Zhao Xue wins New Zealand Open with 8.0/9

by Albert Silver
1/16/2015 – The traditional New Zealand Open, dating back well over 100 years, was held in Auckland, New Zealand in a church bought by GM Murray Chandler, who also sponsored the event, and uses the locale as a chess center. The main competition was dominated by GM Zhao Xue in yet another great Chinese victory. Here is the final report with analysis.

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Held in a church purchased by GM Murray Chandler, the New Zealand Open continues its
century old tradition

Here is a photo of the ninth annual championship held in 1896

GM Allan Stig Rasmussen (left) was one of the international guests, and came fourth in the
main open while sharing first in the rapid event

Among the visitors from afar, was IM Herman Claudius van Riemsdijk (right), who hails from
Brazil where he was three-time national champion in 1970, 1973 and 1988

The top seed of the tournament was GM David Howell by a large margin,
but his tournament went south in the sixth round, when he lost control
of his game against German GM Klaus Bischoff, who regularly provided
GM commentary on Playchess. As a result he had to settle for third.

GM Bischoff ran into his own nemesis in round seven, when he faced GM Zhao Xue who played
an aggressive attacking game, to push her into an untouchable lead. In compensation, Bischoff
took sole first in the blitz tournament.

[Event "New Zealand Open Ch'p 2015"] [Site "Devonport, Auckland"] [Date "2015.01.07"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Bischoff, Klaus"] [Black "Zhao, Xue"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E12"] [WhiteElo "2490"] [BlackElo "2514"] [PlyCount "76"] [EventDate "2015.01.01"] [EventRounds "9"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. a3 Bb7 5. Nc3 g6 6. Qc2 c5 7. dxc5 bxc5 8. Bf4 Nh5 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bd2 Nc6 11. e3 Be7 12. Be2 f5 13. O-O O-O 14. Rfd1 a6 15. Be1 Qe8 16. Rab1 g5 $1 {Black shows her not-so-subtle intentions. You might think that since Bischoff had defeated top seed Howell in the previous round, Zhao Xue might be more amenable to a more cautious line of action. Not so.} 17. Nd2 g4 18. f4 $6 {Trying to stop the attack before it gets rolling, but this actually helps Black, since it opens the g-file.} gxf3 ({The engine in its infinite wisdom explains that the best move is obviously} 18... Nd4 $3 {with the idea} 19. exd4 cxd4 20. Na4 Nxf4 21. Bf1 d3 {and now} 22. Bxd3 {is forced since} (22. Qc3 Ne2+ 23. Bxe2 dxe2 24. Rdc1 {and here, incredibly, after} d6 { White has no choice but to leave the knight to its own fate since the threat of Qc6 and Qg2 mate must be stopped at all costs.})) 19. Nxf3 Rf7 20. Bf1 Rg7 21. Qe2 Rd8 22. Na4 Nf6 23. b4 {White understandably wants to distract Black from her purpose with counterplay on the queenside, but it is not enough.} cxb4 24. axb4 Qh5 25. b5 $2 {Most likely White missed the tactic that follows, but even so the question beckons: what does the b-pawn push accomplish? It is not about to promote, nor does it harrass any of Black's pieces. His best plan of defense would be to try and trade off the attacking pieces, especially the queen, to reduce the pressure.} axb5 26. cxb5 Nb4 $1 {The pressure on f3 and the g-file skewer are key.} 27. Kh1 (27. Bxb4 {loses immediately to} Bxf3 28. Qb2 Bxb4 29. Qxf6 (29. Qxb4 Bxd1) 29... Be7 30. Qa1 Qg5 31. Qa2 Bxd1 32. Rxd1 Qxe3+ {and the rest is easy.}) 27... Nbd5 28. Nc3 Bd6 29. Nxd5 Bxd5 30. Rd4 Ng4 31. Rxd5 exd5 32. Qd3 Bxh2 33. Nh4 Be5 34. Be2 Kh8 35. Qxd5 Qg5 36. b6 Qxe3 37. Bd3 Bd4 38. Nf3 Qxd3 0-1

The trophies and prizes

GM Zhao Xue receives her first prize from the hands of tournament organizer GM Murray Chandler

New Zealand television program "One News" reported on the event

Final standings

Rk Ti. Name Rtg Perf Pts
1 GM Zhao, Xue 2514 2640 8.0
2 GM Bischoff, Klaus 2490 2510 7.0
3 GM Howell, David W L 2670 2274 7.0
4 GM Rasmussen, Allan Stig 2526 2459 7.0
5 CM Teh, Eu Wen Aron 2300 2126 7.0
6 IM Sukandar, Irine Kharisma 2392 2441 6.5
7 -- Zelesco, Karl 2210 2477 6.5
8 -- Drummond, Matthew 2231 2307 6.5
9 IM Van Riemsdijk, Herman C. 2356 2267 6.5
10 IM DIVE, Russell J 2441 2344 6.0
11 FM CROAD, Nicholas 2366 2342 6.0
12 FM HAGUE, Ben 2462 2335 6.0
13 IM GARBETT, Paul A 2355 2280 6.0
14 IM KER, Anthony F 2435 2192 6.0
15 -- THORNTON, Giovanni A 2195 2266 6.0
16 CM Schmitz, Andreas Arnold 2066 2212 6.0
17 FM SMITH, Robert W 2367 2207 6.0
18 FM Stojic, Dusan 2123 2244 6.0
19 FM Reilly, Tim 2238 2233 6.0
20 NM MCLAREN, Leonard J 2299 2220 6.0

Click for complete standings


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 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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