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Day1: China and Georgia atop

wmg14-J2-0067The tournament whirlpool is spinning more rapidly than the rapid games themselves. Some players barely have 10 minutes to recover from one game to another, especially those who passed through the long phase of playing on equal positions with the 10 seconds increment. And, as it was expected with such a rather short time control, mistakes were bound to happen, re-emerging the game of chess as a fun and interesting board game to watch. The recipe for success could not be completed without the first move being played by the high officials.

wmg14-J2-0067Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the People’s Republic of China,
H.E. Mr. Armen SARGSYAN and President of the Chinese Chess Association and FIDE Vice President, Mr. Yang Junan
(photo: official World Mind Games photographer, Vianney Thibaut)

The 'local' grandmaster, Wang Hao, had a sensational start making good use of his Whites in the first two rounds. The Chinese super GM beat former World champion Ruslan Ponomariov and World title finalist Peter Leko. But his colleague Yue was in his footsteps and the fourth round featured the great (not only Chinese) derby of the Wang-s: Wang Hao - Wang Yue.

Wang,Hao - Wang,Yue



Much stronger than the greedy 37.Kxb4 when White would be a pawn up, but given the presence of opposite-coloured bishops Black is not without drawing chances. The text-move starts a direct attack against the king.

37...Ke5 38.Kc4! 
Further incarcerating the Black king.

38...b3 39.Kxb3?! 
Letting the king escape. A neat finish would have been 39.Rd7 b2 40.Rdd6! and there is no way to prevent Re6 mate!

39...Ref8? (39...Kd4!)

Not letting the king out again!

40...Re8 41.Kd3 Rhf8 42.Rxf8 

Black resigned. Recapturing would lead to mate after 42...Rxf8 43.Re6#



The Chinese were leading the pack with 2.5 out of three rounds but, perhaps having White helped as well, as Wang Hao won the game against his compatriot. Wang Hao is now leading the tournament alone with 3.5/4, trailed by half a point by the Russian GM Alexander Grischuk.

Ranking after Round 4: Men

Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED Pts Res.
1 14 GM Wang Hao 2719 CHN 0
2 1 GM Grischuk Alexander 2828 RUS 3 0
3 2 GM Aronian Levon 2813 ARM 0
4 7 GM Wang Yue 2765 CHN 0
5 9 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2739 AZE 0
6 6 GM Leko Peter 2773 HUN 2 0
7 10 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2738 UKR 2 0
8 8 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier 2763 CUB 2 0
9 3 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2811 UKR 2 0
10 12 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2728 FRA 2 0
11 15 GM Harikrishna P. 2701 IND 2 0
12 16 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2684 POL ½
13 4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2801 RUS ½
14 13 GM Gelfand Boris 2719 ISR 1 0
15 11 GM Bacrot Etienne 2731 FRA 1 0
16 5 GM Radjabov Teimour 2776 AZE 1 0

Relaxing, interested in the other games, blowing off steam, trying to confuse the opponents?
What is sure though is that many GMs like to stroll during the game

In the crucial encounter in the Women section, the game to decide the leader after 4 rounds was - Valentina Gunina vs Nana Dzagnidze. Unlike in the men section, in the women one Black prevailed over White and the Georgian grandmaster won her game, leading alone as well, with a collection of 3.5/4.

Ranking after Round 4: Women

Rank SNo.   Name Rtg FED Pts Res.
1 7 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2547 GEO 0
2 2 GM Hou Yifan 2600 CHN 3 0
3 9 GM Kosintseva Tatiana 2505 RUS 0
  11 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2485 GER 0
5 10 GM Ushenina Anna 2489 UKR 0
6 6 GM Gunina Valentina 2552 RUS 0
7 8 GM Muzychuk Anna 2546 UKR 0
8 12 GM Zhao Xue 2485 CHN 0
9 3 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2578 BUL 2 0
10 16 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2407 GEO 0
11 4 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2577 RUS 0
12 15 GM Harika Dronavalli 2421 IND 0
13 5 GM Ju Wenjun 2555 CHN 0
14 1 GM Koneru Humpy 2611 IND 1 0
15 14 GM Cramling Pia 2443 SWE 1 0
16 13 IM Muzychuk Mariya 2445 UKR ½ 0

Valentina Gunina - Nana Dzagnidze

Even at the highest level and especially under severe time troubles, small tactics play a big role. White's position wouldn't be that bad were it not for:


28... Bxb4! winning a crucial pawn as: 29. cxb4 Rxc2 30. Qxc2 Qxd4+ wins back the piece. Nana didn't let her opponent back in the game and is now enjoying the sole lead after the first four rounds.


But the leader after four rounds in the women section, Nana Dzagnidze, had many hardfought games and a good example would be her win versus Mariya Muzychuk.

Mariya Muzychuk - Nana Dzagnidze 

Muzy M - Dzagndidze

29. a3?! (After the prophylactic 29. g4-stopping Black's next move - the game would most probably have ended in a draw.)
29... f5! 30. Rg1 Kf6
Suddenly the position is very unpleasant. The king is coming to g5, threatening the h-pawn, and Black is also in command of the e-file.

31. Rh1 Kg5 32. a4 Re4 33. a5 Re7 34. b3 Re4 35. b4 a6! Zugzwang, a king-move allows the black rook to enter while a rook moves does the same, or loses the h-pawn.

36. Rg1 Kxh5 37. Rh1+ Kg5 38. Rg1 h5 39. Rh1 f4 40. Rg1 fxg3 41. fxg3 f5 42. Rh1 f4 and Black continued to convert her extra pawn.

Beijing-22   Beijing-23

Ju Wenjun and Pia Cramling are looking forward to a better day tomorrow

The reigning women World champion Hou Yifan was not particularly happy with her "slow start" with two draws, but in the third round scored her first win against the experimented Pia Cramling and she continued the good streak with another victory in R4 over Antoaneta Stefanova.
Things have gone badly so far for Hou Yifan's former opponent in the World title match and the highest rates player in the Women Rapid rating list, Koneru Humpy, who had "castled long" so far - unfortunately, this didn't happen on the chess board, but in the score table: 0-0-0...Round four though was the breach in the ice and Humpy turned things around by winning her first game in this competition against Mariya Muzychuk. 

The interesting thing about rapidplay is that players tend to be somewhat more experimental in their approach to the openings. Perhaps the most striking example was the game between Harikrishna and Ivanchuk of round 4 - The placement of the Black king and queen after ten moves was rather puzzling for the human eye. It looked as if Their Majesties had been set on the wrong squares; in the inițial position: doesn't the Queen belong on the square of her own colour? What actually happened is that the K and Q "castled artificially" during the fierce opening fight:

Pentala Harikrishna - Vssily Ivanchuk

1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.e3
Saving the bishop by threatening mate on h5.

4...Nf6 5.Be2
Renewing the threat. Ivanchuk replies with the most creative answer!



5...d6 inviting to 6.Bh5+ Kd7
As beginners, we learn that the king does not belong in the middle of the board. This is one of those many exceptions. Black is going to gain the bishop pair while it is hard for White to make use of the 'wandering' king.

7.Bg3 Nxh5 8.Qxh5 Qe8 9.Qe2 Kd8!


It is as if somebody didn't set up the pieces correctly when the clocks were started!

10.Nc3 Nd7 11.h4 g4 12.e4 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Nf6 14.Nxf6 exf6 15.0–0–0 h5 And after the queen went off...

16.Qxe8+ Kxe8 ...the players soon split the point.

Four draws for Pentala Harikrishna in Day 1 of Rapid


With day 1 of the rapid behind us it is of course far too early to draw any conclusions about who is going to take the medals. With Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk chasing Wang Hao everything is still open, but for the moment the Chinese definitely holds the best cards!


There must be a way to catch up with the Chinese...

The same goes for the women section where the big question will be whether Nana Dzagnidze will be able to continue her stride forward. She still has -amongst others- none other than Hou Yifan to reckon with. They are facing off in what promises to be a very exciting 5th round!

Text and photos: Alina l'Ami

Round one photos by Gu Xiaobing

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