Ni Hua has perfect start at Australian Open

by Sagar Shah
1/6/2015 – What happens when you invite a Chinese player who is rated 2689 to a tournament where he is the top seed and rated a hundred points above the next participant? Well, of course, he steamrolls through the field! Ni Hua is showing no mercy at the Australian Open 2015 and now leads the tournament with a perfect score of 6.0/6 a full point ahead of all the participants.

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6.0/6 and a rating performance of 3150!

The Australian Open 2015 is being held from the 2nd to 11th of January 2015 and has the highest prize money of any tournament ever held in Australia with a top prize of USD $6000. We announced this tournament a fortnight ago at ChessBase News, and it has attracted a good participation with 106 players. Seven out of them are grandmasters and twelve are International Masters. The time control of the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for all remaining moves, with an increment of 30 seconds per move as of move one. The schedule of the tournament is quite unusual. It was pretty hectic at the start with two double rounds on the 3rd and 5th of January but the 6th was a rest day and now the remaining five rounds are a more leisurely one per day.

For Ni Hua, who is comfortably the strongest player in the tournament, his toughest competitor was the second seeded Murtas Kazhgaleyev (2573).

Murtas Kazhgaleyev is one of the strongest players from Kazakhstan
and at one point in his career had a peak rating of 2653

The two players met each other in the fifth round and Ni Hua scored a convincing win from the white side of the Caro Kann.

The key round five clash between the top two seeds (1-0)

[Event "Australian Open 2015"] [Site "Sydney AUS"] [Date "2015.01.05"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Ni, Hua"] [Black "Kazhgaleyev, Murtas"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [WhiteElo "2689"] [BlackElo "2573"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2015.01.02"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 {This line is tricky and White must be well prepared if he wants to hope for an opening advantage.} 4. Nf3 Bg4 (4... Nc6 { is the other main move in this position.}) 5. c4 cxd4 6. cxd5 Qxd5 (6... Qa5+ { would be a bad move because of} 7. Qd2 $1 Qxd5 8. Nc3 Qc5 9. Qxd4 Qxd4 10. Nxd4 $16 {White is just a pawn up.}) 7. Nc3 Qa5 8. Bb5+ (8. Qxd4 Bxf3 9. gxf3 Nc6 $11 {recovers the pawn.}) 8... Nc6 9. Bxc6+ bxc6 10. Qxd4 {Ni Hua seems to be well versed with the theory and this particular line looks slightly unpleasant for Black.} Bxf3 11. gxf3 e6 12. Be3 Ne7 13. O-O $6 $146 (13. O-O-O {All previous games had continued this way, the most popular one being Vallejo Pons and Alexander Delchev. White has some edge over here.}) 13... Nf5 14. Qc4 Rc8 $11 {Black has equalised out of the opening.} 15. f4 Be7 16. Rfd1 g5 $5 {This looks pretty rash by Murtas but White must be careful. His center is falling apart and his king on g1 is not the safest guy in the world.} (16... O-O { would have been the safer choice.}) 17. Ne4 gxf4 18. Bxf4 O-O $6 {Inconsistent play by Black. After playing an aggressive move like g5 and opening the g-file, he goes on to 0-0. White now has a clear advantage.} (18... Rg8+ 19. Kh1 Qb5 20. Rac1 Rd8 21. Rxd8+ Kxd8 {Gives Black better chances of achieving an equal game.}) 19. Nd6 Rcd8 20. Rd3 $1 {The Black king is extremely weak now.} Bxd6 21. exd6 Rd7 (21... Qb6 22. Be5 $18) 22. Qxc6 Qd8 23. Re1 Qc8 24. Qe4 Re8 25. Be5 f6 26. Bxf6 {White is two pawns up and has an easily winning position.} Kf7 27. Be5 Rg8+ 28. Kf1 Qa6 29. a3 Nxd6 30. Qe2 (30. Qxh7+ {was faster} Kf8 31. Qh6+ $1 Ke8 (31... Ke7 32. Qf6+ Ke8 33. Qxe6+ Re7 34. Qxg8+ $18) 32. Qxe6+) 30... Ke7 31. Bf6+ Kf8 32. Bg7+ {A nice little finish based on discovered attack on the queen.} (32. Bg7+ Kxg7 (32... Ke8 33. Qxe6+ Kd8 34. Qxg8+ $18) 33. Rg3+ $18) 1-0

Though Kazhgaleyev lost his game against Ni Hua, he did win one with with a very pretty little tactic.

Kazhgaleyev showing his miniature to GM Ian Rogers and the spectators in the commentary room

[Event "Australian Open 2015"] [Site "Sydney AUS"] [Date "2015.01.03"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Kazhgaleyev, Murtas"] [Black "Nakauchi, Gene"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A60"] [WhiteElo "2573"] [BlackElo "2213"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/1pqb1pb1/p2p1npp/2nP4/P1Q1P3/2N1B2P/1PBN1PP1/R4RK1 w - - 0 17"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2015.01.02"] {White is a pawn up and clearly winning but I liked the next move made by Kazhgaleyev.} 17. e5 $3 {The move b4 would win a piece as the queen on c7 is unprotected. But b4 can be met with b5 when White wins another pawn but not a piece. With this move e5, Murtas deflects the e8 rook so that the a8 rook would be unprotected and b5 is not possible.} (17. b4 b5 18. axb5 axb5 19. Nxb5 Bxb5 20. Qxb5 Ncd7 21. Rxa8 Rxa8 22. Qc6 Qd8 $18 {White has a clearly winning position but it is nowhere near as beautiful as the game continuation.}) 17... Rxe5 18. b4 {wins a piece.} Ne6 (18... b5 19. axb5 {And not axb5 is not possible as Ra8 is hanging! You can see how a move like e5 in the center of the board affects the rook on a8 which is on the side of the board!}) 19. dxe6 $18 1-0

The 2014 Australian Champion, Max Illingworth, is on 4.5/6. Illingworth,
who is gunning to be Australia’s fifth grandmaster gave leader Ni Hua a
real scare in the sixth round when he had a totally dominant position
and even turned down a repetition.

[Event "Australian Open 2015"] [Site "Sydney AUS"] [Date "2015.01.05"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Illingworth, Max"] [Black "Ni, Hua"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2476"] [BlackElo "2689"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "2015.01.02"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Qa4 Bd7 8. Qxc4 b5 $5 (8... cxd4 {is the other main move here but White scores well after} 9. Nxd4 Rc8 10. Nc3 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bc5 12. Qh4 {and one of the most famous games I can remember from this position is Kramnik- Naiditsch, Dortmund, 2010.}) 9. Qd3 c4 (9... Rc8 {is the main line.} 10. dxc5 Bxc5 11. Nc3 Nb4 12. Qd1 $14 {with a small edge for White.}) 10. Qc2 Rc8 11. a4 a6 12. axb5 axb5 13. Bg5 Be7 14. Nc3 (14. Rd1 {was a good option.}) 14... Qb6 15. Rfd1 h6 $6 {A hesitant move by Ni Hua which lets White take over the initiative.} (15... O-O {was definitely better.}) 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. Ne4 O-O 18. Nxf6+ gxf6 19. Qd2 Kg7 20. d5 {Black has a somewhat weak king and also a weak pawn structure. White is definitely better.} exd5 21. Qxd5 Rfd8 22. Qh5 Be6 23. Bh3 Bxh3 24. Qxh3 Qc5 25. Qg4+ Kf8 26. Qf4 Kg7 27. Qg4+ Kf8 28. Nh4 $5 {This shows the fighting spirit of Max and the fact that the stature of his opponent doesn't really stop him from trying in a position which he feels is better for him. But he had a better try to put pressure on Black.} (28. Rxd8+ Rxd8 29. Qf4 Kg7 30. Ra6 $16 {Would have been crushing as the White queen, rook and the knight make a deadly combo!}) 28... Ne7 29. Qe4 Kg7 30. Rd7 $6 {Too subtle. Now Ni Hua wrests over the initiative.} (30. e3 {was better.} Rxd1+ 31. Rxd1 Rc7 32. Nf3 $14) 30... Rxd7 31. Qg4+ Kf8 32. Qxd7 b4 {Now it is only Black who can try as his queenside majority is very dangerous.} 33. Ng2 c3 34. bxc3 Qxc3 35. Rb1 Qc2 36. Qd3 Qxd3 37. exd3 { The game is still well within White's reach of a draw but Illingworth does not make the best moves from here onwards.} Nc6 38. Ne3 Rd8 39. Rc1 Ne5 40. d4 Nd3 (40... Nf3+ 41. Kg2 Nxd4 $15) 41. Rc6 (41. Rb1 Rxd4 42. Kg2 $15 (42. Nc2 Rc4 $17)) 41... Rb8 42. Rxf6 Kg7 43. Ra6 b3 {The b-pawn is unstoppable now.} 44. Nf5+ Kg8 45. Rxh6 Rb7 $1 {The final careful move.} (45... b2 $2 46. Ne7+ $1 Kg7 (46... Kf8 $2 47. Rh8+ $18) 47. Nf5+ Kg8 48. Ne7+ {would have been a nice drawing mechanism.}) 46. Ne7+ Rxe7 {A sad loss for the Australian and with this win, Ni Hua maintains a clean record of six wins out of six.} 0-1

GM Rustam Khusnutdinov is in joint second position with 5.0/6. He played
a very attractive tactical game against Ikeda Junta.

[Event "Australian Open 2015"] [Site "Sydney AUS"] [Date "2015.01.05"] [Round "5.3"] [White "Khusnutdinov, Rustam"] [Black "Ikeda, Junta"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B43"] [WhiteElo "2476"] [BlackElo "2416"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2015.01.02"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bd3 Qb6 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. O-O Qb8 9. Re1 Nge7 10. Be3 d6 11. Qd2 Ng6 12. Nd4 {We are still in a well-known position where the most popular game was Grischuk-Smirin, 2000.} Nge5 (12... Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Ne5 {was played by Smirin.} 14. f4 Nc6 {And we transpose to the game.}) 13. f4 Nxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc6 15. Bf2 Be7 $6 {All three previous games continued with this move and now White unleashes a typical Sicilian sacrifice.} (15... Bd7 {was the safer choice and would have avoided the next move made by Rustam.}) 16. Nd5 $1 Bd8 (16... exd5 17. exd5 {With the black king in the center this is just suicide.} Ne5 18. fxe5 dxe5 19. Qe2 O-O 20. Bd4 exd4 21. Qxe7 $16 {I wonder how Grischuk drew from this position as he is clearly better.}) 17. Qc3 $1 {a strong double attack.} O-O 18. Qxc6 Bb7 19. Qd7 exd5 20. exd5 Bc8 (20... Bxd5 21. Qf5 $18) 21. Qe8 $5 (21. Qc6 Bb7 22. Qc3 Bxd5 23. Bxh7+ Kxh7 24. Qd3+ Kg8 25. Qxd5 {was the less flashy way to keep the advantage.}) 21... g6 22. Bd4 $1 Qb7 23. Qe3 f5 24. c4 bxc4 25. Bxc4 {White is not only a pawn up but has a completely dominant position. He soon converted it into a win.} Qf7 26. Re2 Rb8 27. Rae1 Bf6 28. b3 Bb7 29. Bxf6 Qxf6 30. Qa7 a5 31. Re7 Ba8 32. Rxh7 Rbe8 33. Rhe7 Rxe7 34. Qxe7 Qd4+ 35. Qe3 {A very nice game by the Kazakhi player.} 1-0

IM James Morris (2378) is playing a fine tournament and is unbeaten with a score of 5.0/6

GM Zhao Zong-Yuan is on 4.5/6. He is currently Australia’s number one
ranked player. He became the country’s third grandmaster after…

…GM Ian Rogers, who has now retired after peaking at world no.51, and is a commentator in
this tournament followed by…

….GM Darryl Johansen

GM Vasily Papin has travelled from Russia to play in this tournament.
He is a very enthusiastic photographer and is often seen in tournaments
with his DSLR camera.

FM Eugene Schon can surely expect an IM norm from this tournament if
he keeps up his current pace

IM Moulthun Ly is a talented International Master from Australia. He
won the Sydney Open in 2014 ahead of strong players like Nisipeanu
and Van Wely.

Thirteen-year-old IM Anton Smirnov is not having a particularly impressive
tournament but he is surely one of the biggest prodigies the nation has
produced, and should soon become a grandmaster

“Look children, the legend!” Ian Rogers the man who is seen working on a laptop in this picture is not only Australia’s first grandmaster but was also the nation's highest rated player for nearly twenty years. Apart from being an extremely strong chess player and winning hundreds of tournaments all over the world, Ian is also a chess reporter and has also featured as a commentator in many top events. He has Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology and is also a FIDE Senior Trainer. Truly, a multi-faceted personality.

Ian Roger is married to Cathy Rogers who is a WFM, International Arbiter and a lawyer! She is
also the person responsible for taking all the wonderful pictures in this report.

The beautiful venue for this tournament: Hotel Castle Hill

The last five rounds of the Australian Open 2015 are going to be full of excitement. The question on everyone’s mind is whether Ni Hua can maintain is 100% score and continue his dream run in this tournament. If not, who will be the person to stop him? We will soon find out!

All pictures by Cathy Rogers

Current standings after six rounds

Rk
SNo
Ti.
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
 TB 
1
1
GM
Ni Hua
CHN
2689
6.0
22.5
2
7
GM
Khusnutdinov Rustam
KAZ
2476
5.0
23.5
3
17
IM
Morris James
AUS
2378
5.0
22.5
4
2
GM
Kazhgaleyev Murtas
KAZ
2573
4.5
26.5
5
6
IM
Illingworth Max
AUS
2476
4.5
26.0
6
3
GM
Zhao Zong-Yuan
AUS
2564
4.5
24.0
7
5
GM
Papin Vasily
RUS
2513
4.5
23.5
8
23
FM
Schon Eugene
AUS
2318
4.5
22.5
9
8
IM
Ly Moulthun
AUS
2460
4.5
22.0
10
20
FM
Wallis Christopher
AUS
2348
4.5
21.5
11
16
GM
Johansen Darryl K.
AUS
2404
4.5
21.0
12
12
IM
Ikeda Junta
AUS
2416
4.5
20.5
13
9
IM
Cheng Bobby
AUS
2436
4.5
20.0
14
18
IM
Solomon Stephen J.
AUS
2372
4.5
20.0
15
28
FM
Nakauchi Gene
AUS
2213
4.5
19.0
16
4
GM
Smerdon David
AUS
2519
4.0
24.5
17
21
FM
Li Zuhao Luke
NZL
2337
4.0
22.0
18
34
 
Loh Zachary
AUS
2076
4.0
22.0

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. 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.




Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. 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 of the ChessBase India website.
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ff2017 ff2017 1/7/2015 12:14
No Trevor Tao? Too bad
1