Women World Championship: Looking back (1/2)

by Elshan Moradiabadi
3/13/2017 – After a thrilling Women World Championship that provided entertaining chess rife with drama and excitement, a new World Champion was crowned. Elshan Moradiabadi looks back at some of the highlights of the competition, providing his usual insightful summaries and annotations.

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All photos by David Llada

The world women chess championship concluded last week in Tehran with surprising victory by Tan Zhongyi from China. As our initial report summed up, the event saw a lot of controversies around it before it even get started. However, after the event kicked off, it was all about everyone’s favorite thing: playing chess and trying to win!

The tournament saw a lot of surprises from the very first game in the first round with the most interesting ones, in my humble opinion, being Zhukova’s elimination at the hand of experienced but semi-retired IM Nino Khurtsidze from Georgia. However, it was not the only success for Georgians, The newly mom, IM Sopiko Guramishvili, uncorked another surprised by beating much higher-rated and local hero IM Sara Khadem to make first round memorable for Georgians.

Mom power! Two Georgian moms proved not all nice and kind when it comes to the ‘royal game’. Sopiko Guramashvili was one, and...

... Nino Khurtidze was another.

Georgians have a long and rich history in women’s chess with many strong players despite being a small nation! Beware! With eleven players, the Russians had a strong presence in Tehran. However, two of their biggest hopes happened to face the tournament’s sensation, Ni Shiqun!

At only 19, Ni Shiqun beat Natalia Pogonina and Valentina Gunina while only losing to another Russian, GM Aleksandra Kosteniuk. Watch this lady in the future!

However, apart from their strong field in this world championship, only one of their players made it to the semi-final and it was none other than ex-world champion Aleksandra Kosteniuk.

Always going strong in chess and fashion. Ex-world championship Aleksandra Kosteniuk

The tournament was full of sensational moments, tactical blunders, strong play and drama. Here is a sample of a few of those thrilling moments.

Suicide does not help!

In a Georgian Derby in the first round, Sofio Gvetadze was stuck in a repetition against Nino Batsiashvili. She had no way out of it but her decision on how to finish her tournament in Tehran ended terribly:

Nino Batsiashvili vs Sofio Gvetadze (Round one)

[Event "WCh Women 2017"] [Site "Tehran IRI"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Batsiashvili, Nino"] [Black "Gvetadze, Sofio"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A43"] [WhiteElo "2492"] [BlackElo "2285"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r4k1/3b1n1p/p2p2p1/2pP1p2/2B2P2/1P6/qbP1NBPP/2R1Q1K1 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "25"] [EventDate "2017.02.11"] {[#]} 27. Rd1 {Sofio Gvetadze lost her first game against her compatriot Nino Batsiashvili. In this game she had the hard task of winning with black. Unfortunately for her, Batsiashvili managed to maintain equality and after a mistake by Gvetadze could at least force a draw. Still, Gvetadze's choice that ended this event is somewhat tragic.} a5 $4 {A terrible mistake. Black's queen is trapped now! Gvetadze was in rush to create something and succumbed to her hastiness.} (27... Bg7 28. Qd2 Bb5 29. Nc3 Qb2 30. Nxb5 axb5 {and the game is still going on.}) 28. Nc3 Qa3 29. Nb1 Qa2 30. Nc3 Qa3 31. Nb1 Qa1 32. Nc3 (32. Nd2 Qa3 33. Qe7 {is winning for White but Nino knows that a draw is enough.}) 32... Qa3 33. Nb1 Qa2 34. Nc3 (34. Qe7 {should be winning}) 34... Bxc3 $4 { A horrible decision where White is going to win in a couple of moves. I know that 2-0 or 1.5-0.5 does not make a difference for Gvetadze but isn't draw better than a loss when the pick is one of the two?} 35. Qxc3 Qa3 36. Be1 Qb4 37. Qf6 Qb6 38. Bc3 Kf8 39. Re1 1-0

Sofio Gvetadze came with high hopes but fell in round one

The great escape!

Some of the key ingredients for success in a knockout tournament are resourcefulness, resilience, and a tendency to not resign! The sum of these three characteristics could be seen through a player’s tactical alertness. Natalia Buksa has proven herself as a tough nut to crack. She won the World Junior when she was not even rated 2200 and now in this tournament she managed to beat GM Hong Thanh Trang from Hungary after finding a miraculous escape.

Houdini has nothing over Nataliya Buksa

Nataliya Buksa vs Hong Thanh Trang (Round one)

[Event "WCh Women 2017"] [Site "Tehran IRI"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Buksa, Nataliya"] [Black "Hoang, Thanh Trang"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2302"] [BlackElo "2463"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2017.02.11"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 b6 8. Qe2 a5 9. a4 Ba6 10. Bb5 Qc7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rd1 cxd4 13. cxd4 Rc8 14. Nf1 Qb7 15. Ne3 Nc6 16. Bd2 Nb4 17. Bc3 Nf8 18. h4 Bxb5 19. axb5 Qd7 20. h5 h6 21. Ra4 $2 { A hard move to understand.} (21. Ne1 Bg5 22. Ng4 Rc4 23. g3 Qxb5 24. f4 Be7 25. b3 Rc5 26. Nxh6+ gxh6 27. Qg4+ Kh8 28. dxc5 Bxc5+ 29. Kg2 Nc2 30. Nxc2 Qxb3 31. Qf3 Qxc2+ 32. Rd2 Qf5 33. g4 Qh7 34. Ra4 (34. Rf1 a4 {is bad}) 34... Nd7 { The position is crazy but White is just fine!}) 21... Na6 $1 {The b5 pawn is pinned so this knight can go to c7 and wins a pawn.} 22. Raa1 Nc7 23. Nh2 Nxb5 24. Rd3 Nxc3 25. bxc3 b5 26. f4 b4 27. cxb4 axb4 28. Rad1 Ra3 29. Nhg4 { Black is winning and the much more experienced Hoang Thanh Trang is on the verge of qualifying to the next round... However what comes next shows Buksa's resourcefulness and fighting spirit. Sit and watch!} Rxd3 30. Rxd3 Qb5 31. Nxh6+ {Last chance....} gxh6 $4 {[#] This throws away the victory. Hoang missed her golden window of opportunity} (31... Kh7 32. Nxf7 b3 33. Nd1 Rc2 34. Qf3 b2 35. Nxb2 Qxb2 36. f5 Rc1+ 37. Kh2 Qb1 38. fxe6 Rh1+ 39. Kg3 Qe1+ 40. Kf4 Rf1 {and Black wins, although the computer gives g6!!! with mate in 9 moves!}) 32. Nf5 $3 {The Rg3 threat and the X-ray theme along the f1-a6 diagonal save the day for Buksa!} Kh8 33. Nxe7 Rc1+ 34. Kh2 Qe8 35. Rg3 Qxe7 36. Qg4 Ng6 37. hxg6 fxg6 38. Qxg6 Qh4+ 39. Rh3 Qxf4+ 40. Rg3 Qh4+ 41. Rh3 Qf4+ 42. Rg3 Qh4+ {a great escape for Buksa and a sad day for Hoang who fails to go to the next round!} 1/2-1/2

The game is not over until the scoresheets are signed!

We keep hearing that the most difficult task in chess is ‘to win a winning position’. However, when it comes to a tournament of such brutal format, in which a single mistake means goodbye, things become more dramatic than usual. This was the case in the first round match between Lela Javakhishvili and Pham Le Nguyen.

Experienced Georgian and a strong player, Lela Javakhishvili was on her way to the second round but the tables turned around in dramatic fashion

Lela Javakhishvili vs Pham Le Nguyen (Round one)

[Event "WCh Women 2017"] [Site "Tehran IRI"] [Date "2017.02.12"] [Round "1.2"] [White "Javakhishvili, Lela"] [Black "Pham, Le Thao Nguyen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E52"] [WhiteElo "2455"] [BlackElo "2351"] [Annotator "Elshan Moradiabadi"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2b2q2/7k/p1p1r3/Pp1pPp1p/1P2nP2/4P2P/4B1QK/4B1R1 b - - 0 49"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "2017.02.11"] {[#]} 49... Rh6 {After great middlegame play, Lela managed to get a winning position that she exploited with the simple tactical shot} 50. Bxh5 $1 {Lela is winning now, however what happens next is the beyond anyone's imagination.} Be6 51. Be8 {Black is completely tied up.} Bc8 52. Kh1 Kh8 53. Kh2 Kh7 54. h4 Kh8 55. Kh3 Kh7 56. h5 Be6 57. Bg6+ Kh8 58. Bh4 Qg7 {White is completely won but he needs a plan to win this game and it seems Lela is not able to find one in this game. White needs to transfer the queen to the a1-h8 diagonal and then play Bf6!} 59. Be8 (59. Qf1 Qf8 60. Qa1 $1 Qxb4 61. Bf6+ Nxf6 62. exf6 d4 63. Qxd4 Qxd4 64. exd4 b4 65. Kh4 {with a completely winning position for White.}) 59... Qf8 60. Bg5 Rh7 61. Bg6 Rc7 {with the idea of supporting the pawn and the promoting it to queen. Are you laughing at me? Watch and see!} 62. h6 {unnecessary} Qxb4 $2 {loses by force.} (62... c5 {was the right move}) 63. Bh5 $4 {dramatic blunder which throws away all of White's advantage!} (63. Bf6+ Nxf6 64. exf6 Qf8 65. Qg5 c5 66. f7 Rxf7 67. Bxf7 Qxf7 68. Qd8+ Kh7 69. Rg7+ { And Lela would have been in the second round!}) 63... Qf8 $1 {now it is time for White to be objective and try to force a draw with Bf3 but Lela loses objectivity and the game!} 64. Bf3 Kh7 65. Kh2 c5 66. Qh3 c4 67. Bh5 c3 68. Bg6+ Kh8 69. Bh4 c2 {You see?! This pawn is about to queen!} 70. Rc1 b4 { The rest is simple!} 71. Be1 b3 72. Qh4 Rc4 73. h7 b2 74. Bb4 Rxb4 0-1



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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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