov Rauf 7,0 0,0

Bu Xiangzhi gained 96 Elo points taking his blitz rating to 2765. The biggest loss of rating points was suffered by Rauf Mamedov, who finished last place, dropping 95 Elo points. It was quite surprising because he is a well-known blitz expert.

Bu Xiangzhi took home the gold and US$18,000. Korobov took the silver and Richard Rapport settled for the bronze

All games (Men blitz)


Women's section

Kosteniuk finished the rapid section of the IMSA Mind games with 6.0/6. She carried that form into the blitz.

Alexandra Kosteniuk

Alexandra Kosteniuk maintained her excellent form and went on to finish at the top of the rank-list in the blitz event too but only this time she was joined by China's Lei Tingjie. It was an intense fight between the two players that was won by Lei Tingjie thanks to her superior tiebreak score.

Alexandra began by winning against Maria Muzychuk 2-0. The following was the critical moment in their second round game.


24.h5 was played and this was a mistake as it puts the knight away from the defence of the vital d4 square on which White's entire structure hinges. Kosteniuk was able to hit the nail on the head when she went 24...xh5 25.xh5 b5! How does White protect d4 now? Well, 26.d1 was played but this is not enough, after 26...fe8 27.e3 xd4 Black simply crashed through!

Interesting things happened in the match up between the two champions — Lei and Kosteniuk — which was tied 1-1!

Lei Tingjie is just 22 years old and is already one of the best female players in the world


The above is the position from their first encounter that arose out of a Catalan. White (Lei Tingjie) pushed 10.e4-e5 and this gave away Black a very strong outpost (d5), the game followed 10...d5 11.h4 cb4 12.e2 d3 — the knights embedded firmly in White's camp are enough to win the game for Black but strange things happen in Blitz! Black's advantage soon fizzled out and the following position was reached:


White has just played 23.a7 in this roughly equal position. Now, the c7 pawn is attacked twice, how should Black defend? The move that comes first to mind, loses! Black played the most natural looking 23...fc8 and fell prey to 24.d6! The game continued 24...xg2 25. xg2 d5 26.xc8 This was enough for Lei Tingjie to win the game.

In the second day Lei Tingjie won her match 2:0 against Valentina Gunina and in the end, in what was a nail-biting race, she was just in time to defeat her fellow country-mate Zhao Xue and catch up with Kosteniuk. In both games against Gunina, Lei was able to launch a nice kingside attack.


The above is the final position from their first game. It is black to move, there's a nice mate-in-3, can you find it?

Here's a hint: The first natural move that comes to mind is ...♛f2+ However, that doesn't lead to a mate.

The mate in three begins after ...h3+! now if f1, then ♛f2 is mate. If ♔h1 then ♞hf2+ followed by ♛h1#. After ...♞h3+ if White takes the knight with gxh3 then ♛f2+ ♚h1 ♞g3 is a pretty mate.

And above is a position from their second encounter. The game followed 18.h5 h7 19.h6 h8 20.xg4 with a crushing kingside attack.

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Lei Tingjie 15,0 1,0
2 Kosteniuk Alexandra 15,0 1,0
3 Tan Zhongyi 13,5 0,0
4 Koneru Humpy 13,0 0,0
5 Krush Irina 12,0 0,0
6 Harika Dronavalli 11,5 1,5
7 Abdumalik Zhansaya 11,5 0,5
8 Ushenina Anna 10,5 0,0
9 Gunina Valentina 10,0 0,0
10 Dzagnidze Nana 10,0 0,0
11 Stefanova Antoaneta 10,0 0,0
12 Paehtz Elisabeth 10,0 0,0
13 Zhao Xue 9,5 0,0
14 Bodnaruk Anastasia 9,0 0,0
15 Muzychuk Mariya 8,0 0,0
16 Khotenashvili Bela 7,5 0,0

Lei Tingjie gained 41 Elo points. However, Kosteniuk and Tan Zhongyi gained a massive 70 points each! 

Lei Tingjie won the gold, Kosteniuk the silver and Tan Zhongyi the bronze!

All games (Women blitz)



Satanick Mukhuty has a background in Mathematics. He is an avid enthusiast of composition chess and is sincerely committed to promoting it around the world. He works for ChessBase India.


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