Qatar 2015 round one: A day of surprises

by Sagar Shah
12/21/2015 – Usually the initial games at Open are smooth sailing for the top seeds – but not in the Qatar Masters Open 2015. There were so many upsets. Magnus Carlsen drew his game, and amongst the 2700+ players, so did Harikrishna, Jakovenko and Ivanchuk. Wei Yi and Nikita Vitiugov were two super GMs who went back with a nil on the scoreboard, while GM Pavel Tregubov lost to an untitled 12-year-old Iranian. Giant illustrated report from Doha.

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Round one: A day of surprises

Report from Doha by Sagar Shah

What a start to the Qatar Masters Open 2015! High quality settings, some sparkling games of chess, and loads of upsets. But before getting in to the specifics about round one let me share my experience as a participant of this event. Before arriving in Doha I played at the London Chess Classic. Over there, too, the World Champion was present, and so were other great players like Anish Giri, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Alexander Grischuk. But I wasn’t playing in the same tournament as them. While the ten players faced each other in the elite section, mortals like me battled it out in the FIDE Open. The best I could manage was sitting in the second row of the auditorium at a distance of ten meters from these world class GMs.

At the Qatar Masters, things are completely different! You get to play in the same tournament as the world-class super GMs. This means that you can casually walk over to their boards and watch their games in close proximity. Sometimes these top players come over to your board to kibitz your game! For many of us just playing in the same tournament as these legends and being in the same tournament hall as them is enough to get our money’s worth. This unique opportunity of trying to match your wits against the best players in the world is only offered in a few tournaments in a calendar year, and the Qatar Open is one of them.

A panoramic view of the beautiful playing hall

Fresh from his exploits at the London Chess Classic,
Magnus Carlsen faced an opponent rated 336 points below him

Nino Batsiashvili had the opportunity of her lifetime to battle it out against the World Champion

Ivanchuk has a closer look at the game as the 2015 Georgian Women’s Champion
sensationally held the World Champion to a draw in 57 moves

The opening didn’t really go so well for Magnus, who played the Benko Gambit with reversed colours. But after some inaccuracies by his opponent the Norwegian had a typical slight edge, which he more often than not converts. This was increased to a tangible advantage, and it seemed as if Nino Batsiashvili would bite the dust. But on the 32nd move Carlsen made a highly uncharacteristic mistake, allowing his opponent to activate her rook. After that the moves just flowed for the Georgian player as she secured the half point without any particular difficulties. It must be said that Nino played much higher than her rating and this is a clear indication that the World Champion will not have it easy in the first open event that he is playing after a gap of eight years.

[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"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] {The biggest upset of the first round was Magnus Carlsen's draw against Nino Batsiashvili. The World Champion, fresh from his exploits at the London Chess Classic, was unable to get going against his Georgian opponent. Let's see how the game went.} 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 {This is Carlsen's way of saying that he would like to have an original game without any theoretical discussions.} c5 4. c4 d4 5. b4 $5 {Do you get what Carlsen is doing with the white pieces? He is employing the Benko Gambit with reversed colours!} cxb4 6. a3 b3 $5 {Benko is a decent opening with black. The black player gets decent compensation. However, the problem with employing it with white is that you can equalize the game but to get an advantage might not be so easy. Giving back the pawn is a very common way to play against the Benko.} (6... bxa3 7. Bxa3 {would be a full fledged Benko.}) 7. Qxb3 Nc6 8. O-O e5 {Nino has played natural moves and has a good position out of the opening. A natural continuation would now be d3, but Magnus wants to make use of his lead in development by opening up the position.} 9. e3 Be7 10. exd4 exd4 (10... e4 $5 11. Ng5 Nxd4 12. Qb2 O-O 13. Nxe4 Nxe4 14. Bxe4 Bf6 $17 {would give Black a clear advantage. But in an over the board game it is not so easy to see this variation.}) 11. Bb2 O-O 12. Re1 Re8 13. a4 Na5 14. Qd3 Be6 15. Na3 Bxa3 $6 ( 15... Rc8 {Putting further pressure on the c4 pawn would have given Black equal chances.}) 16. Bxa3 Bxc4 17. Qxd4 Qxd4 18. Nxd4 $14 {Magnus surely has a small edge now. This is due to two factors: his pieces are better posted, and on an open board the bishops are just too strong.} Bd5 19. Rxe8+ Rxe8 20. Rc1 b6 21. Bf1 Bb7 22. Nf5 {With threats like Nd6 in the air, Black's position is getting quite hard to defend. It is commendable that Batsiashvili could hold the position from this point onwards, as Carlsen has a clear cut advantage.} Rd8 23. d4 Nd5 24. Bg2 g6 25. Nd6 Ba8 26. h4 (26. Rc8 {would have won a pawn, but maybe Carlsen wanted more from this position.} Rxc8 27. Nxc8 Bb7 28. Nxa7 Nc3 29. Bxb7 Nxb7 30. Nb5 Nxa4 31. Kf1 $16 {The knight on a4 is kind of trapped and the White king will slowly proceed towards it. This would have given Carlsen excellent winning chances.}) 26... h5 27. Re1 Bc6 28. Re5 Nf6 29. Rxa5 Bxg2 30. Rxa7 Bd5 {White still maintains an edge in this position, but the opposite coloured bishops lend it quite a drawish nature.} 31. Ra6 Nd7 32. Nb5 $2 {This throws away all the advantage as it allows Black to activate her rook by threatening a mate.} (32. Kf1 $16 {Getting the king to d3 would have left Black with unpleasant defensive task ahead.}) 32... Re8 $1 33. Bb4 Re2 34. Ra7 Nf6 35. Kf1 Rb2 36. Bc3 Rc2 37. Rc7 Ng4 {Black has tremendous activity and it is the World Champion who has to play carefully now in spite of being a pawn up.} 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 $1 {Exchanging as many pawns as she can and getting closer to a draw.} 47. hxg5 fxg5 48. Bxg5 Rxg3 49. Nc3 Bc6 50. Kd2 Rg2+ 51. Re2 Nf2 52. d5 Bxd5 $1 53. Nxd5 Ne4+ 54. Ke3 Rxe2+ 55. Kxe2 Nxg5 56. Nxb6 Ne6 57. a5 Nc7 {It could be said that the World Champion played quite well for a majority of the game. He had a small edge and was pushing throught. However, allowing Re8 was quite a huge inaccuracy which gave Nino the chance to activate her rook and secure the draw. Full credit to the Georgian for playing a fine game to draw against an opponent who is rated 336 points above her.} 1/2-1/2

Vladimir Kramnik did score the full point, but it was only after a tense struggle
where both players had their share of chances

Bela Khotenashvili tried her best against Kramnik but couldn’t emulate the success of her team-mate

Here's a question from the game analysis below:
can't Black simply recapture the knight – and why not?

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Khotenashvili, Bela"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E10"] [WhiteElo "2496"] [BlackElo "2796"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "118"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Bg2 c6 8. O-O dxc4 9. e4 Be7 10. Qe2 b5 11. Rfd1 Bb7 12. Bg5 Nbd7 13. h4 h6 14. Bf4 Re8 15. Bh3 b4 16. Na4 Qa5 17. b3 c5 18. Ne5 cxb3 19. axb3 cxd4 20. Nb2 d3 21. Nbxd3 Qb6 {Diagram [#]} 22. Nc4 {While this move is not at all bad and White has excellent compensation for the pawn, the Georgian player had a much clearer way to gain a completely equal position.} (22. Be3 $1 Qb5 (22... Nc5 $6 { It is not such a great idea to step in to this pin.} 23. Bg2 Qb5 24. Bxc5 Bxc5 25. Nc4 $44 {[%cal Gd3e5,Ga1a5]}) (22... Qc7 23. Rac1 Qa5 (23... Qd8 24. Nxf7 Kxf7 25. Bxe6+ Kxe6 26. Nf4+ Kf7 27. Qc4+ $18) 24. Ra1 Qc7 25. Rac1 $11) 23. Nxf7 $1 {A stunning sacrifice. Do you see why the knight cannot be taken?} Kxf7 $4 (23... Bf8 $13) 24. Bxe6+ $3 Kf8 (24... Kxe6 25. Nf4+ $18 {[%cal Ge2b5]}) 25. Nf4 $1 Qxe2 26. Ng6# {What a pretty variation!}) 22... Qb5 23. Bg2 a5 24. Bd6 e5 25. Qe3 Bd8 26. Ndb2 Nb6 27. Qc5 Qxc5 28. Bxc5 Nxc4 29. Nxc4 Bxe4 30. Bxe4 Nxe4 31. Bxb4 Bxh4 32. Rxa5 Bf6 33. Re1 Rab8 34. Ra4 Ng5 35. Kg2 e4 36. Nd6 Re6 37. Nc4 Nf3 38. Rb1 Bd4 39. Bd6 Rb5 40. Ra8+ Kh7 41. Ra2 g5 42. g4 f5 43. gxf5 Nh4+ 44. Kg1 Nxf5 45. Bh2 e3 46. fxe3 Nxe3 47. Rd2 Bc5 48. Rd7+ Kg6 49. Ne5+ Kh5 50. Nd3 Bb6 51. Kh1 Ng4 52. b4 Re2 53. Bg1 Bxg1 54. Kxg1 Kh4 55. Nc5 Ne5 56. Rd6 Kg3 57. Rxh6 Nf3+ 58. Kh1 Rxb4 59. Rf1 Rh4+ 0-1

Anish Giri calculates the final winning continuation
which gave him victory over India’s latest GM S.L. Narayanan

Anish played a game which every chess coach in the world would condemn. After twelve moves he had developed only his queen to the c2 square, while all the other pieces were on their initial square. On the other hand his opponent had castled, got out his knight, centralized his queen, and his rook stood on e8. Yet the position was nicely balanced. That’s what hyper-modern play is all about. It was a highly interesting battle which is worth going over.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Sunilduth Lyna, Narayanan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A28"] [WhiteElo "2784"] [BlackElo "2494"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 Bb4 5. Qc2 O-O 6. Nd5 Re8 7. Qf5 d6 8. Nxf6+ gxf6 9. Qc2 e4 10. Ng1 d5 11. a3 Bf8 12. cxd5 Qxd5 {[%csl Ga1,Gc1,Gf1, Gg1,Gh1] Diagram [#] Look at the position after 12 moves! None of Giri's pieces have been developed and Black has nearly four of them playing. Yet White is doing okay, mainly because he has no weaknesses.} 13. Ne2 Bf5 14. b4 $5 {Highly ambitious play. Anish hasn't completed his development but finds time to push another pawn!} a5 15. Nc3 Qe6 16. b5 Ne5 17. Nxe4 $1 {Making a move like Nxe4 requires a lot of belief in your calculating abilities. f3 and d3 is coming up and hence Black doesn't have a good discovery.} Nd7 18. d3 Bxe4 19. dxe4 Nc5 20. Bb2 Rad8 21. Rc1 $6 (21. f3 $5 {Would have retained an advantage for White as now Be2 followed by 0-0 is coming up and there is no real good way for Black to take advantage of his lead in development.} f5 $2 22. Qc3 $1 $18) 21... Nxe4 22. Bd3 Nxf2 $1 {A fine shot which puts the ball back in the Dutch GM's court. What does he do now?} 23. Bxh7+ (23. Kxf2 $2 Qxe3+ $19 {[%cal Gd8d3]}) (23. Qxf2 Rxd3 $17) 23... Kg7 24. O-O $1 {This was the resource on which Giri had pinned his hopes. Black has only way to wriggle out of the mess but unfortunately is unable to find it.} Nd3 $2 (24... Ng4 $1 { would have given Black an equal position. But this is far from easy to calculate.} 25. Rf3 (25. Bf5 Qxe3+ $1 26. Kh1 Nxh2 $1 27. Kxh2 Bd6+ 28. Kh1 Rh8+ $19) 25... Nxe3 26. Rxf6 Nxc2 27. Rxe6+ Kxh7 28. Rxe8 Rxe8 29. Rxc2 Bd6 $11) 25. Bxd3 Qxe3+ 26. Kh1 Rxd3 (26... Qxd3 27. Bxf6+ Kg8 28. Bxd8 $18) 27. Rxf6 $1 {A deadly discovered check is difficult to prevent.} Kg8 28. Rcf1 Qe2 29. Qc4 $1 Rd7 30. Rg6+ {A very interesting battle but it must be said that the Dutch super GM was surely given a scare by his young Indian opponent.} 1-0

Sergey Karjakin had little difficulty in dispatching his Egyptian opponent IM Ezat Mohamed

Wesley So played the talented young Russian Aleksandra Goryachkina. The American grandmaster made sure that he gave his opponent absolutely no chance as he slowly but surely converted his position in to a win.

Chinese number one at this event Li Chao started off his campaign with a win over Samy Shoker

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has faced Alexander Grischuk 38 times in over the board play, but it was the first time he faced the Russian’s wife Natalia Zhukova. The Azeri grandmaster won the game in 49 moves.

Evgeny Tomashevsky showed what a virtuoso endgame player he is by winning
a 4 vs 3 knight endgame with pawns on the same side against IM Vahap Sanal

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.8"] [White "Sanal, Vahap"] [Black "Tomashevsky, Evgeny"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B14"] [WhiteElo "2487"] [BlackElo "2744"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "128"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Qb3 Bg7 7. cxd5 O-O 8. Be2 Nbd7 9. Bf3 Nb6 10. Nge2 Bg4 11. Bxg4 Nxg4 12. a4 Nf6 13. a5 Nbxd5 14. Qxb7 Qd6 15. Qb3 Rab8 16. Qd1 Rfc8 17. O-O Qa6 18. Re1 e6 19. Qc2 Nb4 20. Qb1 Nd3 21. Rd1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Bh6 23. Rc2 Qd3 24. Qd1 Qxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Rc4 26. Ng3 Rd8 27. Nf1 Nd5 28. g3 Nb4 29. Re2 Rcxd4 30. Rxd4 Rxd4 31. Re5 Bf8 32. Rb5 Nd3 33. Ne3 Rb4 34. b3 Nc1 35. Rxb4 Bxb4 36. Nb5 Bxa5 37. Nxa7 Bb6 38. Nc6 Bxe3 39. fxe3 Nxb3 40. Kf2 {Diagram [#] Is this position objectively winning for Black? Maybe not. What is useful for the practical player is to see how Tomashevsky makes use of his chances and step by step strengthens his position. His plan can be broken up into the following points. 1. Centralize the king. 2. Centralize the knight. 3. Look out for tactical chances. 4. Keep posing micro problems to the opponent.} Nc5 41. Kf3 f6 $1 {This move gets starts the journey of centralizing the king.} 42. g4 Kf7 43. h4 e5 44. e4 Ke6 {Step one achieved the king has been centralized. The next step now is to centralize the knight.} 45. Ke3 Kd7 46. Nb4 Kd6 47. Kf3 Nb3 $1 48. Ke3 Nd4 {The knight is well placed. Of course if White were careful now it would not be so easy to make progress. But he makes an error and we see how alert the Russian is.} 49. Nd5 f5 $1 50. gxf5 (50. g5 {was better.}) 50... Nxf5+ $5 (50... gxf5 {was also interesting, the point being that we could create a protected passed pawn with f5-f4+.}) 51. Kf2 Ne7 (51... Nxh4 $2 52. Nf6 $1 h6 53. Ng4 h5 54. Nf6 Ke6 55. Nh7 $11 {The knight on h4 is trapped and Kg3 will end the game in a draw.}) 52. Nf6 h6 53. Ng4 Ng8 {Keeping the pawns flexible.} 54. Ke3 Ke6 55. Kf3 h5 56. Nh2 Nh6 57. Ke3 Kf6 58. Nf3 Nf7 59. Nh2 $2 {The losing mistake of the game. Some may blame just this move for White's loss, but I think it is the persistent pressure put on by Tomashevsky which resulted in Sanal making his final mistake.} g5 $1 {The power of this move is not so easy to understand.} 60. hxg5+ Kxg5 $1 {Black is winning unconditionally, mainly because his king goes to h3 and then the knight joins in, after which there is no way to stop the h-pawn.} 61. Kf3 Kh4 62. Kf2 Kh3 63. Nf1 Ng5 64. Ng3 Kg4 {h4 is coming up and the e4 pawn will fall. Sanal threw in the towel. A masterful endgame show by the Russian Champion.} 0-1

The battle between two Indians: Pentala Harikrishna survived a few anxious moments
before he drew against the talented Aravindh Chithambaram

The 16-year-old Aravindh will take on Magnus Carlsen tomorrow. By the way Aravindh already has a +1 score against the World Champion – he beat him in a simultaneous exhibition in Chennai in 2013!

Dmitry Jakovenko’s 14-year-old opponent IM Amin Tabatabaei had him on the ropes. The Russian had to
press the emergency brakes and somehow draw the game in an opposite coloured bishop endgame.

The defending champion Yu Yangyi – he won the 2014 Qatar Masters
made a solid start with a fine win over GM Neelotpal Das

One of the biggest upsets of the round was surely Wei Yi’s defeat…

… at the hands of Indian IM Shardul Gagare, 260 rating points lower

Wei Yi as Black (to play) resigned in this position.
Can you find the best way for him to put up resistance?

The game was quite a fine positional feat by Shardul. However, in the last (above) position it seemed that the Chinese GM missed a brilliant defensive opportunity. Whether the game would have ended in a draw or not is a different question altogether – the brilliant defensive move had to be tried.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.12"] [White "Gagare, Shardul"] [Black "Wei, Yi"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E10"] [WhiteElo "2470"] [BlackElo "2730"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5 5. Nc3 b4 6. Na4 Bb7 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. e4 d6 10. a3 Nd7 11. axb4 cxb4 12. Qd2 Rb8 13. Be2 Be7 14. O-O O-O 15. Nd4 Rfc8 16. b3 Bf8 17. Rae1 Re8 18. Bd1 g6 19. Nc2 a5 20. Nd4 h5 21. g3 Rbc8 22. f4 e5 23. Nb5 exf4 24. gxf4 Ba6 25. Na7 Rc7 26. Nc6 Bh6 27. Qf2 Bc8 28. Kh1 Qg7 29. Qg3 Bb7 30. Nxa5 Ba8 31. Bf3 Kh8 32. Bg2 Qd4 33. Rd1 Qa7 34. Nc6 Bxc6 35. dxc6 Rxc6 36. e5 Ra6 37. exd6 Re3 38. Qf2 Rxb3 39. Qxa7 Rxa7 40. Bc6 Nb8 41. Bb5 Ra3 42. Rfe1 Kg7 43. Re8 Rb7 44. Re7 Rxb5 45. cxb5 Rxa4 46. Rb7 Ra8 47. d7 Nxd7 48. Rbxd7 Rb8 49. R7d5 Kf6 50. R1d4 Bf8 51. Rd8 Bc5 52. Rxb8 Bxd4 53. Rd8 {Wei Yi resigned the game at this point seeing that his bishop is attacked, and if he moves it b6 followed by b7-b8 is threatened. After b6 he cannot play Bxb6, as then Rd6+ will pick up the piece. Yet, here Black has a miraculous defence which was overlooked by the Chinese grandmaster.} -- (53... Bb6 $3 { Can you believe this! This is the only way in which Black can fight on, although most probably even this is objectively lost. But it is not so easy to prove it.} 54. Rd6+ Ke7 55. Rd2 (55. Rxb6 $2 b3 $1 {The a and c-files are useless as a1 and c1 will be covered after b2. And there are no other squares available.} 56. Rb7+ Ke8 57. Rb8+ Ke7 $11) 55... Ke6 56. Kg2 {Slowly White should win this as he will activate his king and break the fortress. However, this sequence starting with Bb6 was definitely worth trying over the board by Wei Yi.}) (53... Be3 $2 54. b6 $1 Bxb6 (54... b3 55. b7 b2 56. b8=Q $18) 55. Rd6+ $18) (53... b3 $2 54. Rxd4 b2 55. Rb4 $18) 1-0

Nikita Vitiugov, 2724, had pretty much a forgettable day as he lost to…

…IM Xu Yinglun from China, rated 254 points below Vitiugov

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.13"] [White "Vitiugov, Nikita"] [Black "Xu, Yinglun"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2724"] [BlackElo "2470"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "120"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. a4 Nc6 8. f4 Be7 9. Be2 Qc7 10. O-O O-O 11. Kh1 Re8 12. Bd3 Bd7 13. Nb3 Nb4 14. a5 e5 15. Bb6 Qc8 16. Nd2 exf4 17. Rxf4 Be6 18. Bd4 Nc6 19. Bg1 Ne5 20. Be2 {Black has an extremely comfortable Sicilian position. His knight on e5 is well placed. It can be a good question as to what exactly is the knight doing on d2? Xu Yinglun takes the break which is a dream for every Sicilian player.} d5 $1 { After this Black is just better. Vitiugov decides that it is time to change the pace of the game and sacirfices an exchange. But it is more like out from the fire and in to the frying fan.} 21. Rxf6 Bxf6 22. exd5 Bg4 23. Nde4 Be7 24. Bxg4 Qxg4 25. Qxg4 Nxg4 {White does not have enough compensation for the exchange. Let's just look at a few more moves to see how the Chinese player converts his advantage.} 26. d6 Bf8 27. Bb6 f5 $1 28. d7 Red8 29. Bxd8 Rxd8 30. Nd2 Bb4 $1 31. Nc4 Bxc3 32. bxc3 Rxd7 33. Re1 Nf2+ 34. Kg1 Ne4 35. Ne3 g6 { Black gave back his material but now has a clear positional advantage. The c-pawns are horribly weak and the endgame was quite instructive.} 36. c4 Nc3 37. Nd5 Nxd5 38. cxd5 Rxd5 39. Re8+ Kf7 40. Rh8 Kg7 41. Rb8 Rd7 42. Kf2 Rc7 43. Ke3 Rxc2 44. Rxb7+ Kh6 45. Kf3 Rc3+ 46. Kf4 Ra3 47. g3 Rxa5 48. h4 Ra3 49. Ra7 a5 50. Rb7 Ra1 51. Kf3 a4 52. Ra7 a3 53. Kg2 a2 54. Kh2 g5 55. Ra6+ Kh5 56. hxg5 Kxg5 57. Ra7 h5 58. Ra4 h4 59. gxh4+ Kh5 60. Kh3 Rh1+ 0-1

Ex-FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov continues with the same hairstyle
he sported in the World Rapid and Blitz Championships in October

Radoslaw Wojtaszek from Poland beat GM Irina Krush with black

Vassily Ivanchuk tried quite hard but couldn’t win against IM Ma Zhonghan

The highly original and creative attacker Anton Korobov

12-year-old Alireza Firouzja from Iran scored a huge upset by beating GM Pavel Tregubov

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.20"] [Round "1.52"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Tregubov, Pavel V"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2372"] [BlackElo "2589"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 Bf5 4. c4 e6 5. cxd5 exd5 6. d3 Bb4+ 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. O-O O-O 9. Bg5 d4 10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. Nd5 Qd6 12. Nxb4 Qxb4 13. Nd2 Ne5 14. Rc1 Rac8 15. a3 Qb6 16. b4 {Black's position is pretty fine out of the opening. He should simply go c6 here. Instead Tregubov makes a careless move and is immediately punished.} Rfe8 $6 17. Rc5 $1 {The threat of f4 followed by Nc4 and also Rxe5 followed by Nc4 makes Black's task very difficult.} Bg4 (17... f6 18. f4 $18 {[%cal Gc5f5]} Ng4 19. Nc4 Qa6 20. Ra5 Qe6 21. Bd5 $18) 18. Rxe5 $1 Rxe5 19. Nc4 Qf6 20. Nxe5 Qxe5 21. Bxb7 Rb8 (21... Bxe2 22. Re1 Bxd1 23. Rxe5 Rd8 24. Rc5 $16 {is quite a huge edge for White.}) 22. Bf3 Bh3 (22... Bxf3 23. exf3 $16 {A solid extra pawn.}) 23. Re1 $16 {The 12-year-old boy from Iran confidently went on to convert his extra pawn.} a5 24. Qd2 axb4 25. axb4 Qb5 26. Bg2 Be6 27. Rc1 Qxb4 28. Qxb4 Rxb4 29. f4 h6 30. Rxc7 g5 31. Rc5 gxf4 32. gxf4 Kg7 33. Kf2 Rb2 34. f5 Bd7 35. Rd5 Bc8 36. Bh3 Kf6 37. Rxd4 Ke5 38. Rh4 Ba6 39. d4+ Kd5 40. Bg2+ Kc4 41. Rxh6 Bb5 42. Rd6 1-0

Providing free drinking water is not so uncommon in many tournaments…

…but at Qatar the organizers went a step further and provided free cookies and biscuits…

… but also freshly cut fruit!

A lot of people are watching the Qatar Masters Open 2015. Are you one amongst them?
Be sure not to miss the round two action at 15.00 hours local time.

Watch it live on Playchess!

When the games are running, clicking on the above link will take you to our live broadcast. It is free and open to all – as a Premium Account member you have access to the Live Book, Chat, chess engine analysis – all in your browser, on a notebook, tablet or even your smartphone. And the Let's Check function will show you what the most powerful computers in the world think of the current position, as each move is being played. Below are the four most-watched boards.

Note that you can download PGNs of the running games (to analyse with your regular software) and even start an engine in the above broadcast window. The arrow buttons allow you to play through the moves backwards and forwards. The f and g-buttons are self-explanatory.

Did you notice something special about the pictures in this report? We have included shots of each of the 2700+ participant playing in the tournament.

Photos by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India

Pairings/Results of Round 1 on 20.12.2015 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


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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