Tehran WWCh Rd1 G2: Live another day!

by Elshan Moradiabadi
2/13/2017 – 20 of 63 ladies lost their respective matches and had to leave the cycle. 11 matches went into the tie-break with hair-raising pressure. For many, it was the question of survival in the competition. In Tehran, many of the players who lost their first games managed to bounce back and square the match, some did not. Check out GM Elshan Moradiabadi's illustrated report and analysis.

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All photos by David Llada

The first stage of Women's World Championship is over. 20 of 63 ladies lost their respective matches and have to leave the cycle. 11 matches went into the tie-break with hair-raising pressure. Usually, the most interesting games of the second round of each stage's mini-matches are those in which a player that has lost the first game tries to win the second to stay in the competition. The first round of the first stage saw a number of surprises, in which, higher-rated players succumbed to their lower-rated opponents.

In Tehran, many of the players who lost their first games managed to bounce back and square the match, some did not. One of these higher rated players who did not manage to stay longer in Tehran was GM Natalia Zhukova,  who went down at the hand of Georgian IM Nino  Khurtsidze. The Ukrainian did not manage to level the match and was forced to leave the tournament. Dzagnidze managed to win with black. Bodnaruk managed to do a great come back after a heart-breaking blunder and beat one of the local superstars, Mitra Hejazipour to force a tie-break. On the other hand, the good news for the hosts was the return of  Sara Khademalsharieh. After losing the first round one-sidedly to Sopiko Guramishvili, Sara managed to handle her nerves and win with white to level the match. Here are some of the breath-taking moments of the second day of round one.

GM Natalia Zhukova came to Tehran with a lot of hopes, having GM Anton Korobov as her coach. However, she had to leave sooner than expected!

Round one hero before the tie-breaks! IM Nino Khurtsidze from Georgia

Half-Windsor or full-Windsor? Ahh, come on! We are talking about scarves now!

Mona Khaled- Nana Dzagnidze 

The dreadful battle between dark horse Mona Khaled and experienced but out of shape Nana Dzagnidze was extended for another day.

Nana Dzagnidze suffered the worst setback among the top rated players, losing with white against Mona Khaled of Egypt in the first game. She came back with a lot of energy and managed to seize the initiative early on in the game but similar to game one she started to run out of steam and made several passive moves, as a result of which, her previous over-extending pawn pushes turned into permanent weaknesses. Mona came back with a strong attack along h-file and a fantastic knight, nicely placed on f5. She even managed to win a piece but in the time scramble complication she lost most of her advantage and when accuracy was needed, she succumbed to the nerve-wrecking pressure.

[Event "World women chess championship "] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Mona, Khaled"] [Black "Dzagnidze, N."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A47"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "106"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] {I really would like to see Mona Khaled's mood tomorrow. After winning the first game with black, she got a completely winning position in this game and was about to deliver a 2-0 win against none other than Georgian no.1 GM Nana Dzagnidze. But things went very wrong for the Egyptian toward the end and "out of form" Dzagnidze used her immense experience to level the match. This is for sure the most dramatic game of the round.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. Bf4 {The solid London System. A good choice aginst a much higher rated player when you know a draw is more than enough!} Bb7 4. e3 Nh5 {This is a good move. e3 maybe considered a bit inaccurate.} 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 g5 7. Nfd2 Nf6 (7... Nf4 { is an interesting move!}) 8. Bg3 h5 $6 {but this is too much!} 9. h3 (9. h4 g4 10. c4 {gives a close to clear advantage to white.}) 9... d6 10. c4 Nbd7 11. Nc3 e6 12. Nf3 h4 13. Bh2 Rg8 {Dzagnidze is playing overly uncompromising. I guess she has to since she needs to win with black pieces to stay in the tournament!} 14. d5 {A good practical decision} g4 15. Nxh4 (15. hxg4 Nxg4 16. Bg1 Be7 17. Nd4 {followed by f3 and e4 looks very promising for white.}) 15... gxh3 16. g3 {What an agony for the bishop on h2.} b5 $1 {Strong sense of dynamic. Black breaks white's wall by addressing the weakness of d5 pawn. The game become so dynamic and critical all of a sudden.} 17. Bxh3 bxc4 18. Bg2 Rb8 19. b3 exd5 $6 (19... Ng4 20. O-O Ba6 21. dxe6 fxe6 {followed by Qg5 and Be7 gives black close to winning advantage.}) 20. Nxd5 Bg7 (20... Nxd5 21. Bxd5 cxb3 22. axb3 Qg5 23. Bxb7 Rxb7 {would have given black the upper hand thanks to 'almost' like a pawn bishop on h2.}) 21. Rc1 Nxd5 22. Bxd5 Bxd5 23. Qxd5 cxb3 24. axb3 Be5 25. Nf5 Rh8 $2 {This is a serious mistake!} 26. f4 Bf6 27. g4 {the knight on f5 is such a beast!} Kf8 $2 {Had Mona won this game, Dzagnidze wouldn't have forgiven herself for this blunder} 28. g5 Bg7 29. Bg1 $2 {Hasty} (29. Kf2 {was simpler.}) 29... Rxh1 30. Qxh1 Nc5 $4 {game over?} 31. Qh7 Bb2 32. Nh6 $4 {not yet.} (32. Rc2 Ba1 33. Rh2 Ke8 (33... Bc3+ 34. Kf1 Rxb3 35. Qh8+ Bxh8 36. Rxh8#) 34. Qg8+ Kd7 35. Qxf7+ Kc6 36. e4 {with winning attack}) 32... Qe8 33. Rc2 Rxb3 34. Kf1 Qe6 $2 {loses a piece.} 35. Rxb2 Qc4+ 36. Re2 Ne4 {Ok, this is not as easy as the previous one. Bf2 and then Be1 would have covered white's king and had sealed the deal but....} 37. Qh8+ Ke7 38. Nf5+ ( 38. Ng8+ Kd7 39. Nf6+ {was still winning.}) 38... Kd7 39. Nd4 {White needs to bring stronger artillery ( the queen ) to defense herself.} Ng3+ (39... Rb1+ 40. Kg2 c5 {is better but it is easy to say this one with engines on. Isn't it? }) 40. Kf2 Nxe2 41. Nxe2 $2 {This move is not wrong but I give this a question mark due to practical matters. Nxb3 would have simplified matter and had given Mona the path key to the next stage.} a5 {Position is even but white needs to be accurate.} 42. Qg7 Kc8 $1 {good positional play. King is safe now and the a-pawn is unstoppable. I would like to ask our dear readers to pay attention to miserable bishop on g1!} 43. Qg8+ Kb7 44. g6 Qe4 $1 {Dzagnidze has enough time on her clock so she sees that she is faster than white at this moment.} 45. Kg3 (45. gxf7 Qxe3+ 46. Kf1 Qf3+ 47. Ke1 Rb1+ 48. Kd2 Rb2+ 49. Kc1 Rxe2 50. f8=Q Qf1#) 45... Qxg6+ {The endgame is just winning now!} 46. Qxg6 fxg6 47. Nd4 a4 48. Bf2 c5 49. Nc2 Rc3 50. Na1 Rc1 51. e4 Rxa1 52. f5 gxf5 53. exf5 Kc6 0-1

Hero of the day: Ayelen  Martinez was up to the task for mission impossible!

If Mona Khaled had a difficult task of drawing with white against Nana Dzagnidze, Argentine  Ayelen  Martinez had the impossible task of winning against the much higher rated opponent Zhao Xue from China with black pieces. Nevertheless, after a  tupsy -turvy game, it was Zhao Xue who crumbled under pressure.

[Event "World women chess championship (1.1)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Zhao, Xue"] [Black "Martinez, Ayelen"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r5k1/5p1p/2p4b/2p1nr2/4B3/6P1/7P/3RR1BK b - - 0 38"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] {[#]} 38... Rh5 (38... Bc1) 39. Re2 $2 (39. Bxc5 Ng4 40. Bg1 Ra2 41. Rd8+ Bf8 42. Bf3 Re5 43. Re8 {would have maintained equality and possibly a simple draw for Zhao Xue. Instead she destroyed her position in two moves.}) 39... c4 40. Bc2 Nf3 41. Rf1 Nxg1 42. Kxg1 Bg7 {Black has two pawns more and great winning chances. Ayelen Martinez gradually converted her advantage with some extra help from Zhao Xue.} 43. Rf4 c5 44. Rxc4 Bd4+ 45. Kg2 Ra1 46. Be4 Kg7 47. Rcc2 Rh6 48. Bd3 Bg1 49. h3 Bd4 50. Bc4 Rf6 51. Re4 h5 52. Rh4 Rf5 53. Re4 Rg5 54. Re7 Rg1+ 55. Kf3 R5xg3+ 56. Kf4 Rxh3 57. Bxf7 Rf1+ 0-1

Mitra was Caissa's choice of day one. However, by picking Dzagnidze as I showed earlier, it seemed that Caissa forgot about Mitra entirely. In a tough game, Hejazipour cave in as Bodnaruk's pieces' activity became too much to handle.

[Event "World women chess championship (1.1)"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Bodnaruk, A."] [Black "Hejazipour, M."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C43"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] {Mitra was Caissa's choice of day one.However, by picking Dzagnidze, it seemed that Caissa forgot about Mitra entirely. In a tough game, Hejazipour cave in as Bodnaruk's pieces activity became too much to handle.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 d5 5. Nbd2 Nc5 6. c3 Be7 7. Nb3 Ne6 8. Qc2 c5 9. Be3 b6 10. Rd1 Bb7 11. Bc4 {Like Dzagnidze, Bodnaruk is all in!} Nc7 12. Bd3 h6 13. O-O Nd7 14. Bf5 Ba6 $2 {I do not understand the idea of this move. It looks like an inviting move for white's rook to land on e1 comfortably.} 15. Rfe1 Nf8 $5 { The only practical solution} 16. e6 $1 {white opens the game up indeed.} Nfxe6 17. Ne5 (17. Bxe6 Nxe6 18. Nxc5 Bxc5 19. Qa4+ Qd7 20. Qxa6 O-O 21. Ne5 { gives white some clear long-term edge.}) 17... Bf6 $2 (17... O-O {looks just fine.}) 18. Bf4 (18. Nxc5 bxc5 19. Bxe6 Nxe6 (19... fxe6 20. Qg6+ {and mate follows soon}) 20. Qa4+ Kf8 21. Nd7+ Kg8 22. Nxf6+ Qxf6 23. Qxa6 Rd8 24. Qxa7 d4 25. cxd4 cxd4 26. Bc1 Kh7 {Gives white good winning chances.}) 18... Bxe5 19. Bxe5 O-O 20. Nd2 Bb7 21. Ne4 Ne8 22. Ng3 {So far, Mitra has managed to handle the game but lack of an active plan has caused her a lot of psychological pressure. She tries to solve her problems immediately instead of gradually and she gets herself into a losing position.} Qg5 (22... Nf6 { was needed one way or another.}) 23. Qa4 Qe7 24. Bb1 Nd6 {final blunder} (24... g6 {[#] was needed.}) 25. Qg4 {now all of white's pieces are aiming at black king and f4-f5 plan looks overwhelming. White is completely winning.} Ne4 26. Bxe4 dxe4 27. Bd6 Qf6 (27... Qg5 {was Mitra's best practical chance although it is losing anyways.}) 28. Bxf8 Rxf8 29. Nxe4 Qe7 30. Rd7 $1 {Nice finish by Bodnaruk!} 1-0

Sara Khadem — relieved!

Sopiko Guramishvili: Make a draw? Not me. I leave that to Anish!

It seems that Elisabeth did not like the comment I made yesterday and changed the way she wears her scarf. Apparently, this works better for her than the Amish style since she comfortably won against a highly-experienced WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan.

However, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya stuck to her choice but she did not end up forwarding to the second round.

Deysi Corie might have come the longest way to Tehran but her efforts were short-lived since she has to leave Tehran after losing to Kashilinskaya.

Round 1.2 Results:

Pairings for Tiebreaks:


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 14 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching.


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