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Tehran WWC Rd 3.2: Another tiebreaker awaits Harika and Padmini

by Sagar Shah - 19/02/2017

The second game of the third round ended in draws for both Harika and Padmini. Harika has by now grown used to this - this will be her tiebreaker! In the second game Sopiko was pretty solid and never really let the grandmaster from Andhra get an advantage. Padmini, on the other hand, seemed to have a slight pull from the white side of the Berlin, but practically very difficult to convert into something tangible. She agreed to a draw quickly, which means that on 19th February we will see both the girls in the tiebreaks. Detailed analysis by IM Sagar Shah.

Photos by David Llada


Harika had the white pieces against Sopiko. But the Georgian's opening choice was perfect and didn't let the Indian get any pull out of the opening.

The endgame seemed like a theoretical edge for White because of Capablanca's theorem. However, Sopiko's queenside majority made sure that this was an exception to what Capablanca had said.

[Note: Capablanca's theorem says queen + knight in the endgame is superior to queen + bishop] 

[Event "WCh Women 2017"]
[Site "Tehran IRI"]
[Date "2017.02.18"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Black "Guramishvili, Sopiko"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D26"]
[WhiteElo "2539"]
[BlackElo "2357"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "72"]
[EventDate "2017.02.11"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 {The Queen's Gambit Accepted has been Sopiko's choice at
this event.} 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Qe2 {Harika plays
the normal IQP middlegame structure. In an earlier round Sara Khadem had take
on c5 and gone into an endgame where she had outplayed Sopiko.} a6 8. Nc3 b5 (
8... cxd4 9. exd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Qxd4 11. Rd1 {is already too much of
initiative. You should check the game Adams vs Salem Saleh from the first
round of the Sharjah FIDE Grand Prix where a similar sacrifice was made by
Adams.}) 9. Bb3 Be7 10. Rd1 Qc7 11. d5 $5 exd5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. Bxd5 O-O 14.
b3 Bb7 {Overall this seems sort of no real advantage for White. Harika played
d5, but Black was able to develop all her pieces quickly and efficiently.} 15.
Bb2 Rad8 16. e4 Nb4 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Bc3 Nc6 19. Qb2 {This looks slightly
uncomfortable, but the move f6 is completely ok.} Rxd1+ (19... f6 20. e5 $6 b4
$1 $15) 20. Rxd1 Rd8 21. Rxd8+ (21. Rd5 $5) 21... Nxd8 22. Bxg7 Qxe4 {White
has got nothing much here. Even though the pawn on g7 would look more
important than the one on e4, it's not substantial because there is no good
way to co-ordinate an attack on the black king.} 23. h3 Ne6 24. Be5 Nf4 25.
Bxf4 Qxf4 {Now as per Capablanca's rule, this should be a better position for
White because knight and queen co-ordinate better than queen and bishop.
However, here the queenside majority and the non availability of any central
outposts for the knights makes it a completely even position. In fact at some
point I feel that it is White who has to remain careful.} 26. Qe2 Bf6 27. g3
Qf5 28. Kg2 Qd5 29. Kh2 c4 30. bxc4 Qxc4 $6 {Now it is difficult to create
another passer.} (30... bxc4 {Now Black has better chances to push. White has
to try and blockade the pawn on c2, so} 31. Ne1 h5 (31... c3 32. Qxa6 Kg7 33.
Qe2 Qd2 34. Qg4+ Kf8 35. Qf5 Qxe1 36. Qxf6 $11) 32. Ng2 c3 33. Ne3 Qc5 $15 {
Black surely looks slightly better.}) 31. Qd2 Qe4 32. Ne1 b4 33. Nd3 a5 34. h4
Qd4 35. Qe2 Kf8 36. Qf3 Ke7 {I don't know if the last move was played but it
already has started looking not so great for Black. After Nf4-d5 White has
some attacking prospects.} (36... Kg7 $11) 1/2-1/2


Padmini Rout has shown nerves of steel and high level of tenacity at this event

Game two between Padmini and Tan Zhongyi ended in a draw

In the Berlin the e6 bishop is very important. Padmini was able to capture it, which to my eyes meant that she had an advantage. But the more I analysed the more I realized that it was not so obvious that White could do anything tangible with the advantage.

[Event "WCh Women 2017"]
[Site "Tehran IRI"]
[Date "2017.02.18"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Padmini, Rout"]
[Black "Tan, Zhongyi"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "2387"]
[BlackElo "2502"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "46"]
[EventDate "2017.02.11"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5
8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {The Berlin was rare at this event, but it is not possible to
get rid of this opening entirely!} 9. h3 h6 10. Rd1+ Ke8 11. Nc3 b6 $5 (11...
Ne7 {is the main line and play continues something like} 12. Bf4 Ng6 13. Bh2
Bb4 14. Ne2 Be7 {was seen in Caruana-Carlsen 2015.}) 12. Bf4 Be6 $6 {I do not
like this move. I had this book by John Cox on the Berlin Wall. And he pointed
out that the e6 bishop is a very important piece for Black. Hence it was
important that it wouldn't be chopped off by the white knight. The f2 knight
can attack it from g5 or d4. h6 stops the first move, and c5 must prevent Nd4.
However, in this position Black has not been able to play c5 (also because Nd5
would be extremely strong) and so White can just go g4 followed by Nd4 and
take on e6 with a lasting edge.} (12... Be7 {seemed normal stuff and after} 13.
Ne4 c5 14. Nc3 Be6 $11 {I think Black is doing great.}) 13. g4 Ne7 14. Nd4 a6
15. Bg3 c5 16. Nxe6 fxe6 $14 {I really like White's position. He has a
kingside majority and Black doesn't have the bishop pair. However, the Berlin
is a difficult creature to kill, and this is clearly seen in the game. What is
theoretically better, might not be easy to execute in practice.} 17. f4 Nc6 18.
Kg2 Be7 (18... Nd4 19. Rd2 Be7 20. Ne4 $16 {with c3 coming up.}) 19. Ne2 (19.
Ne4 {Perhaps the knight would do better on e4 than on e2, but then Black has
some weird ideas like} Nb4 $5 20. Rd2 Rd8 $11 {when it would already be not so
easy for White to keep things together.}) 19... Rf8 20. Rd2 (20. c3 Rd8 21.
Rxd8+ Kxd8 22. f5 exf5 23. Nf4 Kc8 24. Ne6 Rf7 25. Rf1 $14 {When White is
clearly pushing.}) 20... Rd8 21. Rxd8+ Bxd8 22. Rd1 g6 23. c3 Rf7 {I am unsure
whether accepting the draw is a wise result. I mean White could keep playing
trying to make use of his extra kingside pawn. However, practically it is very
difficult to make progress. Perhaps, Padmini wanted to conserve her energy for
the rapid tiebreaks. Let's see if she can eliminate another Chinese player in
the rapids.} 1/2-1/2

Results of round 3.2

16 Girya Olga 1/2-1/2 1 Ju Wenjun
2 Muzychuk Anna 1-0 15 Pham, Le Thao Nguyen
14 Cramling Pia 1/2-1/2 3 Kosteniuk Alexandra
4 Harika Dronavalli 1/2-1/2 13 Guramishvili Sopiko
12 Shen Yang 1/2-1/2 5 Dzagnidze Nana
6 Ni Shiqun 1-0 11 Pogonina Natalija
10 Khurtsidze Nino 1/2-1/2 7 Stefanova Antoaneta
8 Padmini, Rout 1/2-1/2 9 Tan Zhongyi

We don't like to count our chickens before they hatch, but just for your information - if Harika wins this she will be facing Nana Dzagnidze, who has already qualified. And if Padmini goes through she will take on the winner of Ju Wenjun and Olga Girya.