Tehran WWCh Rd4 G2: The sign of three

by Elshan Moradiabadi
2/22/2017 – Maybe this is what Hou Yifan meant when she chose not play the 2017 World Championship. The top seed Ju Wenjun was caught completely unawares in the opening against Tan Zhongyi who pushed her off the cliff to qualify for the semis. Joining Zhongyi were Kosteniuk and Muzychuk. Harika had to hold a draw with black to qualify as well. But the experienced Nana Dzagnidze played exactly what the doctor ordered. Illustrated report.

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All photos by David Llada

The tournament saw one of its most dramatic days, in Tehran. The most shocking result being Ju Wenjun, seed number one, fresh from a great success at Gibraltar and a smooth run so far at the world championship, going down at the hand of her country-mate Tan Zhongyi.

On the white side of a Catalan, Ju Wenjun got confused by her opponent’s rare choice and obviously did not manage to respond properly.

Tan Zhongyi showed better understanding and put Ju Wenjun in a critical position as early as move 15.

Stuck with a difficult position and her clock ticking, Ju Wenjun caved in almost right away with 15. Ne5? as a result of which she lost the game and the match. A shocking outcome, as seed no.1 is out of the tournament in the quarter-final.

[Event "FIDE Women's World Championship"] [Site "chess24.com"] [Date "2017.02.21"] [Round "29.1"] [White "Ju, Wenjun"] [Black "Tan, Zhongyi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2583"] [BlackElo "2502"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] [WhiteTeam "China"] [BlackTeam "China"] [WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"] [BlackTeamCountry "CHN"] [WhiteClock "0:03:47"] [BlackClock "0:04:23"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. Bg2 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Qa4 Bd7 8. Qxc4 b5 9. Qd3 c4 10. Qd1 Rc8 11. Re1 Be7 12. e4 O-O 13. d5 exd5 14. exd5 Nb4 { Ju Wenjun should have been surprised out of opening and did not react so well to Tan Zhongyi's choice of opening. Now, the only way for her to maintain the balance is to play 15.d6.} 15. Ne5 $2 {This is a blunder! Ju Wenjun is outplayed by her countryman as early as move fifteen. A great outcome for a very good opening preparation.} (15. d6 Bxd6 16. Qxd6 Nc2 17. Na3 Nxa1 18. Be3 b4 19. Qxb4 Nd5 20. Qd2 Nxe3 21. fxe3 c3 22. bxc3 Bc6 23. Nd4 Bxg2 24. Qxg2 Re8 25. Qf2 Rxc3 26. Nab5 Rd3 27. Rxa1 Rexe3 {and white might be able to obtain equality with a lot of difficulty of course!}) 15... Bf5 16. g4 Bc2 17. Qf3 Be4 18. Rxe4 Nxe4 19. Qxe4 Bd6 20. Bd2 Re8 21. f4 f6 22. Bxb4 Bxb4 23. d6 Qxd6 24. Qd5+ Qxd5 25. Bxd5+ Kf8 {The position is lost despite material balance. White's pieces are all going to be burried in their initial squares.} 26. Nc6 Re1+ 27. Kf2 Rce8 28. Nxb4 R8e2+ 29. Kf3 Rxb2 30. Nc6 c3 31. Nxc3 Rxa1 32. Ke3 Re1+ 33. Kf3 Rd2 34. Be4 a6 35. h4 Rc1 36. Ne2 Rc4 37. Ke3 Rxe2+ {A great victory, and probably the most important one, in Tan Zhongyi's career!} 0-1

I talked a lot about Nana Dzagnidze’s resourcefulness but her performance today was another proof why she is a hard nut to crack.

She also forced Harika Dronavali into a difficult position.


When Harika failed to find the correct counterplay, it was all Dzagnidze’s for the taking and she gradually converted her advantage. Tomorrow, Harika is up for her fourth consecutive tie-break!

[Event "FIDE Women's World Championship"] [Site "chess24.com"] [Date "2017.02.21"] [Round "29.4"] [White "Dzagnidze, Nana"] [Black "Harika, Dronavalli"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A14"] [WhiteElo "2525"] [BlackElo "2539"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "133"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [SourceDate "2003.06.08"] [WhiteTeam "Georgia"] [BlackTeam "India"] [WhiteTeamCountry "GEO"] [BlackTeamCountry "IND"] [WhiteClock "0:04:38"] [BlackClock "0:11:47"] {With a lot at stake -maintaining a chance to reach semi-final or going home- Nana Dzagnidze once more showed us that why we should not condone her immense resourcefulness and high will to win.} 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. b3 $5 {Nana avoids any opening debate as early as move three. Although, chess theory is developed that much that even in such cases there is a huge body of theory out there. However, the question is, is Harika prepared for it?} d5 4. Bb2 Be7 5. g3 O-O 6. Bg2 c5 7. O-O Nc6 8. e3 b6 {Ok, all these have been played zillions of times before.} 9. d4 $5 {A rare choice.} (9. Nc3 Bb7 10. cxd5 Nxd5 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. d4 Qf5 (12... Rad8 $6 {black gets into some trouble after this natural move.} 13. Ne5 Qd6 14. dxc5 Qxc5 15. Nd7 Qf5 16. e4 Qg5 17. h4 Qh6 18. Bc1 g5 19. hxg5 Qg7 20. e5 Nb8 21. Nf6+ Bxf6 22. exf6 Rxd1 {[#]} 23. Rxd1 $3 { a beautiful queen sacrifice. After which white dominates the entire board.} Qg6 24. Bxb7 $18 Qf5 25. Ba3 Re8 26. Be7 Qxg5 27. Rd3 h5 28. Rad1 Qe5 29. Rd8 Rxd8 30. Rxd8+ Kh7 31. Bd6 Qd4 32. Kg2 h4 33. gxh4 Qxf6 34. Be4+ Kh6 35. Rxb8 e5 36. Bf8+ Kh5 37. Bb4 Kxh4 38. Rg8 Qf4 39. Be7+ f6 40. Bf3 Qf5 41. Rh8+ {1-0 (41) Khotenashvili,B (2490)-Tan,Z (2438) Jiangsu Wuxi 2012}) 13. Ne5 Nxe5 14. Bxb7 Rad8 15. Qe2 Qd3 16. Ba6 Qxe2 17. Bxe2 cxd4 18. Bxd4 Nc6 19. Bc3 Ba3 20. Rab1 Nb4 21. Bb2 Bxb2 22. Rxb2 Nd3 23. Rc2 {1/2-1/2 (25) Ipatov,A (2657) -Mchedlishvili,M (2604) Izmir 2016} Nb4 24. Rb2 Nd3 25. Rc2 {1/2-1/2 (25) Ipatov,A (2657)-Mchedlishvili,M (2604) Izmir 2016}) 9... cxd4 10. Nxd4 Bb7 $6 { I believe that after this move black is uncomfortable for the entire game. I believe that taking on d4 was necesarry.} (10... Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Ba6 {with the idea to play Rc8 and Bc5.}) 11. Nc3 Nxd4 12. Qxd4 Bc5 13. Qd3 Ba6 {Harika switches to my idea two moves later but white has already developed and she is going to be faster in the center. White has serious inititive.} 14. Rfd1 Rc8 15. Qb1 $2 {Nana worries about the pin but c2 is in fact better than b1. Queen is too passive on b1 and this could have cost Nana the match.} (15. Qc2 Qe7 16. cxd5 exd5 17. Qd2 Rfd8 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Bxd5 Qg5 20. e4 Qg4 21. Qf4 $16) 15... Qe7 16. a3 $1 Rfd8 $2 {This loses a pawn without counter play.} ({Now} 16... dxc4 $2 {loses a piece to} 17. b4 Bd6 18. b5) (16... Ng4 $3 {was Harika's last chance.} 17. h3 $1 (17. cxd5 $2 Qf6 18. Ne4 Qh6 19. h4 (19. h3 Nxf2) 19... Nxf2 20. Nxf2 Qxe3 21. Rf1 Bxf1 22. Qxf1 Qxf2+ 23. Qxf2 Bxf2+ 24. Kxf2 Rc2+ { and black wins.}) 17... Nxf2 18. Kxf2 Qg5 19. Qc1 f5 20. h4 Qh6 21. b4 f4 22. bxc5 fxg3+ 23. Kxg3 Qg6+ 24. Kh3 Rf2 25. Rg1 Qf5+ 26. Kg3 Rf8 27. Nd1 Qg6+ 28. Kh3 (28. Kh2 $4 Qg4 29. Nxf2 Rxf2 {and Qxh4 mate follows.}) 28... Qf5+ 29. Kg3 {with a draw.}) 17. cxd5 exd5 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. Rxd5 Rxd5 20. Bxd5 Rd8 (20... Bxe3 $3 {is a surprising piece sac that may just be equal!} 21. fxe3 Qxe3+ 22. Kh1 Qf2 $11 {You can click on the engine feature of this game replayer and check all the lines for yourself to better understand why this is equal.}) 21. Qe4 Qxe4 22. Bxe4 {The dust has settled and the goal has been achieved. Dzagnidze has a winning pawn up endgame. From here, she shows a lot of patience and grind down her winning endgame to force a tie-break tomorrow!} g6 23. Bf6 Rd6 24. Bc3 Rd7 25. a4 Bf8 26. Bd4 Bg7 27. Rd1 Bb7 28. Bxb7 Rxb7 29. Kf1 Rc7 30. Ke2 Bxd4 31. Rxd4 Rc2+ 32. Rd2 Rc3 33. Rb2 b5 34. axb5 Rc5 35. Kd3 Kf8 36. e4 Rxb5 37. b4 Ke7 38. f4 Rb6 39. Kc4 f6 40. b5 Rb7 41. Ra2 Rc7+ 42. Kb4 Kd8 43. Ra6 {The optimum place for the rook. Look at the game Rubinstein-Lasker St Petersburg 1909!} Re7 44. Kc5 Ke8 45. Kd6 Rb7 46. Ke6 Rxb5 47. Kxf6 Rb7 48. e5 Rf7+ 49. Kg5 Rf5+ 50. Kg4 Rf7 51. h4 Kf8 52. h5 Kg7 53. Kh4 Kh6 54. Ra4 Kg7 55. g4 Kh6 56. hxg6 hxg6 57. Kg3 Kg7 58. Ra6 Kh7 59. Kf3 Rb7 60. f5 g5 61. Ke4 Kg7 62. Rg6+ Kf8 63. f6 a5 64. Rh6 Kg8 65. e6 a4 66. f7+ Kg7 67. Rh7+ {A fine victory for Nana.} 1-0

Anna Muzychuk has been the most consistent player in this tournament. Today, she got into trouble for the second time in this event after her second game against Kashilinskaya.

It seemed that the ex-world champion Antoaneta Stefanova is on the verge of converting her advantage into something meaningful in an unavoidable rook endgame but she made a couple of inaccuracies that let Anna to comfortably equalize and force a draw without any fuss.

Finally, Russian GM Aleksandra Kosteniuk got the better of her much less experienced, and indeed the biggest surprise of the event, Ni Shiqun, when the former’s bishop pair proved overwhelming in the rising endgame.

Chinese youngster Ni Shiqun played the tournament of her life.

Kosteniuk has always been in the forefront when it comes to making a style statement in chess tournaments...

...and the 2017 Women's World Championship is no exception.


Watch and Download to your ChessBase, all the games from Round 04:

Results for Round 4.2:

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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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