'Hurricane Hari' leads in Shenzhen

by André Schulz
4/23/2019 – There's a whole lot of chess going on in Europe at the moment, but we shouldn't forget about the double round-robin tournament taking place to the Far East in Shenzehn, China. Pentala Harikrishna leads the field with 4½ points after his fourth consecutive win in today's sixth round. Anish Giri trails a half a point behind. IM Sagar Shah annotates Harikrishna's latest exploits. | Photos: cca.imsa.cn

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Four in a row for Harikrishna

Six top grandmasters are competing in China at the Shenzhen Masters: the top two Chinese grandmasters, Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi, as well as the international pros Richard Rapport, Dmitry Jakovenko, Anish Giri from Europe, and Pentala Hariskrishna from India. 

The tournament is a double round-robin being played in a hotel in the Longgang district of the 12 million-strong metropolis of Shenzhen. 

Today marked the sixth round — the first game of the second round-robin. Pentala Harikrishna continued his winning ways, this time against Jakovenko, whom he drew on the first day. He's fully rebounded from his second round loss to Giri and now leads the tournament with 4½ points.


With the crafty 29.b8 White gained the upper hand. In addition to the back-rank mate, White threatens to push his c-pawn.


Pentala Harikrishna

Annotations by IM Sagar Shah

Beating the Berlin Defence

Ever since the Kasparov-Kramnik WCh match (London 2000) players with the white pieces have been breaking their teeth biting on the Berlin Wall in the Ruy Lopez. The situation from White’s point of view has become precarious – ducking it is equivalent to capitulation, because in all alternative variations to the Berlin endgame White gives up from the start on the struggle for an opening advantage. White has to find ways to crack open Black’s defence. There is hardly any other grandmaster of his class who is as well known for his uncompromising and creative play as the Latvian Alexei Shirov.

If you too would like to play the 5.Re1 line against the Berlin like Harikrishna did against Jakovenko, you might want to check out Shirov's video series on this subject (see link above!)

Earlier, in round four, Harikrishna also bested the solid Ding Liren. He employed a quiet line in the Ruy Lopez and kept posing questions for Ding in the queenless middlegame that followed, before finally exploiting the Chinese's inaccuracies in the ending.


Anish Giri follows in second place, half a point behind. The Dutchman was also able to celebrate a win today, though he certainly had to work for it — in 102 moves he wrestled Yu Yangyi down. 


Yu defended his pawn here with 35...c4, but was further pressured with the amusing shot 36.d4. Presently, White did not capture the c-pawn, but rather the black a-pawn. But there was still a long way to travel on the road to victory for Giri.

Giri vs Yu

Giri against Yu

Harikrishna and Giri are two to lock swords in Wednesday's seventh round.

Round 7 live


Standings after Round 6


All games 


Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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