Double Russian Gold in Beijing

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/13/2014 – A fantastic day for two Russians, and it all came down to the sprint! In the Open section Grischuk caught up to Wang Hao in the penultimate round. The Russian drew his game, but Wang Hao fell to Aronian, giving Grischuk first place! In the ladies' section Gunina scored a smashing 3.0/3, including a victory with Black against Hou Yifan, to secure her own gold medal.

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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. After four rounds of rapid Nana Dzagnidze, Wang Yue, Wang Hao and Alexander Grischuk are the leading mind acrobats.

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).

Tian Hongwei, who goes by Abigail, is one of the reasons Chinese chess works the way it does!
Here she is with Geoffrey Borg, FIDE CEO, at the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony of the different mind games

At the opening, left to right: Elisabeth Paehtz, Anna Muzychuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, Mariya Muzychuk

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Etienne Bacrot and Alexander Grischuk

Open Day 2 - Rapid

Wang Hao went into the second and final day of the rapid portion of the World Mind Games with a half point lead. After drawing Grischuk on round two and defeating his compatriot Wang Yue on round four he was paired against Mamedyarov. With most of the games being drawn Wang Hao retained his half point lead over Grischuk, who drew Aronian.

Fighting spirit was everywhere in Beijing, look at the endgame that Ivanchuk tried to win... successfully:

[Event "SportAccord Rapid 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.12"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D80"] [WhiteElo "2704"] [BlackElo "2726"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/8/p1r3k1/P2n4/3B4/1K3R2/8 w - - 0 61"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "2014.12.11"] 61. Rf8 Ne6 62. Rf7 {The endgame is very obviously drawn, but with White's last move he just refuses a three-fold repetition to push for a win.} Rc7 $6 { It's unclear what Dominguez was hoping to accomplish. This simply blunders the a5 pawn, though th result of the game should not change.} 63. Rf5+ Kg4 64. Rxa5 Nc5 65. Bb5 Kf4 66. Ra8 Ke5 67. Ka3 Kd6 68. Rd8+ Nd7 $6 {Dominguez was probably afraid of having his king cut off on the e-file, but that was much considerably better than pinning how own knight.} 69. a5 Ke7 70. Rh8 Rc1 $4 ( 70... Nf6 {keeps the fight alive.}) 71. Rh7+ {with the fall of the knight on d7 Black has nothing to play for.} 1-0

Vassily Ivanchuk doesn't give up easily!

Wang Yue finished in the middle of the table

Grischuk took full advantage of his chances in round six. While Wang Hao found a quick repetition against Vachier-Lagrave, the Russian player beat Ivanchuk by outplaying him in a Grunfeld. The results left Wang Hao and Grischuk tied for first with one round to spare, with four (!) players trailing them by one point: Mamedyarov, Vachier-Lagrave, Aronian and Nepomniachtchi.

Radoslav Wojtaszek scored 2.5/7

The two Russians were paired against each other, in that game Grischuk and Nepomniachtchi drew quickly. The Chinese player, who had led the entire event, was not so fortunate:

Levon Aronian was the bane of Wang Hao's tournament!

[Event "SportAccord Rapid 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.12"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Wang, Hao"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D17"] [WhiteElo "2797"] [BlackElo "2710"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/1p3bp1/n1p1pp2/p6p/P2PP3/4BP2/1P2B1PP/2RR2K1 b - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "40"] [EventDate "2014.12.11"] 30... Nb4 {Aronian has managed to obtain a strong advantage out of the opening. His pair of bishops and dominant pawn center guarantee him good chances. He gives a text book example of what to do with the advantage in these kind of scenarios.} 31. Bf4 {First, he maximizes the power of his pieces. This bishop will go to b6, hitting the a5 pawn and cutting the rooks from the d-file.} Red8 $6 (31... Na6 $1) 32. Bc7 Rd7 33. Bb6 {Now Black finds himself almost without moves. On top of everything, Rc5 is a threat.} Na6 34. Bxa5 Nb8 35. b4 {The bishop is somewhat awkward on a5 now, but Black's knight is no better.} e5 36. d5 $1 Kh7 37. Bc4 Na6 38. h4 Kg6 39. Kh2 {Slow and steady. Aronian improves his position before going for the killing blow.} Bg8 40. Bd3 Nb8 41. f4 $1 { Very aggressive! It was possible to win in many ways, but this seems as strong as it is brutal.} exf4 42. d6 Bb3 43. Rd2 Kf7 44. Rc3 Be6 45. Bc2 Na6 (45... c5 $1 46. Rxc5 Nc6 47. Bb6 {was Wang Hao's last chance, but this also looks very grim.}) 46. b5 cxb5 47. axb5 Nc5 48. Bc7 b6 49. Rxc5 bxc5 50. b6 {White's pawns are now unstoppable. A crushing defeat for Wang Hao.} 1-0

With these results Grischuk got clear first place. Vachier-Lagrave even defeated Leko to overtake Wang Hao on tiebreaks, who kept his bronze medal barely over Aronian and Mamedyarov.

Final Standings

Replay rapid games 5-7

Select games from the dropdown menu above the board

Women's Day 2 - Rapid

Antoaneta Sterfanova finished with three draws in the last day

After Dzagnidze's fabulous first day, she was the clear leader with half a point over Hou Yifan - who started slowly with only two draws but won games three and four. But it was neither of these talented ladies that took the final prize.

Harika Dronavalli lost one game and drew six, very unusual in rapid chess

Valentina Gunina, after showing how wonderfully she can recover from a bad start in her Russian Super Final victory a few days ago, did it yet again in Beijing.

Not that move!

Hou Yifan posing in front of... something

The day started with two important black victories. Dzagnidze lost to Hou Yifan while Zhao Xue also fell to Gunina. Round six was the decisive one:

[Event "SportAccord Rapid w 2014"] [Site "Beijing CHN"] [Date "2014.12.12"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Gunina, Valentina"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B10"] [WhiteElo "2673"] [BlackElo "2522"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "3r2k1/2q1bpp1/1p4n1/3n4/p2Q1PPp/P6P/1PPBN1B1/4R2K b - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2014.12.11"] 27... Bc5 {White's risky play has granted her a pawn. She now has the choice of taking another one or playing more conservatively.} 28. Qc4 $2 (28. Qxa4 { was necessary. Black retains huge compensation for the two pawns, but White is probably the one that is better.}) 28... Bf2 $1 {Very nice. At the end of the trades the d2 bishop will not be saved.} 29. Qxc7 Nxc7 30. Rf1 (30. Rd1 Be3 { is unplayable.}) 30... Rxd2 31. Rxf2 Rxc2 {Hou Yifan's pieces are too discoordinated. In particular the pin down the second rank is a burden.} 32. Kg1 Rxb2 33. Nc3 Rb3 34. Nxa4 b5 35. Nb6 Rxa3 {The passed b-pawn will not be stopped so easily.} 36. Rc2 Nxf4 $6 {Maybe based on a miscalculation. Black is still better after this but there was no reason to give up the piece.} 37. Rxc7 Ra1+ (37... Rg3 38. Rc2 $11) 38. Bf1 Nxh3+ 39. Kh2 Ng5 40. Bd3 $6 (40. Bg2 Ra2 41. Kg1 h3 42. Bd5 {was acceptable for White. She had to keep the h-pawn somewhat under control, and a passive bishop will not do.}) 40... g6 {Now the bishop cannot easily return to defend against the black pawn's advance. In time pressure the World Champion loses her way.} 41. Nd5 $2 (41. Bc2 $17) 41... Nf3+ 42. Kh3 Rg1 $1 {A surprising mating attack!} 43. Nf6+ Kf8 44. Ne4 f5 45. gxf5 gxf5 {The knight is lost, and with that, the endgame.} 46. Be2 fxe4 47. Bxf3 exf3 48. Rc3 Ke7 49. Re3+ Kd6 0-1

With this result Gunina got the upper hand with an extra half a point. Of course, not everything was said and done as after six rounds Dzagnidze, Hou Yifan, Ushenina and Muzychuk were all only half a point behind!

Bela Khotenashvili finished 13th with 2.5/7

Tatiana Kosintseva's 50% came with only one draw

Zhao Xue had a very bad last day, scoring only 1.0/3 after going 2.5/4 to start with

Some excellent maneuvers gave Gunina the advantage against Muzychuk in a Carlsbad structure. After 73 moves she won the game and the championship. And a much needed win that was! Hou Yifan struck back against Kosintseva two obtain second place. The tiebreak system left Ushenina as the bronze medal winner, after her last round draw against Dzagnidze.

Anna Ushenina grabbed the bronze medal at the last moment

The victor, with a smashing 3.0/3 in the last day: Valentina Gunina

Final Standings

The closing ceremony of the rapid, along with the winners in Draughts

Tomorrow at 2 p.m. Beijing time the first 10 rounds (!) of the blitz section will be played. The blitz portion is a marathon 30 rounds long and promises absolutely exciting chess.

Replay women's rapid games 5-7

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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