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Danzhou Rds 4-6: Super Solid Hari

by Sagar Shah - 14/07/2016

At the end of six rounds in the seventh Hainan Danzhou super tournament Harikrishna is on 50% score with 3.0/6 and in the fifth position. After his win against Ding Liren in the third round, the Indian player has shown some very solid chess and drew next three rounds against Yu Yangyi, Wang Yue and Peter Leko. Ian Nepomniachtchi is the leader with 4.5/6 as we go into the rest day. We have some pictures for you and game analysis to learn from.

Hari's win against Ding Liren in the third round created quite a sensation. The Chinese number one is now one of the established super elite players in the world. To outplay him from an equal position speaks volumes about Harikrishna's talent. With that win Hari moved to 50% score. It was now important to keep the momentum and not lose any game.

The playing hall of the seventh Danzhou super tournament

Round 4

In the fourth Harikrishna faced a stiff challenge in the form of Yu Yangyi. The Indian player chose the Petroff Defence and reached quite a safe position. However one of his decisions in the game was quite dubious.

Hari played the move f6-f5. Clearly fxe5 was called for when Black had no problems. After closing the kingside with f5, he had a difficult task of playing in a position with no real plan. It was great that he could finally draw the game but it could have very well turned out quite badly as Black's position was really quite bleak.

Before you go over the game, we would like to give you the following position to think over:

Yu Yangyi has just played his knight to e5 and Hari took it with Nxe5. Instead of capturing the knight, what was wrong with Qc8. Your task is to analyze the intricacies of that move. The solution is in the PGN replayer below:


[Event "7th Hainan Danzhou GM"] [Site "Danzhou CHN"] [Date "2016.07.11"] [Round "4.3"] [White "Yu, Yangyi"] [Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C42"] [WhiteElo "2734"] [BlackElo "2755"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "173"] [EventDate "2016.07.08"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 {Harikrishna has found a reliable and safe weapon in the form of Petroff with the black pieces against 1.e4.} 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Be7 7. O-O Nc6 8. Nbd2 {c4 and Re1 are by far the main moves. This is not as popular but still quite logical.} Nd6 9. c3 Bf5 {Black exchanges his problem bishop and it seems as if he has equalised out of the opening without too many problems.} 10. Bxf5 Nxf5 11. Re1 Qd7 12. b4 $5 { With the idea of capturing the e5 square by pushing away the knight with b5.} a6 13. Nb3 O-O 14. Bf4 Rae8 15. Qd3 Bd6 {Slowly but surely Harikrishna is trying to exchange as many pieces as he can and reach a drawish position.} 16. Ne5 $1 {Yu Yangyi tries to keep the pieces and complicates the play as much as he can.} (16. Bxd6 {is possible but after} Nxd6 {White doesn't have anything as } 17. Nc5 {is safely met by} Qc8 $11) 16... Nxe5 $6 (16... Qc8 $1 {was possible and was perhaps the better move.} 17. Nxc6 Bxf4 {is not something that White is looking for} 18. Na7 {Maybe Hari was a tad scared about this move as now Qd7 is met with Nc5 and the piece on f5 is lost but Black can take advantage of the weak back rank and solve all his problems.} Rxe1+ 19. Rxe1 Re8 $1 $11 20. Rxe8+ (20. Rd1 $2 Qe6 $1 $19) 20... Qxe8 {The line is not yet over because the f4 bishop can be attacked with a tempo while saving the back rank mate.} 21. g3 $1 Qe1+ $1 22. Kg2 g6 $1 {Now this is really not so easy to see for humans!} 23. gxf4 Nh4+ 24. Kg3 (24. Kh3 Nf5 $1 {Qxf2 is huge threat and not so easy to meet.} 25. Qf3 Qf1+ 26. Qg2 Qd3+ $1 27. f3 Qe3 $19 {f4 pawn is falling and no one really knows what the knight is doing on a7!}) 24... Nf5+ 25. Kg2 (25. Kf3 $2 h5 $1 {Creating ideas of Qg4# later on.} 26. h3 f6 $1 27. Nc5 Nh4+ 28. Kg3 g5 $1 {The game is all but over! What a variation!}) 25... Nh4+ $11) 17. dxe5 Be7 18. a3 Qe6 19. Nd4 Nxd4 20. cxd4 {White has some initiative here because of the space and the open c-file. But Black is solid and Hari shouldn't have too many problems to hold the draw.} c6 21. Bd2 f6 $1 22. f4 f5 {This gives White a freehand on the position on the queenside.} ( 22... fxe5 $1 23. dxe5 (23. Rxe5 Qd7 24. Rae1 Bf6 $15) 23... g5 $1 24. fxg5 Rf5 $1 {Black should be alright.}) 23. a4 Ra8 24. Rec1 Rfc8 25. Rab1 {This is not at all an easy position for Black to play as he has no counterplay and has to wait for White to do something. But Hari keeps his cool and doesn't do anything stupid.} Qg6 26. Rb3 Qe6 27. Kh1 Rf8 28. Qb1 (28. b5 cxb5 29. axb5 a5 $1 $11 {The minority attack has left Black with the d5 weakness but at the same time the a5 pawn is running ahead.}) 28... Rac8 29. Rbc3 Qd7 30. Qb3 Kh8 31. R1c2 h6 32. Bc1 {White is using the classic strategy of moving here and there to tire his opponent before going in for the b5 break.} Rg8 33. Ba3 b5 $5 {Hari has had enough. He nips in the bud the b5 break. But this means that c6 is a huge weakness. In chess you trade one weakness for another. But White's position still remains pretty grim.} 34. Bc1 Qb7 35. a5 (35. Be3 bxa4 36. Qxa4 Bxb4 37. Rb3 Rb8 38. Rcb2 a5 39. Qxa5 Bxa5 40. Rxb7 Rxb7 41. Rxb7 $14 {Black faces a long defensive task ahead.}) 35... Qd7 {Both the players shuffle their pieces around for quite some moves now and White is unable to breakthrough.} 36. Bd2 Qe6 37. Rh3 Rc7 38. Rc1 Rf8 39. Rf1 Kg8 40. Be1 Rf7 41. Qb1 Rc8 42. Qd1 Bf8 43. Qh5 Kh7 44. Rff3 Be7 45. Rb3 Bf8 46. Bh4 Kg8 47. Kg1 Re8 48. Kf1 Kh7 49. Ke2 g6 50. Qf3 Kg8 51. Kd1 Rg7 52. Rg3 Kf7 53. Bf6 Rg8 54. h4 h5 {Blocking just about every pawn break on the board.} 55. Kc2 Bh6 56. Rc3 Qd7 57. Kb3 Re6 58. Bg5 Bg7 59. Rc2 Rc8 60. Qd1 Qa7 61. Rgc3 Qd7 62. Rc1 Kg8 63. Qf3 Kf7 64. Rc5 Ree8 65. Qd3 Bf8 66. R5c2 Re6 67. Rh1 Bg7 68. Qc3 Qa7 69. Rhc1 Kg8 70. Qc5 Qd7 71. Re2 Bf8 72. Qc3 Bg7 73. Re3 Kf7 74. Qd3 Kg8 75. Re2 Kf7 76. Rf2 Ree8 77. Rh1 Re6 78. Qc2 Qa7 79. Qc3 Rh8 80. Qd3 Qd7 81. Rc2 Ree8 82. Rc5 Re6 83. Rhc1 Rc8 84. Qf3 Ree8 85. Qc3 Re6 86. Qf3 Ree8 87. Qc3 {Yu Yangyi would have been quite upset that he couldn't breakthrough. While Hari wouldn't have been too happy with the fact that after gettting a fine position out of opening he had to defend for nearly 60 moves later!} 1/2-1/2

Round five

Hari had the better side of the draw for most of the game against Wang Yue

Wang Yue went for the Semi Tarrasch which is one of Hari's main opening with the black pieces. White got a tangible plus out of the opening but was unable to convert it into anything. With every exchange the game inched towards a draw and the players shook hands after 46 moves.

[Event "7th Hainan Danzhou GM"]
[Site "Danzhou CHN"]
[Date "2016.07.12"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Black "Wang, Yue"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D41"]
[WhiteElo "2755"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2016.07.08"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 {Using Harikrishna's
opening against him. The Indian has used the Semi Tarrasch quite frequently
with the black pieces.} 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.
Qxd2 O-O 11. Rc1 $5 {Harikrishna is a quick learner. He uses the same line
that Giri essayed to beat him at the Gashimov Memorial in May 2016.} Nc6 (11...
b6 {Hari's move against Giri was slow and it allowed White to play Bd3. With
Nc6 this is no longer possible.}) 12. Be2 Qa5 13. Rc5 (13. Qxa5 Nxa5 14. Kd2
$14 {followed by Ke3 should give White at least a small edge.}) 13... Qxd2+ 14.
Kxd2 Rd8 15. Ke3 Bd7 16. Rb1 $14 {Black has very limited counterplay and White
always has the threat of central breakthrough. I would say White is more than
just slightly better. But Chinese players are stiff defenders and hence
nothing can be taken for granted!} Rab8 17. Bb5 {Stopping b6.} f6 18. g4 $5 {
Hari's idea of g4-g5 is also very interesting.} (18. d5 $5 exd5 19. Rxd5 Be6
20. Bxc6 (20. Rxd8+ Rxd8 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Rb7 {is something to bite on in the
endgame for White.}) 20... bxc6 21. Rxb8 Rxb8 22. Ra5 $16 {With a much mroe
pleasant position.}) 18... Rbc8 19. Rbc1 Kf8 20. g5 Ne7 21. Bxd7 Rxc5 22. Rxc5
Rxd7 23. h4 h6 24. Ng1 $5 {Not at all an easy move to make. But White would
like to free his f-pawn and also place his knight on e2.} hxg5 25. hxg5 Rd6 26.
Ne2 Ra6 27. Nc3 Ra3 28. gxf6 gxf6 29. Kd2 f5 30. d5 Ra6 31. dxe6 Rd6+ 32. Ke2
Rxe6 33. Rc7 Rc6 34. Rxc6 Nxc6 35. exf5 Nd4+ 36. Kd3 Nxf5 {Now it is just a
draw.} 37. Nb5 a6 38. Ke4 Ne7 39. Nd6 b5 40. Kd4 Nc6+ 41. Kc5 Ne5 42. Ne4 Nd3+
43. Kb6 b4 44. Ka5 Nc1 45. Kxb4 Nxa2+ 46. Ka5 {An interesting game. Hari got a
pleasant position out of the opening but couldn't make much out of it.} 1/2-1/2

Round six

Black pieces against a theoretical expert like Leko is always going to be quite difficult

Leko's theoretical knowledge is beyond doubt. It was one of the reasons why he was on Team Anand for his match against Carlsen. However, against Harikrishna the Hungarian couldn't really get things moving. In the Semi Slav, the India number two played simple chess and had absolutely no problems. The isolated pawn was absolutely not a problem and Black managed to hold the draw.

[Event "7th Hainan Danzhou GM"]
[Site "Danzhou CHN"]
[Date "2016.07.13"]
[Round "6.4"]
[White "Leko, Peter"]
[Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D45"]
[WhiteElo "2712"]
[BlackElo "2755"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2016.07.08"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 {After his stint with the Semi-Tarrasch
Hari switches to the Meran.} 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. b3 {White plays one of
the most solid lines against the Meran.} O-O 8. Be2 e5 (8... b6 {is considered
to be the more combative way to play but e5 is a move played at the top level
when Black is not afraid of a quick draw.}) 9. cxd5 cxd5 10. Nb5 $5 {The
ambitious try for an advantage.} (10. dxe5 {It is well known that this move
gives absolutely nothing to White.} Nxe5 11. O-O (11. Bb2 Nxf3+ 12. Bxf3 d4 $1
$15) 11... Bg4 12. Nxe5 Bxe5 13. Bxg4 Nxg4 14. h3 Rc8 15. Bb2 Nf6 16. Qd3 {
White isn't too comfortably placed with the bishop on e5 and Black is fine.}
Ne4 17. Rac1) 10... Bb4+ 11. Bd2 Bxd2+ 12. Nxd2 (12. Qxd2 Ne4 $11) 12... a6 13.
dxe5 Nxe5 14. Nd4 {White has blockaded the isolated pawn. But he is behind in
development and Black's initiative is enough to give him even chances.} Bg4 15.
Bxg4 Nfxg4 16. O-O Rc8 17. Qd1 Qd6 18. h3 Nf6 19. N2f3 Nxf3+ 20. Qxf3 {In the
past years many people would think that White's position is preferable here
but now the thanks to computer engines we think more concretely. The d5 pawn
gives the black knight the e4 square and also the open c-file is in Black's
command. All these lead to an equal position.} Rc7 21. Rfc1 Rfc8 22. Rxc7 Rxc7
23. Rd1 g6 24. g3 Qe5 25. Kg2 Ne4 26. Qf4 Qxf4 27. gxf4 Kf8 {Hari's play has
been extremely simple and getting this position with black against a
theoretical expert like Leko is a great achievement.} 28. f3 Nc3 29. Rc1 Nb5
30. Rxc7 Nxc7 31. f5 Ke7 32. f4 Ne8 33. Kf3 Nd6 34. fxg6 fxg6 35. Kg4 Kf6 36.
Kf3 Ne4 37. Ne2 Ke7 38. Nd4 Nc3 39. a3 Nb1 40. a4 Nc3 41. a5 Kd6 42. b4 Na2 43.
Nc2 Kc6 44. Nd4+ Kd6 45. Nc2 Kc6 46. Nd4+ Kd6 47. Nc2 {A theoretically correct
game and a fine result for Harikrishna.} 1/2-1/2


Standings after six rounds

Rg. Title Name Nation Elo Perf. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pkt. Wtg.
1 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi
2703 +124   0   1   ½ 1 1   1 4.5 / 6  
2 GM Wang Yue   2730   1   ½   ½ ½ ½   ½   3.5 / 6 11.50
3 GM Bu Xiangzhi
2723 -22   ½   ½ 1     0 1 ½ 3.5 / 6 10.00
4 GM Yu Yangyi
2737 +36 0   ½   ½ 1 ½     1 3.5 / 6 9.00
5 GM Penteala Harikrishna
2763 -120   ½ 0 ½     ½ 1 ½   3.0 / 6  
6 GM Wang Hao
2734 -153 ½ ½   0     ½ ½ ½   2.5 / 6 7.75
7 GM Peter Leko
2705 -130 0 ½   ½ ½ ½       ½ 2.5 / 6 7.25
8 GM Ding Liren
2778 -120 0   1   0 ½     ½ ½ 2.5 / 6 7.00
9 GM Vassily Ivanchuk
2710 -124   ½ 0   ½ ½   ½   ½ 2.5 / 6 6.75
10 GM Hou Yifan
2663 -57 0   ½ 0     ½ ½ ½   2.0 / 6  

14th of July is a rest day. In the remaining three rounds Hari faces Ian Nepomniachtchi, Wang Hao and Hou Yifan. You can follow the games live on the ChessBase India website

Pictures from