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Tehran WWCC 01: Bittersweet Draws

by Priyadarshan Banjan - 12/02/2017

The first round of the Women's World Championship 2017 was off to a controversial start in Iran. For Indians, it was a bittersweet day — Harika Dronavalli was held to a draw by her lower rated Bangladeshi opponent Shamima Akter while Padmini Rout was losing against Elina Danielian but scampered home to safety. Both the Indian girls had the black pieces and will start afresh with white. Check out the report with yet another controversy.

Tehran WWCC 01: Bittersweet Draws

While I was scrolling through the pictures from the first round, after seeing a line of images of chess players with headscarves on, I finally came across an image where nobody was wearing it (the headscarf). I was surprised, but a second later, I realized that the photo only had males who looked like partisans (of the official governing body).


The Women's World Championship kicked off in Tehran yesterday under remarkable settings. We already have detailed the technical matters and even the controversies that have marred this prestigious event even before it began in our previous reports. So, we will return to the main story later. First, let us look at the games.


Harika holding her head in despair — she could not make progress against Bangladeshi WIM Shamima Akter (2077). [Photo David Llada]

Shamima Akter - Harika Dronavalli (Analysis by Nihal Sarin)

[Event "Women's World Ch. 2017"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.02.12"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Shamima, Akter"]
[Black "Harika, Dronavalli"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2077"]
[BlackElo "2539"]
[Annotator "Nihal Sarin"]
[PlyCount "170"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 {This is a modern approach to avoid the Petroff Defence. It
was used by none other than Magnus Carlsen very recently (Wijk Aan Zee 2017)
against Wei Yi with the same objective.} Nc6 3. Nf3 Bc5 {The game now
transposes to the Italian.} 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 {This solid move is the new trend.
The old line was 5.d4} O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Bb3 (7. a4 {is a move grabbing space,
and it is also very typical in Italian.}) 7... h6 {Just to prevent Bg5.
Allowing it is was OK as well.} 8. h3 {White does the same. However, I don't
think Black would have gone Bg4 anyway.} a6 9. Nbd2 Re8 10. Re1 Be6 11. Bc2 d5
{This is a good moment for d5.} 12. exd5 Bxd5 13. Ne4 Nxe4 (13... Ba7 $11 {
Looked interesting as well. This keeps the structure undecided yet.}) 14. dxe4
Be6 15. b4 Bd6 {The position has simplified and it is about equal here.} 16.
Bb3 (16. Be3 $5 {Keeping all options open.}) 16... Qf6 17. Bxe6 (17. Be3 {
still, I don't think that white needs to rush with anything.} Rad8 $5 18. Qe2 {
Both sides can play this position without any difficulties.} (18. Qc2 $6 Bxh3
$1 {Is just losing a pawn. White should always be aware of such tactics when
the black queen is on f6, and the bishop eyeing h3.})) 17... Qxe6 18. Qb3 (18.
Qe2 {is an option.}) 18... Qxb3 {White does not have anything on the a-file,
so black can make this move.} 19. axb3 f6 20. Be3 Kf7 21. Red1 Ke6 22. g4 (22.
Kf1 {Is a very natural move, getting the king to e2 and maybe prepare g4, h4
and h5 and bring the knight to f5.}) 22... Red8 23. h4 h5 $1 {Otherwise h5
would be strong.} 24. gxh5 Rh8 25. Kf1 Rag8 26. Ke2 (26. h6 $6 gxh6 27. Ke2 Rg4
28. Kd3 Rd8 {Black is better as e4 will fall soon.}) 26... Rxh5 {Now this is a
very solid position for both sides.} 27. Rg1 Kf7 28. Rad1 Rhh8 29. Rg4 Rh7 30.
Nd2 Rd8 31. Rdg1 Rdh8 {Black sits and waits.} 32. Nf3 (32. Nc4 $6 Bf8 33. Bc5
Rxh4 {Black just wins a pawn.}) 32... Nd8 33. Nd2 Ne6 {This is the perfect
square for the knight.} 34. Nf3 Be7 35. Rd1 Rd8 36. Ra1 c5 $5 {Black tries to
break through.} 37. bxc5 Bxc5 38. b4 Bxe3 39. fxe3 {Taking a look at this
position, black seems better structurally, but really this is not the case.
The white pawns on the e-file control the important squares.} Rc8 40. Rd1 Ke7 (
40... Rxc3 41. Rd7+ Ke8 42. Rxb7 {is just bad for black with a horrible rook
on h7.}) 41. Rc1 Rc6 42. Rgg1 Rh8 43. c4 Rhc8 44. Nd2 R6c7 45. Ra1 Rh8 46. Rh1
Rd7 47. c5 {The knight aims for the d6 square.} Nc7 48. Nc4 Rhd8 {Nb6 will be
met by Rd2+} 49. Rhg1 Ke6 50. Nd6 Ne8 51. Nc4 (51. Nf5 $5 $14) 51... Nc7 52.
Nd6 Ne8 53. Nc4 Nc7 {Black is happy with a draw here.} 54. h5 Nb5 {Now black
takes control over d6. The game is equal now.} 55. Rac1 Rh8 56. Rh1 Rhd8 57.
Rhg1 Rh8 58. Rh1 Rhd8 59. Rhg1 Rh8 60. Nb6 {Again white wants more, but black
has already equalized.} Rf7 61. Rh1 f5 $1 {This leads to a lot of exchanges
that are bound to end in a draw.} 62. exf5+ (62. c6 {is a good try.} fxe4 63.
cxb7 Rxb7 {leads to a funny structure.} 64. Rc6+ Ke7 65. Nd5+ Kd7 66. Rg6 (66.
Rxa6 Nc7 67. Nxc7 Rxc7 $11) 66... Kc8 (66... Ke8 67. Rxa6 $16) 67. Rxa6 Nc7 68.
Nxc7 Kxc7 (68... Rxc7 $4 69. Ra8+) 69. Rc1+ Kb8 70. Rc4 Rxh5 71. Rxe4 $11)
62... Rxf5 63. c6 bxc6 64. Rxc6+ Kf7 65. Nd5 Rhxh5 66. Rxh5 Rxh5 67. Rxa6 e4
$11 68. Nf4 Rh2+ 69. Kf1 Rb2 70. Nd5 Rd2 71. Nf4 Rb2 72. Nd5 Rd2 73. Nf4 g5 74.
Nh3 Rd5 75. Nf2 Nd6 76. Ra5 Ke6 77. Ra6 Kd7 78. Kg2 Rb5 79. Ra4 Kc7 80. Ra5 Kb6
81. Rxb5+ Kxb5 82. Kg3 {Now all the pawns vanish and the game ends in a draw.}
Nf5+ 83. Kg4 Nxe3+ 84. Kxg5 Nd5 85. Nxe4 Nxb4 {This was an interesting endgame.
A tough fight in the first round! The lower rated player played a good game
with white pieces.} 1/2-1/2

IM Padmini Rout was struggling in the rook endgame. Her Armenian opponent GM Elina Danielian (2444) could not find the winning idea in the following position. [Photo: David Llada]

Padmini played the opening well and got an even position. But went wrong in the endgame. The rook endgame was utterly lost and Danielian had many ways to win. However, she didn't find the accurate way towards victory which allowed the Indian to wriggle out with the half point.

It is not about the winning move as much as it is about the winning plan. White to play. What did Danielian miss?

Elina Danielian-Padmini Rout (Analysis by Sagar Shah)

[Event "WCh Women 2017"]
[Site "Tehran IRI"]
[Date "2017.02.11"]
[Round "1.1"]
[White "Danielian, Elina"]
[Black "Padmini, Rout"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A04"]
[WhiteElo "2444"]
[BlackElo "2387"]
[Annotator "Sagar,Shah"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "2017.02.11"]
[SourceDate "2003.06.08"]
{Padmini faced a stiff challenge in the form of Elina Danielian in the first
round of the Women's World Championship 2017. The Armenian number one is an
experienced player and has played at the highest level for many years. Padmini
had the black pieces and a draw would be an excellent result in the 2-game
mini match.} 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 $5 {I had a rule of thumb when
playing this opening. Play the move ...e5 only when the opponent has played g3.
However, modern theory has no such prejudices. The move e5 gains space and
Black has some ambitious ideas connected with Nf6 and d5.} 4. e3 $1 {This is
the correct move in order to take advantage of Black's move order.} (4. g3 g6
5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 {We transpose to a very popular line in the Symmetrical
English.}) 4... Nf6 5. d4 e4 (5... exd4 6. exd4 d5 {is another interesting
line.}) 6. d5 (6. Ng5 cxd4 7. exd4 Bb4 $11 {is a harmless position for Black.})
(6. Ne5 {Ne5 is the main line. Black is doing fine after} g6 7. Be2 Bg7 8. O-O
O-O $11) 6... exf3 7. dxc6 dxc6 (7... fxg2 8. cxd7+ Bxd7 9. Bxg2 $14 {The
strong bishop on g2 gives White an edge.}) 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. gxf3 Kc7 10. b3 g6
$5 {This counter-fianchetto is risky because Black is not in time to finish
his development. However, it is an ambitious scheme. The bishop is much better
placed on g7 than on e7 to negate the b2 bishop. And nothing horrible seems to
be happening if Black plays carefully.} (10... Be7 11. Bb2 Rd8 {was the game
between Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave where Black faced no issues to hold the
draw.}) 11. Bb2 Rg8 $5 {Padmini would have definitely prepared this move in
return for Bb2. Next up is Bg7, so White has to be quick.} (11... Bg7 $6 12.
Ne4 $1 Ne8 13. Bxg7 Nxg7 14. Nxc5 $14) 12. O-O-O (12. Na4 $5 {Threatening Be5+
as well.} Nd7 $1 13. Bg2 Bg7 14. O-O-O Bxb2+ 15. Kxb2 b6 {This should be
around equal.}) 12... Bg7 13. h4 b6 $11 {Black is very solid and has
absolutely no problems.} 14. Ne2 Nh5 15. Ng3 Bxb2+ 16. Kxb2 Nf6 (16... Nxg3 {
would not be a great idea as after} 17. fxg3 Re8 18. e4 Be6 19. Kc3 {White has
a free flowing kingside majority. It's true that Black will also create some
counterplay at some point with b5 or a5-a4. But this is not a position that
you would like to land into.}) 17. h5 Be6 18. Be2 Rad8 19. f4 Bg4 (19... Rxd1
20. Rxd1 Rd8 {was another way to play as after} 21. Rxd8 Kxd8 22. hxg6 fxg6 $1
{is a nice move. You get an h-pawn passer and can try to push a bit.}) 20. hxg6
hxg6 21. f3 Rxd1 $6 (21... Nh5 $5 22. Nf1 Be6 $11) 22. Bxd1 Be6 23. Kc3 Kd6 {
Padmini tries to relocate her king to e7. But White seems to have a small edge
now.} 24. Bc2 Ke7 25. e4 $14 Nd7 26. e5 {Perhaps this move is too committal.
White already had a small edge and could have played on slowly and built it up.
} f5 $1 {Padmini shows excellent defensive skills.} 27. Ne2 (27. exf6+ $5 {
And anti-intuitive move as you are spoiling your structure. But it has has
some concrete reasons.} Nxf6 (27... Kxf6 $2 28. Rh7 $18) 28. Rh6 Kf7 29. a3 Bd7
30. Bd3 Be6 {Black is a bit tied up. However, it is not so easy for White to
breakthrough as well. Maybe the rook can be transferred to the d-file via h1,
but Black can meet it with Rd8. Optically White is better, but concretely I am
not so sure how to proceed.}) 27... Nf8 28. a3 a5 29. b4 cxb4+ 30. axb4 axb4+
31. Kxb4 Bd7 32. Kc3 (32. c5 $5 bxc5+ 33. Kxc5 Ne6+ 34. Kc4 $14 {White has
quite a bit of things going is way here. The advantage is small, but Black has
to be careful because Rh7+ is quite a menacing idea.}) 32... Rg7 $2 {A very
bad move by Padmini, completely missing opponents threat.} (32... c5 $1 33. Rb1
Bc6 34. Rxb6 Bxf3 $11) 33. Rb1 $1 {The pawn is lst on b6.} Rh7 34. Kd2 $1 {
The king comes in to defend e2 and f3.} b5 35. cxb5 cxb5 36. Bd3 (36. Bb3 $5
Ne6 37. Bxe6 $1 Kxe6 38. Nd4+ Kd5 39. Nxb5 $16) 36... Rh3 37. Ke3 Ne6 38. Bxb5
Bxb5 39. Rxb5 {White is a pawn up and with the protected passer on e5 is
clearly pushing.} Rh1 40. Rb7+ Kf8 41. Nd4 Nxd4 42. Kxd4 Rd1+ 43. Kc5 Rd3 44.
Kc6 $1 (44. Ra7 $1 {was another way to win. A small waiting move would have
put Black in some sort of weird zugzwang!} Rxf3 $2 (44... Rd1 45. Ra6 $1 Kg7 (
45... Kf7 46. Rf6+ Kg7 47. Rd6 $18) 46. Rd6 Rc1+ 47. Kd5 Kf7 48. Rd7+ Ke8 49.
e6 $18) (44... Kg8 45. e6 $1 Kf8 46. Rd7 Rxf3 47. Kd4 Rxf4+ 48. Ke5 Re4+ 49.
Kf6 $18) 45. Kd6 $18) 44... Rd4 45. Ra7 (45. Rd7 $1 {Finishes off the game.}
Rxf4 46. Kd6 $18) 45... Ke8 46. Rg7 {White is doing fine.} (46. Kc5 Rd3 47. Rg7
Rxf3 48. Kd6 $18) 46... Kf8 47. Rxg6 $4 {The biggest blunder of the game.} (47.
Rd7 $18 {The king needs the d6 square and this is the way to get it!} Rxf4 48.
Kd6 {The king, rook and the e-pawn are sufficient to get a winning position.})
47... Ke7 (47... Rxf4 $11) 48. Rh6 Rxf4 49. Kd5 Rxf3 $11 {What an escape!} 50.
Rh7+ Kd8 51. e6 f4 52. Ke5 Re3+ 53. Kf6 f3 54. Rh8+ Kc7 55. Rh4 f2 56. Rf4 Kd6
57. Rxf2 {What a great relief! Padmini played the opening well and got an even
position. But went wrong in the endgame. The rook endgame was utterly lost and
Danielian had many ways to win. However, she didn't find the accurate way
towards victory which allowed the Indian to wriggle out with the half point. A
great result, because now she has the white pieces in game two!} 1/2-1/2


The playing hall is unbearably hot and stuffy!

And now, for the remarkable situation in the playing arena:

The President of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) lashed out online against the poor state of affairs in the playing hall!

For numerous chess fans, seeing the pictures of female chess players playing in attires they are not comfortable with is depressing in itself. But the absurd playing conditions is an icing on the cake.


Speaking to ChessBase India, Sutovsky said,"No news from FIDE yet. But it happened just last night. I expect a reply from them today."


ChessBase India will keep you posted.

Pairings for Round 02:

Lane, Nancy - Ju Wenjun
Muzychuk Anna - Mezioud, Amina
Latreche, Sabrina - Kosteniuk Alexandra
Harika Dronavalli - Shamima, Akter Liza
Mona, Khaled - Dzagnidze Nana
Gunina Valentina - Ni, Viktorija
Marrero Lopez, Yaniet - Stefanova Antoaneta
Zhao Xue - Martinez, Ayelen
Foisor, Sabina - Tan Zhongyi
Batsiashvili Nino - Gvetadze Sofio
Zhou Qiyu - Pogonina Natalija
Shen Yang - Arribas Robaina Maritza
Buksa Nataliya - Hoang Thanh Trang
Paehtz Elisabeth - Pourkashiyan, Atousa
Zhai Mo - Goryachkina Aleksandra
Bodnaruk Anastasia - Hejazipour, Mitra
Foisor Cristina-Adela - Girya Olga
Javakhishvili Lela - Pham, Le Thao Nguyen
Nemcova, Katerina - Cramling Pia
Khademalsharieh, Sarasadat - Guramishvili Sopiko
Savina Anastasia - Socko Monika
Huang Qian - Charochkina Daria
Khurtsidze Nino - Zhukova Natalia
Ushenina, Anna - Ziaziulkina Nastassia
Padmini, Rout - Danielian Elina
Atalik Ekaterina - Melia Salome
Ni Shiqun - Mkrtchian Lilit
Khotenashvili Bela - Zimina Olga
Nechaeva Marina - Saduakassova, Dinara
Kovalevskaya Ekaterina - Gaponenko Inna
Kashlinskaya Alina - Cori T., Deysi
Sukandar, Irine Kharisma - Zhu, Chen


Also Read:

  1. Harika and Padmini will fight for the World title in Tehran
  2. Sitges Blitz: An Indian Talent announces his arrival
  3. Sunway Sitges: Chess on the Catalonian Beach