Danzhou: Wang Yue and Ni Hua going strong

by Sagar Shah
7/8/2015 – The 6th Hainan Danzhou tournament began with a spectacular second round "game of the decade" by 16-year-old Wei Yi. The Chinese phenom has settled down to 50% after six rounds, while his experienced colleagues Wang Yue and Ni Hua are in the lead with 5.0 and 4.5 points – and performances of 2968 and 2837. We have a big report with analysis and interesting positions to study.

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The 6th Hainan Danzhou tournament is being held from the 2nd to 11th of July 2015 in Danzhou. The major attractions of the tournament are the top rated Chinese player and the guy who has worked with Magnus Carlsen Ding Liren; the winner of the Capablanca Memorial and the strongest open tournament ever held, the Qatar Masters Yu Yangyi; and the youngest person in the world to break into 2700 Wei Yi.

Danzhou GM: Wang Yue and Ni Hua going strong

The Dortmund super GM ended a few days ago. But the good news for chess fans is that there is no dearth of high quality chess events happening in the world at the moment. In the Chinese island province of Hainan, a category 17 event with an average rating of 2674 is in progress. Eight Chinese players, one Cuban and one Indian are participating in the 6th Hainan Danzhou GM tournament. The event became a center of attraction for the world audience thanks to Wei Yi’s brilliant win over Bruzon Batista in the second round. Since then things haven’t gone well for the 16-year-old Chinese phenom, who currently sits on the sixth place with a score of 3.0/6. Two players have clearly made a run towards the finish line and are way ahead of others. One of them is Wang Yue (5.0/6) and the other is Ni Hua (4.5/6)

Wang Yue has played superb level-headed chess in the tournament, and is leading the pack with a score of 5.0/6. With some elegant endgame technique he has beaten two 2700+ oppoents : Ding Liren and Wei Yi. Let us consider one of the positions from his fifth round battle against Ding Liren.

Wang Yue-Ding Liren, White to play

Opposite coloured bishop endgames are notorious for their high drawish tendencies. Once the defender is able to blockade the pawns on the opposite colour of opponent’s bishop there is not a thing in the world that the attacker (side with more pawns) can do to break it up. Something similar seems to have transpired in the above position. The black bishop takes care of the queenside and the king is holding the pawns on the kingside. But Wang Yue understands that the fortress is not completely impenetrable. He finds a very pretty idea with 55.Bd1! Kh6 56.b4!! cxb4 57.Bb3!

Now that’s what you call life imprisonment!

The white king will now make his way to the kingside and escorts one of his pawns to the queening square while Black can do nothing at all.

To beat a King’s Indian expert like Ding Liren (left) in his favourite opening is quite a feat

Wang Yue further consolidated his lead with a sixth-round victory over the Cuban number two Batista Bruzon. Here’s an interesting position that occurred in the final moments of the game:

Batista Bruzon-Wang Yue, White to play. Evaluate 47.Rgxg6

Bruzon had been suffering throughout the game and suddenly saw his chance to unleash some tactics. He snapped off the pawn with 47.Rgxg6. The point of his combination was very nice. If you took the rook with 47…fxg6 then White would have at least a draw. But we all know Wang Yue. He loves simple solutions. Hence, in the initial position after 47.Rgxg6, he took the queen with 47…Qxc3. Bruzon had, of course, anticipated this move and went 48.Rh6+ Kg7 49.bxc3

Black to play – what is the winning move now?

Just when it seemed that it would end in a draw, Black played 49…f6! and the poor guy on h6 is trapped! White resigned. You can play through the game on our JavaScript board.

[Event "6th Hainan Danzhou GM"]
[Site "Danzhou CHN"]
[Date "2015.07.07"]
[Round "6.5"]
[White "Bruzon Batista, Lazaro"]
[Black "Wang, Yue"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2669"]
[BlackElo "2716"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "98"]
[EventDate "2015.07.02"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Be7 8.
Re1 Bg4 9. c4 Nf6 10. Nc3 Nxd4 11. cxd5 Bxf3 12. gxf3 c5 13. d6 Qxd6 14. Nb5
Nxb5 15. Bxb5+ Kf8 16. Qe2 Qc7 17. Bf4 Bd6 18. Bxd6+ Qxd6 19. Rad1 Qc7 20. Qe3
a6 21. Ba4 h5 22. Rd5 Rc8 23. Re5 b5 24. Re7 Qb8 25. Bb3 c4 26. Bc2 Rh6 27. Ra7
Nd5 28. Qd4 Rd8 29. Qh4 Kg8 30. Rb7 Qd6 31. Rd1 Qf8 32. Kh1 Rhd6 33. Rg1 Nf6
34. a4 bxa4 35. Bxa4 Kh8 36. Qxc4 Rd4 37. Qb3 Nd5 38. Bc6 Kg8 39. Bxd5 R4xd5
40. Qc4 Qd6 41. Qc3 g6 42. Qb3 Qf4 43. Rb6 a5 44. Rg3 Kh7 45. Qc3 Rf5 46. Rc6
Qd2 47. Rgxg6 Qxc3 (47... fxg6 48. Rc7+ Kh6 (48... Rd7 49. Qxd2 Rxc7 50. Kg2
$11 {and White should be able to hold this position without any difficulty.})
49. Qg7+ $11 Kg5 50. Qe7+ $1 Kf4 (50... Rf6 $2 51. h4+ $1 Kf5 (51... Kxh4 52.
Qxf6+ $18) 52. Qe4#) (50... Kh6 51. Qg7+ $11) 51. Qe4+ Kg5 52. Qe7+ Kf4 53.
Qe4+ Kg5 54. Qe7+ $11 {and a draw has to be agreed.}) 48. Rh6+ Kg7 49. bxc3 f6
$1 0-1

The master of imprisoning his opponent’s pieces: Wang Yue

The other player who is having a wonderful run at the tournament is Ni Hua. He has scored three victories in the event, but they have come against the three players who are currently languishing at the bottom of the table: Sasikiran, Lu Shanglei and Wang Chen. Considering the fact that Ni Hua has to play against Ding Liren, Bu Xiangzhi and Wei Yi in the last three rounds, it seems highly improbable that he would be able to catch up with Wang Yue, who is already half point ahead and has relatively easier opponents in Yu Yangyi, Sasikiran and Wang Chen.

In the past year or so, the Berlin Wall has developed as one of the most solid openings for black players against 1.e4. But recently, we are seeing some holes in the wall. Wesley So breached it in his last round encounter with Vladimir Kramnik in Dortmund, and Ni Hua played a nearly flawless game against Krishnan Sasikiran in the fourth round.

[Event "6th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2015.07.05"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Ni, Hua"] [Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2703"] [BlackElo "2640"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2015.07.02"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 h6 10. Rd1+ Ke8 11. Nc3 Be6 12. g4 Ne7 13. Nd4 Rd8 14. Bf4 Nd5 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Ne2 {The players are following the game Dominguez-Radjabov from the Beijing Sportsaccord 2014. In that game Radjabov contined Bc5. But here Sasikiran deviates.} b5 17. b3 Bc5 18. c4 bxc4 19. bxc4 Nb6 20. Rxd8+ Kxd8 21. h4 {Of course the c4 pawn is taboo because of Rc1.} Ke7 (21... Nxc4 22. Rc1 $18) 22. g5 hxg5 (22... Rf8 {with pressure down to the f2 pawn would have been better.}) 23. Bxg5+ Kf7 24. Rd1 Be7 25. Bxe7 Kxe7 26. Nf4 {White has a very slight edge and most probably this is just equal. But look at how Ni Hua outplays his opponent.} Rb8 27. Ng6+ Ke8 (27... Kf7 28. h5 {And the knight cannot take the c4 pawn because of Rd7+.}) 28. Rb1 Ra8 (28... c5 29. Rb5 Rd8 30. Rxc5 Rd4 31. h5 (31. Rxc7 $2 Rg4+ $17) 31... Rxc4 32. Rxc4 Nxc4 $11 {was the best way to defend this position.}) 29. c5 Nd5 30. Rb3 {The rook has maximum activity on the third rank and threatens to swing over to f3.} (30. h5 {was equally good.}) 30... Ne7 {Before more damage is done, Sasikiran tries to exchange the knights.} 31. h5 a5 32. Kg2 $1 {Patiently bringing in the last inactive piece into the game.} a4 33. Rb7 Nd5 34. a3 Kd7 35. Rb2 Ke8 36. Rc2 { The idea of this manoeuvre is to place the rook on c4 where it will constantly keep an eye over the a4 pawn.} Ne7 37. Rc4 Ra5 (37... Nf5 $14 {could have been better.}) 38. Nxe7 Kxe7 39. Kg3 {You can see how the rook on c4 ties down the Black rook, and now the White king has a free hand to reach the g6 square.} Rb5 40. Kg4 (40. Kh4 $1 {was more accurate with the nice little point that after} Rb2 {White has the powerful move} 41. Rg4 $1 Kf7 {Forcing the king to defend the g7 pawn so that the c7 pawn can be attacked later.} 42. Rxa4 Rxf2 43. Ra7 $16 {c7 cannot be defended and White has excellent chances to win this position.}) 40... Rb2 41. Rf4 (41. Rxa4 Rxf2 42. Ra7 Kd7 $14 {defends the c7 pawn.}) 41... Ra2 42. Rf3 Rb2 $6 (42... Re2 {might have been better but here too White keeps an advantage after} 43. Kg5 $1 Rxe5+ 44. Kg6 Ke8 $1 (44... Rxc5 45. Rf7+ Kd6 46. Rxg7 $18) 45. Re3 $1 Rxc5 (45... Rxe3 46. fxe3 Kf8 47. e4 Kg8 (47... e5 48. Kf5 $18) 48. e5 Kf8 49. h6 $1 gxh6 50. Kxh6 $18) 46. Rxe6+ Kd7 47. Re4 $16 {follwed by Rh4 and Kxg7.}) 43. Kg5 Rb3 44. Rg3 $1 Kf7 45. Re3 $1 { It's zugzwang time. None of the black pawns can move, and if the king moves then Kg6 becomes possible – while if the rook moves it is the game continuation.} Rb1 46. Rf3+ Kg8 47. Kg6 Rb3 $2 {Finally the pressure gets to Sasikiran and he blunders.} (47... Rd1 {might have been more tenacious.} 48. h6 {is met with a brilliant defensive idea} Rh1 $1 (48... gxh6 49. Kf6 {is clearly winning.}) 49. hxg7 Rh6+ $3 50. Kg5 Rg6+ $1 51. Kf4 Rg2 {But White is still better after} 52. Ke3 $16) 48. Rf7 {Everything falls apart and the game is over. A fine display of endgame technique by Ni Hua.} 1-0

With 4.5/6, Ni Hua is half a point behind the leader
and a full point ahead of the third placed Ding Liren

Though the above win against Sasikiran was superb endgame play by Ni Hua, a position that made a deep impression on me with regards to the clarity of thinking of these top rated players is the following:

Batista Bruzon – Ni Hua, Black to play. What would you do?

It should be quite obvious that White has a very pleasant position here. In addition to the strong bishop on c3, he has a centralized queen, and also a rook already placed on the open d-file. The threat of Qg4 is quite serious and hence something must be done against it. Mortals like me would have preferred to play 20…Rfd8 21.Qg4 Bf8. While this is not bad, Ni Hua’s solution is much better. He readily accepted the doubling of his kingside pawns with 20…Bf6! After 21.Bxf6 gxf6 ...

... White went ahead with 22.Rd3. Completely unfazed, Ni Hua continued with 22…a4! He had complete faith in the defensive capabilities of his position because of the resource Qe5 that is now available thanks to the f6 pawn. In the end he was able to easily hold the draw. While this example might seem nothing spectacular, the Chinese player’s defensive and objective play is something to learn from.

In relation to voluntarily accepting doubled pawns in front of your king, I would like to show you an example from the recent book released by Quality Chess – Positional Decision making in chess by Boris Gelfand.

Aronian-Gelfand, Dresden Olympiad 2008, Black to play

In the game Gelfand continued with 16…Rc8 but in the book, he says: “My alternative was 16…Qd7!?, which also makes sense. I am not afraid of the doubled pawns. Without knights I cannot see how White is going to create any real pressure against them at all.” Indeed, wise words from a wise man. This small explanation can help you to overcome the prejudice of not breaking up the pawns in front of your king.

The spacious and well lit playing hall

The initial moments of the game that went viral all over the world: Wei Yi-Lazaro Bruzon (1-0)

Sasikiran Krishnan-Wei Yi ended in a draw. The Indian player has been having a hard time in the tournament and currently has minus two.

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Pictures by Liang Ziminge


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Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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