Qatar R03: Chess and football in Doha

by Sagar Shah
12/23/2015 – After three rounds at the Qatar Masters we are down to just two leaders – Anish Giri and Li Chao. They are followed by a pack of 14 players on 2.5/3, including World Champion Magnus Carlsen. We have a lot of highlights and game analyses for you. The great Spanish footballer Xavier Hernandez was the chief guest of the round! Illustrated third round report from Doha.

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Qatar Masters 2015: And then there were two!

Report from Doha by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal

We are only in the third round of the Qatar Masters Open 2015 and the players are already showing signs of tiredness and fatigue! We witnessed innumerable games where one of the players simply blundered horribly or fell in to a mating net. And we are not talking about untitled players here – they were full-fledged grandmasters who had lots of time on their clocks! We will come to these highly interesting moments in a bit. But first let us start with a guest who inaugurated the third round of the tournament.

Xavier Hernandez with the tournament director Mohamed Al Mediahki and his wife,
former Women’s World Champion Zhu Chen

Xavier "Xavi" Hernández Creus is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Qatari club Al Sadd SC. Xavi is the first player in Barcelona's history to play 150 international matches. Highly regarded for his humble persona and team ethos, Xavi is viewed as being the embodiment of the tiki-taka passing style of play, and is considered to be one of the greatest central midfielders of all time. Many count him as Spain's greatest ever player. Here's a video showing the emotional farewell he was given in Barcelona.

It is a rare sight to find two people who are the best in their
respective fields posing together for the photographers


Naturally chess players who are big football fans
rued missing the opportunity to meet an all-time-great

Round three started with nine players on 2.0/2. On the top board we had a pairing which we could have well seen in an elite Round Robin event. It was Anish Giri (2784) against Radoslaw Wojtaszek (2723).

Wojtaszek had lost against Giri at the World Cup 2015 quarter-finals in Baku

The game began as a 6.g3 Variation in the Najdorf. The game bordered on the edge of equality and slight advantage for White almost throughout the struggle. It seemed as if the players would agree to a draw at any moment, but Anish kept finding ways to pose micro problems to his opponent. When you have to continuously keep finding the best defensive resources, there comes a time when you run low on energy, and it is exactly at such moments that blunders occur. This is precisely what happened with Radoslaw, who simply collapsed on move 58 and resigned the game on the 60th move.

You are in Anish’s (White’s) shoes and it’s your turn to finish off the game. What would you do?

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Wojtaszek, Radoslaw"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B91"] [WhiteElo "2784"] [BlackElo "2723"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "119"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. g3 e5 7. Nde2 Be7 8. Bg2 b5 9. Nd5 Nbd7 10. Nec3 Nb6 11. Nxe7 Qxe7 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. a4 bxa4 15. Nxa4 Nxa4 16. Rxa4 O-O 17. O-O Bd7 18. Ra5 Rfb8 19. b3 Rb5 20. Qd2 Rxa5 21. Qxa5 Qd8 22. Qxd8+ Rxd8 23. Rd1 Bc6 24. Ra1 Ra8 25. Ra5 Bb7 26. f3 Rc8 27. Ra2 Rc5 28. Kf2 a5 29. Bf1 Kf8 30. Ke3 d5 31. exd5 Bxd5 32. c4 Be6 33. Kd2 Ke7 34. Bd3 f5 35. h4 g5 36. hxg5 hxg5 {Diagram [#]} 37. Kc3 {This position is definitely slightly better for White. What are reasons for it? First of all White's position looks very harmonius. His king sits perfectly on c3 defending the b3 pawn and the b3-c4 duo are very strong. Add to the fact that a5 is weak and if it falls White gets a double passer and you understand the difficulties faced by Black. Also on the kingside the f5 pawn is a tad weak. All in all it is a position where White can press without any danger of losing.} Kf6 38. Ra1 Bc8 ({Much better was} 38... Ke7 $1 39. Rh1 Rc8 40. Rh7+ Kf6 41. Ra7 Bd5 $1 { An important resource.} 42. Rxa5 (42. Be2 Ra8 $1 $11) 42... Bxf3 {is unclear.}) 39. Rh1 $1 Kg7 40. Rh5 Kg6 41. Rh8 {The rook has penetrated and Black faces some huge issues defending his position.} Kg7 42. Rd8 Kf6 43. Rd6+ Be6 (43... Ke7 44. Rg6 $16) (43... Kf7 44. Rb6 {is similar to the game.}) 44. Ra6 Ke7 45. Rb6 Kf7 46. Ra6 Ke7 {There is no real way for White to make progress on the queenside for the time being, so he should shift his attention to the kingside and break either with g4 after Be2 or f4.} 47. Be2 $1 (47. f4 $6 gxf4 48. gxf4 Kf6 $1 (48... e4 49. Be2 $16 {You cannot give up the d4 square.}) 49. fxe5+ Kxe5 $11 {The d4 square is under control of the black king.}) 47... Kf7 48. g4 $1 {A logical progression.} Ke7 49. Rb6 Kf7 50. Rd6 Ke7 51. Ra6 fxg4 (51... Kf7 52. gxf5 Bxf5 53. Bd3 {is an endgame which Anish would have wanted to play. Of course taking the bishop is possible, but the black king is cut off on the third. It is not so clear whether the rook endgame is winning or not but it is surely pleasant for White. On the other hand if the bishop is not taken then it goes to e4 and White has definitely made some progress.} Bxd3 (53... Be6 54. Be4 $16) 54. Kxd3 Ke7 55. Ke4 (55. Kc3 Kf7 56. b4 axb4+ 57. Kxb4 Rc8 $11) 55... Kd7 {Maybe it is not so easy to break through after all.} 56. Rg6 (56. Kf5 Kc7 57. Kxg5 e4+ 58. Kf4 exf3 59. Kxf3 Kb7 $11) 56... a4 $1 $11) 52. fxg4 Kf7 53. Ra7+ Kf6 54. Bf3 Bf7 55. Ra6+ Ke7 56. Bc6 Be6 57. Bb5 Bxg4 58. Rxa5 Bf3 $2 { The losing mistake of the game.} (58... Rc7 {and Black would have most probably secured the draw.}) 59. Ra7+ Kf6 (59... Kd6 60. b4 Rc8 61. c5+ { and the White pawns are just too quick.}) 60. Bd7 $1 {Maybe Wojtaszek missed this. The rook on c5 is trapped. Quite a picturesque position, you have to agree!} (60. Bd7 e4 (60... Be2 61. Kb4 $18) (60... g4 61. b4 $18) 61. Kd4 Re5 62. Ra6+ $18) 1-0

With this win Anish became the second player to reach the perfect score of 3.0/3. A few hours before his game ended Li Chao had already scored a fine victory over S.P. Sethuraman to keep his tally at 100%. The Chinese grandmaster initially came to the game with moderate ambitions and would have been satisfied with a draw with the black pieces. However Sethuraman was caught off guard in the opening, thanks to a rare variation employed by Li Chao, and immediately after that things looked highly unpleasant for the Indian player. The rest of the game was a perfect demonstration by the Chinese number two (behind Ding Liren) who scored a flawless victory.

4…exd4 is the most common variation in this line of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted.
Li Chao’s 4…Nc6 is rare and threw his opponent off balance

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Sethuraman, S.P."] [Black "Li, Chao b"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D20"] [WhiteElo "2639"] [BlackElo "2750"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 {After the game Li Chao mentioned that his opponent always came to the games well prepared and he just wanted to surprise him and play for a draw! Quite a surprising statement by a player who is rated 111 Elo points above his opponent. But he was black and it is not surprising to see top players being less ambitious with the black pieces.} 3. e3 e5 4. Bxc4 Nc6 $5 (4... exd4 {is much more common and the main move in the position.}) 5. d5 { It is possible that Sethuraman did not know the theory after Nc6 move and made the most natural move. However better was} (5. Nf3 e4 6. Qb3 $1 Nh6 (6... exf3 7. Bxf7+ {[%csl Rg8]}) 7. Nfd2 $14 {With a slight edge for White.}) 5... Na5 $1 {Black has already equalized.} 6. Be2 c6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. e4 Bb4 9. Bg5 O-O 10. Nf3 cxd5 11. Bxf6 (11. exd5 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Qxd5 $17) 11... Qxf6 12. Qxd5 Bg4 13. O-O $6 (13. Qxe5 {Should have been tried and this would have given White good drawing chances.} Qxe5 14. Nxe5 Bxe2 15. Kxe2 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Rfe8 17. Nf3 Rxe4+ 18. Kd3 Rc4 $15 {and only Black can be better.}) 13... Bxc3 $1 14. bxc3 b6 {The c3 pawn is weak and Black has absolutely no weaknesses. This is quite a horrible position to defend against a technical player like Li Chao.} 15. Rac1 Rac8 16. Rfd1 Rc5 17. Qd3 Be6 {Keeping total control on the c4 square.} 18. Qd2 h6 19. Ba6 Qg6 20. Qe2 Bg4 (20... Bc4 21. Bxc4 Nxc4 {is not such a great idea as the white light squared bishop is not doing anything while the bishop on e6 can be used in the attack.}) 21. Kh1 Qc6 {Threatening b5.} 22. Qd3 f5 $1 {A strong concrete move that leads to a direct win.} (22... b5 23. Qd6 $1 {and Black doesn't lose the a6 bishop.}) 23. exf5 b5 $1 24. f6 (24. Qd6 Bxf3 $1 {That's the crucial point.} 25. gxf3 Qxf3+ 26. Kg1 Rc6 27. Qd5+ Qxd5 28. Rxd5 Rxa6 $19) 24... Rxf6 25. Qd8+ Kh7 26. Qxa5 Bxf3 {A crushing victory for the Chinese player, who moves to 3.0/3 along with Anish Giri.} 0-1

Li Chao scored an almost effortless victory over S.P. Sethuraman

With these three wins in the event, Li Chao has gained 8.5 Elo points and now has a live rating of 2758! He is fourteenth in the world and is just eight rating points away from Ding Liren, who is on 2766. It might well be possible that by the end of this tournament we will have a new Chinese number one.

Magnus Carlsen dispatched Daniil Yuffa (2504) in just 27 moves

330 Elo points separated the players and Magnus had the white pieces. One could be forgiven if one assumed that the World Champion was going to have an easy day at the office. But anyone who saw Daniil dismantling Victor Bologan in the second round knows that the 18-year-old Russian is quite an under-rated opponent. He immediately put Magnus under some pressure by playing out the first twelve moves of theory without thinking. Clearly Yuffa had come well prepared to the game. For his 13th move Magnus thought for an entire 40 minutes!

This can be an excellent position to train your creative thinking. It is White (Carlsen) to play.
He thought for 40 minutes and found an original idea. Can you do the same?

Magnus came up with an excellent plan of lifting his rook to the fourth rank and pushing his h-pawn down the board. While the rook lift had been played before, by the late American GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz, the h-pawn push was Magnus’ original idea. The pawn reached h6 and played a crucial role in the entire game to create mating threats on the black king. Magnus’ play was extremely accurate and he carved out a fine victory.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.5"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Yuffa, Daniil"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E62"] [WhiteElo "2834"] [BlackElo "2504"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. O-O d6 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. d4 Bf5 8. Bg5 Ne4 9. Nxe4 Bxe4 10. d5 Bxf3 11. exf3 Nd4 12. Re1 Re8 {Let's skip the opening and come to the important part of the game. Until this point both sides had played quite quickly. But here Magnus sunk into a deep think. And how deep was it? 40 minutes in all! So what exactly was going through his mind? It is clear that White has the bishop pair. But the knight on d4 is strongly placed. Important is not to let Black establish the knight on d4 with the move c5. Black wants to play c5 and to dxc6 take with bxc6, when he can strengthen his knight with c5. Here Magnus came up with a deep idea to put his rook on e4 followed by pushing his h-pawn down the board. Quite original. For normal players like me the move Bd2 followed by Bc3 looks natural, but of course it is no where close to as ambitious as what Magnus goes for.} 13. Re4 $5 { The funny thing is that this move has already been played twice by the great player Aleksander Wojtkiewicz.} (13. Bd2 c5 14. dxc6 bxc6 15. Bc3 c5 $11 { is some sort of a dream scenario for Black.}) (13. Be3 Nf5 14. Bc1 c6 $11) 13... c5 14. dxc6 Nxc6 15. h4 $5 {Not really caring about the b2 pawn.} Qb6 ( 15... Bxb2 16. Rb1 Bg7 17. Rxb7 {when Black is not worse, but nor is White.}) 16. Rb1 a5 17. Be3 Qc7 18. h5 e5 19. Qd2 Nd4 20. h6 $1 {A superb move by Magnus, who doesn't fear his rook getting trapped in the centre of the board.} f5 (20... Bh8 21. Bxd4 exd4 22. Rxd4 Bxd4 23. Qxd4 f6 24. Qxf6 Qe7 25. Qd4 $16 {is excellent compensation.}) 21. Rxd4 $1 exd4 22. Bxd4 Bf8 (22... Bxd4 23. Qxd4 f4 $1 {at least temporarily closing the g2 bishop.} 24. Qxf4 Qc5 25. Qd2 $16 {[%cal Gf3f4]}) 23. Bc3 {[%cal Gd2d4,Gd4h8]} Qxc4 24. f4 {[%cal Gg2d5]} Re4 25. b3 $1 Qc5 26. Ba1 $1 {The queen is coming to b2 and there would be no way to avert the mate.} d5 27. Rc1 $1 {Daniil Yuffa found it futile to continue the resistance. The main point is that after the queen moves Bxe4 follows and then Qc3 mates the black king on the long diagonal. A beautiful game by Carlsen. Particularly impressive was his idea of Re4 followed by h4, which he found over the board.} (27. Rc1 Qd6 28. Bxe4 fxe4 29. Qd4 Kf7 30. Qh8 $18) 1-0

Magnus and Daniil discuss a few variations blindfold after the game

Magnus now faces his first 2600+ opponent in the event – Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2663) in the fourth round. The Polish grandmaster is the World Junior silver medalist and also the winner of the 2015 Lake Sevan Invitational. This is just the kind of duel that the spectators were looking forward to – a young, ambitious and upcoming 2650+ player facing the World Champion.

The miraculous save of the day was definitely by
Vladimir Kramnik in his game against Daniele Vocaturo

The Italian grandmaster Vocaturo played the Italian Game (!) and had the ex-World Champion on the ropes. The opening went well for Kramnik, and by 25th move things looked round about equal. But then Vocaturo started to gradually outplay his much higher rated opponent. When the time control was reached on the 40th move, Daniele was already three pawns up with a clearly winning position. Gaining such an advantage against a world class player is only half work done, because these top guys are so good at not giving up and finding minute resources. In fact while you are gaining an advantage your entire focus is on the game – all that you want to do is play the best moves. However when you are already three pawns up and close to winning a lot of other things start entering your mind. “Am I really beating the great Vladimir Kramnik, how will I celebrate tonight, what will my friends say?” These are some of the thoughts that go through the mind of a player who is about to score a huge upset. In such situations it is very easy to go wrong and lose all your advantage. I am not sure if something similar happened to Vocaturo, but he played quite recklessly in the final part of the game and this allowed Kramnik to save the half point.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.6"] [White "Vocaturo, Daniele"] [Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C53"] [WhiteElo "2597"] [BlackElo "2796"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. Bb3 a6 7. O-O h6 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Re1 Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. b4 Ba7 12. Nf1 Qe8 13. a4 Ne7 14. Be3 Bxe3 15. Nxe3 Ng6 16. Ra2 Rd8 17. Rd2 Qf7 18. Kh1 b5 19. Qc2 Nf4 20. axb5 axb5 21. Ng1 d5 22. f3 Qd7 23. Nf1 d4 24. g3 Ng6 25. Rc1 Ra8 26. cxd4 Qxd4 27. Qc5 Qxc5 28. Rxc5 Rfb8 29. Rxc7 Ra4 30. Rb2 Ra3 31. Nd2 Rxd3 32. Nb3 Nf8 33. Nc5 Rd1 34. Re7 Re8 35. Rb7 Ra8 36. Kg2 g5 37. Rxb5 Rad8 38. Nb3 g4 39. Rxe5 Ng6 40. Rxe6 Kf7 { Diagram [#] Gradually from the 25th move onwards Daniele Vocaturo outplayed his world class opponent. 40 moves have been completed so both players received an extra 30 minutes. Three pawns up with ample of time should be good enough to win for a 2597 player one would think. However, to finish off guys like Kramnik is not as easy as you think.} 41. Nc5 {While this move is completely fine, it does give up the control of the d2 square. Maybe much more safe was to bring back the rook to the defence.} (41. Rc6 Ne5 42. Rc1 Rxc1 43. Nxc1 Nc4 44. Rb3 Rd2+ 45. Nge2 gxf3+ 46. Kxf3 $18 {Everything looks secured and White can look forward to pushing his three extra pawns.}) 41... h5 42. e5 (42. f4 R1d2+ 43. Rxd2 Rxd2+ 44. Kh1 $18 {should be clearly winning for White as well. It doesn't look great to lock your king on h1 but then how is Black going to get his knight in to the game?}) 42... Nd5 43. Kf2 (43. Ra2 $18 { [%cal Ga2a7] With the idea of Ra7 was still pretty good for White. But when you have to resort to sharp lines in a position where you are three pawns up it usually means that things have gone wrong already.}) 43... Ra8 $1 {You can bank on Kramnik to find the best moves that pose maximum problems to his opponent.} 44. Ra6 {By now Vocaturo must have become quite nervous. Seeing all the lines where Black is getting loads of counterplay and yet maintaining your cool is not at all easy.} (44. fxg4 hxg4 45. Ra6 {was better than what happened in the game but things are not at all clear anymore.}) 44... Rxa6 45. Nxa6 Nxe5 46. Nc5 Nc4 47. Re2 Nce3 {Rf1 is a mate in one!} 48. Re1 Rd2+ 49. Re2 Rd1 50. Re1 Rd2+ 51. Re2 {A miraculous escape for Kramnik. Before the game started Vocaturo would have happily taken the draw, but after what happened this was not a great result for the Italian.} 1/2-1/2

That looks like dangerous counterplay! Daniele Vocaturo missed his chance
of scoring the biggest victory of his chess career to date

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played a superb game against Alex Lenderman

Mamedyarov in a creative mood is a treat for chess fans. When Alex Lenderman tried to attack his opponent’s rook with a minor piece by moves like …Ba3 or …Nb4, Shakhriyar had had enough. He sacrificed an exchange and went for a direct attack on the black king. The game had beautiful ideas which were executed, some superb defensive moves which were overlooked and a sparkling attack which is not so apparent at first sight. For a person writing a book on chess puzzles this game can provide wealth of examples.

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.8"] [White "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Black "Lenderman, Aleksandr"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E21"] [WhiteElo "2748"] [BlackElo "2626"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Nc3 c5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Ne4 7. Bd2 Nxd2 8. Qxd2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Qb6 10. e3 Ne5 11. b3 Qa5 12. Rc1 O-O 13. O-O a6 14. Rfd1 Ba3 15. Rc2 Rb8 16. Qe2 Rd8 17. h3 Be7 18. f4 Nc6 19. Kh2 Nb4 20. Rcc1 Nc6 21. Qd3 Ba3 {Diagram [#] Up until this point Black has been doing not much, just trying to inconvenience the white pieces by attacking them with Ba3 or Nb4. Mamedyarov finally has enough and decides to sharpen the play by sacrificing an exchange.} 22. Bxc6 $5 {I should give this a dubious mark, but the refutation is not at all easy to see and we should credit Mamedyarov's creativity.} Bxc1 (22... dxc6 $1 {What is happening here? Isnt the rook on c1 hanging and c5 threatened?} 23. Nxc6 {was the idea prepared by Mamedyarov.} Rxd3 24. Nxa5 {and maybe at this point Lenderman saw that he has to take on d1 and then after Rd1 he is badly tangled up as the bishop on c8 cannot develop and Rd8+ is threatened. But here he has a superb move which gives him a clear advantage. And maybe this is what both the players missed.} Rd7 $3 {The c1 rook is still attacked, and if it moves to b1 then Bb4 is extremely strong. On the other hand Rxd7 is met by Bxd7 and Black simply has the bishop pair and the knight on a5 is not at all well placed.} 25. Rxd7 (25. Rb1 Bb4) 25... Bxd7 26. Rd1 Be8 $1 {and b6 is going to trap the knight!}) 23. Be4 $1 Bb2 $6 (23... Ba3 24. Bxh7+ Kf8 $13 {White has to prove his compensation here, but knowing the way Mamedyarov plays we can be sure that he would have enjoyed handling this position as white.}) 24. Nxe6 $5 {A brilliant creative sacrifice. What exactly is happening? Just follow the Shak!} fxe6 25. Bxh7+ Kh8 (25... Kf7 26. Ne4 {is also a strong attack with Ng5+ coming up.}) 26. Ne4 Rf8 (26... Qh5 27. Ng5 $18 {[%cal Gh7g6,Gg5f7]}) (26... Bf6 {might have been the best. Let's try to make a few moves here.} 27. Nd6 $1 Rf8 28. Bg6 Kg8 29. Qe2 $18 {[%cal Gf4f5, Ge2h5] is most probably what Mamedyarov was planning with f5 followed by Qh5. This looks like a crushing attack.}) 27. Bg6 Kg8 28. Qe2 Bf6 29. c5 {Cutting the queen on a5 and getting ready to play Qh5.} Bc3 30. Qh5 Rf5 31. Bxf5 (31. Qh7+ Kf8 32. Qh8+ Ke7 33. Qe8# {Ok, this should not have been missed!}) 31... exf5 32. Qe8+ Kh7 33. Ng5+ Kh6 34. Rd6+ Bf6 35. Qh8+ Kg6 36. Qh7# {A spectacular game by the Azeri player who used his brilliant intuitive and imaginative powers to beat his American opponent.} 1-0

Alexandra Kosteniuk scored quite an upset by beating B. Adhiban (2669). Have a look
at how the Indian grandmaster allowed a helpmate in a perfectly fine position:

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.18"] [White "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Black "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E17"] [WhiteElo "2669"] [BlackElo "2542"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "90"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Re1 d5 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Nc3 Na6 10. Bf4 c5 11. Rc1 Ne4 12. dxc5 Naxc5 13. Nd4 Nxc3 14. Rxc3 Bf6 15. Rc2 Qd7 16. Be3 Rfe8 17. Qc1 Rac8 18. Rd1 h6 19. h4 Ne4 20. Rxc8 Rxc8 21. Qb1 Ba6 22. Kh2 Qe8 23. Bf3 Be5 24. Nf5 Nf6 25. Bd4 Bxd4 26. Nxd4 Qe5 27. Kg2 Ne4 28. e3 Rc5 29. Qa1 Qf6 30. a4 Bc8 31. b4 Rc4 32. Rc1 Qe5 33. Be2 Rxc1 34. Qxc1 Bd7 35. Bb5 Bg4 36. Qc6 Kh7 37. Bd3 g6 38. Qb7 Kg7 39. Qxa7 {Diagram [#] White is a pawn up and has a better position. Kosteniuk now goes for unclear complications hoping to trick her opponent.} Bh3+ $5 40. Kg1 (40. Kxh3 Nxf2+ 41. Kh2 Nxd3 42. Qxb6 Kh7 $11 {should be round about equal as the white king is extremely weak.}) 40... Nxg3 41. Nc6 $4 {A curious case of chess blindness. The knight moves away opening the a1 square for the queen and allowing Black to mate His majesty.} (41. Qxb6 Ne4 $14 {And the position is not clear, but White is not getting mated and Black will have to resourceful to try and force the draw.}) 41... Qa1+ 42. Kh2 Qh1+ $1 43. Kxg3 g5 $1 {Weaving the mating net! There is absolutely nothing that White can do now.} 44. hxg5 Qg2+ 45. Kf4 Qxg5+ 0-1

Ever since Alexandra Kosteniuk has married Pavel Tregubov, her performances have been quite excellent. Want to know what Pavel’s take is on this? Watch the youtube video by Vijay Kumar below:

In this video, which has been captured and edited by Vijay Kumar, you can not only find footage of the third round but also Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Alex Ipatov, Pavel Tregubov and many more

In Hou Yifan’s list of crazy games her third round bout
against Shardul Gagare would be right at the top!

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.17"] [White "Gagare, Shardul"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "2470"] [BlackElo "2683"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxf3 6. exf3 Bxd2+ 7. Qxd2 d5 8. Nc3 c6 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Bb5+ Kf8 11. O-O Ne7 12. Ne2 a6 13. Bd3 Nbc6 14. Rac1 Qd6 15. Rc3 h5 16. h4 g6 17. Rfc1 Kg7 18. a3 Rhc8 19. Kg2 a5 20. Qg5 Rh8 21. Bb5 Rac8 22. Ba6 Rb8 23. Bb5 f6 {The reason why I would like to show you this game is because simply unbelievable things start happening from this point onwards, right until the end of the game.} 24. Qf4 $5 {A bold decision accepting the tripled pawns.} (24. Qe3 $16 {[%cal Ge2f4] was objectively stronger and would have retained the advantage for White but this is nowhere nearly as creative as what was played in the game.}) 24... Qxf4 25. gxf4 $5 { [%csl Gf2,Gf3,Gf4] The tripled pawns looks hideous, but the c-file is beckoning the white rooks.} Nd8 26. Rc7 Kf8 27. Rd7 Rh7 (27... Nf5 28. Rcc7 Nxh4+ 29. Kh3 Nf5 30. Bd3 Ke8 31. Bxf5 gxf5 32. Rg7 $16 {is a horrible position for Black. None of his pieces are playing and the white rooks wreak havoc on the seventh rank.}) 28. f5 $1 Rf7 $1 {Great defensive move found by the world female number one.} (28... exf5 29. Nf4 $18) (28... gxf5 29. Nf4 $18) 29. fxg6 Nxg6 30. Rcc7 Nxh4+ 31. Kh3 Nxf3 32. Kg3 Ng5 {Black is two pawns up, but wait, dear folks, this is just the beginning.} 33. Nf4 {The knight comes in threatening to take back one pawn with Nxh5.} h4+ 34. Kxh4 Nf3+ 35. Kh5 { The king now joins the attack.} Nxd4 {Another important pawn bites the dust and the b5 bishop is hanging.} 36. Kg6 {But who cares!} Rxd7 37. Rxd7 Nxb5 { Black is not only two pawns up but now has an extra piece as well.} 38. Kxf6 $1 {Ng6 followed by Re7 or Rg7 is a deadly threat. And imagine having absolutely no time as we are nearing the 40th move.} Nc6 39. Nxe6+ Ke8 (39... Kg8 40. Rg7+ Kh8 41. Ng5 Nd8 (41... Rf8+ 42. Nf7+ Rxf7+ 43. Rxf7 $14) 42. Rh7+ Kg8 43. Rg7+ $11) 40. Rxd5 {The knight on b5 surprisingly lacks good squares to go to!} Rb7 $6 ({It was time to take a draw and go back home!} 40... Nba7 41. Nc7+ Kf8 42. Ne6+ Ke8 43. Nc7+ Kf8 44. Ne6+ Kg8 45. Rg5+ Kh8 46. Rh5+ Kg8 47. Rg5+ $11 { [%csl Ge6,Gf6,Gg5] The black king alone cannot escape the trio of white king, rook and knight.}) 41. Rxb5 Rf7+ 42. Kg5 Rxf2 43. Rxb6 {White is the one who can press now, as he is pawn up. But this is very drawish.} Ne5 44. b3 Kd7 45. Nc5+ Kc7 46. Re6 Nc6 47. Re3 {The players agreed to a draw. I think it was a piece of brilliant attack and defence by both sides, especially from the white player.} 1/2-1/2

In a dead drawn position, Ni Hua’s opponent Harika Dronavalli blundered a mate in one

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.15"] [White "Harika, Dronavalli"] [Black "Ni, Hua"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E00"] [WhiteElo "2513"] [BlackElo "2693"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Qc2 Nbd7 9. Bf4 b6 10. Rd1 Bb7 11. Ne5 Nh5 12. Bc1 Nhf6 13. Bf4 Nh5 14. Bc1 Nhf6 15. Bf4 Rc8 16. Nc3 Nxe5 17. dxe5 Nd7 18. cxd5 cxd5 19. e4 d4 20. Rxd4 Bc5 21. Rd3 Bc6 22. a3 a5 23. b4 axb4 24. axb4 Bxb4 25. Qb2 Bc5 26. Nb5 Ra8 27. Rad1 Ra5 28. Nd4 Ba4 29. Nb3 Rb5 30. Qa2 Bxb3 31. Rxb3 Rxb3 32. Qxb3 Qc7 33. Qb2 Ra8 34. h4 Nf8 35. h5 Rd8 36. Rc1 Qe7 37. Qb3 Ra8 38. Be3 h6 39. Bf1 Bxe3 40. Qxe3 Nd7 41. Rb1 Qd8 42. Qd4 Qc7 43. Qd6 Qa7 44. Rb5 Rc8 45. Rb1 Rc2 46. Rd1 b5 47. Qd4 Qxd4 48. Rxd4 Nxe5 49. Rd8+ Kh7 50. Bxb5 Rb2 51. Be8 g5 52. f4 Nf3+ 53. Kf1 e5 54. Rd7 exf4 55. gxf4 g4 {Diagram [#] The combination of the rook, knight and the pawn is quite dangerous. However, White has his own attack and the objectively the game should be drawn.} 56. Bxf7 g3 57. Be6+ (57. Bc4+ $1 Kh8 58. Be2 Nh2+ 59. Ke1 g2 60. Rd8+ Kg7 61. Rd7+ Kh8 (61... Kf8 62. Rd8+ {The g7 and g8 squares cannot be left by the black king and hence this is a draw. Not so easy to see, but this defence did exist.} Ke7 $2 63. Rg8 $18)) 57... Kh8 58. Rd8+ Kh7 59. Rd7+ Kh8 60. Rd8+ Kg7 61. Rg8+ Kf6 {Diagram [#]} 62. Bd5 $4 (62. Rxg3 Nd2+ 63. Ke1 Kxe6 64. Rg6+ Ke7 65. Rxh6 $11 {and White will most probably lose all his pawns. But who cares, the position is theoretically drawn. Instead the Indian number two made a horrible oversight.}) 62... Rf2# {What a heartbreak!} 0-1

After beating Tregubov in the first round, 12-year-old Firouzja Alireza once again impressed
everyone by showing some superb defensive skills in the third round against Rasmus Svane

[Event "Qatar Masters Open 2015"] [Site "Doha QAT"] [Date "2015.12.22"] [Round "3.43"] [White "Firouzja, Alireza"] [Black "Svane, Rasmus"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B17"] [WhiteElo "2372"] [BlackElo "2529"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "140"] [EventDate "2015.12.20"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Ng5 h6 6. Ne6 Qb6 7. Nxf8 Nxf8 8. c3 Bf5 9. Nf3 Ng6 10. Bc4 Nf6 11. h4 Bg4 12. Qd3 e6 13. Nh2 Bf5 14. Qe2 Nxh4 15. g3 Be4 16. f3 Nf5 17. fxe4 Nxg3 18. Qg2 Nxh1 19. Qxg7 Ke7 20. Qg2 c5 21. e5 Nd5 22. Bxd5 exd5 23. Qxh1 cxd4 24. Nf3 Qg6 25. Qh4+ Kf8 26. Qxd4 Re8 27. Be3 Qg2 28. Nd2 Qg3+ 29. Kd1 Rxe5 30. Qc5+ Re7 31. Qc8+ Re8 32. Bc5+ Kg7 33. Qf5 Qg6 34. Bd4+ f6 35. Qxg6+ Kxg6 36. Bxa7 h5 37. Kc2 h4 38. Rg1+ Kf7 39. Bd4 h3 40. Rh1 Re2 41. Kd3 Rg2 42. a4 h2 43. b4 Rh3+ 44. Kc2 Rhg3 45. Bb6 Re2 46. Bc7 Rgg2 47. Bf4 Ke6 48. Kd3 Kf5 49. Be3 Kg4 50. Nf1 f5 51. a5 f4 52. Bc5 Kh3 53. b5 Re1 {Diagram [#] This was a real roller coaster. White was clearly better in the middlegame, and then Black snatched the initiative and had excellent winning chances in the late middlegame/endgame. We now have reached a position where things have really heated up. Rd1 mate is threatened and White has to do something immediately. 12-year-old Firouzja finds a long sequence of only moves to force a draw.} 54. Rxh2+ $1 Rxh2 55. Nxh2 Kxh2 56. Bd6 $1 {Pinning the f-pawn.} Kg3 {Now White must quickly push his queenside pawns or else Rb1 would block them all up.} 57. a6 $1 bxa6 58. b6 $1 {Again the only move.} (58. bxa6 Ra1 {is of course hopeless.}) 58... Rb1 59. Bb4 $1 {Blocking the rook's path and threatening b7.} Rd1+ 60. Kc2 Rh1 61. b7 Rh8 62. Bd6 $1 {The rook is lost and it is Black who has to be careful now to force the draw.} a5 63. b8=Q Rxb8 64. Bxb8 a4 65. Bd6 Kg4 66. Kd2 Kf3 67. Kd3 Kg3 68. Ke2 Kg4 69. Kd2 Kg3 70. Ke2 Kg4 {Excellent defence by the 12-year-old.} 1/2-1/2

One of the great things about the organization in Qatar is the wonderful transportation from the official hotel to the tournament hall provided to the players. No matter what time your game ends there is always a car or bus waiting for you to take you to the hotel.

The Carlsen family sans Magnus. Mother Sigrun, daughters Ellen, Signe, Ingrid and father Henrik

Who is this world class player who requires complete silence to calculate his variations?
Please write down your answer in the comments section below.

Nana Dzagnidze has had quite a horrible start to her campaign.
She is on 0.5/3 and is already losing 16 Elo points.

GM Irina Krush also has a miserable start with 0.5/3

It was a good day for the Giri/Guramishvili duo as they both brought home the full point. However, Sopiko had to play out an endgame of R + B + N vs R for nearly 40 moves before she could checkmate her opponent!

Friends for a lifetime – Dorsa Derakhshani and Alina Bivol

Kema Goryaeva and Maria Emelianova with the national bird of Qatar – the Falcon

All photos by Amruta Mokal of ChessBase India

Pairings/Results of Round 3 on 2015/12/22 at 15:00

Bo. Ti. Name Rtg
Ti. Name Rtg
1 GM Giri Anish 2784 1-0 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2723
2 GM Howell David W L 2688 ½-½ GM So Wesley 2775
3 GM Sethuraman S.P. 2639 0-1 GM Li Chao B 2750
4 GM Yu Yangyi 2736 ½-½ GM Swiercz Dariusz 2646
5 GM Carlsen Magnus 2834 1-0 IM Yuffa Daniil 2504
6 GM Vocaturo Daniele 2597 ½-½ GM Kramnik Vladimir 2796
7 GM Karjakin Sergey 2766 ½-½ GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2638
8 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2748 1-0 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2626
9 GM Piorun Kacper 2637 ½-½ GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2744
10 GM Harikrishna P. 2743 ½-½ GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2622
11 GM Bluebaum Matthias 2590 ½-½ GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2737
12 GM Korobov Anton 2713 ½-½ GM Zhang Zhong 2619
13 GM Xu Jun 2526 ½-½ GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2710
14 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2710 ½-½ GM Hamdouchi Hicham 2597
15 GM Harika Dronavalli 2513 0-1 GM Ni Hua 2693
16 GM Matlakov Maxim 2684 1-0 GM Rambaldi Francesco 2560
17 IM Gagare Shardul 2470 ½-½ GM Hou Yifan 2683
18 GM Adhiban B. 2669 0-1 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2542
19 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof 2663 1-0 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2520
20   Fang Yuxiang 2438 0-1 GM Dubov Daniil 2655
21 GM Akopian Vladimir 2648 1-0 GM Sundararajan Kidambi 2513
22 WGM Abdumalik Zhansaya 2390 0-1 GM Ganguly Surya Shekhar 2648
23 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2646 1-0 IM Tissir Mohamed 2346
24 GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi 2644 ½-½   Xu Yinglun 2470
25 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra 2493 ½-½ GM Wei Yi 2730
26 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2724 ½-½ GM Zhukova Natalia 2488
27 GM Moiseenko Alexander 2689 ½-½ FM Moroni Luca Jr 2466
28 IM Ly Moulthun 2462 0-1 GM Fedoseev Vladimir 2664
29 GM Bologan Viktor 2654 1-0 IM Kashlinskaya Alina 2448
30 IM Ali Marandi Cemil Can 2454 0-1 GM Khismatullin Denis 2654
31 GM Khairullin Ildar 2647 ½-½ IM Puranik Abhimanyu 2442
32 IM Wang Yiye 2438 1-0 GM Shankland Samuel L 2646
33 IM Padmini Rout 2437 0-1 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2642
34 FM Abdusattorov Nodirbek 2429 0-1 GM Grandelius Nils 2632
35 GM Naroditsky Daniel 2628 1-0 IM Seyb Alexander 2425
36 IM Vignesh N R 2422 1-0 GM Bartel Mateusz 2620
37 GM Ipatov Alexander 2619 1-0   Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh 2414
38 GM Lu Shanglei 2618 ½-½ IM Abhishek Kelkar 2393
39 FM Li Di 2389 0-1 GM Bok Benjamin 2594
40 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2380 ½-½ GM Tregubov Pavel V. 2589
41 GM Esen Baris 2562 1-0 IM Karavade Eesha 2379
42 IM Lin Chen 2532 ½-½   Roy Prantik 2370
43   Firouzja Alireza 2372 ½-½ IM Svane Rasmus 2529
44 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2521 1-0   Dai Changren 2328
45 GM Schroeder Jan-Christian 2511 ½-½   Raja Harshit 2325
46 GM Bromberger Stefan 2521 1-0 WGM Pourkashiyan Atousa 2322
47 FM Haria Ravi 2416 ½-½ IM Batsiashvili Nino 2498
48 IM Saiyn Zhanat 2394 ½-½ IM Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2494
49 WGM Saduakassova Dinara 2407 1-0 IM Ezat Mohamed 2490
50 IM Slavin Alexey 2388 0-1 GM Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2486
51 IM Tabatabaei M.Amin 2482 1-0 GM Carlsson Pontus 2433
52 IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen 2319 1-0 GM Neelotpal Das 2475
53 GM Krush Irina 2468 0-1 IM Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 2385
54 IM Ma Zhonghan 2463 1-0 IM Li Ruofan 2372
55 WIM Pratyusha Bodda 2260 1-0 IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin 2454
56 IM Firat Burak 2446 1-0 WGM Bartel Marta 2271
57 IM Sagar Shah 2441 1-0 FM Goriatchkin Jouri 2318
58 IM Guramishvili Sopiko 2368 1-0 IM Vogel Roven 2439
59 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2559 ½-½ IM Nezad Husein Aziz 2425
60 FM Gholami Aryan 2422 ½-½ GM Khotenashvili Bela 2496
61 GM Shoker Samy 2489 1-0   Siva Mahadevan 2400
62 IM Sanal Vahap 2487 ½-½ IM Konguvel Ponnuswamy 2377
63 GM Venkatesh M.R. 2451 ½-½ WIM Bivol Alina 2344
64 FM Basso Pier Luigi 2438 1-0 WFM Vaishali R 2313
65 IM Aryan Chopra 2436 1-0 WIM Derakhshani Dorsa 2307
66 IM Piasetski Leon 2287 0-1 FM Rohan Ahuja 2426

Schedule for Playchess Commentary

Day Round Time English German
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 Shah 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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liloufab liloufab 12/24/2015 10:23
Tyson Tyson 12/24/2015 04:38
thlai80 thlai80 12/24/2015 04:28
But Magnus Carlsen is Real Madrid supporter! 😅
Kingpawnkid Kingpawnkid 12/24/2015 03:35
Ivanchuk...thanks for the prize
Emil Cabagay Emil Cabagay 12/24/2015 01:22
As ev'ry good chessplayers knew, Ivanchuk d' Great! Very good report!
Hawkman Hawkman 12/23/2015 10:42
JiraiyaSama JiraiyaSama 12/23/2015 09:21
The King of Planet Ivanchuk.
a-vartanian1969 a-vartanian1969 12/23/2015 04:31
Vassily Ivanchuk
RaoulBertorello RaoulBertorello 12/23/2015 04:17
Vassily Ivanchuk
combinations combinations 12/23/2015 03:37
manebivocu22 manebivocu22 12/23/2015 03:19
Answer: Ivanchuk :)
Great report!