Qatar 2015 Rd1: Surprises, upsets – what a start!

by Albert Silver
12/20/2015 – In a massive open with many of the best players in the world, upsets are expected, but even the most jaded viewers were left gawking in round one. The first and foremost was Magnus Carlsen held to a draw with white by IM Nino Batsiashvili. While that stood out, so did 11-year-old Abdusattorov’s draw against GM Sam Shankland. Express report with all results and games.

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Qatar Masters 2015 Opening dinner

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It was commented from the beginning that the biggest risk top players take upon playing an open such as Qatar is toward their rating. For many top opens, a 2800+ performance is synonymous of a win and reason to cheer, but for someone such as Magnus Carlsen, anything under 2830 means more ratings points lost. Imagine when he was closing in on 2900. Even the best player in the world can learn just how challenging that can be, as he drew IM Nino Batiashvili, who recently scored a GM norm, and helped the Georgian Women team to take Bronze at the ETCC.

The sensation game of the day: World Champion Magnus Carlsen, 2834, vs IM Nino Batsiashvili, 2498

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Batsiashvili, Nino"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2834"] [BlackElo "2498"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c5 4. c4 d4 5. b4 cxb4 6. a3 b3 7. Qxb3 Nc6 8. O-O e5 9. e3 Be7 10. exd4 exd4 11. Bb2 O-O 12. Re1 Re8 13. a4 Na5 14. Qd3 Be6 15. Na3 Bxa3 16. Bxa3 Bxc4 17. Qxd4 Qxd4 18. Nxd4 Bd5 19. Rxe8+ Rxe8 20. Rc1 b6 21. Bf1 Bb7 22. Nf5 Rd8 23. d4 Nd5 24. Bg2 g6 25. Nd6 Ba8 26. h4 h5 27. Re1 Bc6 28. Re5 Nf6 29. Rxa5 Bxg2 30. Rxa7 Bd5 31. Ra6 Nd7 32. Nb5 Re8 33. Bb4 Re2 34. Ra7 Nf6 35. Kf1 Rb2 36. Bc3 Rc2 37. Rc7 Ng4 38. Ke1 Rxf2 39. Rc8+ Kh7 40. Rd8 Bf3 41. Re8 f6 42. Re7+ Kg8 43. Re8+ Kh7 44. Re7+ Kg8 45. Bd2 Rg2 46. Bf4 g5 47. hxg5 fxg5 48. Bxg5 Rxg3 49. Nc3 Bc6 50. Kd2 Rg2+ 51. Re2 Nf2 52. d5 Bxd5 53. Nxd5 Ne4+ 54. Ke3 Rxe2+ 55. Kxe2 Nxg5 56. Nxb6 Ne6 57. a5 Nc7 1/2-1/2

The cost for drawing a sub-2500 player was around four Elo lost. Obviously a blow for his fans, but it might also serve as the wake-up call he needs to rekindle the embers and take fire.

He was hardly alone though, and while Vladimir Kramnik did win his game in the end...

...he faced some forcing draw lines against Nino’s teammate Bela Khotenashvili

Sadly for Georgian fans, who might have seen the headline “Georgian Women’s team holds Carlsen and Kramnik to a draw.”, Bela failed to find them, and the former world champion went on to outplay her.

Others were less fortunate, such as Dmitry Jakovenko who completely underestimated his 14-year-old Iranian opponent M Amin Tabatabaei, found himself in heaps of trouble and eventually drew an opposite colored bishop ending two pawns down. Still, Iran’s success did not end there, as 12-year-old Alirezja Firouzja defeated GM Pavel Tregubov. This wasn’t the only result for youth, since 11-year-old phenom NodirBek Abdusattorov had no problem holding American GM Sam Shankland to a draw.

Vassily Ivanchuk, a veteran of opens such as Gibraltar, was also held to a draw by 20-year-old IM Ma Zhoghan from China, as was Pentala Harikrishna, India’s no. 2 player, who suffered against his junior compatriot Chithambaram Aravindh and drew. A special mention for ChessBase writer IM Sagar Shah who also drew Vladimir Fedoseev, rated over 220 Elo more.

However, it the upsets did not end with merely some draws. A few notable grandmasters found themselves signing scoresheets with a zero next to their names, about as inauspicious a start as could be. Chinese super-junior Wei Yi was one such notable, as he found himself playing an incredibly inspired IM Shardul Gagare, 18 years old, from India. His win was not by virtue of some unexpected blunder, but rather play that did him credit from end to end. Nikita Vitiugov was another top Elo that fell, as he lost to the unknown IM Xu Yinglun from China, while Denis Khismatullin met a similar fate, losing to the untitled 19-year-old Yuxiang Fang, also from China.

The commentator of the day on Playchess was GM Yasser Seirawan, who did his best to cover all the most conspicuous cases, but with so many games and results, it was a tough job. Be sure to join tomorrow and pitch in the game(s) you feel deserve a closer look.

Full report by IM Sagar Shah to follow...

Pairings/Results of Round 1 on 2015/12/20 at 15:00

Bo. Ti. Name Rtg
Ti. Name Rtg
1 GM Carlsen Magnus 2834
IM Batsiashvili Nino 2498
2 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2496
GM Kramnik Vladimir 2796
3 GM Giri Anish 2784
IM Sunilduth Narayanan 2494
4 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2493
GM So Wesley 2775
5 GM Karjakin Sergey 2766
IM Ezat Mohamed 2490
6 GM Shoker Samy 2489
GM Li Chao B 2750
7 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2748
GM Zhukova Natalia 2488
8 IM Sanal Vahap 2487
GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2744
9 GM Harikrishna P. 2743
GM Aravindh Chithambaram 2486
10 IM Tabatabaei M.Amin 2482
GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2737
11 GM Yu Yangyi 2736
GM Neelotpal Das 2475
12 IM Gagare Shardul 2470
GM Wei Yi 2730
13 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2724
  Xu Yinglun 2470
14 GM Krush Irina 2468
GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2723
15 GM Korobov Anton 2713
FM Moroni Luca Jr 2466
16 IM Ma Zhonghan 2463
GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2710
17 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2710
IM Ly Moulthun 2462
18 IM Ali Marandi Cemil Can 2454
GM Ni Hua 2693
19 GM Moiseenko Alexander 2689
IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin 2454
20 GM Venkatesh M.R. 2451
GM Howell David W L 2688
21 GM Matlakov Maxim 2684
IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2448
22 IM Firat Burak 2446
GM Hou Yifan 2683
23 GM Adhiban B. 2669
IM Puranik Abhimanyu 2442
24 IM Sagar Shah 2441
GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2664
25 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2663
IM Vogel Roven 2439
26 IM Wang Yiye 2438
GM Dubov Daniil 2655
27 GM Bologan Viktor 2654
FM Basso Pier Luigi 2438
28   Fang Yuxiang 2438
GM Khismatullin Denis 2654
29 GM Akopian Vladimir 2648
IM Padmini Rout 2437
30 IM Aryan Chopra 2436
GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2648
31 GM Khairullin Ildar 2647
GM Carlsson Pontus 2433
32 FM Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2429
GM Shankland Samuel L 2646
33 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2646
FM Rohan Ahuja 2426
34 IM Nezad Husein Aziz 2425
GM Swiercz Dariusz 2646
35 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2644
IM Seyb Alexander 2425
36 IM Vignesh N R 2422
GM Nguyen Ngoc TS 2642
37 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2639
FM Gholami Aryan 2422
38 FM Haria Ravi 2416
GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2638
39 GM Piorun Kacper 2637
  Mohammad Nubairshah 2414
40 WGM Saduakassova Dinara 2407
GM Grandelius Nils 2632
41 GM Naroditsky Daniel 2628
  Siva Mahadevan 2400
42 IM Saiyn Zhanat 2394
GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2626
43 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2622
IM Abhishek Kelkar 2393
44 WGM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2390
GM Bartel Mateusz 2620
45 GM Ipatov Alexander 2619
FM Li Di 2389
46 IM Slavin Alexey 2388
GM Zhang Zhong 2619
47 GM Lu Shanglei 2618
IM Christiansen J-S 2385
48 IM Khademalsharieh Saras. 2380
GM Hamdouchi Hicham 2597
49 GM Vocaturo Daniele 2597
IM Karavade Eesha 2379
50 IM Konguvel Ponnuswamy 2377
GM Bok Benjamin 2594
51 GM Bluebaum Matthias 2590
IM Li Ruofan 2372
52   Firouzja Alireza 2372
GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2589
53 GM Esen Baris 2562
  Roy Prantik 2370
54 IM Guramishvili Sopiko 2368
GM Rambaldi Francesco 2560
55 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2559
IM Tissir Mohamed 2346
56 WIM Bivol Alina 2344
GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2542
57 IM Lin Chen 2532
  Dai Changren 2328
58   Raja Harshit 2325
IM Svane Rasmus 2529
59 GM Xu Jun 2526
WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa 2322
60 IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen 2319
GM Bromberger Stefan 2521
61 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2521
FM Goriatchkin Jouri 2318
62 WFM Vaishali R 2313
GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2520
63 GM Harika Dronavalli 2513
WIM Derakhshani Dorsa 2307
64 IM Piasetski Leon 2287
GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2513
65 GM Schroeder Jan-Christian 2511
WGM Bartel Marta 2271
66 WIM Pratyusha Bodda 2260
IM Yuffa Daniil 2504

Schedule for Playchess Commentary

Day Round Time English German
Sun 20 December  Round 1 3 PM Yasser Seirawan Sebastian Siebrecht
Mon 21 December  Round 2 3 PM Daniel King Sebastian Siebrecht
Tue 22 December  Round 3 3 PM Simon Williams Sebastian Siebrecht
Wed 23 December  Round 4 3 PM Daniel King Thomas Luther
Thu 24 December  Round 5 3 PM Simon Williams Thomas Luther
Fri 25 December  Rest day      
Sat 26 December  Round 6 3 PM Mihail Marin Thomas Luther
Sun 27 December  Round 7 3 PM Simon Williams Sebastian Siebrecht
Mon 28 December  Round 8 3 PM Daniel King Sebastian Siebrecht
Tue 29 December  Round 9 12 PM Yasser Seirawan Sebastian Siebrecht

Photos by Alla Oborina for the official web site


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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