Tehran WGP Rd1: What a setting

by Alina l'Ami
2/12/2016 – In the strongest tournament organized in Iran, the FIDE Women's Grand Prix has just started in Tehran with the best female players in the world. The exceptions being Hou Yifan and Mariya Muzychuk who are preparing for their epic showdown in March. As can be seen in the photos, the location was a beautiful venue that just begs to be photographed.

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The combat zone

Photos by Alina L'Ami for the official site

Sometimes coincidence is a plan in desguise. Programmed or not, the first round of Tehran FIDE Women Grand Prix could have hardly found a better day to start its battless: perfect synchronization with the Revolution Day celebrated all over Iran on 11th February! And, as expected, the 'unexpected' happened. No, chess is not and will never (hopefully) be a drawish game, as the percentage of today's round speaks for itself - four decisive results and two hard fought draws is a great start for the chess lovers and for some of the players too...

Stefanova Antoaneta
½ - ½
Batsiashvili Nino
Zhao Xue
0 - 1
Koneru Humpy
Zhukova Natalia
1 - 0
Gunina Valentina
Dzagnidze Nana
½ - ½
Khademalsharieh Sarasadat
Harika Dronavalli
0 - 1
Pogonina Natalija
Cramling Pia
0 - 1
Ju Wenjun

This is how the chess life wheel spins around, with the inherent pressure accumulating before the game to then be released move by move, requiring enormous nervous strength to emerge as a winner. The chess world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck. And yet, the participants of the Tehran FIDE Women GP prove the image of a chess player as a ruthless warrior wrong. They are all beautiful, have family lives, university studies… plus, the "genius" label completes the profile too.

Harika Dronavalli - Natalija Pogonina 0-1

Hard fought game but time trouble ruined everything for Harika...

After a very interesting strategic fight, implying a pawn sacrifice for initiative by her opponent, Natalija Pogonina, Harika's clock started to run too fast. With the seconds ticking away, she went for the concrete:

32. Rd1 which failed in view of 32...Rxe2 33.Rxd4 Qxd4! (this is what Harika missed) 34.Qxd4 Rxc2 and a long term advantage for Black, which was eventually converted into a point. 

Had the Indian GM had just a bit more time, she would have gone for the more solid 32.Qa5 or 32.a4 but today it was not to be.

Good game played by Natalija Pogonina, even though she couldn't remember precisely her opening theory

Pia Cramling - Ju Wenjun 0-1

A good day in the office for Ju Wenjun

During the game I thought 12. Bf4, which was played in the game, to be an interesting decision, but Pia was not too happy about it afterwards, as she said during the press conference. 12... Bxf4 13. gxf4 Rb8 14. Rb1 Ba6 15. Bf3 Qc8 16. Re1 Ne7 17. cxb6 axb6 18. Rc1 Qd8 White's initiative has vanished and Black retained the better structure. Pia confessed she did not manage to find the right places for her pieces, slowly but surely her position deteriorated and in the end Black won the game.

Long game and long analysis - this is how Pia keeps on playing high level
chess, in spite of today's hiccup

Natalia Zhukova - Valentina Gunina 1-0

Congrats Natalia for a good game and many thanks for removing the water bottle on the
other side of the board!

The Catalan tabyia of this game bears structural similarity with the advance French but it is not easy at all to find the right way, given the rather difficult knight placed on e8... Both players agreed that the following bishop manoeuvre was inaccurate, by losing too much time without getting anything in exchange:

13... Ba6 14. Nf1 Nb8 15. Bd2 Nc6 16. Rac1 Bc4 17. Qd1 Bd3 18. Re3 Bc4 19. a3 Kh8 20. Rec3The real mistake though was only the next move: 20... f6 (another typical French break), but Black didn't notice her pieces were hanging. 21. b3 Bxa3 22. bxc4 Bxc1 23. Qxc1 and there is nothing to be done to save the house from burning down.

Zhao Xue - Humpy Koneru 0-1

Always good to start with a point

In this more or less typical Tartakover QG structure, White's next move prematurely displayed aggressivity, weakening the c4-square chronically:

17. b4 was not the most fortunate plan as 17... b5 is a very strong counter-move, stopping White's ideas on the wing and preparing to jump with the knight to c4 via b6.

18. Qb3 a5 19. a3 Nb6 20. Ne1 Nc4 21. Ra2 After the first success on the queenside, Black will soon establish a domination on both wings, which was rewarded in the end with the coveted point.

Antoaneta Stefanova - Nino Batsiashvili 1/2-1/2

A tough position with tough defence by the former Women World Champion, Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta was not happy with her early middlegame play and soon landed in a joyless ending with a pawn down and a passive position. During the press conference none of the players could formulate a clear winning plan but probably a good moment could have been:

31... Bc5 was played in the game, missing the right time to strike with the idea mentioned by the players during analysis: 31... Bg1! (obviously taking is out of the question, since the White king will be invited for a walk, with the final destination - mate in four!) 32. g4 (what else?) 32...Bh2! which is by the way, a difficult move to make I believe... and if 33. Rd4 then 33... Ra3 with a beautiful, if not winning position for Black.

Nana Dzagnidze - Sarasadat Khademalsharieh 1/2-1/2

Playing in your native country: pressure or additional energy? Today's answer for Sara was:
the more support, the better!

The local player had a very good game, celebrating the Revolution Day with very nice play. As she confessed later, she did not feel the pressure of her family, fans and the whole country following her, but more of a support and encouragement.

23... d4 was played which keeps White under serious pressure but, as suggested by her very good friend later on, Sara had an even stronger reply: 23... Bh6! increasing the force of ...d5-d4. 24. Bxc6 Rxc6 25. exd4 Bh6 26. d5 Rd6 27. f4 Nxd5 28. Nxd5 Rxd5 and White somehow managed to save this position.

Sometimes things go differently than planned; good save by Nana

A wonderful sight for any chess photographer: the extra bits of energy are resting outside
of the cameras' frames...

The strongest chess tournament ever organized in Iran has just started. On the way to finding out who will have the strongest nerves to stand the pressure all the way, do stay tuned for the second round tomorrow at the same hour, 15 o'clock!

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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 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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