Chinese lead in Hainan

by Alejandro Ramirez
7/4/2014 – With only one round to go in the Hainan Daizhou super-tournament it is almost a given that a Chinese player will take the tournament. Bu Xiangzhi is half a point ahead of Ding Liren while the two foreign players, Ponomariov and Naiditsch, trail the leader by a full point. We bring you a report with some of the highlights of the last three rounds with some impressive chess.

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Round six saw Bu Xiangzhi regain his solo lead by beating young phenom Wei Yi in a long positional game where White's advantage was never in question.

Chinese phenom Wei Yi was given a positional lesson by Bu Xiangzhi

The players tied with him at 3.5/5 could not keep up; Yu Yangyi fell victim to Xiu Deshun while Naiditsch was nicked for a draw by Ponomariov. Meanwhile the game Zhao Jun-Ma Qun saw some fantastic defensive chess:

[Event "5th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2014.07.01"] [Round "6"] [White "Zhao Jun"] [Black "Ma Qun"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B96"] [WhiteElo "2603"] [BlackElo "2609"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1n3rk1/3r1p2/p3p2p/1p2Q3/2P5/5R2/1R2B1PP/q5K1 w - - 0 25"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2014.06.25"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 25. Kf2 {Zhao Jun has a fierce attack. Black's king is exposed while Black does not seem to have any coordination. However Ma Qun does not give up and he finds an impressive series of forced moves.} Kh7 $1 26. Qf6 {White has two lethal threats: Rh3 and Rg3. Only one way to stop both.} Rg8 27. Bd3+ (27. Rh3 Rg6 $19) 27... Rxd3 28. Rxd3 Rg5 $1 {This is a very precise move! This forces White to take on f7, surprisingly not something he wants to do.} 29. Qxf7+ (29. Rf3 Nd7 30. Qxf7+ Rg7 $19) 29... Rg7 30. Qf6 Nd7 {This is the point; the knight is now defended on d7 and Black develops and beats back White's attack.} 31. Qd4 Nc5 $1 32. Rd1 e5 33. Rxa1 exd4 {Black has no problems now in this endgame. It's White that has to be careful!} 34. Rd1 bxc4 35. Rxd4 Nd3+ 36. Rxd3 cxd3 37. Ke3 Rd7 38. Kd2 Rd6 39. Ra2 Kg6 40. Ra5 h5 41. g3 Kh6 42. h3 Rg6 43. g4 hxg4 44. hxg4 Rxg4 45. Rxa6+ Rg6 46. Rxg6+ Kxg6 47. Kxd3 1/2-1/2

A spatious playing hall for only five boards

It was Ponomariov's turn to try to take down Bu Xiangzhi in round seven, and he almost achieved it. The Ukrainian player used his pair of bishops and patiently built up a strong advantage. However he missed one resource from the Chinese and he was unable to finish Bu Xiangzhi off:

Ponomariov has shown solid chess and his 5.0/8 is good

Bu Xiangzhi barely survived Ponomariov, but it kept him in the lead

[Event "5th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2014.07.02"] [Round "7"] [White "Ponomariov, R."] [Black "Bu Xiangzhi"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2723"] [BlackElo "2693"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "4k3/1p1b2R1/p7/P6r/1PB1nB2/8/1KP5/8 b - - 0 57"] [PlyCount "42"] [EventDate "2014.06.25"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 57... Rh4 {Ponomariov has been nurturing a slight advantage that has turned into an extra pawn and the pair of bishops. White is winning but he must be careful.} 58. Be5 $2 {Missing his opponent's reply,} (58. Be3 $1 {Keeps the pair of bishops and with Black's king being so weak it is surely a winning position.} Nd6 59. Rg8+ Ke7 60. Bg5#) 58... Nd6 $1 {Forcing some uncomfortable simplifications.} 59. Bxd6 (59. Be6 Nc4+ {is the same.}) (59. Rg8+ Ke7 60. Bxd6+ Kxd6 61. Rg6+ Ke5 62. Kb3 Bf5 63. Rg2 {was preferable at least keeping bishops of the same color.}) 59... Rxc4 {With opposite colored bishops it is now very hard to win. Ponomariov finds no way to break through.} 60. Kb3 Rd4 61. Bc5 Rg4 62. Re7+ Kd8 63. Re5 Bb5 64. Bb6+ Kd7 65. Rd5+ Ke6 66. Rd8 Bc4+ 67. Kc3 Bd5 68. Bc5 Be4 69. Rd6+ Ke5 70. Rd2 Rg2 71. Rxg2 Bxg2 72. Ba7 Kd5 73. Kb3 Bf1 74. Bb6 Bc4+ 75. Kc3 Bb5 76. Kb3 Bc4+ 77. Kc3 Bb5 78. Kb3 1/2-1/2

Yu Yangyi lost his second game in a row, allowing Ding Liren to win his second game in a row and tie with Bu Xiangzhi at the very top.

Ding Liren is only half a point behind Bu Xiangzhi

Meanwhile Naiditsch was pressing Zhou Weiqi the entire game, but somehow a bad mistake in the endgame not only didn't let him win, but made him lose the game.

Zhou Weiqi took advantage of a mistake by Naiditsch late in the game

Naiditsch couldn't keep up his form from the start, but his tournament is still quite good

In an important round eight Naiditsch inflicted Yu Yangyi's third loss in a row; the player that was formerly in the lead went from 3.5/5 to 3.5/8. Bu Xiangzhi took out Zhou Weiqi to cement his position as leader as Ding Liren couldn't break down Ma Qun's defenses. Ponomariov took out Wei Yi who is not shining the way many thought he would. Lastly, sometimes Caissa is just not on your side in a tournament:

[Event "5th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2014.07.03"] [Round "8"] [White "Zhao Jun"] [Black "Xiu Deshun"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B52"] [WhiteElo "2603"] [BlackElo "2550"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r3rk1/1p3pbp/p1qpp1p1/2n5/P1P1P3/1PN1BP2/2Q3PP/2RR2K1 b - - 0 18"] [PlyCount "61"] [EventDate "2014.06.25"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] 18... b6 {Sometimes, in tournaments, when things don't go your way, nothing goes your way.} 19. Bd4 {Trading off the dark-squared bishop is natural enough, but this is actually a big mistake.} Bxd4+ 20. Rxd4 Nxb3 $1 {A very unusual tactic. The knight must be taken.} 21. Qxb3 Qc5 {There is no way to protect the rook on d4 without allowing e5.} 22. Rcd1 e5 23. Nd5 Rb7 {White has some compensation, but only Black can win.} 24. Nb4 (24. a5 $1 exd4 25. axb6 $15 { at least kept things interesting.}) 24... exd4 25. Nxa6 Qg5 26. Nb4 Qe3+ 27. Qxe3 dxe3 28. Nd5 e2 29. Rb1 Ra8 {despite White's knight on d5, Black is winning; the exchange is too much. Xiu Deshun converted without problems.} 30. Kf2 Rxa4 31. Rxb6 Rxb6 32. Nxb6 Ra2 33. Ke1 Kf8 34. c5 Ra6 35. e5 dxc5 36. Nd7+ Ke7 37. Nxc5 Ra5 38. Nd3 Ke6 39. Nf4+ Kxe5 40. Nxe2 f5 41. Kf2 g5 42. Kf1 Ra1+ 43. Kf2 Rh1 44. h3 Ra1 45. g3 Ra2 46. Ke3 Rxe2+ 47. Kxe2 Kd4 48. Kd2 f4 0-1

Yu Yangyi (left) fell apart in the last three rounds

Bu Xiangzhi needs only a draw against Yu Yangyi to secure a tie for first place. The foreigners, Ponomariov and Naidtisch, have a small chance of catching the top players if Bu Xiangzhi loses and Ding Liren doesn't score a full point. The action is now live in China, follow on the playchess.com server!

Standings

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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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